BELFORT, FRANCE, Territory of, administrative division of eastern France, formed from the southern portion of the department of Haut-Rhin, the rest of which was ceded to Germany by the treaty of Frankfort (1871). It is bounded on the N.E. and E. by German Alsace, on the S.E. and S. by Switzerland, on the S.W. by the department of Doubs, on the W. by that of Haute-Saône, on the N. by that of Vosges. Pop. (1906), 95,421.
With an area of only 235 sq. m., it is, next to that of Seine, the smallest department of France. The northern part is occupied by the southern offshoots of the Vosges, the southern part by the northern outposts of the Jura. Between these two highlands stretches the Trouée (depression) de Belfort, 18 m. broad, joining the basins of the Rhine and the Rhone, traversed by the canal from the Rhone to the Rhine and by several railways. A part of the natural highway open from Frankfort to the Mediterranean, the Trouée has from earliest times provided the route for the migration from north to south, and is still of great commercial and strategical value. The northern part, occupied by the Vosges, rises to 4126 ft. in the Ballon d'Alsace, the northern termination and the culminating point of the department; to 3773 ft. in the Planche des Belles-Filles; to 3579 ft. in the Signal des Plaines; to 3534 ft. in the Bärenkopf; and to numerous other lesser heights. South of the Trouée de Belfort, there rise near Delle limestone hills, in part wooded, on the frontiers of France, Alsace, and Switzerland, attaining 1680 ft. in the Forêt de Florimont. The territory between Lachapelle-sous-Rougemont (in the north-east), Belfort and Delle does not rise above 1300 ft. The line of lowest altitude follows the river St Nicolas and the Rhone-Rhine canal. The chief rivers are the Savoureuse, 24 m. long, running straight south from the Ballon d'Alsace, and emptying into the Allaine; the Allaine, from Switzerland, entering the territory a little to the south of Delle, and leaving it a little to the west of Morvillars; the St Nicolas, 24 m. long, from the Bärenkopf, running southwards and then south-west into the Allaine. The climate to the north of the town of Belfort is marked by long and rigorous winters, sudden changes of temperature, and an annual rainfall of 31 in. to 39 in. retained by an impervious subsoil; farther south it is milder and more equable with a rainfall of 23 in. to 31 in., quickly absorbed by the soil or evaporated by the Sun. About one-third of the total area is arable land; wheat, oats and rye are the chief cereals; potatoes come next in importance. Forest covers another third of the surface; the chief trees are firs, pines, oak and beech; cherries are largely grown for the distillation of kirsch. Pasture and forage crops cover the remaining third of the Territory; only horned cattle are raised to any extent. There is an unworked concession of copper, silver and lead at Giromagny; and there are also quarries of stone. The Territory is an active industrial region. The two main branches of manufacture are the spinning and weaving of cotton and wool, and the production of iron and iron-goods (wire, railings, nails, files, etc.) and machinery. Belfort has important locomotive and engineering works. Hoisery is manufactured at Delle, watches, clocks, agricultural machinery, petrol motors, ironware and electrical apparatus at the flourishing centre of Beaucourt, and there are numerous saw-mills, tile and brick works and breweries. Imports consist of raw materials for the industries, dyestuffs, coal, wine, etc., and the exports of manufactured goods.
Belfort is the capital of the Territory, which comprises one arrondissement, 6 cantons and 106 communes, and falls within the circumscriptions of the archbishopric, the court of appeal and the académie (educational division) of Besançon. It forms the 7th subdivision of the VII. army corps. Both the Eastern and the Paris-Lyon-Méditerranée railways traverse the Territory, and the canal from the Rhone to the Rhine accompanies the river St Nicolas for about 6 m.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)