Ille-et-Vilaine

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Ille-et-Vilaine
Department
Coat of arms of Ille-et-Vilaine
Coat of arms
Location of Ille-et-Vilaine in France
Location of Ille-et-Vilaine in France
Coordinates: 48°10′N 01°40′W / 48.167°N 1.667°W / 48.167; -1.667Coordinates: 48°10′N 01°40′W / 48.167°N 1.667°W / 48.167; -1.667
Country France
Region Brittany
Prefecture Rennes
Subprefectures Fougères
Redon
Saint-Malo
Government
 • President of the General Council Jean-Louis Tourenne (PS)
Area1
 • Total 6,775 km2 (2,616 sq mi)
Population (2007)
 • Total 955,846
 • Rank 23rd
 • Density 140/km2 (370/sq mi)
Time zone CET (UTC+1)
 • Summer (DST) CEST (UTC+2)
Department number 35
Arrondissements 4
Cantons 53
Communes 353
^1 French Land Register data, which exclude estuaries, and lakes, ponds, and glaciers larger than 1 km2

Ille-et-Vilaine (French pronunciation: ​[i.l‿e.vi.lɛn]; Breton: Il-ha-Gwilen) is a department of France, located in the region of Brittany in the northwest of the country.

History[edit]

Ille-et-Vilaine is one of the original 83 departments created during the French Revolution on March 4, 1790. It was created from part of the province of Brittany.

Geography[edit]

Ille-et-Vilaine is a part of the current region of Brittany and is bordered by the departments of Manche to the north-east, Mayenne to the east, Maine-et-Loire to the south-east, Loire-Atlantique to the south, Morbihan to the south-west, and Côtes-d'Armor to the west and north-west. Also the English Channel (la Manche in French) borders the department to the north.

The department is named after its two main rivers, the Ille and the Vilaine, whose confluence is in Rennes, the capital of the department and of the region. Other important rivers include :

  • the Rance, that borders the department in the north-west and flows to the north, creating a deep fjord before reaching the English Channel on the western part of the coast (named Côte d’Émeraude) between the cities of Dinard and Saint-Malo); the Rance river is connected from the west of the department to the Ille river in the north-west suburbs of Rennes with a navigable channel (then the Ille river is channelized to join the Vilaine up to the center of the city of Rennes) ;
  • and the Couesnon that borders the eastern part of the department and which reaches the eastern part of the coast of the English Channel, in the flat Bay of the Mont Saint-Michel.

The department is moderately elevated above the level of the sea, with many hills; however the central part has a dense network of many tributaries to the Ille or the Vilaine from all around the large basin of Rennes. The elevated hills bordering this basin are covered by several old forests now exploited by men for the production of wood. The basin itself is a rich agriculture area, as well as the north-west of the department near the Rance.

In the extreme south of the department the Vilaine goes through a slower decrease in elevation in a small corridor in the area of the city of Redon; in this area, the Vilaine is known for its frequent floods during its recent history, often because of too-intensive draining of agricultural areas around Rennes (some floods also affected some parts of Rennes up to the 1980s due to incorrect management of old equipment of the canal of Ille-et-Rance). To avoid these hazards within inhabited cities, some natural fields bordering the Vilaine in the south of the department are now left floodable, and works for regulating the level have been done including, small artificial lakes with derivation channels, replanting trees in the basin, better management of forests, and regulating the artificial drains made for agriculture.

Demographics[edit]

The population has grown rapidly over the last few decades and was estimated at 945,851 in January 2009.

Language[edit]

Gallo is a historic minority language spoken in eastern Brittany. Gallo and Breton are both studied at the University of Rennes.

Breton[edit]

Historically, the Breton language was little spoken in the eastern part of Brittany, and was one of the first regions where the language disappeared such that Breton was not spoken for many centuries.

Today, Breton is again spoken due to schools teaching Breton, and due to a small immigration from Western Brittany to Eastern Brittany, where there are more cities with growing industries and external investment and therefore more work. A recent study[1] shows that Breton speakers in this region represent 3.3% of the total number of Breton speakers. Interestingly, the Breton speakers aged 18–30 in this region represent 12.7% of the total number of Breton speakers of that age group. This is because there are relatively few elder speakers but many people are learning the language. The study says that about 1,800 people are learning it (this includes one Diwan school in Rennes, some bilingual public and catholic schools, and evening courses).

Politics[edit]

The President of the General Council is the Socialist Jean-Louis Tourenne since the French cantonal elections, 2004.

The city of Rennes and its suburbs are the original base of the rapid Socialist growth in the department. The city has been governed by Socialist Mayors since 1977, notably by Edmond Hervé between 1977 and 2008. Since then, the growth of middle-class suburbs have helped the Socialists, who have been rapidly gaining strength in those formerly right-leaning areas.

The right remains strong in a strongly Catholic (clerical) area from outside Redon to Vitré or Fougères. In addition, the right is strong in the wealthy coastal area of Saint-Malo and Dinard.

Party seats
Socialist Party 21
Miscellaneous Left 8
Union for a Popular Movement 6
Miscellaneous Right 6
Left Radical Party 5
Centrist Alliance 4
MoDem 2
New Centre 1

Tourism[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]