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ARIÈGE, an inland department of southern France, bounded
S. by Spain, W. and N. by the department of Haute-Garonne,
N.E. and E. by Aude, and S.E. by Pyrénées-Orientales. It
embraces the old countship of Foix, and a portion of Languedoc
and Gascony. Area, 1893 sq. m. Pop. (1906) 205,684.
Ariège is for the most part mountainous. Its southern border is
occupied by the snow-clad peaks of the eastern Pyrenees, the
highest of which within the department is the Pic de Montcalm
(10,512 ft.). Communication with Spain is afforded by a large
number of ports or cols, which are, however, for the most part
difficult paths, and only practicable for a few months in the year.
Farther to the north two lesser ranges running parallel to the
main chain traverse the centre of the department from south-east
to north-west. The more southerly, the Montagne de Tabe,
contains, at its south-eastern end, several heights between 7200
and 9200 ft., while the Montagues de Plantaurel to the north of
Foix are of lesser altitude. These latter divide the fertile
alluvial plains of the north from the mountains of the centre
and south. The department is intersected by torrents belonging
to the Garonne basin—the Salat, the Arize, which, near Mas
d’Azil, flows through a subterranean gallery, the Ariège and the
Hers. The climate is mild in the south, but naturally very
severe among the mountains. Generally speaking, the arable
land, which is chiefly occupied by small holdings, is confined to
the lowlands. Wheat, maize and potatoes are the chief crops.
Good vineyards and market gardens are found in the neighbourhood
of Pamiers in the north. Flax and hemp are also cultivated.
The mountains afford excellent pasture, and a considerable
number of cattle, sheep and swine are reared. Poultry- and bee-farming
Flourish. Forests cover more than one-third of the
department and harbour wild boars and even bears. Game,
birds of prey and fish are plentiful. There is abundance of
minerals, including lead, copper, manganese and especially Iron39775-h.htm'>Iron.
Grindstones, building-stone, talc, gypsum, marble and phosphates
are also produced. Warm mineral springs of note are found at
Ax, Aulus and Ussat. Pamiers and St GIron39775-h.htm'>Irons are the most important
industrial towns. Iron39775-h.htm'>Iron founding and forging, which have
their chief centre at Pamiers are principal industries. Flour-milling,
paper-making and cloth-weaving may also be mentioned.
Ariège is served by the Southern railway. It forms the diocese
of Pamiers and belongs to the ecclesiastical province of Toulouse.
It is within the circumscriptions of the académie (educational
division) and of the court of appeal of Toulouse and of the XVII.
army corps. Its capital is Foix; it comprises the arrondissements
of Foix, St GIron39775-h.htm'>Irons and Pamiers, with 20 cantons and
338 communes. Foix, Pamiers, St GIron39775-h.htm'>Irons and St Lizier-de-Cousérans
are the more noteworthy towns. Mention may also be made
of Mirepoix, once the seat of a bishopric, and possessing a cathedral
(15th and 16th centuries) with a remarkable Gothic spire.
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