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Haute-Garonne

HAUTE-GARONNE, a frontier department of south-western France, formed in 1790 from portions of the provinces of Languedoc (Toulousain and Lauraguais) and Gascony (Comminges and Nebouzan). Pop. (1906), 442,065. Area, 2458 sq. m. It is bounded N. by the department of Tarn-et-Garonne, E. by Tarn, Aude and Ariege, S. by Spain and W. by Gers and Hautes Pyrenees. Long and narrow in shape, the department consists in the north of an undulating stretch of country with continual interchange of hill and valley nowhere thrown into striking relief; while towards the south the land rises gradually to the Pyrenees, which on the Spanish border attain heights of upwards of 10,000 ft. Two passes, the Port d'Oo, near the beautiful lake and waterfall of Oo, and the Port de Venasque, exceed 9800 and 7900 ft. in altitude respectively. Entering the department in the south-east, the Garonne flows in a northerly direction and traverses almost its entire length, receiving in its course the Pique, the Salat, the Louge, the Ariege, the Touch and the Save. Except in the mountainous region the climate is mild, the mean annual temperature being rather higher than that of Paris. The rainfall, which averages 24 in. at Toulouse, exceeds 40 in. in some parts of the mountains; and sudden and destructive inundations of the Garonne of which that of 1875 is a celebrated example are always to be feared. The valley of the Garonne is also frequently visited by severe hail-storms. Thick forests of oak, fir and pine exist in the mountains and furnish timber for shipbuilding. The arable land of the plains and valleys is well adapted for the cultivation of wheat, maize and other grain crops; and the produce of cereals is generally much more than is required for the local consumption. Market-gardening flourishes around Toulouse. A large area is occupied by vineyards, though the wine is only of medium quality; and chestnuts, apples and peaches are grown. As pasture laud is abundant a good deal of attention is given to the rearing of cattle and sheep, and co-operative dairies are numerous in the mountains; but deforestation has tended to reduce the area of pasture-land, because the soil, unretained by the roots of trees, has been gradually washed away. Haute-Garonne has deposits of zinc and lead, and salt- workings; there is an ancient and active marbleworking industry at St Beat. Mineral springs are common, those of Bagneres-de-Luchon Encausse, Barbazan and Salies- duSalat being well known. The manufactures are various though not individually extensive, and include iron and copper goods, woollen, cotton and linen goods, leather, paper, boots and shoes, tobacco and table delicacies. Flour-mills, iron-works and brick-works are numerous. Railway communication is furnished by the Southern and the Orleans railways, the main line of the former from Bordeaux to Cette passing through Toulouse. The Canal du Midi traverses the department for 32m. and the lateral canal of the Garonne for ism. The Garonne is navigable below its confluence with the Salat. There are four arrondissements Toulouse, Villefranche, Muret and St Gaudcns, subdivided into 39 cantons and 588 communes. The chief town is Toulouse, which is the seat of a court of appeal and of an archbishop, the headquarters of the XVIIth army corps and the centre of an academy; and St Gaudens, Bagneres-de-Luchon and, from an architectural and historical standpoint, St Bertrand- deComminges are of importance and receive separate treatment. Other placesof interest are St Aventin,Montsaunes and Venerque, which possess ancient churches in the Romanesque style. The church of St Just at Valcabrere is of still greater age, the choir dating from the 8th or 9th century and part of the nave from the nth century. There are ruins of a celebrated Cistercian abbey at Bonnefont near St Martory. Gallo-Roman remains and works of art have been discovered at Martres. Near Revel is the fine reservoir of St Ferreol, constructed for the canal du Midi in the 17th century.

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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