Alsace

Alsace

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Alsace is the fifth-smallest of the 27 regions of France
Régions of France
France is divided into 27 administrative regions , 22 of which are in Metropolitan France, and five of which are overseas. Corsica is a territorial collectivity , but is considered a region in mainstream usage, and is even shown as such on the INSEE website...

 in land area (8,280 km²), and the smallest in metropolitan France
Metropolitan France
Metropolitan France is the part of France located in Europe. It can also be described as mainland France or as the French mainland and the island of Corsica...

. It is also the seventh-most densely populated region in France and third most densely populated region in metropolitan France, with ca. 220 inhabitants per km² (total population in 2006: 1,815,488; 1 January 2008 estimate: 1,836,000). Alsace is located on France's eastern border and on the west bank of the upper Rhine adjacent to Germany and Switzerland. The political, economic and cultural capital as well as largest city of Alsace is Strasbourg
Strasbourg
Strasbourg is the capital and principal city of the Alsace region in eastern France and is the official seat of the European Parliament. Located close to the border with Germany, it is the capital of the Bas-Rhin département. The city and the region of Alsace are historically German-speaking,...

. Because that city is the seat of dozens of international organizations and bodies
European Institutions in Strasbourg
There are a range of European Institutions in Strasbourg , the oldest of which dates back to 1815. In all, there are more than twenty different institutions based in the Alsatian city...

, Alsace is politically one of the most important regions in the European Union
European Union
The European Union is an economic and political union of 27 independent member states which are located primarily in Europe. The EU traces its origins from the European Coal and Steel Community and the European Economic Community , formed by six countries in 1958...

.

The name "Alsace" can be traced back to the Old High German
Old High German
The term Old High German refers to the earliest stage of the German language and it conventionally covers the period from around 500 to 1050. Coherent written texts do not appear until the second half of the 8th century, and some treat the period before 750 as 'prehistoric' and date the start of...

 Ali-saz or Elisaz, meaning "foreign domain". An alternative explanation derives it from a Germanic
Germanic languages
The Germanic languages constitute a sub-branch of the Indo-European language family. The common ancestor of all of the languages in this branch is called Proto-Germanic , which was spoken in approximately the mid-1st millennium BC in Iron Age northern Europe...

 Ell-sass, meaning "seated on the Ill
Ill (France)
The Ill is a river in Alsace, in north-eastern France. It is a left-side, or western tributary of the Rhine.It starts down from its source near the village of Winkel, in the Jura mountains, with a resurgence near Ligsdorf, turns around Ferrette on its east side, and then runs northward through...

", a river in Alsace. The region was historically part of the Holy Roman Empire
Holy Roman Empire
The Holy Roman Empire was a realm that existed from 962 to 1806 in Central Europe.It was ruled by the Holy Roman Emperor. Its character changed during the Middle Ages and the Early Modern period, when the power of the emperor gradually weakened in favour of the princes...

. It was gradually annexed by France in the 17th century under kings Louis XIII
Louis XIII of France
Louis XIII was a Bourbon monarch who ruled as King of France and of Navarre from 1610 to 1643.Louis was only eight years old when he succeeded his father. His mother, Marie de Medici, acted as regent during Louis' minority...

 and Louis XIV
Louis XIV of France
Louis XIV , known as Louis the Great or the Sun King , was a Bourbon monarch who ruled as King of France and Navarre. His reign, from 1643 to his death in 1715, began at the age of four and lasted seventy-two years, three months, and eighteen days...

 and made one of the provinces of France
Provinces of France
The Kingdom of France was organised into provinces until March 4, 1790, when the establishment of the département system superseded provinces. The provinces of France were roughly equivalent to the historic counties of England...

. Alsace is frequently mentioned in conjunction with Lorraine
Lorraine (région)
Lorraine is one of the 27 régions of France. The administrative region has two cities of equal importance, Metz and Nancy. Metz is considered to be the official capital since that is where the regional parliament is situated...

, because German possession of parts of these two régions (as the imperial province Alsace-Lorraine, 1871–1918) was contested in the 19th and 20th centuries, during which Alsace changed hands four times between France and Germany in 75 years.

Although the historical language of Alsace is Alsatian
Alsatian language
Alsatian is a Low Alemannic German dialect spoken in most of Alsace, a region in eastern France which has passed between French and German control many times.-Language family:...

, today all Alsatians speak French, the official language of France. About 39% of the adult population, and probably less than 10% of the children, are fluent in Alsatian. There is therefore a substantial bilingual population in contemporary Alsace. The place names used in this article are in French. See this list for the German place names.

Roman Alsace


In prehistoric times, Alsace was inhabited by nomadic hunters, but by 1500 BC, Celt
Celt
The Celts were a diverse group of tribal societies in Iron Age and Roman-era Europe who spoke Celtic languages.The earliest archaeological culture commonly accepted as Celtic, or rather Proto-Celtic, was the central European Hallstatt culture , named for the rich grave finds in Hallstatt, Austria....

s began to settle in Alsace, clearing and cultivating the land. By 58 BC, the Romans
Ancient Rome
Ancient Rome was a thriving civilization that grew on the Italian Peninsula as early as the 8th century BC. Located along the Mediterranean Sea and centered on the city of Rome, it expanded to one of the largest empires in the ancient world....

 had invaded and established Alsace as a center of viticulture
Viticulture
Viticulture is the science, production and study of grapes which deals with the series of events that occur in the vineyard. When the grapes are used for winemaking, it is also known as viniculture...

. To protect this highly valued industry, the Romans built fortifications and military camps that evolved into various communities which have been inhabited continuously to the present day. While part of the Roman Empire
Roman Empire
The Roman Empire was the post-Republican period of the ancient Roman civilization, characterised by an autocratic form of government and large territorial holdings in Europe and around the Mediterranean....

, Alsace was part of Germania Superior
Germania Superior
Germania Superior , so called for the reason that it lay upstream of Germania Inferior, was a province of the Roman Empire. It comprised an area of western Switzerland, the French Jura and Alsace regions, and southwestern Germany...

.

Frankish Alsace



With the decline of the Roman Empire
Decline of the Roman Empire
The decline of the Roman Empire refers to the gradual societal collapse of the Western Roman Empire. Many theories of causality prevail, but most concern the disintegration of political, economic, military, and other social institutions, in tandem with foreign invasions and usurpers from within the...

, Alsace became the territory of the Alemanni. The Alemanni were agricultural people, and their language formed the basis of the modern-day Alsatian dialect. Clovis
Clovis I
Clovis Leuthwig was the first King of the Franks to unite all the Frankish tribes under one ruler, changing the leadership from a group of royal chieftains, to rule by kings, ensuring that the kingship was held by his heirs. He was also the first Catholic King to rule over Gaul . He was the son...

 and the Franks
Franks
The Franks were a confederation of Germanic tribes first attested in the third century AD as living north and east of the Lower Rhine River. From the third to fifth centuries some Franks raided Roman territory while other Franks joined the Roman troops in Gaul. Only the Salian Franks formed a...

 defeated the Alemanni during the 5th century, culminating with the Battle of Tolbiac
Battle of Tolbiac
The Battle of Tolbiac was fought between the Franks under Clovis I and the Alamanni, traditionally set in 496. The site of "Tolbiac", or "Tulpiacum" is usually given as Zülpich, North Rhine-Westphalia, about 60km east of the present German-Belgian frontier, which is not implausible...

, and Alsace became part of the Kingdom of Austrasia
Austrasia
Austrasia formed the northeastern portion of the Kingdom of the Merovingian Franks, comprising parts of the territory of present-day eastern France, western Germany, Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands. Metz served as its capital, although some Austrasian kings ruled from Rheims, Trier, and...

. Under Clovis' Merovingian successors the inhabitants were Christianized. Alsace remained under Frankish control until the Frankish realm, following the Oaths of Strasbourg
Oaths of Strasbourg
The Oaths of Strasbourg were several historical documents which included mutual pledges of allegiance between Louis the German , ruler of East Francia, and his brother Charles the Bald , ruler of West Francia...

 of 842, was formally dissolved in 843 at the Treaty of Verdun
Treaty of Verdun
The Treaty of Verdun was a treaty between the three surviving sons of Louis the Pious, the son and successor of Charlemagne, which divided the Carolingian Empire into three kingdoms...

; the grandsons of Charlemagne
Charlemagne
Charlemagne was King of the Franks from 768 and Emperor of the Romans from 800 to his death in 814. He expanded the Frankish kingdom into an empire that incorporated much of Western and Central Europe. During his reign, he conquered Italy and was crowned by Pope Leo III on 25 December 800...

 divided the realm into three parts. Alsace formed part of the Middle Francia
Middle Francia
Middle Francia was an ephemeral Frankish kingdom created by the Treaty of Verdun in 843, which divided the Carolingian Empire among the sons of Louis the Pious...

, which was ruled by the youngest grandson Lothar I. Lothar died early in 855 and his realm was divided into three parts. The part known as Lotharingia
Lotharingia
Lotharingia was a region in northwest Europe, comprising the Low Countries, the western Rhineland, the lands today on the border between France and Germany, and what is now western Switzerland. It was born of the tripartite division in 855, of the kingdom of Middle Francia, itself formed of the...

, or Lorraine, was given to Lothar's son. The rest was shared between Lothar's brothers Charles the Bald
Charles the Bald
Charles the Bald , Holy Roman Emperor and King of West Francia , was the youngest son of the Emperor Louis the Pious by his second wife Judith.-Struggle against his brothers:He was born on 13 June 823 in Frankfurt, when his elder...

 (ruler of the West Frankish
Western Francia
West Francia, also known as the West Frankish Kingdom or Francia Occidentalis, was a short-lived kingdom encompassing the lands of the western part of the Carolingian Empire that came under the undisputed control of Charlemagne's grandson, Charles the Bald, as a result of the Treaty of Verdun of...

 realm) and Louis the German
Louis the German
Louis the German , also known as Louis II or Louis the Bavarian, was a grandson of Charlemagne and the third son of the succeeding Frankish Emperor Louis the Pious and his first wife, Ermengarde of Hesbaye.He received the appellation 'Germanicus' shortly after his death in recognition of the fact...

 (ruler of the East Frankish
Eastern Francia
East Francia , also known as the Kingdom of the East Franks or Francia Orientalis, was the realm allotted to Louis the German by the 843 Treaty of Verdun...

 realm). The Kingdom of Lotharingia was short-lived, however; the region that was to become Alsace fell to the Holy Roman Empire
Holy Roman Empire
The Holy Roman Empire was a realm that existed from 962 to 1806 in Central Europe.It was ruled by the Holy Roman Emperor. Its character changed during the Middle Ages and the Early Modern period, when the power of the emperor gradually weakened in favour of the princes...

 as part of the Duchy of Swabia
Duchy of Swabia
Swabia was one of the five stem duchies of the medieval German kingdom, and its dukes were thus among the most powerful magnates of Germany.-History:...

 in the Treaty of Meersen in 870.

Alsace within the Holy Roman Empire


At about this time the entire region began to fragment into a number of feudal
Feudalism
Feudalism was a set of legal and military customs in medieval Europe that flourished between the 9th and 15th centuries, which, broadly defined, was a system for ordering society around relationships derived from the holding of land in exchange for service or labour.Although derived from the...

 secular and ecclesiastical lordships, a situation which lasted into the 17th century and was a common process in the Empire. Alsace experienced great prosperity during the 12th and 13th centuries under Hohenstaufen emperors. Frederick I
Frederick I, Holy Roman Emperor
Frederick I Barbarossa was a German Holy Roman Emperor. He was elected King of Germany at Frankfurt on 4 March 1152 and crowned in Aachen on 9 March, crowned King of Italy in Pavia in 1155, and finally crowned Roman Emperor by Pope Adrian IV, on 18 June 1155, and two years later in 1157 the term...

 set up Alsace as a province (a procuratio, not a provincia) to be ruled by ministeriales, a non-noble class of civil servants. The idea was that such men would be more tractable and less likely to alienate the fief from the crown out of their own greed. The province had a single provincial court (Landgericht) and a central administration with its seat at Hagenau
Haguenau
-Economy:The town has a well balanced economy. Centuries of troubled history in the buffer lands between France and Germany have bequeathed to Haguenau a rich historical and cultural heritage which supports a lively tourist trade. There is also a thriving light manufacturing sector centred on the...

. Frederick II
Frederick II, Holy Roman Emperor
Frederick II , was one of the most powerful Holy Roman Emperors of the Middle Ages and head of the House of Hohenstaufen. His political and cultural ambitions, based in Sicily and stretching through Italy to Germany, and even to Jerusalem, were enormous...

 designated the Bishop of Strasbourg to administer Alsace, but the authority of the bishop was challenged by Count Rudolph of Habsburg
Rudolph I of Germany
Rudolph I was King of the Romans from 1273 until his death. He played a vital role in raising the Habsburg dynasty to a leading position among the Imperial feudal dynasties...

, who received his rights from Frederick II's son Conrad IV
Conrad IV of Germany
Conrad IV was king of Jerusalem , of Germany , and of Sicily .-Biography:...

. Strasbourg began to grow to become the most populous and commercially important town in the region. In 1262, after a long struggle with the ruling bishops, its citizens gained the status of free imperial city
Free Imperial City
In the Holy Roman Empire, a free imperial city was a city formally ruled by the emperor only — as opposed to the majority of cities in the Empire, which were governed by one of the many princes of the Empire, such as dukes or prince-bishops...

. A stop on the Paris-Vienna
Vienna
Vienna is the capital and largest city of the Republic of Austria and one of the nine states of Austria. Vienna is Austria's primary city, with a population of about 1.723 million , and is by far the largest city in Austria, as well as its cultural, economic, and political centre...

-Orient
Orient
The Orient means "the East." It is a traditional designation for anything that belongs to the Eastern world or the Far East, in relation to Europe. In English it is a metonym that means various parts of Asia.- Derivation :...

 trade route, as well as a port on the Rhine route linking southern Germany
Southern Germany
The term Southern Germany is used to describe a region in the south of Germany. There is no specific boundary to the region, but it usually includes all of Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg, and the southern part of Hesse...

 and Switzerland to the Netherlands, England and Scandinavia
Scandinavia
Scandinavia is a cultural, historical and ethno-linguistic region in northern Europe that includes the three kingdoms of Denmark, Norway and Sweden, characterized by their common ethno-cultural heritage and language. Modern Norway and Sweden proper are situated on the Scandinavian Peninsula,...

, it became the political and economic center of the region. Cities such as Colmar
Colmar
Colmar is a commune in the Haut-Rhin department in Alsace in north-eastern France.It is the capital of the department. Colmar is also the seat of the highest jurisdiction in Alsace, the appellate court....

 and Hagenau also began to grow in economic importance and gained a kind of autonomy within the "Decapole" or "Dekapolis", a federation of ten free towns.

The prosperity of Alsace was terminated in the 14th century by a series of harsh winters, bad harvests, and the Black Death
Black Death
The Black Death was one of the most devastating pandemics in human history, peaking in Europe between 1348 and 1350. Of several competing theories, the dominant explanation for the Black Death is the plague theory, which attributes the outbreak to the bacterium Yersinia pestis. Thought to have...

. These hardships were blamed on Jews, leading to the pogrom
Pogrom
A pogrom is a form of violent riot, a mob attack directed against a minority group, and characterized by killings and destruction of their homes and properties, businesses, and religious centres...

s of 1336 and 1339. An additional natural disaster was the Rhine rift earthquake of 1356, one of Europe's worst which made ruins of Basel
Basel
Basel or Basle In the national languages of Switzerland the city is also known as Bâle , Basilea and Basilea is Switzerland's third most populous city with about 166,000 inhabitants. Located where the Swiss, French and German borders meet, Basel also has suburbs in France and Germany...

. Prosperity returned to Alsace under Habsburg
Habsburg
The House of Habsburg , also found as Hapsburg, and also known as House of Austria is one of the most important royal houses of Europe and is best known for being an origin of all of the formally elected Holy Roman Emperors between 1438 and 1740, as well as rulers of the Austrian Empire and...

 administration during the Renaissance
Renaissance
The Renaissance was a cultural movement that spanned roughly the 14th to the 17th century, beginning in Italy in the Late Middle Ages and later spreading to the rest of Europe. The term is also used more loosely to refer to the historical era, but since the changes of the Renaissance were not...

.

German central power had begun to decline following years of imperial adventures in Italian lands, ceding hegemony in Europe to France, which had long since centralized power. France began an aggressive policy of expanding eastward, first to the Rhône
Rhône River
The Rhone is one of the major rivers of Europe, rising in Switzerland and running from there through southeastern France. At Arles, near its mouth on the Mediterranean Sea, the river divides into two branches, known as the Great Rhone and the Little Rhone...

 and Meuse
Meuse
Meuse is a department in northeast France, named after the River Meuse.-History:Meuse is one of the original 83 departments created during the French Revolution on March 4, 1790...

 Rivers, and when those borders were reached, aiming for the Rhine. In 1299, the French proposed a marriage alliance between Philip IV of France
Philip IV of France
Philip the Fair was, as Philip IV, King of France from 1285 until his death. He was the husband of Joan I of Navarre, by virtue of which he was, as Philip I, King of Navarre and Count of Champagne from 1284 to 1305.-Youth:A member of the House of Capet, Philip was born at the Palace of...

's sister Blanche and Albert I of Germany
Albert I of Germany
Albert I of Habsburg was King of the Romans and Duke of Austria, the eldest son of German King Rudolph I of Habsburg and his first wife Gertrude of Hohenburg.-Life:...

's son Rudolf, with Alsace to be the dowry; however, the deal never came off. In 1307, the town of Belfort
Belfort
Belfort is a commune in the Territoire de Belfort department in Franche-Comté in northeastern France and is the prefecture of the department. It is located on the Savoureuse, on the strategically important natural route between the Rhine and the Rhône – the Belfort Gap or Burgundian Gate .-...

 was first chartered by the Counts of Montbéliard
Montbéliard
Montbéliard is a city in the Doubs department in the Franche-Comté region in eastern France. It is one of the two subprefectures of the department.-History:...

. During the next century, France was to be militarily shattered by the Hundred Years' War
Hundred Years' War
The Hundred Years' War was a series of separate wars waged from 1337 to 1453 by the House of Valois and the House of Plantagenet, also known as the House of Anjou, for the French throne, which had become vacant upon the extinction of the senior Capetian line of French kings...

, which prevented for a time any further tendencies in this direction. After the conclusion of the war, France was again free to pursue its desire to reach the Rhine and in 1444 a French army appeared in Lorraine and Alsace. It took up winter quarters, demanded the submission of Metz
Metz
Metz is a city in the northeast of France located at the confluence of the Moselle and the Seille rivers.Metz is the capital of the Lorraine region and prefecture of the Moselle department. Located near the tripoint along the junction of France, Germany, and Luxembourg, Metz forms a central place...

 and Strasbourg
Strasbourg
Strasbourg is the capital and principal city of the Alsace region in eastern France and is the official seat of the European Parliament. Located close to the border with Germany, it is the capital of the Bas-Rhin département. The city and the region of Alsace are historically German-speaking,...

 and launched an attack on Basel
Basel
Basel or Basle In the national languages of Switzerland the city is also known as Bâle , Basilea and Basilea is Switzerland's third most populous city with about 166,000 inhabitants. Located where the Swiss, French and German borders meet, Basel also has suburbs in France and Germany...

.

In 1469, following the Treaty of St. Omer, Upper Alsace was sold by Archduke Sigismund of Austria
Sigismund, Archduke of Austria
Sigismund of Austria, Duke, then Archduke of Further Austria was a Habsburg archduke of Austria and ruler of Tirol from 1446 to 1490....

 to Charles the Bold, Duke of Burgundy. Although Charles was the nominal landlord, taxes were paid to Frederick III, Holy Roman Emperor
Frederick III, Holy Roman Emperor
Frederick the Peaceful KG was Duke of Austria as Frederick V from 1424, the successor of Albert II as German King as Frederick IV from 1440, and Holy Roman Emperor as Frederick III from 1452...

. The latter was able to use this tax and a dynastic marriage to his advantage to gain back full control of Upper Alsace (apart from the free towns, but including Belfort) in 1477 when it became part of the demesne of the Habsburg
Habsburg
The House of Habsburg , also found as Hapsburg, and also known as House of Austria is one of the most important royal houses of Europe and is best known for being an origin of all of the formally elected Holy Roman Emperors between 1438 and 1740, as well as rulers of the Austrian Empire and...

 family, who were also rulers of the empire. The town of Mulhouse
Mulhouse
Mulhouse |mill]] hamlet) is a city and commune in eastern France, close to the Swiss and German borders. With a population of 110,514 and 278,206 inhabitants in the metropolitan area in 2006, it is the largest city in the Haut-Rhin département, and the second largest in the Alsace region after...

 joined the Swiss Confederation in 1515, where it was to remain until 1798.

By the time of the Protestant Reformation
Protestant Reformation
The Protestant Reformation was a 16th-century split within Western Christianity initiated by Martin Luther, John Calvin and other early Protestants. The efforts of the self-described "reformers", who objected to the doctrines, rituals and ecclesiastical structure of the Roman Catholic Church, led...

 in the 16th century, Strasbourg was a prosperous community, and its inhabitants accepted Protestantism in 1523. Martin Bucer
Martin Bucer
Martin Bucer was a Protestant reformer based in Strasbourg who influenced Lutheran, Calvinist, and Anglican doctrines and practices. Bucer was originally a member of the Dominican Order, but after meeting and being influenced by Martin Luther in 1518 he arranged for his monastic vows to be annulled...

 was a prominent Protestant reformer in the region. His efforts were countered by the Roman Catholic Habsburgs who tried to eradicate heresy in Upper Alsace. As a result, Alsace was transformed into a mosaic of Catholic and Protestant territories. On the other hand, Mömpelgard (Montbéliard)
Montbéliard
Montbéliard is a city in the Doubs department in the Franche-Comté region in eastern France. It is one of the two subprefectures of the department.-History:...

 to the southwest of Alsace, belonging to the Counts of Württemberg
Württemberg
Württemberg , formerly known as Wirtemberg or Wurtemberg, is an area and a former state in southwestern Germany, including parts of the regions Swabia and Franconia....

 since 1397, remained a Protestant enclave in France until 1793.

Incorporation into France


This situation prevailed until 1639 when most of Alsace was conquered by France to prevent it falling into the hands of the Spanish Habsburgs, who wanted a clear road to their valuable and rebellious possessions in the Spanish Netherlands. This occurred in the greater context of the Thirty Years' War
Thirty Years' War
The Thirty Years' War was fought primarily in what is now Germany, and at various points involved most countries in Europe. It was one of the most destructive conflicts in European history....

 (1618–1648). Beset by enemies and to gain a free hand in Hungary, the Habsburgs sold their Sundgau
Sundgau
Sundgau is a geographical territory on the eastern edge of France that was once a principality of the Holy Roman Empire. The name Sundgau derives from Alemannic German, which means "South County" ....

 territory (mostly in Upper Alsace) to France in 1646, which had occupied it, for the sum of 1.2 million Thaler
Thaler
The Thaler was a silver coin used throughout Europe for almost four hundred years. Its name lives on in various currencies as the dollar or tolar. Etymologically, "Thaler" is an abbreviation of "Joachimsthaler", a coin type from the city of Joachimsthal in Bohemia, where some of the first such...

s. Thus, when the hostilities finally ceased in 1648 with the Treaty of Westphalia, most of Alsace went to France with some towns remaining independent. The treaty stipulations regarding Alsace were Byzantine and confusing; it is thought that this was purposely so that neither the French king nor the German emperor could gain tight control, but that one would play off the other, thereby assuring Alsace some measure of autonomy. Supporters of this theory point out that the treaty stipulations were authored by Imperial plenipotentiary Isaac Volmar, the former Chancellor of Alsace. The transfer of most of Alsace to France at the Peace of Westphalia
Peace of Westphalia
The Peace of Westphalia was a series of peace treaties signed between May and October of 1648 in Osnabrück and Münster. These treaties ended the Thirty Years' War in the Holy Roman Empire, and the Eighty Years' War between Spain and the Dutch Republic, with Spain formally recognizing the...

 in 1648 marked its start, along with Lorraine
Lorraine (province)
The Duchy of Upper Lorraine was an historical duchy roughly corresponding with the present-day northeastern Lorraine region of France, including parts of modern Luxembourg and Germany. The main cities were Metz, Verdun, and the historic capital Nancy....

, as a contested territory between France and Germany (French-German enmity
French-German enmity
French–German hereditary enmity is the idea of unavoidably hostile relations and mutual revanchism between Germany and France that became popular with the Franco-Prussian War of 1870–1871...

).

Because warfare had caused large numbers of the population (mainly in the countryside) to die or to flee, numerous immigrants arrived from Switzerland, Germany, Austria, Lorraine, Savoy
Savoy
Savoy is a region of France. It comprises roughly the territory of the Western Alps situated between Lake Geneva in the north and Monaco and the Mediterranean coast in the south....

 and other areas after 1648 and until the mid-18th century. Between 1671 and 1711 Anabaptist
Anabaptist
Anabaptists are Protestant Christians of the Radical Reformation of 16th-century Europe, and their direct descendants, particularly the Amish, Brethren, Hutterites, and Mennonites....

 refugees came from Switzerland, notably from Bern. Strasbourg became a main centre of the early Anabaptist movement.

France consolidated her hold with the 1679 Treaties of Nijmegen
Treaties of Nijmegen
The Treaties of Peace of Nijmegen were a series of treaties signed in the Dutch city of Nijmegen between August 1678 and December 1679...

, which brought the towns under her control. France occupied Strasbourg in 1681 in an unprovoked action, and from 1688 onwards devastated large parts of southern Germany according to the Brûlez le Palatinat! policy. These territorial changes were reinforced at the 1697 Treaty of Ryswick
Treaty of Ryswick
The Treaty of Ryswick or Ryswyck was signed on 20 September 1697 and named after Ryswick in the Dutch Republic. The treaty settled the Nine Years' War, which pitted France against the Grand Alliance of England, Spain, the Holy Roman Empire and the United Provinces.Negotiations started in May...

 which ended the War of the Grand Alliance
War of the Grand Alliance
The Nine Years' War – often called the War of the Grand Alliance, the War of the Palatine Succession, or the War of the League of Augsburg – was a major war of the late 17th century fought between King Louis XIV of France, and a European-wide coalition, the Grand Alliance, led by the Anglo-Dutch...

. However, Alsace had a somewhat exceptional position in the Kingdom of France. The German language was still used in local government, school, and education and the German (Lutheran) University of Strasbourg
University of Strasbourg
The University of Strasbourg in Strasbourg, Alsace, France, is the largest university in France, with about 43,000 students and over 4,000 researchers....

 was continued and attended by students from Germany. The Edict of Fontainebleau
Edict of Fontainebleau
The Edict of Fontainebleau was an edict issued by Louis XIV of France, also known as the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes. The Edict of Nantes of 1598, had granted the Huguenots the right to practice their religion without persecution from the state...

, which legalized the suppression of French Protestantism
Huguenot
The Huguenots were members of the Protestant Reformed Church of France during the 16th and 17th centuries. Since the 17th century, people who formerly would have been called Huguenots have instead simply been called French Protestants, a title suggested by their German co-religionists, the...

, was not applied in Alsace. In contrast to the rest of France, there was a relative religious tolerance, although the French authorities tried to promote Catholicism and the Lutheran Strasbourg Cathedral
Strasbourg Cathedral
Strasbourg Cathedral or the Cathedral of Our Lady of Strasbourg is a Roman Catholic cathedral in Strasbourg, France. Although considerable parts of it are still in Romanesque architecture, it is widely consideredSusan Bernstein: , The Johns Hopkins University Press to be among the finest...

 had to be handed over to the Catholics in 1681. There was a customs boundary along the Vosges mountains
Vosges mountains
For the department of France of the same name, see Vosges.The Vosges are a range of low mountains in eastern France, near its border with Germany. They extend along the west side of the Rhine valley in a northnortheast direction, mainly from Belfort to Saverne...

 against the rest of France while there was no such boundary against Germany. For these reasons Alsace remained marked by German culture and economically oriented towards Germany until the French Revolution
French Revolution
The French Revolution , sometimes distinguished as the 'Great French Revolution' , was a period of radical social and political upheaval in France and Europe. The absolute monarchy that had ruled France for centuries collapsed in three years...

.

French Revolution


The year 1789 brought the French Revolution and with it the first division of Alsace into the départements of Haut-
Haut-Rhin
Haut-Rhin is a département of the Alsace region of France, named after the Rhine river. Its name means Upper Rhine. Haut-Rhin is the smaller and less populated of the two departements of Alsace, although is still densely populated compared to the rest of France.-Subdivisions:The department...

 and Bas-Rhin
Bas-Rhin
Bas-Rhin is a department of France. The name means "Lower Rhine". It is the more populous and densely populated of the two departments of the Alsace region, with 1,079,013 inhabitants in 2006.- History :...

. Alsatians played an active role in the French Revolution. On 21 July 1789, after receiving news of the Storming of the Bastille
Storming of the Bastille
The storming of the Bastille occurred in Paris on the morning of 14 July 1789. The medieval fortress and prison in Paris known as the Bastille represented royal authority in the centre of Paris. While the prison only contained seven inmates at the time of its storming, its fall was the flashpoint...

 in Paris, a crowd of people stormed the Strasbourg city hall, forcing the city administrators to flee and putting symbolically an end to the feudal system in Alsace. In 1792, Rouget de Lisle
Claude Joseph Rouget de Lisle
Claude Joseph Rouget de Lisle , was a French Army officer of the Revolutionary Wars. He is known for writing the words and music of the Chant de guerre pour l'armée du Rhin in 1792, which would later be known as La Marseillaise and become the French national anthem.- Biography :Rouget de Lisle was...

 composed in Strasbourg the Revolutionary marching song "La Marseillaise
La Marseillaise
"La Marseillaise" is the national anthem of France. The song, originally titled "Chant de guerre pour l'Armée du Rhin" was written and composed by Claude Joseph Rouget de Lisle in 1792. The French National Convention adopted it as the Republic's anthem in 1795...

", which later became the anthem of France. "La Marseillaise" was played for the first time in April of that year in front of the mayor of Strasbourg Philippe-Frédéric de Dietrich. Some of the most famous generals of the French Revolution also came from Alsace, notably Kellermann
François Christophe Kellermann
François Christophe Kellermann or de Kellermann, 1st Duc de Valmy was a French military commander, later the Général d'Armée, and a Marshal of France...

, the victor of Valmy
Battle of Valmy
The Battle of Valmy was the first major victory by the army of France during the French Revolution. The action took place on 20 September 1792 as Prussian troops commanded by the Duke of Brunswick attempted to march on Paris...

, and Kléber
Jean Baptiste Kléber
Jean Baptiste Kléber was a French general during the French Revolutionary Wars. His military career started in Habsburg service, but his plebeian ancestry hindered his opportunities...

, who led the armies of the French Republic in Vendée
Revolt in the Vendée
The War in the Vendée was a Royalist rebellion and counterrevolution in the Vendée region of France during the French Revolution. The Vendée is a coastal region, located immediately south of the Loire River in western France. The uprising was closely tied to the Chouannerie, which took place in...

.

At the same time, some Alsatians were in opposition to the Jacobins
Jacobin (politics)
A Jacobin , in the context of the French Revolution, was a member of the Jacobin Club, a revolutionary far-left political movement. The Jacobin Club was the most famous political club of the French Revolution. So called from the Dominican convent where they originally met, in the Rue St. Jacques ,...

 and sympathetic to the invading forces of Austria
Habsburg Monarchy
The Habsburg Monarchy covered the territories ruled by the junior Austrian branch of the House of Habsburg , and then by the successor House of Habsburg-Lorraine , between 1526 and 1867/1918. The Imperial capital was Vienna, except from 1583 to 1611, when it was moved to Prague...

 and Prussia
Kingdom of Prussia
The Kingdom of Prussia was a German kingdom from 1701 to 1918. Until the defeat of Germany in World War I, it comprised almost two-thirds of the area of the German Empire...

 who sought to crush the nascent revolutionary republic. Many of the residents of the Sundgau
Sundgau
Sundgau is a geographical territory on the eastern edge of France that was once a principality of the Holy Roman Empire. The name Sundgau derives from Alemannic German, which means "South County" ....

 made "pilgrimages" to places like Mariastein Abbey
Mariastein Abbey
Mariastein Abbey is a Benedictine monastery in Metzerlen-Mariastein in the Canton of Solothurn, Switzerland.Mariastein, after Einsiedeln, is the second most important place of pilgrimage in Switzerland. Over the Chapel of Grace now stands a late Gothic three-aisled basilica...

, near Basel
Basel
Basel or Basle In the national languages of Switzerland the city is also known as Bâle , Basilea and Basilea is Switzerland's third most populous city with about 166,000 inhabitants. Located where the Swiss, French and German borders meet, Basel also has suburbs in France and Germany...

, in Switzerland, for baptisms and weddings. When the French Revolutionary Army
French Revolutionary Army
The French Revolutionary Army is the term used to refer to the military of France during the period between the fall of the ancien regime under Louis XVI in 1792 and the formation of the First French Empire under Napoleon Bonaparte in 1804. These armies were characterised by their revolutionary...

 of the Rhine was victorious, tens of thousands fled east before it. When they were later permitted to return (in some cases not until 1799), it was often to find that their lands and homes had been confiscated. These conditions led to emigration by hundreds of families to newly vacant lands in the Russian Empire
Russian Empire
The Russian Empire was a state that existed from 1721 until the Russian Revolution of 1917. It was the successor to the Tsardom of Russia and the predecessor of the Soviet Union...

 in 1803–4 and again in 1808. A poignant retelling of this event based on what Goethe
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe was a German writer, pictorial artist, biologist, theoretical physicist, and polymath. He is considered the supreme genius of modern German literature. His works span the fields of poetry, drama, prose, philosophy, and science. His Faust has been called the greatest long...

 had personally witnessed can be found in his long poem Hermann and Dorothea
Hermann and Dorothea
Hermann and Dorothea is an epic poem, an idyll, written by German writer Johann Wolfgang von Goethe between 1796 and 1797, and was to some extent suggested by Johann Heinrich Voss's Luise, an idyll in hexameters, first published in 1782-84...

.

In response to the restoration of Napoleon I of France
Napoleon I of France
Napoleon Bonaparte was a French military and political leader during the latter stages of the French Revolution.As Napoleon I, he was Emperor of the French from 1804 to 1815...

 in 1815, Alsace along with other frontier provinces of France was occupied by foreign forces from 1815 to 1818, including over 280,000 soldiers and 90,000 horses in Bas-Rhin alone. This had grave effects on trade and the economy of the region since former overland trade routes were switched to newly opened Mediterranean
Mediterranean Sea
The Mediterranean Sea is a sea connected to the Atlantic Ocean surrounded by the Mediterranean region and almost completely enclosed by land: on the north by Anatolia and Europe, on the south by North Africa, and on the east by the Levant...

 and Atlantic
Atlantic Ocean
The Atlantic Ocean is the second-largest of the world's oceanic divisions. With a total area of about , it covers approximately 20% of the Earth's surface and about 26% of its water surface area...

 seaports.

The population grew rapidly, from 800,000 in 1814 to 914,000 in 1830 and 1,067,000 in 1846. The combination of economic and demographic factors led to hunger, housing shortages and a lack of work for young people. Thus, it is not surprising that people left Alsace, not only for Paris – where the Alsatian community grew in numbers, with famous members such as Baron Haussmann
Baron Haussmann
Georges-Eugène Haussmann, commonly known as Baron Haussmann , was a French civic planner whose name is associated with the rebuilding of Paris...

 – but also for more distant places like Russia and the Austrian Empire
Austrian Empire
The Austrian Empire was a modern era successor empire, which was centered on what is today's Austria and which officially lasted from 1804 to 1867. It was followed by the Empire of Austria-Hungary, whose proclamation was a diplomatic move that elevated Hungary's status within the Austrian Empire...

, to take advantage of the new opportunities offered there: Austria had conquered lands in Eastern Europe from the Ottoman Empire
Ottoman Empire
The Ottoman EmpireIt was usually referred to as the "Ottoman Empire", the "Turkish Empire", the "Ottoman Caliphate" or more commonly "Turkey" by its contemporaries...

 and offered generous terms to colonists as a way of consolidating its hold on the new territories. Many Alsatians also began to sail to the United States, settling in many areas from 1820 to 1850. In 1843 and 1844, sailing ships bringing immigrant families from Alsace arrived at the port of New York. Some settled in Illinois, many to farm or to seek success in commercial ventures: for example, the sailing ships Sully (in May 1843) and Iowa (in June 1844) brought families who set up homes in northern Illinois and northern Indiana. Some Alsatian immigrants were noted for their roles in 19th century American economic development. Others ventured to Canada to settle in southwestern Ontario
Ontario
Ontario is a province of Canada, located in east-central Canada. It is Canada's most populous province and second largest in total area. It is home to the nation's most populous city, Toronto, and the nation's capital, Ottawa....

, notably Waterloo County.

Between France and Germany



France was provoked by the Ems Dispatch
Ems Dispatch
The Ems Dispatch , sometimes called the Ems Telegram, caused France to declare the Franco-Prussian War in July 1870. The actual dispatch was an internal message from the Prussian King's vacationing site to Bismarck in Berlin, reporting demands made by the French ambassador; it was Bismarck's...

 into the Franco-Prussian War
Franco-Prussian War
The Franco-Prussian War or Franco-German War, often referred to in France as the 1870 War was a conflict between the Second French Empire and the Kingdom of Prussia. Prussia was aided by the North German Confederation, of which it was a member, and the South German states of Baden, Württemberg and...

 (1870–71), and was defeated by the Kingdom of Prussia
Kingdom of Prussia
The Kingdom of Prussia was a German kingdom from 1701 to 1918. Until the defeat of Germany in World War I, it comprised almost two-thirds of the area of the German Empire...

 and other German states. The end of the war led to the unification of Germany
Unification of Germany
The formal unification of Germany into a politically and administratively integrated nation state officially occurred on 18 January 1871 at the Versailles Palace's Hall of Mirrors in France. Princes of the German states gathered there to proclaim Wilhelm of Prussia as Emperor Wilhelm of the German...

. Otto von Bismarck
Otto von Bismarck
Otto Eduard Leopold, Prince of Bismarck, Duke of Lauenburg , simply known as Otto von Bismarck, was a Prussian-German statesman whose actions unified Germany, made it a major player in world affairs, and created a balance of power that kept Europe at peace after 1871.As Minister President of...

 annexed Alsace and northern Lorraine to the new German Empire
German Empire
The German Empire refers to Germany during the "Second Reich" period from the unification of Germany and proclamation of Wilhelm I as German Emperor on 18 January 1871, to 1918, when it became a federal republic after defeat in World War I and the abdication of the Emperor, Wilhelm II.The German...

 in 1871; unlike other members states of the German federation, which had governments of their own, the new Imperial territory of Alsace-Lorraine
Alsace-Lorraine
The Imperial Territory of Alsace-Lorraine was a territory created by the German Empire in 1871 after it annexed most of Alsace and the Moselle region of Lorraine following its victory in the Franco-Prussian War. The Alsatian part lay in the Rhine Valley on the west bank of the Rhine River and east...

was under the sole authority of the Kaiser
Kaiser
Kaiser is the German title meaning "Emperor", with Kaiserin being the female equivalent, "Empress". Like the Russian Czar it is directly derived from the Latin Emperors' title of Caesar, which in turn is derived from the personal name of a branch of the gens Julia, to which Gaius Julius Caesar,...

, administered directly by the imperial government in Berlin. Between 100,000 to 130,000 Alsatians (of a total population of about a million and a half) chose to remain French citizens and leave Reichsland Elsaß-Lothringen, many of them resettling in French Algeria
French Algeria
French Algeria lasted from 1830 to 1962, under a variety of governmental systems. From 1848 until independence, the whole Mediterranean region of Algeria was administered as an integral part of France, much like Corsica and Réunion are to this day. The vast arid interior of Algeria, like the rest...

 as Pied-Noir
Pied-noir
Pied-Noir , plural Pieds-Noirs, pronounced , is a term referring to French citizens of various origins who lived in French Algeria before independence....

s. Only in 1911 was Alsace-Lorraine granted some measure of autonomy, which was manifested also in a flag and an anthem (Elsässisches Fahnenlied
Elsässisches Fahnenlied
The Elsässisches Fahnenlied was written by Emil Woerth in German when Alsace was part of the German Empire...

). In 1913, however, the Saverne Affair
Saverne Affair
The Saverne Affair was a crisis of domestic policy which occurred in the German Empire at the end of 1913. It was caused by political unrest in Saverne in Alsace, where two battalions of Prussian Infantry Regiment 99 were garrisoned, after a second lieutenant insulted the Alsatian population...

 showed the limits of this new tolerance of the Alsatian identity.
During World War I, to avoid ground fights between brothers, many Alsatians served as sailors in the Kaiserliche Marine
Kaiserliche Marine
The Imperial German Navy was the German Navy created at the time of the formation of the German Empire. It existed between 1871 and 1919, growing out of the small Prussian Navy and Norddeutsche Bundesmarine, which primarily had the mission of coastal defense. Kaiser Wilhelm II greatly expanded...

 and took part in the Naval mutinies that led to the abdication of the Kaiser in November 1918, which left Alsace-Lorraine without a nominal head of state. The sailors returned home and tried to found a republic. While Jacques Peirotes
Jacques Peirotes
Jacques Peirotes was a French politician, mayor of Strasbourg from 1919 to 1929.- Biography :The young Jacques Peirotes, son of a carpenter working at the locomotives factory of Graffenstaden, learned the job of typographer while entering into politics.Since 1900, he was editor of the Freie Presse...

, at this time deputy at the Landrat Elsass-Lothringen and just elected mayor of Strasbourg, proclaimed the forfeiture of the German Empire and the advent of the French Republic, a self-proclaimed government of Alsace-Lorraine declared independence as the "Republic of Alsace-Lorraine
November 1918 in Alsace
November 1918 was the period of transition when the region of Alsace-Moselle passed from German to French sovereignty at the end of World War I...

". French troops entered Alsace less than two weeks later to quash the worker strikes and remove the newly established soviets and revolutionaries from power. At the arrival of the French soldiers many Alsatians and even, ironically, local Prussian/German administrators and bureaucrats cheered due to the re-establishment of order (which can be seen and is described in detail in the reference video below). Although U.S. President Woodrow Wilson
Woodrow Wilson
Thomas Woodrow Wilson was the 28th President of the United States, from 1913 to 1921. A leader of the Progressive Movement, he served as President of Princeton University from 1902 to 1910, and then as the Governor of New Jersey from 1911 to 1913...

 had insisted that the région was self-ruling by legal status, as its constitution had stated it was bound to the sole authority of the Kaiser
Kaiser
Kaiser is the German title meaning "Emperor", with Kaiserin being the female equivalent, "Empress". Like the Russian Czar it is directly derived from the Latin Emperors' title of Caesar, which in turn is derived from the personal name of a branch of the gens Julia, to which Gaius Julius Caesar,...

 and not to the German state, France tolerated no plebiscite, as granted by the League of Nations
League of Nations
The League of Nations was an intergovernmental organization founded as a result of the Paris Peace Conference that ended the First World War. It was the first permanent international organization whose principal mission was to maintain world peace...

 to some eastern German territories at this time, because Alsatians were considered by the French public as fellow Frenchmen liberated from German rule. Germany ceded the region to France under the Treaty of Versailles
Treaty of Versailles
The Treaty of Versailles was one of the peace treaties at the end of World War I. It ended the state of war between Germany and the Allied Powers. It was signed on 28 June 1919, exactly five years after the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand. The other Central Powers on the German side of...

.

After World War I, the establishment of German identity in Alsace was reversed, as all Germans who had settled in Alsace since 1871 were expelled. Policies forbidding the use of German and requiring that of French were introduced. However, in order not to antagonize the Alsatians, the region was not subjected to some legal changes that had occurred in the rest of France between 1871 and 1919, such as the 1905 French Law of Separation of Church and State
1905 French law on the separation of Church and State
The 1905 French law on the Separation of the Churches and State was passed by the Chamber of Deputies on 9 December 1905. Enacted during the Third Republic, it established state secularism in France...

.

The région was effectively annexed by Germany in 1940 during World War II, and incorporated into the Greater German Reich
Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany , also known as the Third Reich , but officially called German Reich from 1933 to 1943 and Greater German Reich from 26 June 1943 onward, is the name commonly used to refer to the state of Germany from 1933 to 1945, when it was a totalitarian dictatorship ruled by...

, which had been restructured into Reichsgau
Reichsgau
A Reichsgau was an administrative subdivision created in a number of the areas annexed to Nazi Germany between 1938 and 1945...

e. Alsace was merged with Baden
Baden
Baden is a historical state on the east bank of the Rhine in the southwest of Germany, now the western part of the Baden-Württemberg of Germany....

, and Lorraine with the Saarland
Saarland
Saarland is one of the sixteen states of Germany. The capital is Saarbrücken. It has an area of 2570 km² and 1,045,000 inhabitants. In both area and population, it is the smallest state in Germany other than the city-states...

, to become part of a planned Westmark
Gau Westmark
The Gau Westmark was an administrative division of Nazi Germany from 1933 to 1945. Previous to that, since 1926, it was the regional subdivision of the Nazi Party.-History:...

. The German government never negotiated or declared a formal annexation, however, in order to preserve the possibility of an agreement with the West. During the war, 130,000 young men from Alsace and Lorraine were forcibly inducted into the German army and in some cases, the Waffen SS.

Today the territory enjoys laws in certain areas that are significantly different from the rest of France – this is known as the local law.

In more recent years, Alsatian is again being promoted by local, national and European authorities as an element of the region's identity. Alsatian is taught in schools (but not mandatory) as one of the regional languages of France. German is also taught as a foreign language in local kindergarten
Kindergarten
A kindergarten is a preschool educational institution for children. The term was created by Friedrich Fröbel for the play and activity institute that he created in 1837 in Bad Blankenburg as a social experience for children for their transition from home to school...

s and schools. However, the Constitution of France
Constitution of France
The current Constitution of France was adopted on 4 October 1958. It is typically called the Constitution of the Fifth Republic, and replaced that of the Fourth Republic dating from 1946. Charles de Gaulle was the main driving force in introducing the new constitution and inaugurating the Fifth...

 still requires that French be the only official language of the Republic.

Timeline

Year(s) Event Ruled by Official or common language
5400–4500 BC Bandkeramiker/Linear Pottery cultures None
2300–750 BC Bell Beaker cultures None; Proto-Celtic spoken
750–450 BC Halstatt early Iron Age culture (early Celts) None; Old Celtic spoken
450–58 BC Celts/Gauls firmly secured in entire Gaul, Alsace; trade with Greece is evident (Vix
Vix Grave
The area around the village of Vix in northern Burgundy, France is the site of an important prehistoric complex from the Celtic Late Hallstatt and Early La Tène periods, comprising an important fortified settlement and several burial mounds. The most famous of the latter, the Vix Grave, also known...

)
Celts/Gauls None; Gaulish variety of Celtic widely spoken
58 / 44 BC–
AD 260
Alsace and Gaul conquered by Caesar, provinciated to Germania Superior
Germania Superior
Germania Superior , so called for the reason that it lay upstream of Germania Inferior, was a province of the Roman Empire. It comprised an area of western Switzerland, the French Jura and Alsace regions, and southwestern Germany...

 
Roman Empire
Roman Empire
The Roman Empire was the post-Republican period of the ancient Roman civilization, characterised by an autocratic form of government and large territorial holdings in Europe and around the Mediterranean....

 
Latin; Gallic widely spoken
260–274 Postumus founds breakaway Gallic Empire Gallic Empire
Gallic Empire
The Gallic Empire is the modern name for a breakaway realm that existed from 260 to 274. It originated during the Roman Empire's Crisis of the Third Century....

 
Latin, Gallic
274–286 Rome reconquers the Gallic Empire, Alsace Roman Empire
Roman Empire
The Roman Empire was the post-Republican period of the ancient Roman civilization, characterised by an autocratic form of government and large territorial holdings in Europe and around the Mediterranean....

 
Latin, Germanic (only in Argentoratum
Argentoratum
Argentoratum or Argentorate was the ancient name of the French city of Strasbourg.The Romans under Nero Claudius Drusus established a military outpost belonging to the Germania Superior Roman province close to a Gaulish village near the banks of the Rhine, at the current location of Strasbourg,...

)
286–378 Diocletian
Diocletian
Diocletian |latinized]] upon his accession to Diocletian . c. 22 December 244  – 3 December 311), was a Roman Emperor from 284 to 305....

 divides the Roman Empire into Western and Eastern sectors
Roman Empire
around 300 Beginning of Germanic migrations to the Roman Empire Roman Empire
378–395 The Visigoths rebel, precursor to waves of German, and Hun invasions Roman Empire
395–436 Death of Theodosius I
Theodosius I
Theodosius I , also known as Theodosius the Great, was Roman Emperor from 379 to 395. Theodosius was the last emperor to rule over both the eastern and the western halves of the Roman Empire. During his reign, the Goths secured control of Illyricum after the Gothic War, establishing their homeland...

, causing a permanent division between Western and Eastern Rome
Western Roman Empire
Western Roman Empire
The Western Roman Empire was the western half of the Roman Empire after its division by Diocletian in 285; the other half of the Roman Empire was the Eastern Roman Empire, commonly referred to today as the Byzantine Empire....

436–486 Germanic invasions of the Western Roman Empire Roman Tributary of Gaul
Gaul
Gaul was a region of Western Europe during the Iron Age and Roman era, encompassing present day France, Luxembourg and Belgium, most of Switzerland, the western part of Northern Italy, as well as the parts of the Netherlands and Germany on the left bank of the Rhine. The Gauls were the speakers of...

486–511 Lower Alsace conquered by the Franks Frankish Realm  Old Frankish
Old Frankish
Old Frankish is an extinct West Germanic language, once spoken by the Franks. It is the parent language of the Franconian languages, of which Dutch and Afrikaans are the most known descendants...

, Latin
531–614 Upper Alsace conquered by the Franks Frankish Realm
614–795 Totality of Alsace to the Frankish Kingdom Frankish Realm
795–814 Charlemagne
Charlemagne
Charlemagne was King of the Franks from 768 and Emperor of the Romans from 800 to his death in 814. He expanded the Frankish kingdom into an empire that incorporated much of Western and Central Europe. During his reign, he conquered Italy and was crowned by Pope Leo III on 25 December 800...

 begins reign, Charlemagne crowned Emperor of the Romans
Holy Roman Emperor
The Holy Roman Emperor is a term used by historians to denote a medieval ruler who, as German King, had also received the title of "Emperor of the Romans" from the Pope...

 on 25 December 800
Frankish Empire Old Frankish
814 Death of Charlemagne Carolingian Empire Old Frankish, Old High German
Old High German
The term Old High German refers to the earliest stage of the German language and it conventionally covers the period from around 500 to 1050. Coherent written texts do not appear until the second half of the 8th century, and some treat the period before 750 as 'prehistoric' and date the start of...

847–870 Treaty of Verdun
Treaty of Verdun
The Treaty of Verdun was a treaty between the three surviving sons of Louis the Pious, the son and successor of Charlemagne, which divided the Carolingian Empire into three kingdoms...

 gives Alsace and Lotharingia to Lothar I 
Middle Francia
Middle Francia
Middle Francia was an ephemeral Frankish kingdom created by the Treaty of Verdun in 843, which divided the Carolingian Empire among the sons of Louis the Pious...

 (Carolingian Empire)
Frankish, Old High German
870–889 Treaty of Mersen gives Alsace to East Francia East Francia (German Kingdom of the Carolingian Empire) Frankish, Old High German
889–962 Carolingian Empire breaks up into five Kingdoms, Magyars and Vikings periodically raid Alsace Kingdom of Germany
Kingdom of Germany
The Kingdom of Germany developed out of the eastern half of the former Carolingian Empire....

 
Old High German, Frankish
962–1618 Otto I
Otto I, Holy Roman Emperor
Otto I the Great , son of Henry I the Fowler and Matilda of Ringelheim, was Duke of Saxony, King of Germany, King of Italy, and "the first of the Germans to be called the emperor of Italy" according to Arnulf of Milan...

 crowned Holy Roman Emperor
Holy Roman Emperor
The Holy Roman Emperor is a term used by historians to denote a medieval ruler who, as German King, had also received the title of "Emperor of the Romans" from the Pope...

 
Holy Roman Empire
Holy Roman Empire
The Holy Roman Empire was a realm that existed from 962 to 1806 in Central Europe.It was ruled by the Holy Roman Emperor. Its character changed during the Middle Ages and the Early Modern period, when the power of the emperor gradually weakened in favour of the princes...

 
Old High German
Old High German
The term Old High German refers to the earliest stage of the German language and it conventionally covers the period from around 500 to 1050. Coherent written texts do not appear until the second half of the 8th century, and some treat the period before 750 as 'prehistoric' and date the start of...

, Modern High German
German language
German is a West Germanic language, related to and classified alongside English and Dutch. With an estimated 90 – 98 million native speakers, German is one of the world's major languages and is the most widely-spoken first language in the European Union....

 (Alemannic
Alemannic German
Alemannic is a group of dialects of the Upper German branch of the Germanic language family. It is spoken by approximately ten million people in six countries: Switzerland, Germany, Austria, Liechtenstein, France and Italy...

 spoken widely)
1618–1674 Louis XIII
Louis XIII of France
Louis XIII was a Bourbon monarch who ruled as King of France and of Navarre from 1610 to 1643.Louis was only eight years old when he succeeded his father. His mother, Marie de Medici, acted as regent during Louis' minority...

 annexes portions of Alsace during the Thirty Years' War
Thirty Years' War
The Thirty Years' War was fought primarily in what is now Germany, and at various points involved most countries in Europe. It was one of the most destructive conflicts in European history....

 
Holy Roman Empire German
1674–1871 Louis XIV
Louis XIV of France
Louis XIV , known as Louis the Great or the Sun King , was a Bourbon monarch who ruled as King of France and Navarre. His reign, from 1643 to his death in 1715, began at the age of four and lasted seventy-two years, three months, and eighteen days...

 annexes the rest of Alsace during the Franco-Dutch War
Franco-Dutch War
The Franco-Dutch War, often called simply the Dutch War was a war fought by France, Sweden, the Bishopric of Münster, the Archbishopric of Cologne and England against the United Netherlands, which were later joined by the Austrian Habsburg lands, Brandenburg and Spain to form a quadruple alliance...

, establishing full French sovereignty over the region
Kingdom of France French
(Alsatian and German tolerated)
1871–1918 Franco-Prussian war
Franco-Prussian War
The Franco-Prussian War or Franco-German War, often referred to in France as the 1870 War was a conflict between the Second French Empire and the Kingdom of Prussia. Prussia was aided by the North German Confederation, of which it was a member, and the South German states of Baden, Württemberg and...

 causes French cession of Alsace to German Empire
German Empire
The German Empire refers to Germany during the "Second Reich" period from the unification of Germany and proclamation of Wilhelm I as German Emperor on 18 January 1871, to 1918, when it became a federal republic after defeat in World War I and the abdication of the Emperor, Wilhelm II.The German...

 
German Empire
German Empire
The German Empire refers to Germany during the "Second Reich" period from the unification of Germany and proclamation of Wilhelm I as German Emperor on 18 January 1871, to 1918, when it became a federal republic after defeat in World War I and the abdication of the Emperor, Wilhelm II.The German...

 
German
1919–1940 Treaty of Versailles
Treaty of Versailles
The Treaty of Versailles was one of the peace treaties at the end of World War I. It ended the state of war between Germany and the Allied Powers. It was signed on 28 June 1919, exactly five years after the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand. The other Central Powers on the German side of...

 causes German cession of Alsace to France
France
French Third Republic
The French Third Republic was the republican government of France from 1870, when the Second French Empire collapsed due to the French defeat in the Franco-Prussian War, to 1940, when France was overrun by Nazi Germany during World War II, resulting in the German and Italian occupations of France...

 
French
1940–1944 Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany , also known as the Third Reich , but officially called German Reich from 1933 to 1943 and Greater German Reich from 26 June 1943 onward, is the name commonly used to refer to the state of Germany from 1933 to 1945, when it was a totalitarian dictatorship ruled by...

 conquers Alsace
Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany , also known as the Third Reich , but officially called German Reich from 1933 to 1943 and Greater German Reich from 26 June 1943 onward, is the name commonly used to refer to the state of Germany from 1933 to 1945, when it was a totalitarian dictatorship ruled by...

 
German
1945–present French control France French

Tourism


Having been early and always densely populated, Alsace is famous for its high number of picturesque villages, churches and castles and for the various beauties of its three main towns, in spite of severe destructions suffered throughout five centuries of wars between France and Germany.

Alsace is furthermore famous for its vineyards (especially along the 170 km of the Route des Vins d'Alsace from Marlenheim
Marlenheim
Marlenheim is a commune in the Bas-Rhin department in Alsace in north-eastern France.-References:*...

 to Thann
Thann, Haut-Rhin
Thann is a commune in the Haut-Rhin department in Alsace in north-eastern France.Its inhabitants are known as Thannois.-Geography:...

) and the Vosges mountains
Vosges mountains
For the department of France of the same name, see Vosges.The Vosges are a range of low mountains in eastern France, near its border with Germany. They extend along the west side of the Rhine valley in a northnortheast direction, mainly from Belfort to Saverne...

 with their thick and green forests and picturesque lakes.


  • Old towns of Strasbourg
    Strasbourg
    Strasbourg is the capital and principal city of the Alsace region in eastern France and is the official seat of the European Parliament. Located close to the border with Germany, it is the capital of the Bas-Rhin département. The city and the region of Alsace are historically German-speaking,...

    , Colmar
    Colmar
    Colmar is a commune in the Haut-Rhin department in Alsace in north-eastern France.It is the capital of the department. Colmar is also the seat of the highest jurisdiction in Alsace, the appellate court....

    , Sélestat
    Sélestat
    Sélestat is a commune in the Bas-Rhin department in Alsace in north-eastern France.In 2006, Sélestat had a total population of 19,459. The Communauté de communes de Sélestat et environs had a total population of 35,397.-Geography:...

    , Guebwiller
    Guebwiller
    Guebwiller is a commune in the Haut-Rhin department in Alsace in north-eastern France.It is situated northwest of Mulhouse at the foot of the Vosges mountains...

    , Saverne
    Saverne
    Saverne is a commune in the Bas-Rhin department in Alsace in north-eastern France. It is situated on the Rhine-Marne canal at the foot of a pass over the Vosges Mountains, and 45 km N.W...

    , Obernai
  • Smaller cities and villages: Molsheim
    Molsheim
    Molsheim is a commune in the Bas-Rhin department in Alsace in north-eastern France. The total population in 2006 was 9,382. Molsheim had been a very fast growing city between the French censuses of 1968 and 1999, passing from 5,739 to 9,331 inhabitants, but this increase came to a noticeable halt...

    , Rosheim
    Rosheim
    Rosheim is a commune in the Bas-Rhin department in Alsace in north-eastern France.It lies southwest of Strasbourg, on the eastern slopes of the Vosges mountains...

    , Riquewihr
    Riquewihr
    Riquewihr is a commune in the Haut-Rhin department in Alsace in north-eastern France.A popular tourist attraction for its historical architecture, Riquewihr is also known for the Riesling and other great wines produced in the village...

    , Ribeauvillé
    Ribeauvillé
    Ribeauvillé is a commune in the Haut-Rhin department in Alsace in north-eastern France.Its inhabitants are called Ribeauvillois.The picturesque town is located around north of Colmar and south of Strasbourg.-History:...

    , Kaysersberg
    Kaysersberg
    Kaysersberg is a commune in the Haut-Rhin department in Alsace in north-eastern France.The inhabitants are called Kaysersbergeois. The name means Emperor's Mountain in German....

    , Wissembourg
    Wissembourg
    Wissembourg is a commune in the Bas-Rhin department in Alsace in northeastern France.It is situated on the little River Lauter close to the border between France and Germany approximately north of Strasbourg and west of Karlsruhe. Wissembourg is a sub-prefecture of the department...

    , Neuwiller-lès-Saverne
    Neuwiller-lès-Saverne
    Neuwiller-lès-Saverne is a commune in the Bas-Rhin department in Alsace in north-eastern France.-References:*...

    , Marmoutier
    Marmoutier
    Marmoutier is a commune in the Bas-Rhin département in Alsace in north-eastern France. The origin of the place is the former Marmoutier Abbey, of which the abbey church still serves as the parish church. It is a commune in the Bas-Rhin département in Alsace in north-eastern France.-History:In 590 St...

    , Rouffach
    Rouffach
    Rouffach is a commune in the Haut-Rhin department in Alsace in north-eastern France.Rouffach lies along the Alsatian wine route ....

    , Soultz-Haut-Rhin
    Soultz-Haut-Rhin
    Soultz-Haut-Rhin is a commune in the Haut-Rhin department in Alsace in north-eastern France.Its inhabitants are called Soultziens.-Geography:The town of Soultz-Haut-Rhin has an enclave located northeast of Goldbach-Altenbach....

    , Bergheim
    Bergheim, Haut-Rhin
    Bergheim is a commune in the Haut-Rhin department in Alsace in north-eastern France.It is a completely fortified town and has magnificent towers and walls. The entire population was wiped out by two wars and the plague in the 17th-18th centuries. To replace the population, thousands of people...

    , Hunspach
    Hunspach
    Hunspach is a commune in the Bas-Rhin department in Alsace in north-eastern France.-Geography:The commune lies a short distance to the south of Wissembourg within the North Vosges Natural Park.-Sights:...

    , Seebach
    Seebach, Bas-Rhin
    Seebach is a commune in the Bas-Rhin department in Alsace in north-eastern France.-References:*...

    , Turckheim
    Turckheim
    Turckheim is a commune in the Haut-Rhin department in Alsace in north-eastern France. It lies west of Colmar, on the eastern slopes of the Vosges mountains.-Places of interest:...

    , Eguisheim
    Eguisheim
    Eguisheim is a commune in the Haut-Rhin department in Alsace in north-eastern France.Eguisheim produces Alsace wine of high quality. The commune is largely German-speaking.-History:...

    , Neuf-Brisach
    Neuf-Brisach
    Neuf-Brisach is a commune in the Haut-Rhin department in Alsace in north-eastern France.The town's name means New Breisach, referring to the German town Breisach, located on the other side of the Rhine....

    , Ferrette
    Ferrette
    Ferrette is a commune in the Haut-Rhin department in Alsace in north-eastern France.It is situated close to the Swiss border. Its main attraction is the Château de Ferrette.-County of Ferrette:...

    , Niedermorschwihr
    Niedermorschwihr
    Niedermorschwihr is a commune in the Haut-Rhin department in Alsace in north-eastern France.-References:*...

     and the gardens of the blue house in Uttenhoffen
    Uttenhoffen
    Uttenhoffen is a commune in the Bas-Rhin department in Alsace in north-eastern France.-History:Finds from the Neolithic Age and the Hallstatt culture period are as attested as the settlement in Roman times. After introduction of the Reformation in the 16th Century Uttenhoffen had until the 18th...

  • Churches (as main sights in otherwise less remarkable places): Thann
    Thann, Haut-Rhin
    Thann is a commune in the Haut-Rhin department in Alsace in north-eastern France.Its inhabitants are known as Thannois.-Geography:...

    , Andlau
    Andlau
    Andlau is a commune in the Bas-Rhin department in Alsace in north-eastern France.The village owes its origin to Andlau Abbey which was founded in AD 880 by Richardis, the Empress of Charles the Fat...

    , Murbach
    Murbach
    Murbach is a commune in the Haut-Rhin department in Alsace in north-eastern France.Murbach Abbey is located near Murbach.-References:*...

    , Ebersmunster
    Ebersmunster
    Ebersmunster is a commune in the Bas-Rhin department in Alsace in north-eastern France.It is famous for its 1727 baroque church, a work by Vorarlberg architect Peter Thumb.-References:*...

    , Niederhaslach
    Niederhaslach
    Niederhaslach is a commune in the Bas-Rhin department in Alsace in north-eastern France.It is noteworthy for its Gothic church.-References:*...

    , Sigolsheim
    Sigolsheim
    Sigolsheim is a commune in the Haut-Rhin department in Alsace in north-eastern France.-References:*...

    , Lautenbach
    Lautenbach
    Lautenbach is a town in the district of Ortenau in Baden-Württemberg in Germany....

    , Epfig
    Epfig
    Epfig is a commune, in the Bas-Rhin department in Alsace in north-eastern France.-References:*...

    , Altorf
    Altorf
    Altorf is a commune in the Bas-Rhin department in Alsace in north-eastern France.The town has a long history. Its most interesting monument is the part-Romanesque, part-Baroque church of St. Cyriaque, which until the French revolution belonged to a Benedictine Abbey.-See also:*Welf, count of...

    , Ottmarsheim
    Ottmarsheim
    Ottmarsheim is a commune in the Haut-Rhin department in Alsace in north-eastern France.-References:*...

    , Domfessel
    Domfessel
    Domfessel is a commune in the Bas-Rhin department in Alsace in north-eastern France.-References:*...

    , Niederhaslach
    Niederhaslach
    Niederhaslach is a commune in the Bas-Rhin department in Alsace in north-eastern France.It is noteworthy for its Gothic church.-References:*...

    , Marmoutier
    Marmoutier
    Marmoutier is a commune in the Bas-Rhin département in Alsace in north-eastern France. The origin of the place is the former Marmoutier Abbey, of which the abbey church still serves as the parish church. It is a commune in the Bas-Rhin département in Alsace in north-eastern France.-History:In 590 St...

     and the fortified church at Hunawihr
    Hunawihr
    Hunawihr is a commune in the Haut-Rhin department in Alsace in north-eastern France.The village is a member of the Les Plus Beaux Villages de France association.-References:*...

  • Château du Haut-Kœnigsbourg
    Château du Haut-Kœnigsbourg
    The château du Haut-Kœnigsbourg is located at Orschwiller, Alsace, France, in the Vosges mountains just west of Sélestat. The castle is nestled at a strategic location on a high hill overlooking the Alsatian plain; as a result it was used by successive powers from the Middle Ages until the Thirty...

  • Other castles: Ortenbourg and Ramstein
    Château de Ramstein (Bas-Rhin)
    The Château de Ramstein is a ruined castle in the commune of Scherwiller, in the Bas-Rhin département of France. Its name is probably derived from the German Ram and Stein and signifies 'rock of the crow'....

     (above Sélestat), Hohlandsbourg, Fleckenstein
    Château du Fleckenstein
    Château du Fleckenstein is a castle in the commune of Lembach, in the Bas-Rhin département of France. This fortress, built in the shape of 52 m long boat, has a long history. The castle was built on a sandstone summit in the Middle Ages...

    , Haut-Barr (above Saverne), Saint-Ulrich (above Ribeauvillé), Lichtenberg, Wangenbourg, the three Castles of Eguisheim
    Eguisheim
    Eguisheim is a commune in the Haut-Rhin department in Alsace in north-eastern France.Eguisheim produces Alsace wine of high quality. The commune is largely German-speaking.-History:...

    , Pflixbourg
    Château de Pflixbourg
    The Château du Pflixbourg is a castle in the Haut-Rhin département of France.The castle is listed as a Monument historique since 1968 by the French Ministry of Culture.-References:...

    , Wasigenstein, Andlau
    Château d'Andlau
    The Château d'Andlau is a medieval castle in the commune of Andlau, in the Bas-Rhin département of France.- History :Constructed on a narrow granite outcrop at an altitude of 451 m , the Haut-Andlau dominates the valleys of Andlau and Kirneck. The castle was built from granite blocks, very...

    , Grand Geroldseck, Wasenbourg
    Wasenbourg
    Wasenbourg, located 400 metres in height on the northwest hillside of Reisberg, is a ruined castle in the North Vosges. Although its origins are fairly obscure, the historians attribute generally its construction, by 1273, to Conrad de Lichtenberg, then bishop of Strasbourg.- History :The castle is...

  • Musée de l'automobile de Mulhouse
  • Cité du train museum in Mulhouse
  • The EDF
    Électricité de France
    Électricité de France S.A. is the second largest French utility company. Headquartered in Paris, France, with €65.2 billion in revenues in 2010, EDF operates a diverse portfolio of 120,000+ megawatts of generation capacity in Europe, Latin America, Asia, the Middle East and Africa.EDF is one of...

     museum in Mulhouse
  • Ungersheim
    Ungersheim
    Ungersheim is a commune in the Haut-Rhin department of Alsace in eastern France. It forms part of the Mulhouse Alsace Agglomération, the inter-communal local government body for the Mulhouse conurbation.It is known for:...

    's "écomusée" (open air museum) and "Bioscope" (leisure park about environment)
  • Musée historique in Haguenau
    Haguenau
    -Economy:The town has a well balanced economy. Centuries of troubled history in the buffer lands between France and Germany have bequeathed to Haguenau a rich historical and cultural heritage which supports a lively tourist trade. There is also a thriving light manufacturing sector centred on the...

    , largest museum in Bas-Rhin outside of Strasbourg
  • Bibliothèque humaniste in Sélestat, one of the oldest public libraries in the world
  • Christmas market
    Christmas Market
    A Christmas market, also known as Christkindlmarkt, Christkindlesmarkt, Christkindlmarket, and Weihnachtsmarkt, is a street market associated with the celebration of Christmas during the four weeks of Advent...

    s in Kaysersberg, Strasbourg, Mulhouse and Colmar
  • Departmental Centre of the History of Families (CDHF) in Guebwiller
  • The Maginot Line
    Maginot Line
    The Maginot Line , named after the French Minister of War André Maginot, was a line of concrete fortifications, tank obstacles, artillery casemates, machine gun posts, and other defences, which France constructed along its borders with Germany and Italy, in light of its experience in World War I,...

    : Ouvrage Schoenenbourg
    Ouvrage Schoenenbourg
    Ouvrage Schoenenbourg is a Maginot Line fortification. It is located on the territory of the communes of Hunspach, Schœnenbourg and Ingolsheim, in the French département of Bas-Rhin, forming part of the Fortified Sector of Haguenau, facing Germany. At the east end of the Alsace portion of the...

  • Mount Ste Odile
  • Route des Vins d'Alsace (Alsace Wine Route)
  • Mémorial d'Alsace-Lorraine in Schirmeck
    Schirmeck
    Schirmeck is a commune in the Bas-Rhin department in Alsace in north-eastern France.-References:*...

  • The Struthof, the only concentration and extermination camp on the French territory during WWII
  • Famous mountains
    Vosges mountains
    For the department of France of the same name, see Vosges.The Vosges are a range of low mountains in eastern France, near its border with Germany. They extend along the west side of the Rhine valley in a northnortheast direction, mainly from Belfort to Saverne...

    : Massif du Donon, Grand Ballon
    Grand Ballon
    Le Grand Ballon is the apex of the Vosges Mountains, located 25 kilometres northwest of Mulhouse, France.Some still call it Ballon de Guebwiller, after the name of the closest city, Guebwiller, located 8 km to the east...

    , Petit Ballon, Ballon d'Alsace
    Ballon d'Alsace
    Ballon d'Alsace is a mountain at the border of Alsace, Lorraine, and Franche-Comté. From its top, views include the Vosges, the Rhine valley, and the Black Forest.A road leads over a pass near the peak at ....

    , Hohneck, Hartmannswillerkopf
    Hartmannswillerkopf
    Hartmannswillerkopf, also known as the Vieil Armand or Hartmannsweilerkopf is a pyramidal rocky spur in the Vosges mountains of Alsace. The peak stands at overlooking the Rhine valley. At Hartmannswillerkopf stands a national monument of World War I for the fighting which took place in the...

  • National park
    National park
    A national park is a reserve of natural, semi-natural, or developed land that a sovereign state declares or owns. Although individual nations designate their own national parks differently A national park is a reserve of natural, semi-natural, or developed land that a sovereign state declares or...

    : Parc naturel des Vosges du Nord
  • Regional park
    Regional park
    Regional park is a term used for an area of land preserved on account of its natural beauty, historic interest, recreational use or other reason, and under the administration of a form of local government.-Definition:...

    : Parc naturel régional des Ballons des Vosges (south of the Vosges
    Vosges mountains
    For the department of France of the same name, see Vosges.The Vosges are a range of low mountains in eastern France, near its border with Germany. They extend along the west side of the Rhine valley in a northnortheast direction, mainly from Belfort to Saverne...

    )

Climate


Alsace has a semi-continental climate
Continental climate
Continental climate is a climate characterized by important annual variation in temperature due to the lack of significant bodies of water nearby...

 with cold and dry winters and hot summers. There is little precipitation because the Vosges
Vosges mountains
For the department of France of the same name, see Vosges.The Vosges are a range of low mountains in eastern France, near its border with Germany. They extend along the west side of the Rhine valley in a northnortheast direction, mainly from Belfort to Saverne...

 protect it from the west. The city of Colmar
Colmar
Colmar is a commune in the Haut-Rhin department in Alsace in north-eastern France.It is the capital of the department. Colmar is also the seat of the highest jurisdiction in Alsace, the appellate court....

 has a sunny
Sunlight
Sunlight, in the broad sense, is the total frequency spectrum of electromagnetic radiation given off by the Sun. On Earth, sunlight is filtered through the Earth's atmosphere, and solar radiation is obvious as daylight when the Sun is above the horizon.When the direct solar radiation is not blocked...

 microclimate
Microclimate
A microclimate is a local atmospheric zone where the climate differs from the surrounding area. The term may refer to areas as small as a few square feet or as large as many square miles...

; it is the second driest city in France, with an annual precipitation of just 550 mm, making it ideal for vin d'Alsace (Alsatian wine).

Topography


Alsace has an area of 8,283 km², making it the smallest région
Régions of France
France is divided into 27 administrative regions , 22 of which are in Metropolitan France, and five of which are overseas. Corsica is a territorial collectivity , but is considered a region in mainstream usage, and is even shown as such on the INSEE website...

 of metropolitan France
Metropolitan France
Metropolitan France is the part of France located in Europe. It can also be described as mainland France or as the French mainland and the island of Corsica...

. It is almost four times longer than it is wide, corresponding to a plain between the Rhine in the east and the Vosges mountains
Vosges mountains
For the department of France of the same name, see Vosges.The Vosges are a range of low mountains in eastern France, near its border with Germany. They extend along the west side of the Rhine valley in a northnortheast direction, mainly from Belfort to Saverne...

 in the west.

It includes the départements of Haut-Rhin
Haut-Rhin
Haut-Rhin is a département of the Alsace region of France, named after the Rhine river. Its name means Upper Rhine. Haut-Rhin is the smaller and less populated of the two departements of Alsace, although is still densely populated compared to the rest of France.-Subdivisions:The department...

 and Bas-Rhin
Bas-Rhin
Bas-Rhin is a department of France. The name means "Lower Rhine". It is the more populous and densely populated of the two departments of the Alsace region, with 1,079,013 inhabitants in 2006.- History :...

 (known previously as Sundgau
Sundgau
Sundgau is a geographical territory on the eastern edge of France that was once a principality of the Holy Roman Empire. The name Sundgau derives from Alemannic German, which means "South County" ....

 and Nordgau). It borders Germany on the north and the east, Switzerland and Franche-Comté
Franche-Comté
Franche-Comté the former "Free County" of Burgundy, as distinct from the neighbouring Duchy, is an administrative region and a traditional province of eastern France...

 on the south, and Lorraine
Lorraine (région)
Lorraine is one of the 27 régions of France. The administrative region has two cities of equal importance, Metz and Nancy. Metz is considered to be the official capital since that is where the regional parliament is situated...

 on the west.

Several valley
Valley
In geology, a valley or dale is a depression with predominant extent in one direction. A very deep river valley may be called a canyon or gorge.The terms U-shaped and V-shaped are descriptive terms of geography to characterize the form of valleys...

s are also found in the région. Its highest point is the Grand Ballon
Grand Ballon
Le Grand Ballon is the apex of the Vosges Mountains, located 25 kilometres northwest of Mulhouse, France.Some still call it Ballon de Guebwiller, after the name of the closest city, Guebwiller, located 8 km to the east...

in Haut-Rhin
Haut-Rhin
Haut-Rhin is a département of the Alsace region of France, named after the Rhine river. Its name means Upper Rhine. Haut-Rhin is the smaller and less populated of the two departements of Alsace, although is still densely populated compared to the rest of France.-Subdivisions:The department...

, which reaches a height of 1426 m.

Geology


Alsace is the part of the plain of the Rhine located at the west of the Rhine, on its left bank. It is a rift
Rift
In geology, a rift or chasm is a place where the Earth's crust and lithosphere are being pulled apart and is an example of extensional tectonics....

 or graben
Graben
In geology, a graben is a depressed block of land bordered by parallel faults. Graben is German for ditch. Graben is used for both the singular and plural....

, from the Oligocene
Oligocene
The Oligocene is a geologic epoch of the Paleogene Period and extends from about 34 million to 23 million years before the present . As with other older geologic periods, the rock beds that define the period are well identified but the exact dates of the start and end of the period are slightly...

 epoch
Geologic time scale
The geologic time scale provides a system of chronologic measurement relating stratigraphy to time that is used by geologists, paleontologists and other earth scientists to describe the timing and relationships between events that have occurred during the history of the Earth...

, associated with its horsts: the Vosges
Vosges mountains
For the department of France of the same name, see Vosges.The Vosges are a range of low mountains in eastern France, near its border with Germany. They extend along the west side of the Rhine valley in a northnortheast direction, mainly from Belfort to Saverne...

 and the Black Forest
Black Forest
The Black Forest is a wooded mountain range in Baden-Württemberg, southwestern Germany. It is bordered by the Rhine valley to the west and south. The highest peak is the Feldberg with an elevation of 1,493 metres ....

.

The Jura Mountains
Jura mountains
The Jura Mountains are a small mountain range located north of the Alps, separating the Rhine and Rhone rivers and forming part of the watershed of each...

, formed by slip (induced by the alpine uplift) of the Mesozoic
Mesozoic
The Mesozoic era is an interval of geological time from about 250 million years ago to about 65 million years ago. It is often referred to as the age of reptiles because reptiles, namely dinosaurs, were the dominant terrestrial and marine vertebrates of the time...

 cover on the Triassic
Triassic
The Triassic is a geologic period and system that extends from about 250 to 200 Mya . As the first period of the Mesozoic Era, the Triassic follows the Permian and is followed by the Jurassic. Both the start and end of the Triassic are marked by major extinction events...

 formations, goes through the area of Belfort
Belfort
Belfort is a commune in the Territoire de Belfort department in Franche-Comté in northeastern France and is the prefecture of the department. It is located on the Savoureuse, on the strategically important natural route between the Rhine and the Rhône – the Belfort Gap or Burgundian Gate .-...

.

Flora


It contains many forests, primarily in the Vosges
Vosges mountains
For the department of France of the same name, see Vosges.The Vosges are a range of low mountains in eastern France, near its border with Germany. They extend along the west side of the Rhine valley in a northnortheast direction, mainly from Belfort to Saverne...

 and in Bas-Rhin
Bas-Rhin
Bas-Rhin is a department of France. The name means "Lower Rhine". It is the more populous and densely populated of the two departments of the Alsace region, with 1,079,013 inhabitants in 2006.- History :...

 (Haguenau Forest).

Politics


Alsace is one of the most conservative régions of France. It is one of just two régions in metropolitan France
Metropolitan France
Metropolitan France is the part of France located in Europe. It can also be described as mainland France or as the French mainland and the island of Corsica...

 where the conservative right won the 2004 région elections
French regional elections, 2004
Regional elections in were held in France on 21 and 28 March 2004. At stake were the presidencies of each of France's 26 regions which, although they do not have legislative powers, manage sizeable budgets...

 and thus controls the Alsace Regional Council
Alsace Regional Council
The Alsace Regional Council is the Conseil régional of Alsace . It is chaired by Philippe Richert. It includes 47 members.-By party:-2004:-1998:-1992:-1986:-Past Presidents:* André Bord * Pierre Schiélé...

. Conservative leader Nicolas Sarkozy got his best score in Alsace (over 65%) in the second round of the French presidential elections of 2007
French presidential election, 2007
The 2007 French presidential election, the ninth of the Fifth French Republic was held to elect the successor to Jacques Chirac as president of France for a five-year term.The winner, decided on 5 and 6 May 2007, was Nicolas Sarkozy...

. The president of the Regional Council is Philippe Richert
Philippe Richert
Philippe Richert is a French politician and Minister for Local authorities under the Minister of Interior, Overseas, Local authorities and Immigration since 14 November 2010. He was a member of the Senate of France, representing the Bas-Rhin department. He is a member of the Union for a Popular...

, a member of the Union for a Popular Movement
Union for a Popular Movement
The Union for a Popular Movement is a centre-right political party in France, and one of the two major contemporary political parties in the country along with the center-left Socialist Party...

, elected in the 2010 regional election. The frequently changing status of the région throughout history has left its mark on modern day politics in terms of a particular interest in national identity
National identity
National identity is the person's identity and sense of belonging to one state or to one nation, a feeling one shares with a group of people, regardless of one's citizenship status....

 issues.
Alsace is also one of the most pro-EU regions of France. It was one of the few French regions that voted 'yes' to the European Constitution in 2005.

Administrative divisions


The Alsace region
Alsace Regional Council
The Alsace Regional Council is the Conseil régional of Alsace . It is chaired by Philippe Richert. It includes 47 members.-By party:-2004:-1998:-1992:-1986:-Past Presidents:* André Bord * Pierre Schiélé...

 is divided into 2 departments, 13 departmental arrondissements
Arrondissements of France
The 101 French departments are divided into 342 arrondissements, which may be translated into English as districts.The capital of an arrondissement/district is called a subprefecture...

, 75 cantons
Cantons of France
The cantons of France are territorial subdivisions of the French Republic's 342 arrondissements and 101 departments.Apart from their role as organizational units in certain aspects of the administration of public services and justice, the chief purpose of the cantons today is to serve as...

 (not shown here), and 904 communes
Communes of France
The commune is the lowest level of administrative division in the French Republic. French communes are roughly equivalent to incorporated municipalities or villages in the United States or Gemeinden in Germany...

:



Department of Bas-Rhin
Bas-Rhin
Bas-Rhin is a department of France. The name means "Lower Rhine". It is the more populous and densely populated of the two departments of the Alsace region, with 1,079,013 inhabitants in 2006.- History :...



(Number of communes in parentheses)
  • Arrondissement of Haguenau
    Arrondissement of Haguenau
    The arrondissement of Haguenau is an arrondissement of France, located in the Bas-Rhin département, in the Alsace région. It has 3 cantons and 56 communes.-Cantons:The cantons of the arrondissement of Haguenau are:# Bischwiller# Haguenau...

     (56)
  • Arrondissement of Molsheim
    Arrondissement of Molsheim
    The arrondissement of Molsheim is an arrondissement of France, located in the Bas-Rhin département, in the Alsace région. It has 5 cantons and 69 communes.-Cantons:The cantons of the arrondissement of Molsheim are:# Molsheim# Rosheim# Saales...

     (69)
  • Arrondissement of Saverne
    Arrondissement of Saverne
    The arrondissement of Saverne is an arrondissement of France, located in the Bas-Rhin département, in the Alsace région. It has 6 cantons and 127 communes.-Cantons:The cantons of the arrondissement of Saverne are:# Bouxwiller# Drulingen...

     (128)
  • Arrondissement of Sélestat-Erstein
    Arrondissement of Sélestat-Erstein
    The arrondissement of Sélestat-Erstein is an arrondissement of France, located in the Bas-Rhin département, in the Alsace région. It has 7 cantons and 101 communes.-Cantons:The cantons of the arrondissement of Sélestat-Erstein are:# Barr# Benfeld...

     (101)
  • Arrondissement of Strasbourg-Campagne
    Arrondissement of Strasbourg-Campagne
    The arrondissement of Strasbourg-Campagne is an arrondissement of France, located in the Bas-Rhin département, in the Alsace région. It has 8 cantons and 104 communes.-Cantons:The cantons of the arrondissement of Strasbourg-Campagne are:...

     (104)
  • Arrondissement of Strasbourg-Ville
    Arrondissement of Strasbourg-Ville
    The arrondissement of Strasbourg-Ville is an arrondissement of France, located in the Bas-Rhin département, in the Alsace région. It has 10 cantons and 1 commune.-Cantons:The cantons of the arrondissement of Strasbourg-Ville are:...

     (1)
  • Arrondissement of Wissembourg
    Arrondissement of Wissembourg
    The arrondissement of Wissembourg is an arrondissement of France, located in the Bas-Rhin département, in the Alsace région. It has 5 cantons and 68 communes.-Cantons:The cantons of the arrondissement of Wissembourg are:# Lauterbourg# Seltz...

     (68)


Department of Haut-Rhin
Haut-Rhin
Haut-Rhin is a département of the Alsace region of France, named after the Rhine river. Its name means Upper Rhine. Haut-Rhin is the smaller and less populated of the two departements of Alsace, although is still densely populated compared to the rest of France.-Subdivisions:The department...



(Number of communes in parentheses)
  • Arrondissement of Altkirch
    Arrondissement of Altkirch
    The arrondissement of Altkirch is an arrondissement of France, located in the Haut-Rhin département, in the Alsace région. It has four cantons and 111 communes.-Cantons:The cantons of the arrondissement of Altkirch are:# Altkirch# Dannemarie...

     (111)
  • Arrondissement of Colmar
    Arrondissement of Colmar
    The arrondissement of Colmar is an arrondissement of France, located in the Haut-Rhin département, in the Alsace région. It has 6 cantons and 62 communes...

     (62)
  • Arrondissement of Guebwiller
    Arrondissement of Guebwiller
    The arrondissement of Guebwiller is an arrondissement of France, located in the Haut-Rhin département, in the Alsace région. It has 4 cantons and 47 communes.-Cantons:The cantons of the arrondissement of Guebwiller are:# Ensisheim# Guebwiller...

     (47)
  • Arrondissement of Mulhouse
    Arrondissement of Mulhouse
    The arrondissement of Mulhouse is an arrondissement of France, located in the Haut-Rhin département, in the Alsace région. It has 9 cantons and 73 communes.-Cantons:The cantons of the arrondissement of Mulhouse are:# Habsheim# Huningue# Illzach...

     (73)
  • Arrondissement of Ribeauvillé
    Arrondissement of Ribeauvillé
    The arrondissement of Ribeauvillé is an arrondissement of France, located in the Haut-Rhin département, in the Alsace région. It has 4 cantons and 32 communes.-Cantons:The cantons of the arrondissement of Ribeauvillé are:# Kaysersberg# Lapoutroie...

     (32)
  • Arrondissement of Thann
    Arrondissement of Thann
    The arrondissement of Thann is an arrondissement of France, located in the Haut-Rhin département, in the Alsace région. It has 4 cantons and 52 communes.-Cantons:The cantons of the arrondissement of Thann are:# Cernay# Masevaux# Saint-Amarin...

     (52)



Economy


According to the Institut National de la Statistique et des Études Économiques (INSEE
INSEE
INSEE is the French National Institute for Statistics and Economic Studies. It collects and publishes information on the French economy and society, carrying out the periodic national census. Located in Paris, it is the French branch of Eurostat, European Statistical System...

), Alsace had a gross domestic product of 44.3 billion euros in 2002. With a GDP per capita of €24,804, it was the second-place région of France, losing only to Île-de-France
Île-de-France (région)
Île-de-France is the wealthiest and most populated of the twenty-two administrative regions of France, composed mostly of the Paris metropolitan area....

. 68% of its jobs are in the services; 25% are in industry, making Alsace one of France's most industrialised régions.

Alsace is a région of varied economic activity, including:
  • viticulture
    Viticulture
    Viticulture is the science, production and study of grapes which deals with the series of events that occur in the vineyard. When the grapes are used for winemaking, it is also known as viniculture...

     (mostly along the Route des Vins d'Alsace between Marlenheim
    Marlenheim
    Marlenheim is a commune in the Bas-Rhin department in Alsace in north-eastern France.-References:*...

     and Thann
    Thann, Haut-Rhin
    Thann is a commune in the Haut-Rhin department in Alsace in north-eastern France.Its inhabitants are known as Thannois.-Geography:...

    )
  • hop
    Hop (plant)
    Humulus, Hop, is a small genus of flowering plants native to temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere. The female flowers of H. lupulus are known as hops, and are used as a culinary flavoring and stabilizer, especially in the brewing of beer...

     harvesting and brewing (half of French beer is produced in Alsace, especially in the vicinity of Strasbourg, notably in Strasbourg-Cronenbourg
    Kronenbourg
    Kronenbourg Brewery is a brewery founded in 1664 by Geronimus Hatt in Strasbourg, France as the Hatt Brewery. The name comes from the area where the brewery relocated in 1850. The company is owned by the Carlsberg Group...

    , Schiltigheim
    Schiltigheim
    Schiltigheim is a commune in the Bas-Rhin department in Alsace in north-eastern France.The inhabitants are called Schilikois in French and Scheligemer in Alsatian....

     and Obernai)
  • forestry development
  • automobile industry (Mulhouse
    Mulhouse
    Mulhouse |mill]] hamlet) is a city and commune in eastern France, close to the Swiss and German borders. With a population of 110,514 and 278,206 inhabitants in the metropolitan area in 2006, it is the largest city in the Haut-Rhin département, and the second largest in the Alsace region after...

    )
  • life sciences, as part of the trinational BioValley
    BioValley (Europe)
    BioValley is the leading life science cluster in Europe, founded 1996. It connects academia and companies of three nations in the Upper Rhine Valley, namely France, Germany and Switzerland...

     and
  • tourism
  • potassium chloride
    Potassium chloride
    The chemical compound potassium chloride is a metal halide salt composed of potassium and chlorine. In its pure state, it is odorless and has a white or colorless vitreous crystal appearance, with a crystal structure that cleaves easily in three directions. Potassium chloride crystals are...

     (until the late 20th century) and phosphate
    Phosphate
    A phosphate, an inorganic chemical, is a salt of phosphoric acid. In organic chemistry, a phosphate, or organophosphate, is an ester of phosphoric acid. Organic phosphates are important in biochemistry and biogeochemistry or ecology. Inorganic phosphates are mined to obtain phosphorus for use in...

     mining


Alsace has many international ties and 35% of firms are foreign companies (notably German, Swiss, American, Japanese, and Scandinavia
Scandinavia
Scandinavia is a cultural, historical and ethno-linguistic region in northern Europe that includes the three kingdoms of Denmark, Norway and Sweden, characterized by their common ethno-cultural heritage and language. Modern Norway and Sweden proper are situated on the Scandinavian Peninsula,...

n).

Demographics


Alsace's population increased to 1,836,000 in 2008. It has regularly increased over time, except in wartime, by both natural growth and migration
Human migration
Human migration is physical movement by humans from one area to another, sometimes over long distances or in large groups. Historically this movement was nomadic, often causing significant conflict with the indigenous population and their displacement or cultural assimilation. Only a few nomadic...

. This growth has even accelerated at the end of the 20th century. INSEE
INSEE
INSEE is the French National Institute for Statistics and Economic Studies. It collects and publishes information on the French economy and society, carrying out the periodic national census. Located in Paris, it is the French branch of Eurostat, European Statistical System...

 estimates that its population will grow 12.9% to 19.5% between 1999 and 2030.

With a density of 222/km², Alsace is the third most densely populated région in metropolitan France
Metropolitan France
Metropolitan France is the part of France located in Europe. It can also be described as mainland France or as the French mainland and the island of Corsica...

.

Roads


Most major car journeys are made on the A35
A35 autoroute
The A35 autoroute is a toll free highway in north eastern France. It is also known as the autoroute des cigognes and the Voie Rapide du Piémont des Vosges. It connects the German border in the Rhine valley with the Swiss frontier via Strasbourg...

 autoroute, which links Saint-Louis on the Swiss border to Lauterbourg on the German border.

The A4
A4 autoroute
The A4 Autoroute, also known as l'autoroute de l'Est is a French autoroute that travels between the cities of Paris and Strasbourg. It forms parts of European routes E25 and E50....

 toll road (towards Paris) begins 20 km northwest of Strasbourg
Strasbourg
Strasbourg is the capital and principal city of the Alsace region in eastern France and is the official seat of the European Parliament. Located close to the border with Germany, it is the capital of the Bas-Rhin département. The city and the region of Alsace are historically German-speaking,...

 and the A36
A36 autoroute
The A36 autoroute is a toll motorway in north eastern France connecting the German border with Burgundy. It is also known as La Comtoise. The road forms part of the European route E60.-Junctions:...

 toll road towards Lyon, begins 10 km west from Mulhouse
Mulhouse
Mulhouse |mill]] hamlet) is a city and commune in eastern France, close to the Swiss and German borders. With a population of 110,514 and 278,206 inhabitants in the metropolitan area in 2006, it is the largest city in the Haut-Rhin département, and the second largest in the Alsace region after...

.

Spaghetti-junctions (built in the 1970s and 1980s) are prominent in the comprehensive system of motorways in Alsace, especially in the outlying areas of Strasbourg and Mulhouse. These cause a major buildup of traffic and are the main sources of pollution in the towns, notably in Strasbourg where the motorway traffic of the A35 was 170,000 per day in 2002.

At present, plans are being considered for building a new dual carriageway
Dual carriageway
A dual carriageway is a class of highway with two carriageways for traffic travelling in opposite directions separated by a central reservation...

 west of Strasbourg, which would reduce the buildup of traffic in that area by picking up north- and southbound vehicles and getting rid of the buildup outside of Strasbourg. The line plans to link up the interchange of Hœrdt
Hœrdt
Hœrdt is a commune in the Bas-Rhin department in Alsace in north-eastern France.-Geography:Hœrdt is positioned between Strasbourg and Haguenau, a short distance to the south-east of Brumath...

 to the north of Strasbourg, with Innenheim
Innenheim
Innenheim is a commune in the Bas-Rhin department in Alsace in north-eastern France.Among speakers of the local language, the village is often called "Enle" or "Inle" according to the speaker's accent. The suffix "..le" is an Alsatian affectionate diminutive, and equivalent to "..lein" in modern...

 in the southwest. The opening is envisaged at the end of 2011, with an average usage of 41,000 vehicles a day. Estimates of the French Works Commissioner however, raised some doubts over the interest of such a project, since it would pick up only about 10% of the traffic of the A35 at Strasbourg. Paradoxically, this reversed the situation of the 1950s. At that time, the French trunk road left of the Rhine not been built, so that traffic would cross into Germany to use the Karlsruhe-Basel Autobahn.

To add to the buildup of traffic, the neighbouring German state of Baden-Württemberg
Baden-Württemberg
Baden-Württemberg is one of the 16 states of Germany. Baden-Württemberg is in the southwestern part of the country to the east of the Upper Rhine, and is the third largest in both area and population of Germany's sixteen states, with an area of and 10.7 million inhabitants...

 has imposed a tax on heavy-goods vehicles using their Autobahnen. Thus, a part of the HGVs travelling from north Germany to Switzerland or southern Alsace bypasses the A5
A5 autoroute
The A5 Autoroute, which was constructed in 1990 to relieve the A6, links the Parisian region with the Langres area. It is a 238 km toll road under the management of the Autoroutes Paris-Rhin-Rhône . It makes up parts of the European routes E54, E511, and E17...

 on the Alsace-Baden-Württemberg border and uses the untolled, French A35
A35 autoroute
The A35 autoroute is a toll free highway in north eastern France. It is also known as the autoroute des cigognes and the Voie Rapide du Piémont des Vosges. It connects the German border in the Rhine valley with the Swiss frontier via Strasbourg...

 instead.

The French Assemblée Nationale allowed a tax on HGVs using the alsatian road network in 2005. It must be applicated since beginning 2008.

Trains


TER Alsace
TER Alsace
TER Alsace is the regional rail network serving the région of Alsace, eastern France.- Rail:-Road:* Cernay - Sewen* Colmar - Turckheim - Munster - Metzeral* Colmar - Volgelsheim* Haguenau - Niederbronn - Bitche...

 is the rail network serving Alsace. Its network is articulated around the city of Strasbourg. It is one of the most developed rail networks in France, financially sustained partly by the French railroad SNCF
SNCF
The SNCF , is France's national state-owned railway company. SNCF operates the country's national rail services, including the TGV, France's high-speed rail network...

, and partly by the région Alsace.

Because the Vosges are surmountable only by the Col de Saverne
Col de Saverne
The Col de Saverne is a natural pass in the north of the Vosges mountains, near Saverne, which permits travel between the département of Bas-Rhin, région Alsace and the département of Moselle, région Lorraine.Lines of communication that traverse the Saverne Pass include national highway RN 4 and...

 and the Belfort
Belfort
Belfort is a commune in the Territoire de Belfort department in Franche-Comté in northeastern France and is the prefecture of the department. It is located on the Savoureuse, on the strategically important natural route between the Rhine and the Rhône – the Belfort Gap or Burgundian Gate .-...

 Gap, it has been suggested that Alsace needs to open up and get closer to France in terms of its rail links.

The TGV Est
LGV Est
The LGV Est européenne is an extension to the French high-speed rail network, connecting currently Vaires-sur-Marne and Baudrecourt , and later Vaires-sur-Marne and Vendenheim . , it is the newest high-speed line in France and still under construction, with of a planned in service...

 (Paris – Strasbourg) was brought into service in June 2007 and different plans are due to be implemented:
  • the TGV Rhin-Rhône
    LGV Rhin-Rhône
    The LGV Rhin-Rhône is a high-speed railway line composed of three different branches:* The Eastern branch, from Genlis, near Dijon to Lutterbach, near Mulhouse* The Western branch, crossing Dijon, joining the LGV Sud-Est near Montbard...

     or a Dijon
    Dijon
    Dijon is a city in eastern France, the capital of the Côte-d'Or département and of the Burgundy region.Dijon is the historical capital of the region of Burgundy. Population : 151,576 within the city limits; 250,516 for the greater Dijon area....

    -Mulhouse line (to start in construction in 2006, with anticipated completion in 2011)
  • an interconnection with the German InterCityExpress
    InterCityExpress
    The Intercity-Express or ICE is a system of high-speed trains predominantly running in Germany and neighbouring countries. It is the highest service category offered by DB Fernverkehr and is the flagship of Deutsche Bahn...

    , as far as Kehl
    Kehl
    Kehl is a town in southwestern Germany in the Ortenaukreis, Baden-Württemberg. It is located on the river Rhine, directly opposite the French city of Strasbourg.-History:...

     and/or Ottmarsheim
    Ottmarsheim
    Ottmarsheim is a commune in the Haut-Rhin department in Alsace in north-eastern France.-References:*...

  • a tram-train system in Mulhouse (May 2006), then Strasbourg (2011)


However, the abandoned Maurice-Lemaire tunnel towards Saint-Dié-des-Vosges
Saint-Dié-des-Vosges
Saint-Dié-des-Vosges, commonly referred to as Saint-Dié, is a commune in the Vosges department in Lorraine in northeastern France.It is a sub-prefecture of the department.-Geography:...

 was rebuilt as a toll road.

Rivers


Port traffic of Alsace exceeds 15 million tonnes, of which about three quarters is centred on Strasbourg, which is the second busiest French fluvial harbour. The enlargement plan of the Rhine-Rhône channel, intended to link up the Mediterranean Sea
Mediterranean Sea
The Mediterranean Sea is a sea connected to the Atlantic Ocean surrounded by the Mediterranean region and almost completely enclosed by land: on the north by Anatolia and Europe, on the south by North Africa, and on the east by the Levant...

 and Central Europe (Rhine, Danube
Danube
The Danube is a river in the Central Europe and the Europe's second longest river after the Volga. It is classified as an international waterway....

, North Sea
North Sea
In the southwest, beyond the Straits of Dover, the North Sea becomes the English Channel connecting to the Atlantic Ocean. In the east, it connects to the Baltic Sea via the Skagerrak and Kattegat, narrow straits that separate Denmark from Norway and Sweden respectively...

 and Baltic Sea
Baltic Sea
The Baltic Sea is a brackish mediterranean sea located in Northern Europe, from 53°N to 66°N latitude and from 20°E to 26°E longitude. It is bounded by the Scandinavian Peninsula, the mainland of Europe, and the Danish islands. It drains into the Kattegat by way of the Øresund, the Great Belt and...

) was abandoned in 1998 for reasons of expense and land erosion, notably in the Doubs valley.

Air traffic


There are two international airport
International airport
An international airport is any airport that can accommodate flights from other countries and are typically equipped with customs and immigration facilities to handle these flights to and from other countries...

s in Alsace:
  • the international airport of Strasbourg in Entzheim
    Entzheim
    Entzheim is a commune, in the Bas-Rhin department in Alsace in north-eastern France.Strasbourg Airport is located in the commune.-References:* -External links:*...

  • the international EuroAirport Basel-Mulhouse-Freiburg
    EuroAirport Basel-Mulhouse-Freiburg
    EuroAirport Basel-Mulhouse-Freiburg is an international airport northwest of Basel , southeast of Mulhouse , and south of Freiburg . It is located in France, on the administrative territory of the commune of Saint-Louis near the Swiss and German borders...

    , which is the seventh largest French airport in terms of traffic


Strasbourg is also two hours away from one of the largest European airports, Frankfurt Main.

Religion



Most of the Alsatian population is Roman Catholic, but largely because of the region's German
Culture of Germany
German culture began long before the rise of Germany as a nation-state and spanned the entire German-speaking world. From its roots, culture in Germany has been shaped by major intellectual and popular currents in Europe, both religious and secular...

 heritage, a significant Protestant community also exists: today, the EPAL (a united Lutheran-Reformed church) is France's second largest Protestant church. Unlike the rest of France, the Alsace-Moselle
Alsace-Moselle
The territory of the former Alsace-Lorraine, commonly known as Alsace-Moselle, is a region in the eastern part of France, bordering with Germany. Its principal cities are Metz and Strassburg. Alsace-Moselle was part of the German Empire from 1871 to 1918, and again from 1940 until its liberation by...

 territory still adheres to the Napoleonic Concordat of 1801
Concordat of 1801
The Concordat of 1801 was an agreement between Napoleon and Pope Pius VII, signed on 15 July 1801. It solidified the Roman Catholic Church as the majority church of France and brought back most of its civil status....

, which provides public subsidies to the Roman Catholic, Lutheran, and Calvinist churches, as well as to Jewish synagogues; public education in these faiths is offered. This divergence in policy from the French majority is due to the region having been part of Imperial Germany when the 1905 law separating the French church and state was instituted (for a more comprehensive history, see: Alsace-Lorraine
Alsace-Lorraine
The Imperial Territory of Alsace-Lorraine was a territory created by the German Empire in 1871 after it annexed most of Alsace and the Moselle region of Lorraine following its victory in the Franco-Prussian War. The Alsatian part lay in the Rhine Valley on the west bank of the Rhine River and east...

). Controversy erupts periodically on the appropriateness of this legal disposition, as well does the exclusion of other religions from this arrangement.

Following the Protestant Reformation
Protestant Reformation
The Protestant Reformation was a 16th-century split within Western Christianity initiated by Martin Luther, John Calvin and other early Protestants. The efforts of the self-described "reformers", who objected to the doctrines, rituals and ecclesiastical structure of the Roman Catholic Church, led...

, promoted by local reformer Martin Bucer
Martin Bucer
Martin Bucer was a Protestant reformer based in Strasbourg who influenced Lutheran, Calvinist, and Anglican doctrines and practices. Bucer was originally a member of the Dominican Order, but after meeting and being influenced by Martin Luther in 1518 he arranged for his monastic vows to be annulled...

, the principle of cuius regio, eius religio
Cuius regio, eius religio
Cuius regio, eius religio is a phrase in Latin translated as "Whose realm, his religion", meaning the religion of the ruler dictated the religion of the ruled...

led to a certain amount of religious diversity in the highlands of northern Alsace. Landowners, who as "local lords" had the right to decide which religion was allowed on their land, were eager to entice populations from the more attractive lowlands to settle and develop their property. Many accepted without discrimination Catholics, Lutherans, Calvinists, Jews and Anabaptist
Anabaptist
Anabaptists are Protestant Christians of the Radical Reformation of 16th-century Europe, and their direct descendants, particularly the Amish, Brethren, Hutterites, and Mennonites....

s. Multiconfessional villages appeared, particularly in the region of Alsace bossue. Alsace became one of the French regions boasting a thriving Jewish community, and the only region with a noticeable Anabaptist population. The schism of the Amish
Amish
The Amish , sometimes referred to as Amish Mennonites, are a group of Christian church fellowships that form a subgroup of the Mennonite churches...

 under the lead of Jacob Amman
Jacob Amman
Jakob Ammann , was an Anabaptist leader and namesake of the Amish religious movement.-Birth and death:...

 from the Mennonite
Mennonite
The Mennonites are a group of Christian Anabaptist denominations named after the Frisian Menno Simons , who, through his writings, articulated and thereby formalized the teachings of earlier Swiss founders...

s occurred in 1693 in Sainte-Marie-aux-Mines
Sainte-Marie-aux-Mines
Sainte-Marie-aux-Mines is a commune in the Haut-Rhin department in Alsace in north-eastern France.-Geography:Sainte-Marie-aux-Mines nestles in the massif of the Vosges Mountains, where it occupies the beautiful V-shaped valley of the Lièpvrette...

. The strongly Catholic Louis XIV tried in vain to drive them from Alsace. When Napoleon imposed military conscription without religious exception, most emigrated to the American continent.

In 1707, the simultaneum was established, by which many Reformed and Lutheran church buildings were forced to allow Catholic services. About 50 such "simultaneous churches" still exist in modern Alsace, though they tend to hold Catholic services only occasionally.

Culture



Alsace historically was part of the Holy Roman Empire and the German realm of culture. Since the 17th century, the region has passed between German and French control numerous times, resulting in a cultural blend. Germanic traits remain in the more traditional, rural parts of the culture, such as the cuisine
Cuisine
Cuisine is a characteristic style of cooking practices and traditions, often associated with a specific culture. Cuisines are often named after the geographic areas or regions that they originate from...

 and architecture, whereas modern institutions are totally dominated by French culture.

Language


Although German dialects were spoken in Alsace for most of its history, the dominant language in Alsace today is French.

The traditional language of the région is Alsatian
Alsatian language
Alsatian is a Low Alemannic German dialect spoken in most of Alsace, a region in eastern France which has passed between French and German control many times.-Language family:...

, an Alemannic
Alemannic German
Alemannic is a group of dialects of the Upper German branch of the Germanic language family. It is spoken by approximately ten million people in six countries: Switzerland, Germany, Austria, Liechtenstein, France and Italy...

 dialect of Upper German
Upper German
Upper German is a family of High German dialects spoken primarily in southern Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Northern Italy.-Family tree:Upper German can be generally classified as Alemannic or Austro-Bavarian...

 and thus closely related to Swiss German
Swiss German
Swiss German is any of the Alemannic dialects spoken in Switzerland and in some Alpine communities in Northern Italy. Occasionally, the Alemannic dialects spoken in other countries are grouped together with Swiss German as well, especially the dialects of Liechtenstein and Austrian Vorarlberg...

. Some Frankish dialects of West Central German
West Central German
West Central German belongs to the Central, High German dialect family in the German language. Its dialects are thoroughly Franconian including the following sub-families:* Central Franconian...

 are also spoken in the extreme north of Alsace. Neither Alsatian nor the Frankish dialects have any form of official status, as is customary
Language policy in France
France has one official language, the French language. The French government does not regulate the choice of language in publications by individuals but the use of French is required by law in commercial and workplace communications...

 for regional language
Regional language
A regional language is a language spoken in an area of a nation state, whether it be a small area, a federal state or province, or some wider area....

s in France, although both are now recognized as languages of France and can be chosen as subjects in lycées.

Although Alsace has been annexed by France several times in the past, the region had no direct connection with the French State for several centuries. From the end of the Roman Empire (5th century) to the French annexation (17th century), Alsace was politically part of the Germanic world.

The towns of Alsace were the first to adopt German language as their official language, instead of Latin
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

, during the Lutheran Reform
Protestant Reformation
The Protestant Reformation was a 16th-century split within Western Christianity initiated by Martin Luther, John Calvin and other early Protestants. The efforts of the self-described "reformers", who objected to the doctrines, rituals and ecclesiastical structure of the Roman Catholic Church, led...

. It was in Strasbourg that German was first used for the Liturgy. It was also in Strasbourg that the first German Bible was published in 1466.

From the annexation of Alsace by France in the 17th century and the language policy of the French Revolution up to 1870, knowledge of French in Alsace increased considerably. With the education reforms of the 19th century, the middle classes began to speak and write French well. The French language never really managed, however, to win over the masses, the vast majority of whom continued to speak their German dialects and write in German (which we would now call "standard German").

Between 1870 and 1918, Alsace was annexed by the German Empire in the form of an imperial province or Reichsland, and the official language, especially in schools, once again became High German; Although the German language policy was vastly more liberal than the French one was to be in later years, with Germans traditionally respecting the "Language of Fredrick-the-Great", French lost ground to such an extent that it has been estimated that only 2% of the population spoke French fluently and only 8% had some knowledge of it (Maugue, 1970).

After 1918, French was the only language used in schools, and particularly primary schools. After much argument and discussion and after many temporary measures, a memorandum was issued by Vice-Chancellor Pfister in 1927 and governed education in primary schools until 1939.

During a reannexation by Germany (1940–1945), High German was reinstated as the language of education. The young teachers sent from Germany enjoyed a certain degree of popularity. Following the Second World War, the 1927 regulation was not reinstated and the teaching of German in primary schools was suspended by a provisional rectorial decree, which was supposed to enable French to regain lost ground. The teaching of German became a major issue, however, as early as 1946. Following World War II, the French government pursued, in line with its traditional language policy
Language policy in France
France has one official language, the French language. The French government does not regulate the choice of language in publications by individuals but the use of French is required by law in commercial and workplace communications...

, a campaign to suppress the use of German as part of a wider a Francization
Francization
Francization or Gallicization is a process of cultural assimilation that gives a French character to a word, an ethnicity or a person.-French Colonial Empire:-Francization in the World:...

 campaign.

In 1951, Article 10 of the Deixonne Law (Loi Deixonne) on the teaching of local languages and dialects made provision for Breton
Breton language
Breton is a Celtic language spoken in Brittany , France. Breton is a Brythonic language, descended from the Celtic British language brought from Great Britain to Armorica by migrating Britons during the Early Middle Ages. Like the other Brythonic languages, Welsh and Cornish, it is classified as...

, Basque
Basque language
Basque is the ancestral language of the Basque people, who inhabit the Basque Country, a region spanning an area in northeastern Spain and southwestern France. It is spoken by 25.7% of Basques in all territories...

, Catalan
Catalan language
Catalan is a Romance language, the national and only official language of Andorra and a co-official language in the Spanish autonomous communities of Catalonia, the Balearic Islands and Valencian Community, where it is known as Valencian , as well as in the city of Alghero, on the Italian island...

 and old Provençal, but not for Corsican
Corsican language
Corsican is a Italo-Dalmatian Romance language spoken and written on the islands of Corsica and northern Sardinia . Corsican is the traditional native language of the Corsican people, and was long the vernacular language alongside the Italian, official language in Corsica until 1859, which was...

, Dutch
Dutch language
Dutch is a West Germanic language and the native language of the majority of the population of the Netherlands, Belgium, and Suriname, the three member states of the Dutch Language Union. Most speakers live in the European Union, where it is a first language for about 23 million and a second...

 (West Flemish
West Flemish
West Flemish , , , Fransch vlaemsch in French Flemish) is a group of dialects or regional language related to Dutch spoken in parts of the Netherlands, Belgium, and France....

) or German in Alsace and Moselle
Moselle
Moselle is a department in the east of France named after the river Moselle.- History :Moselle is one of the original 83 departments created during the French Revolution on March 4, 1790...

. However, in a Decree of 18 December 1952, supplemented by an Order of 19 December of the same year, that optional teaching of the German language was introduced in elementary schools in Communes where the language of habitual use was the Alsatian dialect. Because of many objections by teachers and much official and unofficial pressure, this Decree was not very rigorously enforced.

In 1972, the Inspector General of German, Georges Holderith, obtained authorization to reintroduce German into 33 intermediate classes, on an experimental basis. This teaching of German, referred to as the Holderith Reform, was later extended to all pupils in the last two years of elementary school. This reform is still largely the basis of German teaching in elementary schools today.

Not until 9 June 1982, with the Circulaire sur la langue et la culture régionales en Alsace (Memorandum on regional language and culture in Alsace) issued by the Vice-Chancellor of the Académie Pierre Deyon, that the teaching of German in primary schools in Alsace really began to be given more official status. The Ministerial Memorandum of 21 June 1982, known as the Circulaire Savary, introduced financial support, over three years, for the teaching of regional languages in schools and universities. This memorandum was, however, implemented in a fairly lax manner.

In 1987, Article III of a national Minute concerning the early teaching of German in France contained special instructions for the teaching of German in Alsace and Moselle.

Both Alsatian and Standard German were for a time banned from public life (including street and city names, official administration, and educational system). Though the ban has been lifted, Alsace-Lorraine is today very French in language and culture. Few young people speak Alsatian today, though the closely related Alemannic German
Alemannic German
Alemannic is a group of dialects of the Upper German branch of the Germanic language family. It is spoken by approximately ten million people in six countries: Switzerland, Germany, Austria, Liechtenstein, France and Italy...

 survives on the opposite bank of the Rhine, in Baden
Baden
Baden is a historical state on the east bank of the Rhine in the southwest of Germany, now the western part of the Baden-Württemberg of Germany....

, and especially in Switzerland. However, while French is the major language of the region, the Alsatian dialect of French is heavily influenced by German, in phonology and vocabulary.

Often assumed to be a bilingual region, Alsace has in fact moved toward a situation of French monolingualism. This is documented in Le declin du dialecte alsacien, a study funded by the General Council of Alsace and carried out in twenty secondary schools by Calvin Veltman
Calvin Veltman
Calvin Veltman is an American sociologist, demographer and sociolinguist at the Université du Québec à Montréal. He previously worked at the State University of New York at Plattsburgh...

 and M.N. Denis. This situation has spurred a movement to preserve the Alsatian language, which is perceived as endangered, a situation paralleled in other régions of France, such as Brittany
Brittany
Brittany is a cultural and administrative region in the north-west of France. Previously a kingdom and then a duchy, Brittany was united to the Kingdom of France in 1532 as a province. Brittany has also been referred to as Less, Lesser or Little Britain...

 or Occitania
Occitania
Occitania , also sometimes lo País d'Òc, "the Oc Country"), is the region in southern Europe where Occitan was historically the main language spoken, and where it is sometimes still used, for the most part as a second language...

. Alsatian is now taught in French high schools, but the overwhelming presence of French media make the survival of Alsatian uncertain among younger generations. Increasingly, French is the only language used at home and at work, whereas a growing number of people have a good knowledge of standard German
Standard German
Standard German is the standard variety of the German language used as a written language, in formal contexts, and for communication between different dialect areas...

 as a foreign language learned in school.

The constitution of the Fifth Republic states that French alone is the official language of the Republic. However Alsatian, along with other regional languages, are recognized by the French government in the official list of languages of France. A 1999 INSEE survey counted 548,000 adult speakers of Alsatian in France, making it the second most-spoken regional language in the country (after Occitan). Like all regional languages in France, however, the transmission of Alsatian is on the decline. While 39% of the adult population of Alsace speaks Alsatian, only one in four children speaks it, and only one in ten children uses it regularly.

In 1992, the French government signed the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages
European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages
The European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages is a European treaty adopted in 1992 under the auspices of the Council of Europe to protect and promote historical regional and minority languages in Europe...

, but the French parliament has never ratified the charter, and it is therefore not in force.

Cuisine



Alsatian cuisine
Cuisine
Cuisine is a characteristic style of cooking practices and traditions, often associated with a specific culture. Cuisines are often named after the geographic areas or regions that they originate from...

, strongly based on Germanic culinary traditions, is marked by the use of pork in various forms. Traditional dishes include baeckeoffe
Baeckeoffe
Baeckeoffe is a typical dish from the province of Alsace situated between France and Germany.In the Alsatian dialect, Baeckeoffe means "baker's oven." It is a mix of sliced potatoes, sliced onions, cubed lamb, beef and pork which have been marinated overnight in Alsatian white wine and juniper...

, flammekueche
Tarte flambée
Tarte flambée is an Alsatian dish composed of bread dough rolled out very thin in the shape of a rectangle or circle, which is covered with fromage blanc or crème fraîche, thinly sliced onions and lardons...

, choucroute
Choucroute garnie
Choucroute garnie is a famous Alsacian recipe for preparing sauerkraut with sausages and other salted meats and charcuterie, and often potatoes.Although sauerkraut is a traditionally German and Eastern European dish, the French annexation of...

, and fleischnacka
Fleischnacka
Fleischnacka is an Alsatian dish consisting of minced beef spiced with herbes de Provence and/or spices and rolled in fresh noodle dough and cut into slices which are then cooked in stock....

. Southern Alsace, also called the Sundgau
Sundgau
Sundgau is a geographical territory on the eastern edge of France that was once a principality of the Holy Roman Empire. The name Sundgau derives from Alemannic German, which means "South County" ....

, is characterized by carpe frite
Carp
Carp are various species of oily freshwater fish of the family Cyprinidae, a very large group of fish native to Europe and Asia. The cypriniformes are traditionally grouped with the Characiformes, Siluriformes and Gymnotiformes to create the superorder Ostariophysi, since these groups have certain...

.

The festivities of the year's end involve the production of a great variety of biscuits and small cakes called bredala as well as pain d'épices
Pain d'épices
Pain d'épices , sometimes loosely translated as gingerbread, is a French cake whose ingredients, according to the Dictionnaire de l'académie française , are "rye flour, honey and spices"...

(gingerbread
Gingerbread
Gingerbread is a term used to describe a variety of sweet food products, which can range from a soft, moist loaf cake to something close to a ginger biscuit. What they have in common are the predominant flavors of ginger and a tendency to use honey or molasses rather than just sugar...

), especially from Gertwiller
Gertwiller
Gertwiller is a French commune in the Bas-Rhin department in Alsace in north-eastern France.Positioned in the heart of the Alsace wine growing region, Gertwiller specialises in the manufacture of pain d'épices, a traditional sweet spicey confection not dissimilar from ginger bread...

, which are given to children starting on Saint Nicholas Day.

Alsace is an important wine-producing région. Vins d'Alsace (Alsace wine
Alsace wine
Alsace wine or Alsatian wine is produced in the Alsace region in France and is primarily white. These wines, which for historical reasons have a strong Germanic influence, are produced under three different Appellations d'Origine Contrôlées : Alsace AOC for white, rosé and red wines, Alsace Grand...

s) are mostly white and display a strong Germanic influence. Alsace produces some of the world's most noted dry riesling
Riesling
Riesling is a white grape variety which originated in the Rhine region of Germany. Riesling is an aromatic grape variety displaying flowery, almost perfumed, aromas as well as high acidity. It is used to make dry, semi-sweet, sweet and sparkling white wines. Riesling wines are usually varietally...

s and is the only région in France to produce mostly varietal
Varietal
"Varietal" describes wines made primarily from a single named grape variety, and which typically displays the name of that variety on the wine label. Examples of grape varieties commonly used in varietal wines are Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay and Merlot...

 wines identified by the names of the grape
Grape
A grape is a non-climacteric fruit, specifically a berry, that grows on the perennial and deciduous woody vines of the genus Vitis. Grapes can be eaten raw or they can be used for making jam, juice, jelly, vinegar, wine, grape seed extracts, raisins, molasses and grape seed oil. Grapes are also...

s used (wine from Burgundy
Burgundy wine
Burgundy wine is wine made in the Burgundy region in eastern France, in the valleys and slopes west of the Saône River, a tributary of the Rhône. The most famous wines produced here - those commonly referred to as "Burgundies" - are red wines made from Pinot Noir grapes or white wines made from...

 is also mainly varietal, but not normally identified as such), typically from grapes also used in Germany. The most notable example is gewürztraminer
Gewürztraminer
Gewürztraminer is an aromatic wine grape variety that performs best in cooler climates. It is sometimes referred to colloquially as Gewürz, and in French it is written '...

.

Alsace is also the main beer-producing région of France, thanks primarily to breweries
Brewery
A brewery is a dedicated building for the making of beer, though beer can be made at home, and has been for much of beer's history. A company which makes beer is called either a brewery or a brewing company....

 in and near Strasbourg
Strasbourg
Strasbourg is the capital and principal city of the Alsace region in eastern France and is the official seat of the European Parliament. Located close to the border with Germany, it is the capital of the Bas-Rhin département. The city and the region of Alsace are historically German-speaking,...

. These include those of Fischer
Fischer Brewery
Fischer is a brewery in Schiltigheim, France.-History:The Fischer brewery was founded in 1821 in Strasbourg, in the Alsace region in France, and moved to Schiltigheim in 1854, apparently because of the good quality of water there. In 1922, they took over the neighbouring Adelshoffen brewery and...

, Karlsbräu, Kronenbourg
Kronenbourg
Kronenbourg Brewery is a brewery founded in 1664 by Geronimus Hatt in Strasbourg, France as the Hatt Brewery. The name comes from the area where the brewery relocated in 1850. The company is owned by the Carlsberg Group...

, and Heineken International. Hops
Hops
Hops are the female flower clusters , of a hop species, Humulus lupulus. They are used primarily as a flavoring and stability agent in beer, to which they impart a bitter, tangy flavor, though hops are also used for various purposes in other beverages and herbal medicine...

 are grown in Kochersberg
Kochersberg
The Kochersberg is a natural region of the french département of Bas-Rhin in Alsace and is a part of the hills found along the eastern side of the Vosges mountains...

 and in northern Alsace. Schnapps
Schnapps
Schnapps is a type of distilled alcoholic beverage. The English word schnapps is derived from the German Schnaps , which can refer to any strong alcoholic drink but particularly those containing at least 32% ABV...

 is also traditionally made in Alsace, but it is in decline because home distillers
Distillation
Distillation is a method of separating mixtures based on differences in volatilities of components in a boiling liquid mixture. Distillation is a unit operation, or a physical separation process, and not a chemical reaction....

 are becoming less common and the consumption of traditional, strong, alcoholic beverages is decreasing.

Alsatian food is synonymous with conviviality, the dishes are substantial and served in generous portions and it has one of the richest regional kitchens.

The gastronomic symbol of the région is undoubtedly Sauerkraut
Sauerkraut
Sauerkraut , directly translated from German: "sour cabbage", is finely shredded cabbage that has been fermented by various lactic acid bacteria, including Leuconostoc, Lactobacillus, and Pediococcus. It has a long shelf-life and a distinctive sour flavor, both of which result from the lactic acid...

. The word Sauerkraut in Alsatian has the form sûrkrût, same as in other southwestern German dialects, and means "sour cabbage" as its Standard German
German language
German is a West Germanic language, related to and classified alongside English and Dutch. With an estimated 90 – 98 million native speakers, German is one of the world's major languages and is the most widely-spoken first language in the European Union....

 equivalent. This word was included into the French language as choucroute. To make it, the cabbage is finely shredded, layered with salt and juniper
Juniper
Junipers are coniferous plants in the genus Juniperus of the cypress family Cupressaceae. Depending on taxonomic viewpoint, there are between 50-67 species of juniper, widely distributed throughout the northern hemisphere, from the Arctic, south to tropical Africa in the Old World, and to the...

 and left to ferment in wooden barrels. Sauerkraut can be served with poultry, pork, sausage or even fish. Traditionally it is served with pork, Strasbourg sausage or frankfurters, bacon, smoked pork or smoked Morteau
Morteau Sausage
The saucisse de Morteau, also known as the Belle de Morteau, is a traditional smoked sausage from the Morteau region of France . It is smoked in traditional pyramidal chimneys, called tuyés...

 or Montbéliard
Montbéliard
Montbéliard is a city in the Doubs department in the Franche-Comté region in eastern France. It is one of the two subprefectures of the department.-History:...

 sausages or a selection of pork products. Served alongside are often roasted or steamed potatoes or dumplings.
Alsace is also well known for its foie gras
Foie gras
Foie gras ; French for "fat liver") is a food product made of the liver of a duck or goose that has been specially fattened. This fattening is typically achieved through gavage corn, according to French law, though outside of France it is occasionally produced using natural feeding...

 made in the region since the 17th century. Additionally, Alsace is known for its fruit juices, mineral waters and wines.

Architecture



The traditional habitat of the Alsatian lowland, like in other regions of Germany and Northern Europe, consists of houses constructed with walls in timber framing
Timber framing
Timber framing , or half-timbering, also called in North America "post-and-beam" construction, is the method of creating structures using heavy squared off and carefully fitted and joined timbers with joints secured by large wooden pegs . It is commonplace in large barns...

 and cob and roofing in flat tiles. This type of construction is abundant in adjacent parts of Germany and can be seen in other areas of France, but their particular abundance in Alsace is owed to several reasons:
  1. The proximity to the Vosges
    Vosges
    Vosges is a French department, named after the local mountain range. It contains the hometown of Joan of Arc, Domrémy.-History:The Vosges department is one of the original 83 departments of France, created on February 9, 1790 during the French Revolution. It was made of territories that had been...

     where the wood can be found.
  2. During periods of war and bubonic plague, villages were often burned down, so to prevent the collapse of the upper floors, ground floors were built of stone and upper floors built in half-timberings to prevent the spread of fire.
  3. During most of the part of its history, a great part of Alsace was flooded by the Rhine every year. Half-timbered houses were easy to knock down and to move around during those times (a day was necessary to move it and a day to rebuild it in another place).


However, half-timbering was found to increase the risk of fire, which is why from the 19th century, it began to be rendered. In recent times, villagers started to paint the rendering white in accordance with Beaux-Arts movements. To discourage this, the region's authorities gave financial grants to the inhabitants to paint the rendering in various colors, in order to return to the original style and many inhabitants accepted (more for financial reasons than by firm belief).

Symbolism


The stork
Stork
Storks are large, long-legged, long-necked wading birds with long, stout bills. They belong to the family Ciconiidae. They are the only family in the biological order Ciconiiformes, which was once much larger and held a number of families....

 is a main feature of Alsace and was the subject of many legend
Legend
A legend is a narrative of human actions that are perceived both by teller and listeners to take place within human history and to possess certain qualities that give the tale verisimilitude...

s told to children. The bird practically disappeared around 1970, but re-population efforts are continuing. They are mostly found on roofs of houses, churches and other public buildings in Alsace.

Alsatians ONLY PEOPLE BORN IN ALSACE



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  • Gottfried von Straßburg
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    After the war ended, he opened his first architectural firm in Mulhouse where he associated with a significant number of reconstruction projects. In Mulhouse, he was the planner of the new town centre. He also built in Mulhouse the Tour of Europe, the largest structure in contemporary France whose...

  • Sebastian Stoskopff
    Sebastian Stoskopff
    Sebastian Stoskopff was an Alsatian painter. He is considered one of the most important German still life painters of his time. His works, which were rediscovered after 1930, portray goblets, cups and especially glasses...

  • Jacob Sturm von Sturmeck
    Jacob Sturm von Sturmeck
    Jacob Sturm von Sturmeck was a German statesman, one of the preeminent promoters of the Protestant Reformation in Germany.-Biography:...

  • Marie Tussaud
    Marie Tussaud
    Anna Maria Tussaud was an artist known for her wax sculptures and Madame Tussaud's, the wax museum she founded in London.- Biography :...

  • Tomi Ungerer
    Tomi Ungerer
    Jean-Thomas "Tomi" Ungerer is a French illustrator best known for his erotic and political illustrations as well as children's books.- Biography :...

  • Claude Vigée
    Claude Vigée
    Claude Vigée is a French poet who writes in French and Alsatian. He describes himself as a "Jew and an Alsatian, thus doubly Alsatian and doubly Jewish".-Life:...

  • Thomas Voeckler
    Thomas Voeckler
    Thomas Voeckler is a French professional road racing cyclist who rides for the cycling team.- Biography :Voeckler has been a professional cyclist since 2001. He rides for , formerly known as Bbox Bouygues Telecom, Bouygues Télécom, Brioches la Boulangère, and Bonjour...

  • Émile Waldteufel
    Émile Waldteufel
    Émile Waldteufel was a French composer of dance music.-Life:Émile Waldteufel was born in Strasbourg to a Jewish Alsatian family of musicians....

  • Jean-Jacques Waltz aka Hansi
  • Arsène Wenger
    Arsène Wenger
    Arsène Wenger, OBE is a French association football manager and former player, who has managed English Premier League side Arsenal since 1996...

  • Alfred Werner
    Alfred Werner
    Alfred Werner was a Swiss chemist who was a student at ETH Zurich and a professor at the University of Zurich. He won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1913 for proposing the octahedral configuration of transition metal complexes. Werner developed the basis for modern coordination chemistry...

  • André Wilms
    André Wilms
    André Wilms is a French film and television actor who has also appeared in German and Finnish films. Wilms was the winner of the Best Supporting European Actor award at the 1992 European Film Awards for his work in Aki Kaurismäki's La Vie de Bohème.-Partial filmography:* Le tartuffe * Field of...

  • Bob Wollek
    Bob Wollek
    Bob Wollek , nicknamed "Brilliant Bob", was a race car driver from Strasbourg, France. He was killed on March 16, 2001 at age 57 in a road accident in Florida while riding a bicycle back to his accommodation after the day's practice sessions for the following day's race, the 12 Hours of...

  • Charles-Adolphe Wurtz
    Charles-Adolphe Wurtz
    Adolphe Wurtz was an Alsatian French chemist. He is best remembered for his decades-long advocacy for the atomic theory and for ideas about the structures of chemical compounds, against the skeptical opinions of chemists such as Marcellin Berthelot and Etienne Henri Sainte-Claire Deville...

  • William Wyler
    William Wyler
    William Wyler was a leading American motion picture director, producer, and screenwriter.Notable works included Ben-Hur , The Best Years of Our Lives , and Mrs. Miniver , all of which won Wyler Academy Awards for Best Director, and also won Best Picture...


  • Sister provinces


    There is an accord de coopération internationale between Alsace and the following regions:
    • Gyeongsangbuk-do
      Gyeongsangbuk-do
      Gyeongsangbuk-do or shortly Gyeongbuk is a province in eastern South Korea. The province was formed in 1896 from the northern half of the former Gyeongsang province, remained a province of Korea until the country's division in 1945, then became part of South Korea.The Gyeongsangbuk-do Office is...

      , South Korea
    • Lower Silesia
      Lower Silesian Voivodeship
      Lower Silesian Voivodeship, or Lower Silesia Province , is one of the 16 voivodeships into which Poland is currently divided. It lies in southwestern Poland...

      , Poland
    • Upper Austria
      Upper Austria
      Upper Austria is one of the nine states or Bundesländer of Austria. Its capital is Linz. Upper Austria borders on Germany and the Czech Republic, as well as on the other Austrian states of Lower Austria, Styria, and Salzburg...

      , Austria
    • Quebec
      Quebec
      Quebec or is a province in east-central Canada. It is the only Canadian province with a predominantly French-speaking population and the only one whose sole official language is French at the provincial level....

      , Canada
    • Jiangsu
      Jiangsu
      ' is a province of the People's Republic of China, located along the east coast of the country. The name comes from jiang, short for the city of Jiangning , and su, for the city of Suzhou. The abbreviation for this province is "苏" , the second character of its name...

      , China
    • Moscow
      Moscow Oblast
      Moscow Oblast , or Podmoskovye , is a federal subject of Russia . Its area, at , is relatively small compared to other federal subjects, but it is one of the most densely populated regions in the country and, with the 2010 population of 7,092,941, is the second most populous federal subject...

      , Russia
    • Vest
      Vest (development region)
      Vest or Vest-Banat is a development region in Romania created in 1998. As with the other development regions, it does not have any administrative powers. Its primary functions are coordinating regional development projects and managing funds from the European Union.- References :...

      , Romania

    See also

    • German place names (Alsace)
    • History of Jews in Alsace
      History of Jews in Alsace
      The history of the Jews in Alsace is one of the oldest in Europe. It was first attested in 1165 by Benjamin of Tudela, who wrote about a "large number of learned men" in "Astransbourg", and it is assumed that it dates back until around the year 1000 CE...

    • Musée alsacien (Strasbourg)
      Musée alsacien (Strasbourg)
      The Musée alsacien is a museum in Strasbourg in the Bas-Rhin department of France. It opened on 11 May 1907 and is dedicated to all aspects of daily life in pre-industrial and early industrial Alsace...

    • Route Romane d'Alsace
      Route Romane d'Alsace
      The Route Romane d'Alsace is a touristic itinerary designed by the Association Voix et Route Romane to link both the well-known and the more secret examples of Romanesque architecture of Alsace, in an itinerary of 19 stages, linking churches, abbeys and fortresses, that range from the first...


    External links