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Pyrénées-Orientales

Pyrénées-Orientales

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Pyrénées-Orientales is a department of southern France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 adjacent to the northern Spanish
Spain
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

 frontier and 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...

. It also surrounds the tiny Spanish enclave of Llívia
Llívia
Llívia is a town of Cerdanya, province of Girona, Catalonia, Spain. It is a Spanish exclave within the French département of Pyrénées-Orientales...

, and thus has two distinct borders with Spain.

History


Prior to the Treaty of the Pyrenees
Treaty of the Pyrenees
The Treaty of the Pyrenees was signed to end the 1635 to 1659 war between France and Spain, a war that was initially a part of the wider Thirty Years' War. It was signed on Pheasant Island, a river island on the border between the two countries...

 in 1659, most of the present department was part of the former Principality of Catalonia
Principality of Catalonia
The Principality of Catalonia , is a historic territory in the northeastern Iberian Peninsula, mostly in Spain and with an adjoining portion in southern France....

, within the Kingdom of Spain, so the majority of it has historically been Catalan-speaking
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 it is still sometimes referred to as Northern Catalonia
Northern Catalonia
Northern Catalonia is a term that is sometimes used, particularly in Catalan writings, to refer to the territory ceded to France by Spain through the signing of the Treaty of the Pyrenees in 1659...

.

The modern department was created early during 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...

 on 4 March 1790, through the application of a law dated 22 December 1789. Pyrénées-Orientales corresponds almost exactly to the pre-Revolutionary
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...

 province
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...

 of Roussillon
Roussillon
Roussillon is one of the historical counties of the former Principality of Catalonia, corresponding roughly to the present-day southern French département of Pyrénées-Orientales...

, but it also includes Fenolheda
Fenolheda
Fenouillèdes , is a French comarca and a traditional Occitan-speaking area in the département of Pyrénées-Orientales. The capital of the comarca is Saint-Paul-de-Fenouillet .Fenolheda has been part of France since the Treaty of Corbeil of 1258...

, a small piece of territory which had formerly been on the southern edge of Languedoc
Languedoc
Languedoc is a former province of France, now continued in the modern-day régions of Languedoc-Roussillon and Midi-Pyrénées in the south of France, and whose capital city was Toulouse, now in Midi-Pyrénées. It had an area of approximately 42,700 km² .-Geographical Extent:The traditional...

. See also: French Cerdagne
French Cerdagne
French Cerdagne is the northern half of Cerdanya, which came under French control as a result of the Treaty of the Pyrenees in 1659, while the southern half remained in Spain . Catalonians often refer to French Cerdagne as Upper Cerdanya...

.

Invaded by Spain in April 1793, the area was recaptured thirteen months later during the War of the Roussillon
War of the Pyrenees
War of the Pyrenees refers to the Pyrenees front of the First Coalition's war against the First French Republic. Also known as Great War, War of Roussillon, or War of the Convention, it pitted Revolutionary France against the kingdoms of Spain and Portugal from March 1793 to July 1795 during the...

.

During the nineteenth century, Pyrénées-Orientales proved one of the most consistently republican departments in France. The intellectual and republican politician François Arago
François Arago
François Jean Dominique Arago , known simply as François Arago , was a French mathematician, physicist, astronomer and politician.-Early life and work:...

, who, during the early months of the short-lived Second Republic
French Second Republic
The French Second Republic was the republican government of France between the 1848 Revolution and the coup by Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte which initiated the Second Empire. It officially adopted the motto Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité...

 in 1848, was briefly de facto Head of state
French Executive Commission (1848)
The Executive Commission of the French Republic was a short-lived body and jointly head of state of France during the Second Republic. All members were equal and served together as co-heads of state.The Commission acted as head of state from May 10 to June 24, 1848, between governments of...

, came from Estagel
Estagel
Estagel is a commune in the Pyrénées-Orientales department in southern France.-References:*...

 in the east of the department.

Administration


The département is managed by the General Council of the Pyrénées-Orientales
General Council of the Pyrénées-Orientales
The General Council of the Pyrénées-Orientales is the assembly elected for 6 years by the 31 Cantons of the Pyrénées-Orientales and its executive...

 in Perpignan
Perpignan
-Sport:Perpignan is a rugby stronghold: their rugby union side, USA Perpignan, is a regular competitor in the Heineken Cup and seven times champion of the Top 14 , while their rugby league side plays in the engage Super League under the name Catalans Dragons.-Culture:Since 2004, every year in the...

.
The Pyrénées-Orientales is part of the region of Languedoc-Roussillon
Languedoc-Roussillon
Languedoc-Roussillon is one of the 27 regions of France. It comprises five departments, and borders the other French regions of Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur, Rhône-Alpes, Auvergne, Midi-Pyrénées on the one side, and Spain, Andorra and the Mediterranean sea on the other side.-Geography:The region is...

.
The General Council of the Pyrénées-Orientales
General Council of the Pyrénées-Orientales
The General Council of the Pyrénées-Orientales is the assembly elected for 6 years by the 31 Cantons of the Pyrénées-Orientales and its executive...

 is more and more involved with 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...

 to create with the Generalitat of Catalonia, and Andorra
Andorra
Andorra , officially the Principality of Andorra , also called the Principality of the Valleys of Andorra, , is a small landlocked country in southwestern Europe, located in the eastern Pyrenees mountains and bordered by Spain and France. It is the sixth smallest nation in Europe having an area of...

, a Catalan Eurodistrict.

Geography


Pyrénées-Orientales has an area of 4,115 km². and a population of 422,000, of whom just over a quarter live in the capital, Perpignan
Perpignan
-Sport:Perpignan is a rugby stronghold: their rugby union side, USA Perpignan, is a regular competitor in the Heineken Cup and seven times champion of the Top 14 , while their rugby league side plays in the engage Super League under the name Catalans Dragons.-Culture:Since 2004, every year in the...

. Other towns include Argelès-sur-Mer
Argelès-sur-Mer
Argelès-sur-Mer is a commune in the Pyrénées-Orientales department in southern France.It lies near Perpignan.-Geography:...

, Thuir
Thuir
Thuir is a commune in the Pyrénées-Orientales department in southern France.It lies not far from Perpignan. It is located in a plain between the natural zones of Els Aspres and El Riberal.-References:* -External links:*...

, Elne
Elne
Elne is a commune in the Pyrénées-Orientales department in southern France.It lies in the former province of Roussillon, of which it was the first capital, being later replaced by Perpignan...

 (the ancient Illiberis) and Prades, each of 6-10,000 inhabitants.

Pyrénées-Orientales consists of three river valleys in the Pyrenees
Pyrenees
The Pyrenees is a range of mountains in southwest Europe that forms a natural border between France and Spain...

 mountain range –from north to south, those of the Agly
Agly
The Agly River is a river of southwestern France. Its source is in the Corbières hills, near Camps-sur-l'Agly. It flows through Saint-Paul-de-Fenouillet, Estagel, Rivesaltes and Saint-Laurent-de-la-Salanque before it flows into the Mediterranean Sea near Le...

, Têt
Têt River
The Têt is the largest river in Roussillon, southeastern France. It is 116 km long. The Têt has its source at the foot of the Pic Carlit in the Pyrenees...

 and Tech
Tech River
The Tech is a river in southern France, very close to the French-Spanish border. It runs through a valley in the Pyrénées-Orientales, in the former Roussillon, and is 84 km long. Its source is the Parcigoule Valley and it feeds the Mediterranean Sea...

– and the eastern Plain of Roussillon into which they converge. Most of the population and agricultural production are concentrated in the plain, with only 30% of the area. There is one water reservoir at Lac de Matemale
Lac de Matemale
Lac de Matemale is an artificial lake in the commune of Matemale in the Pyrénées-Orientales, France. At an elevation of 1541 m, its surface area is 2.23 km²....

.

The upper Tech valley comprises the departments westernmost third, with just over a tenth of the total population. To the south-east, the Têt valley and the Côte Vermeille
Côte Vermeille
The Côte Vermeille is a region in the French department of Pyrénées-Orientales, near the border with Spain. The Côte Vermeille stretches from Argelès-sur-Mer to the border village of Cerbère, quaint and relatively quiet seaside hideaway in the valley of Cervera...

 contain nearly 100,000 inhabitants. The Agly basin in the north-east has much in common with neighboring areas of Aude. Llívia
Llívia
Llívia is a town of Cerdanya, province of Girona, Catalonia, Spain. It is a Spanish exclave within the French département of Pyrénées-Orientales...

 is a town of Cerdanya
Cerdanya
Cerdanya is a natural comarca and historical region of the eastern Pyrenees divided between France and Spain. Historically it has been one of the counties of Catalonia....

, province of Girona
Girona
Girona is a city in the northeast of Catalonia, Spain at the confluence of the rivers Ter, Onyar, Galligants and Güell, with an official population of 96,236 in January 2009. It is the capital of the province of the same name and of the comarca of the Gironès...

, Catalonia
Catalonia
Catalonia is an autonomous community in northeastern Spain, with the official status of a "nationality" of Spain. Catalonia comprises four provinces: Barcelona, Girona, Lleida, and Tarragona. Its capital and largest city is Barcelona. Catalonia covers an area of 32,114 km² and has an...

, Spain
Spain
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

, that forms a Spanish exclave surrounded by French territory.

Economy



Pyrénées-Orientales is a wine
Wine
Wine is an alcoholic beverage, made of fermented fruit juice, usually from grapes. The natural chemical balance of grapes lets them ferment without the addition of sugars, acids, enzymes, or other nutrients. Grape wine is produced by fermenting crushed grapes using various types of yeast. Yeast...

-growing area and a tourist destination.

Demographics


French is spoken by almost all the population. Minority languages in the region are 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 Occitan, which between them are estimated to be spoken by rather more than a quarter of the population and understood by more than 40%.

On 10 December 2007, the General Council of the Pyrénées-Orientales
General Council of the Pyrénées-Orientales
The General Council of the Pyrénées-Orientales is the assembly elected for 6 years by the 31 Cantons of the Pyrénées-Orientales and its executive...

 recognized Catalan as a language of the department, though French is still the only official language in France, according to the Constitution.

The area is traditionally divided into comarques
Comarca
A comarca is a traditional region or local administrative division found in parts of Spain, Portugal, Panama, Nicaragua, and Brazil. The term is derived from the term marca, meaning a "march, mark", plus the prefix co- meaning "together, jointly".The comarca is known in Aragonese as redolada and...

, of which five (French Cerdagne
French Cerdagne
French Cerdagne is the northern half of Cerdanya, which came under French control as a result of the Treaty of the Pyrenees in 1659, while the southern half remained in Spain . Catalonians often refer to French Cerdagne as Upper Cerdanya...

, Capcir
Capcir
Capcir is a historical Catalan comarca of Northern Catalonia, now part of the French Département of Pyrénées-Orientales. The capital of the comarca was Formiguera, and it borders the historical comarques of Conflent and Alta Cerdanya...

, Conflent
Conflent
Conflent is a historical Catalan comarca of Northern Catalonia, now part of the French Département of Pyrénées-Orientales. In the Middle Ages it comprised the County of Conflent....

, Roussillon
Roussillon
Roussillon is one of the historical counties of the former Principality of Catalonia, corresponding roughly to the present-day southern French département of Pyrénées-Orientales...

 and Vallespir
Vallespir
Vallespir is a historical Catalan comarca of Northern Catalonia, part of the French Département of Pyrénées-Orientales. The capital of the comarca is Ceret, and it borders Conflent, Rosselló, Alt Empordà, Garrotxa and Ripollès...

) are historically Catalan-speaking and one (Fenouillèdes) is historically Occitan-speaking. The five Catalan-speaking comarques were historically part of the Kingdom of Majorca
Kingdom of Majorca
The Kingdom of Majorca was founded by James I of Aragon, also known as James The Conqueror. After the death of his first-born son Alfonso, a will was written in 1262 which created the kingdom in order to cede it to his son James...

.

Cuisine


The cuisine of Pyrénées-Orientales draws naturally from the historical Catalan presence in the area, so dishes like Paella, Cargols a la llauna and calcots are prevalent in the restaurants, especially at important dates such as the various saints feast days and cultural festivals.
The French dishes have however become more popular in the area since the birth of tourism with many french and foreign people expecting french food when taking their holiday there. This is mixed with the everyday tourist fast-food with pizza and burger restaurant increasing in number every year.

The area is famous for its wine with the predominately red grape varieties grown all over the department, regional specialities such as muscat de Rivesaltes and Banyuls are sold everywhere in the department.

The geography of the area leads to a distinct divide in the cuisine of P-O, the mountainous areas to the south has dishes using ingredients that grow naturally there, products such as olives and goats cheese are produced.

Fish are also very popular in the region with Collioure
Collioure
Collioure is a commune in the Pyrénées-Orientales department in southern France.It lies on the Mediterranean and was a part of the ancient Roussillon province....

 being famous for its anchovies fishing has reduced due to the overall reduction of fish stock in the Mediterranean sea.

Culture


Places of interest include:
  • Prades (Catalan Prada de Conflent) - site of the Catalan Summer University (Universitat Catalana d'Estiu).
  • Banyuls-sur-Mer
    Banyuls-sur-Mer
    Banyuls-sur-Mer is a commune in the Pyrénées-Orientales department in southern France.-Geography:Banyuls-sur-Mer is neighbored by Cerbère, Port-Vendres, Argelès-sur-Mer and Collioure. The region is known for its wines, such as the sweet wine Banyuls. An aquatic museum with aquarium is located in...

     (Catalan Banyuls de la Marenda) famous for its Grenache-based Banyuls
    Grenache
    Grenache is one of the most widely planted red wine grape varieties in the world. It ripens late, so it needs hot, dry conditions such as those found in Spain, the south of France, and California's San Joaquin Valley. It is generally spicy, berry-flavored and soft on the palate with a relatively...

     wine, birth place of Aristide Maillol
    Aristide Maillol
    Aristide Maillol or Aristides Maillol was a French Catalan sculptor and painter.-Biography:...

    .
  • Prats de Molló - important defensive castle of the 17th century facing south to the Pyrenees.
  • Salses - important defensive castle of the 16th century, on the ancient frontier with Spain
    Spain
    Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

    .

External links