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Alsace

Alsace
NameAlsace
Reg LogoAlsLogo.png
FlagFlag of Alsace.svg
CapitalStrasbourg
Largest CityStrasbourg
Area8280
Population1815488
Pop Date2006
GDP48
GDP Year2007
GDP Per Capita26,500
GDP Cap Year2007
GDP Cap Ref|Website=region-alsace.eu
LeaderPhilippe Richert (2010 )
Leader PartyUMP
Departments2
Dept1Bas-Rhin
Dept2Haut-Rhin
NUTSFR4

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Alsace ( -fralzas; Alsatian: Elsàss -gswˈɛlzɔs; , pre-1996: Elsaß, -deˈɛlzasIPA; ) is the fifth-smallest of the 27 regions of France in land area (8,280 km2), and the smallest in metropolitan France. 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. Because that city is the seat of dozens of international organizations and bodies, Alsace is politically one of the most important regions in the European Union.

The name "Alsace" can be traced back to the Old High German Ali-saz or Elisaz, meaning "foreign domain". An alternative explanation derives it from a Germanic Ell-sass, meaning "seated on the Ill", a river in Alsace. The region was historically part of the Holy Roman Empire. It was gradually annexed by France in the 17th century under kings Louis XIII and Louis XIV and made one of the provinces of France. Alsace is frequently mentioned in conjunction with Lorraine, 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, a regional language, 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 original German place names.


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