Aran Valley

Aran Valley

Spanish comarca
comarca_name = Val d'Aran


province = Lleida
capital = Vielha e Mijaran
largest_city = Vielha e Mijaran
demonym = aranès ("m.") aranesa ("f.")
population = 7130 (1996)
area = 620.5
pop_density = 11.5
municipalities = Arres|Bausen|Bossòst|Es Bòrdes|Canejan|Les|Naut Aran|Vielha e Mijaran|Vilamòs
The Aran Valley ( _oc. Era Val d'Aran; _ca. la Vall d'Aran; _es. El Valle de Arán) is a small valley (620.47 km²) in the Pyrenees mountains and a comarca (county) in the northwestern part of Catalonia (Spain). The River Garonne passes through the Val d'Aran after rising on the slopes of nearby Pic Aneto and passing underground at the Trou de Toro. It then reappears in the Val dera Artiga as a resurgence and flows into the Val d'Aran which is one of the highest valleys of the Pyrenees. Most of the valley constitutes the only part of Catalonia on the north face of the Pyrenees, hence the only part of Catalonia whose waters drain into the Atlantic Ocean. The region is characterized by an Atlantic climate, due to its peculiar orientation, which is different from other valleys in the area.

The Val d'Aran borders France on the north, Aragón to the west and the Catalan comarques of Alta Ribagorça to the south and Pallars Sobirà to the east. The capital of the comarca is Vielha, with 3,692 inhabitants (1996). The entire population of the valley is about 7,130 (1996). The chief river is the Garona, which descends through Gascony to the Atlantic. The Noguera Pallaresa, with its head only a hundred meters from that of the Garona, flows the other way, toward the Mediterranean.

The valley used to be without direct communication with the south side of the mountains during winter, until the construction of the Vielha tunnel, opened in 1948. Spanish Republican guerrillas (supporters of the Second Spanish Republic, the losing side in the Spanish Civil War) controlled the area from the end of World War II until the opening of the tunnel.

The local language and the name "Val d'Aran"

Aranese language is the standardized form of the Gascon variety of the Occitan language.The name Val d'Aran is Aranese. "Val d'Aran" itself is a pleonasm, as it means "Valley of the Valley" ("val" in Gascon and "aran" from Basque "haran"), a combination that reflects its unique geography.

Maps and road signs in Spain use the name "era Val d'Aran" to refer to the valley, where "era" is the Aranese singular feminine article as a part of the name. The same practice goes for all towns and other locations in Aran, for example Aranese spelling Vielha is used instead of Catalan and Spanish "Viella" to refer to the capital of Val d'Aran.

Aranese has been regularly taught at school since 1984. Like several other minority languages in Europe that recently faced decline, Aranese is experiencing a renaissance.

Government and economy

The area is divided in six administrative divisions, called "terçons" (meaning "thirds", as the divisions were formerly three in number). The current arrangement of the divisions dates from the 15th century.

The main income is from ski resorts in the winter, and from tourism in the summer. Other primary sectors of the economy include forest products, cattle raising and apiculture, all of which have become less and less important since the opening of ski resorts.


These population figures are from January 1, 2006 (source: Spanish INE).

* Arres pop. - 61
* Bausen pop. - 52
* Bossòst pop. - 1,043
* Es Bòrdes pop. - 247
* Canejan pop. - 104
* Les pop. - 903
* Naut Aran pop. - 1,732
* Vielha e Mijaran pop. - 5,239
* Vilamòs pop. - 173


Many native animals of the Vall d'Aran are in peril of extinction. There are programs of reintroduction and/or protection for:

* Brown Bear ("Ursus arctos")
* Rock ptarmigan ("Lagopus mutus")
* Aran rock lizard ("Lacerta aranica")
* Bearded vulture (Gypaëtus barbatus)


* [ Instituto Nacional de Estadística] (in Spanish). Reference for populations of municipalities as of January 1, 2005.
* [ IDESCAT: Statistics for Val d'Aran] (in Catalan), source for surface area, list of municipalities.
* Smith, Dominic. [ "Language planning in the Val d’Aran: The recent work of the Conselh Generau d’Aran’s ‘Oficina de Foment e Ensenhament der Aranés’ and its effects on the Aranés-speaking population."] (PDF). 2003.

External links

* [ Page of the Aranese government (Conselh Generau d'Aran)] oc icon
* [ Information from the Generalitat de Catalunya] ca icon

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