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LERIDA, a province of northern Spain, formed in 1833 of districts previously included in the ancient province of Catalonia, and bounded on the N. by France and Andorra, E. by Gerona and Barcelona, S. by Tarragona and W. by Saragossa and Huesca. Pop. (1900) 274,590; area 4690 sq. m. The northern half of Lerida belongs entirely to the Mediterranean or eastern section of the Pyrenees, and comprises some of the finest scenery in the whole chain, including the valleys of Aran and La Cerdana, and large tracts of forest. It is watered by many rivers, the largest of which is the Segre, a left-hand tributary of the Ebro. South of the point at which the Segre is joined on the right by the Noguera Pallaresa, the character of the country completely alters. The Llanos de Urgel, which comprise the greater part of southern Lerida, are extensive plains forming part of the Ebro valley, but redeemed by an elaborate system of canals from the sterility which characterizes so much of that region in Aragon. Lerida is traversed by the main railway from Barcelona to Saragossa, and by a line from Tarragona to the city of Lerida. In 1904 the Spanish government agreed with France to carry another line to the mouth of an international tunnel through the Pyrenees. Industries are in a more backward condition than in any other province of Catalonia, despite the abundance of waterpower. There are, however, many saw-mills, flour-mills, and distilleries of alcohol and liqueurs, besides a smaller number of cotton and linen factories, paper-mills, soap-works, and oil and leather factories. Zinc, lignite and common salt are mined, but the output is small and of slight value. There is a thriving trade in wine, oil, wool, timber, cattle, mules, horses and sheep, but agriculture is far less prosperous than in the maritime provinces of Catalonia. Lerida (q.v.) is the capital (pop. 21,432), and the only town with more than 5000 inhabitants. S6o de Urgel, near the headwaters of the Segre, is a fortified city which has been an episcopal see since 840, and has had a close historical connexion with Andorra (q.v.). Solsona, on a small tributary of the Cardoner, which flows through Barcelona to the Mediterranean, is the Setelix of the Romans, and contains in its parish church an image of the Virgin said to possess miraculous powers, and visited every year by many hundreds of pilgrims. Cervera, on a small river of the same name, contains the buildings of a university which Philip V. established here in 1717. This university had originally been founded at Barcelona in the 15th century, and was reopened there in 1842. In character, and especially in their industry, intelligence and keen local patriotism, the inhabitants of Lerida are typical Catalans. (See CATALONIA.)

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

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