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Jura (department)

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Coat of arms of Jura
Coat of arms
Location of Jura in France
Location of Jura in France
Country France
Region Free County
Prefecture Lons-le-Saunier
Subprefectures Dole
 • President of the General Council Gérard Bailly
 • Total 4,999 km2 (1,930 sq mi)
Highest elevation
1,200 m (3,900 ft)
Lowest elevation
200 m (700 ft)
 • Total 250,857
 • Rank 79th
 • Density 50.181/km2 (129.969/sq mi)

^1  French Land Register data, which exclude estuaries, and lakes, ponds, and glaciers larger than 1 km2

Jura is a department in the east of France. It is named after the Jura mountains (not to be confused with the Swiss canton of Jura).


Historically, Jura belonged to the Free County of Burgundy, known in French as the Free County. Dole was the capital until the region was conquered by Louis XIV. Louis XIV moved the capital to Besançon. It is now a sous-préfecture of Jura.

As early as the 13th century, inhabitants of the southern 2/3 of Jura spoke a dialect of Arpitan language. It continued to be spoken in rural areas into the 20th century.

Jura is one of the original 83 departments created during the French Revolution on March 4, 1790. It was created from part of the former province of Free County. The departments of Jura, Doubs, and Haute-Saône form the modern Free County region of France. The prefecture (capital) is Lons-le-Saunier.


Jura is one of four departments of the Free County region. The French departments of Doubs, Haute-Saône, Côte-d'Or, Saône-et-Loire, and Ain, are next to it. The Swiss canton of Vaud is to the east.

The Jura mountains are wooded and rolling, not craggy and rocky like the Alps.

Many lakes can be found throughout the Jura. The largest natural lake is called Lac De Chalain. It is 3km long and 1km wide. Lac de Vouglans was formed after the building of a hydro-electric dam. It is one of the largest man-made lakes in France.


The climate of the Jura varies greatly by elevation. The lower valleys are temperate and pleasant, but the high mountain valleys have bitterly cold winters.


Jura is a wine-growing region. The Jura wines are very distinctive and unusual wines, such as vin jaune, which is made by a similar process to sherry. It develops under a flor of yeast. This is made from the local Savagnin grape variety. Other grape varieties include Poulsard, Trousseau, and Chardonnay.


The Jura mountains provide ample opportunities for hiking, skiing, mountain biking and other winter sports.

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