HUESCA PROVINCE, a frontier province of northern Spain, formed in 1833 of districts previously belonging to Aragon; and bounded on the N. by France, E. and S.E. by Lerida, S.W. and W. by Saragossa, and N.W. by Navarre. Pop. (1900) 244,867; area 5848 sq. m. The entire northern half of Huesca belongs to the mountain system of the Pyrenees, which here attain their greatest altitudes in Aneto, the highest point of the Maladetta ridge (11,168 ft.), and in Monte Perdido (10,997 ft.). The southern half forms part of the rugged and high-lying plateau of Aragon. Its only conspicuous range of hills is the Sierra de Alcubierre on the south-western border. The whole province is included in the basin of the Ebro, and is drained by four of its principal tributaries the Aragon in the north-west, the Gallego in the west, the Cinca in the centre, and the Noguera Ribagorzana along part of the eastern border. These rivers rise among the Pyrenees, and take a southerly course; the two last-named unite with the Segre on their way to join the Ebro. The Cinca receives the combined waters of the Alcanadre and Isuela on the right and the Esera on the left.
The climate varies much according to the region; in the north, cold winds from the snow-capped Pyrenees prevail, while in the south, the warm summers are often unhealthy from the humidity of the atmosphere. Agriculture, the leading industry of Huesca, is facilitated by a fairly complete system of irrigation, by means of which much waste land has been reclaimed, although large tracts remain barren. There is good summer pasturage on the mountains, where cattle, sheep and swine are reared. The mountains are richly clothed with forests of pine, beech, oak and fir; and the southern regions, wherever cultivation is possible, produce abundant crops of wheat and other cereals, vines, mulberries and numerous other fruits and vegetables. The mineral resources include argentiferous lead, copper, iron and cobalt, with salt, lignite, limestone, millstone, gypsum, granite and slate. None of these, however, occurs in large quantities; and in 1903 only salt, lignite and fluor-spar were worked, while the total output was worth less than 1500. Mineral springs are numerous, and the mining industry was formerly much more important; but the difficulties of transport hinder the development of this and other resources. Trade is most active with France, whither are sent timber, millstones, cattle, leather, brandy and wine. Between 1882 and 1892 the wine trade throve greatly, owing to the demand for common red wines, suitable for blending with finer French vintages; but the exports subsequently declined, owing to the protective duties imposed by France. The manufactures, which are of little importance, include soap, spirits, leather, pottery and coarse cloth.
The Saragossa-Lerida-Barcelona railway traverses the province, and gives access, by two branch lines, to Jaca, by way of Huesca, the provincial capital, and to Barbastro. Up to the beginning of the 20th century this was the only railway completed, although it was supplemented by many good roads. But by the Railway Convention of 1904, ratified by the Spanish government in 1906, France and Spain agreed jointly to construct a Transpyrenean line from Oloron, in the Basses Pyrenees, to Jaca, which should pass through the Port de Canfranc, and connect Saragossa with Pau. Apart from the episcopal cities of Huesca (pop. 1900, 12,626) and Jaca (4934), which are separately described, the only towns in the province with more than 5000 inhabitants are Barbastro (7033), an agricultural market, and Fraga (6899), an ancient residence of the kings of Aragon, with a fine 12th century parish church and a ruined Moorish citadel. Monzon, long celebrated as the meeting-place of the Aragonese and Catalonian parliaments, is a town on the lower Cinca, with the ruins of a Roman fortification, and of a 12th century castle, which was owned by the Knights Templar. (See also ARAGON.)
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)