Brittany (region of France)

Brittany (region of France)

Infobox French region
native_name = Brittany
Région Bretagne
common_name = Brittany


image_flag_size = 115px


image_logo_size = 100px


capital = Rennes
area = 27,209 | area_scale = 10
Regional president = Jean-Yves Le Drian
(PS) (since 2004)
population_rank = 7th
population_census = 2,906,197
population_census_year = 1999
population_estimate = 3,103,000
population_estimate_year = 2007
population_density = 114
population_density_year = 2007
arrondissements = 15
cantons = 201
communes = 1,268
departments = Côtes-d'Armor
Ille-et-Vilaine
Morbihan
Finistère


footnotes=

Brittany ( _fr. Bretagne) (audio|fr-Bretagne.ogg|French pronunciation; Breton: "Breizh"; Gallo: "Bertaèyn") is one of the 26 regions of France. It occupies a large peninsula in the northwest of the country, lying between the English Channel to the north and the Bay of Biscay to the south. Its capital is Rennes.

Territory

The region of Brittany is made up of 80% of the former duchy and province of Brittany. The remaining 20% of Brittany is the Loire-Atlantique department which lies inside the Pays-de-la-Loire region, with its capital Nantes, which was the historical capital of the duchy of Brittany.

Part of the reason that Brittany was split between two modern day regions was to avoid the rivalry between Rennes and Nantes. Although Nantes had been the main capital of the duchy of Brittany until the 16th century, Rennes had been the seat of the supreme court of justice of Brittany between 1560 and 1789. Rennes had also been the administrative capital of the Intendant of Brittany between 1689 and 1789. Intendances were the most important administrative units of the kingdom of France in the 17th and 18th centuries. As for the provincial states of Brittany, which originally met every two years in a different city of Brittany, they had only met in Rennes from 1728 to 1789 (with only the exceptions of 1730, 1758, and 1760). Despite that, the "Chambre des comptes" stayed in Nantes until 1789. Note that Vannes (Gwened in Breton) used to be the first administrative capital of the duchy from 1381 till the end of the 15th century, keeping the seat of the "Chambre des comptes" till 1491/99, and the one of the "Parlement" till 1553, and between 1675 and 1689.

Thus, when French regions were created, it was decided in 1941 (when the majority of France was under Nazi German occupation, and the remainder under the puppet Vichy regime) to create a region of Brittany with Rennes as its capital, and another region created specifically for Nantes, which was called "Pays-de-la-Loire" (i.e. "lands of the Loire"). Pays-de-la-Loire is made up of a part of Brittany, but also several other historical provinces (Anjou, Maine, and so on).

Some people in Brittany complain about the current division of Brittany and would like to see Loire-Atlantique joining the region of Brittany in order to reunify Brittany. However, reunification raises a couple of questions: first, what to do with the rump Pays-de-la-Loire region, and second, which city should be chosen as the capital of this reunified Brittany region.

Language and culture

Unlike the rest of France, Brittany has maintained a distinctly Celtic identity. Its name derives from the fact that much of its population is descended from settlers from Great Britain, who fled that island in the wake of the Anglo-Saxon conquest of England between the fifth and seventh centuries. Breton, a Celtic language (akin to Cornish and Welsh), was the dominant language of western Brittany (roughly, west of a boundary from St Brieuc to Vannes) until the mid-20th century. It has been granted regional language status and revival efforts are underway.

In eastern Brittany, the traditional language is Gallo, an Oïl language, which has also received regional recognition and is in the process of being revived.

The French administration now allows for some Breton or Gallo to be used by the region and its communes, in road signs and names of towns and cities, along with the official French version. The two languages are also taught at school, and many folklore associations and clubs are trying to revive them.

Brittany has historically been a stronghold of the Roman Catholic Church, and its rates of church attendance have tended to be considerably higher than the national average. However, in recent years the influence of the church has declined.


Politics

The region is administered by the Regional Council.

Brittany was a traditionally conservative and Christian democratic region, with the notable exception of the department of Côtes-d'Armor, a longtime stronghold of the left. However, Brittany has been recently trending to the left, electing Jean-Yves Le Drian, its first Socialist regional president, in 2004, and voting for Socialist Ségolène Royal in the French presidential election, 2007. Centrist candidate François Bayrou also polled relatively high in the region and Fougères elected a MoDem deputy to the National Assembly (he has since joined the pro-UMP New Centre. The region was one of the few regions to vote yes to the European constitution in the 2005 referendum and Brittany continues, along with Alsace, to be a strongly pro-European region.

Brittany is one of the French Communist Party's weakest regions. Its only support for that party is concentrated in the southwest of the Côtes-d'Armor and northwest of Morbihan. The Greens and other environmentalist parties have traditionally been strong in the region, especially in urban areas, such as Rennes or Quimper.

The Socialist Party controls three general councils (Ille-et-Vilaine, Côtes-d'Armor, and Finistère), while the centrist MoDem controls that of Morbihan, in coalition with the right.

Transportation

There are several airports in Brittany serving destinations in France and England. TGV train services link the region with cities such as Paris, Lyon, Marseilles, and Lille in other regions of France. In addition there are ferry services that take passengers, vehicles and freight to Ireland, England and the Channel Islands.

Major communities

*Brest
*Concarneau
*Fougères
*Lanester
*Lannion
*Lorient
*Ploemeur
*Quimper
*Rennes
*Saint-Brieuc
*Saint-Malo
*Vannes

External links

* [http://www.region-bretagne.fr/CRB Regional Council of Bretagne]
* ODP|Regional/Europe/France/Regions/Brittany|Bretagne
* [http://photos-of-france.site.voila.fr/nordouest1en.html Photos of Bretagne]
* [http://www.fredpieau.com/photographe/index.php?cstheme=ille-et-vilaine Photos of Bretagne (professionnal)]
* [http://www4.culture.fr/patrimoines/patrimoine_architectural_et_mobilier/sribzh/main.xsp?execute=parsed_query&query=region:|Bretagne|&tri=region&tri=dpt&tri=com&tri=adrstri&tri=lieu&tri=edif&tri=tico Cultural Heritage]
* [http://www.geocities.com/bftrav/Bretagne.htm 3,500 images from Bretagne: coast, calvary and megalith]
* [http://brittany.wikidot.com Regional information for the English speaking community]


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