The France Page - Regions
The modern region of Limousin is essentially composed of two historical French provinces:
* Limousin: the Corrèze department in its entirety and the central and southeastern part of Haute-Vienne. The old province of Limousin is entirely contained inside the modern Limousin region.
* Marche: most of the Creuse department and the north and northeastern part of the Haute-Vienne. The old province of Marche is almost entirely contained inside the current Limousin region, with only a small part of Marche being now in the Centre region.
Beside these two main provinces, Limousin is also composed of small parts of other former provinces:
* Angoumois: extreme south-west of Haute-Vienne
* Poitou: extreme west of Haute-Vienne
* Auvergne: extreme east of Creuse
* Berry: extreme north of Creuse
Today the province of Limousin is the most populated part of the Limousin region. Limoges, the historical capital and largest city of the province of Limousin is the capital of the Limousin administrative region.
With a slowly rising population of just under 750,000, Limousin is the least populated French region in Metropolitan France. There are fewer inhabitants in Limousin than in the city of Marseille. Limousin is often used as an example of why French regions are too small and should be merged.
The population of Limousin is aging and until recently declining. The Creuse department holds the undesirable record of the department of France with the oldest population. However, between 1999 and 2004 the population of Limousin has slightly increased, reversing its decline for the first time in decades. The region is improving its transportation and communication network and is attracting some North European migrants looking for a peaceful and friendly rural setting, fine gastronomy and low real estate prices.
Limousin is an essentially rural region. Famed for some of the best beef farming in the world, herds of Limousin cattle - a distinctive chestnut red - are a common sight in the region. In addition to cattle, the region is also a major timber producing area.
The regional capital, Limoges, was once an industrial power-base, world-renowned for its porcelain and is still a leader and innovator in electric equipment factories (which used porcelain as an insulator originally). However, large factories are now few in number.
Politically speaking, Limousin is considered a stronghold of the left, with the industrial city of Limoges, as its political centre. However, in practice, it is the department of Haute-Vienne which most strongly represents the left. Creuse tends towards the left and Corrèze tends towards the right.
Corrèze is the department of the former President of France, Jacques Chirac, and home to François Hollande (first secretary of the Socialist Party).
Geography and climate
The Limousin region is almost entirely an upland area. The lowest land is in the north-west of the region (approximately 250 m above sea level) and the highest land is roughly in the south-east (approximately 1000 m above sea level). However, the greater part of the region is above 350 m. There are numerous important rivers in the Limousin such as the Dordogne, Vienne, Creuse and Cher. The region is well-known for the high-quality of its water and for offering first rate fishing.
Although summer temperatures often exceed 32 °C – and have even reached 42 °C – the Limousin region has a damper and milder climate than its neighbours. Winters are often long and cold, especially in the higher areas, and snow is not at all uncommon.
The area around Brive in the Corrèze has more than 2000 hours per year of sunshine, the same as the southern city of Toulouse.
Culture and literature
Until the 1970s, Occitan was the primary language of rural areas. There remain several different Occitan dialects in use in Limousin, although their use is rapidly declining:
* Languedocien (quercynois)
The authors Jean_Blanzat and Jean_Giraudoux were both born in Bellac, in the Haute-Vienne. The artist Paul Rebeyrolle was born in the Limousin and British artist Geoff Bunn is now based there.
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