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Pyrenées-Orientales (Eastern Pyrenees) is a département of southern France adjacent to the northern Spanish frontier and the Mediterranean Sea. It corresponds largely to the former province of Roussillon (French Catalonia), which it replaced in 1790.

It has an area of 4115 sq. km. and a population of 400,000, of whom just over a quarter live in the capital, Perpignan (Catalan Perpinyà). Other towns include Argelès-sur-Mer, Thuir, Elne (the ancient Illiberis) and Prades (Catalan Prada de Conflent[?]), each of 6-10,000 inhabitants.


A wine-growing district and tourist destination, Pyrenées-Orientales is grouped with neighbouring Aude and three other départements to the north-east in the region of Languedoc-Roussillon.

Pyrenées-Orientales consists of three river valleys - from north to south, those of the Agly[?], Têt and Tech[?] - and the eastern Plain of Roussillon into which they converge. Most of the population and agricultural production are concentrated in the plain, with only 30% of the area.

The upper Tech valley comprises the département's westernmost third, with just over a tenth of the total population. To the south-east, the Têt valley and the Côte Vermeille contain nearly 100,000 inhabitants. The Agly basin in the north-east has much in common with neighboring areas of Aude.

The Catalan language is estimated to be spoken by rather more than a quarter of the population and understood by more than 40%. Invaded by Spain in April 1793, the area was recaptured thirteen months later.

For history to 1790, see Roussillon.

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