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Location of Ariège in France
|• President of the General Council||Augustin Bonrepaux|
|• Total||4,890 km2 (1,890 sq mi)|
|• Density||31.14/km2 (80.66/sq mi)|
The department is surrounded by the French departments of Haute-Garonne to the west and north, Aude to the east, and Pyrénées-Orientales in the south-east, as well as Spain (Lleida) and Andorra in the south.
The department was inhabited in prehistoric times, as evidenced by the presence of caves with cave paintings and dolmens. In historical times it was inhabited by Basque people; they settled on the northern side of the Pyrenees and in the valleys below. In 415 it became part of the kingdom of the Visigoths, until their defeat at the hands of the king of the Franks in 507.
Ariège was created in 1790 during the French Revolution, when the whole of France was divided into departments, replacing the old provinces. Ariège was created combining the counties[N 1] of Foix (Languedoc) and Couserans (Gascogne).
Ariège is part of the region Midi-Pyrénées and has an area of 4,890 km2 (1,888 sq mi). Its capital is the city of Foix, with a population of 9,782 inhabitants, but the city with the largest population is Pamiers, with 15,448 inhabitants.
There are three main natural regions in the department:
- The Ariège plain. The north of the department consists of plains, small hills and low valleys where agriculture is an important activity. Two major rivers, the Ariège and the Lèze, flow through the plain from south to north.
- The Pyrenean foothills. This area includes the small mountains and hills below 1,000 m (3,281 ft).
- The Ariége high country. The geography is dominated by the Pyrenees mountains exceeding 1,000 m (3,281 ft) above sea level which form the border between France and Spain.
The highest mountain in the department is the Pica d'Estats ( ) that is 3,143 m (10,312 ft) high and is on the Spain-France border. Other high mountains are the peak of Montcalm (3,077 m) and the Pic de Sotllo (3,072 m).
Two main types of climate are found in Ariège:
- Mediterranean – particularly visible in the vegetation of the foothills and of the valley of the Ariège river towards Tarascon, and in the Sault country
- Continental – in the Pyrenean valleys, with many storms and big differences of temperature between day and night
Temperatures are mild in the foothills, e.g. at the city of Foix (400 metres) the average is 5 °C in January and 19 °C in July. However, they decline rapidly with elevation, e.g. at l'Hospitalet-près-l'Andorre (1,430 m) it is 0 °C in January and 14 °C in July.
|Climate data for Saint-Girons|
|Average high °C (°F)||9.9
|Daily mean °C (°F)||5.1
|Average low °C (°F)||0.3
|Precipitation mm (inches)||92.5
|Avg. precipitation days (≥ 1 mm)||11.4||10.6||12.2||13.0||13.2||9.5||7.6||9.1||8.4||8.9||9.8||11.0||124.7|
|Source: Metereological data for Saint-Girons - Antichan from 1961 to 1990 July 2013|
- Cantons of the arrondissement of Foix
- La Bastide-de-Sérou
- Les Cabannes
- Cantons of the arrondissement of Pamiers
- Le Fossat
- Le Mas-d'Azil
- Cantons of the arrondissement of Saint-Girons
Ariège has a population, in 2011, of 152,286, for a population density of 31.1 inhabitants/km2. The arrondissement of Pamiers, with 72,361 inhabitants, is by far the one with more inhabitants. The other two, Foix and Saint-Girons, have respectively 52,144 and 27,781 inhabitants.
The population of the department represents only 5.3% of the region, that is, it is the department with the lower population of the Midi-Pyrénées. About 25% of the population lives in the four communes with 6,000 or more inhabitants.
Agriculture is an important activity in the Midi-Pyrenees and Ariege. The Ariège is not the smallest department of Midi-Pyrenees but only a small part of its territory is used by farmers; only 132,110 hectares (326,451 acres), 27% of its total area, are used for agriculture in the Ariege.
The Ariège plain is the most fertile area of the department; here farmers grow maize, wheat, sunflower and other crops. The other natural regions are not good for agriculture and are covered with forests or are used for pastures for sheep, cattle and horses.
- "France Departments". Statoids. http://www.statoids.com/ufr.html. Retrieved 31 July 2013.
- "Populations légales 2011" (in French). Institut national de la statistique et des études économiques - INSEE. http://www.insee.fr/fr/ppp/bases-de-donnees/recensement/populations-legales/france-departements.asp. Retrieved 10 June 2014.
- "Description de l'Ariège" (in French). Le SPLAF. http://splaf.free.fr/. Retrieved 31 July 2013.
- "Populations légales en vigueur à compter du 1er janvier 2014: Ariège" (in French) (pdf). Populations légales 2011 des départements et des collectivités d'outre-mer. Institut national de la statistique et des études économiques - INSEE. http://www.insee.fr/fr/ppp/bases-de-donnees/recensement/populations-legales/pages2013/pdf/dep09.pdf. Retrieved 10 June 2014.
- "Pica d'Estats". To Know Catalonia. explora.cat. http://www.explora.cat/en/pica.html. Retrieved 31 July 2013.
- "Le département de l'Ariège : population, emploi et surfaces" (in French). Terres d'Ariège. http://www.terres-ariege.fr/le-departement-de-lariege.html. Retrieved 31 July 2013.
- "Habitants du départment: Ariège" (in French). habitants.fr. http://www.habitants.fr/habitants_departement_ariege_09.html. Retrieved 31 July 2013.
- "L'Agriculture ariégeose" (in French). Terres d'Ariège. http://www.terres-ariege.fr/lagriculture-ariegeoise.html. Retrieved 31 July 2013.
- (French) General Council of L'Ariège
- (French) Ariège 2020 - agenda 21
- (French) Prefecture website
- The Ariège Pyrenees
- Ariege Pyrenees Tourism
- (French) Pays des Portes d'Ariège-Pyrénées
- (French) Histariège - Histoire et Patrimoine de l'Ariège