Val d'Aran

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Flag of Aran
Coat of arms of Aran
Coat of arms
Anthem: Montanhes araneses  (Occitan)
"Aranese mountains"
Location of Aran in Catalonia
Location of Aran in Catalonia
Country  Spain
Autonomous community  Catalonia
Province Lleida
Capital Vielha e Mijaran
 • Body Conselh Generau d'Aran
 • Síndic Carlos Barrera (CDA)
 • Total 633.5 km2 (244.6 sq mi)
Population (2014)
 • Total 9,993
 • Density 16/km2 (41/sq mi)
Time zone CET (UTC+1)
 • Summer (DST) CEST (UTC+2)
Largest municipality Vielha e Mijaran
Official languages
Website Conselh Generau d'Aran

Aran (Occitan pronunciation: [aˈɾan]; [əˈɾan]; [aˈɾan]) (previously officially called Val d'Aran) is an administrative entity in Catalonia, Spain, consisting of the Aran valley, 620.47 square kilometres (239.56 sq mi) in area, in the Pyrenees mountains, in the northwestern part of the province of Lleida.

Most of the valley constitutes one of only two areas of Spain,[1] and the only part of Catalonia, located on the northern side of the Pyrenees. Hence, this valley holds the only Catalonian rivers to flow into the Atlantic Ocean; for the same reason, the region is characterized by an Atlantic climate, instead of a Mediterranean one. As of 2001, most people in Aran spoke Spanish (38.78%) as their native language, followed by Aranese (34.19%), then Catalan (19.45%) with 7.56% having a different native language.[2] Speakers of languages other than the local Aranese are typically people born outside the valley, or their children.[3]

Aran borders France on the north, the Spanish Autonomous Community of Aragon 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 Garonne river flows through Aran from its source on the Pla de Beret (Beret Flat) near the Port de la Bonaigua. It is joined by the Joèu river (from the slopes of Aneto mountain) and passes underground at the Forau de Aigualluts. It then reappears in the Val dera Artiga before reaching the Aran valley, then through France and eventually to the Atlantic Ocean. The Noguera Pallaresa river, whose source is only a hundred meters from that of the Garonne, flows the opposite way towards the Mediterranean.


In 1313, James II of Aragon granted administrative and political autonomy to the Aran Valley, the legal details of which are described in a Latin manuscript called the Querimonia. The devolution of power was a reward for the Aranese pledging allegiance to James II in a dispute with the kingdoms of France and Mallorca over control of the valley.[4]

On 19 October 1944, Spanish Communist Party guerrillas invaded the valley in an attempt to bring about the fall of the Spanish dictatorship. They took control of several villages until October 27, 1949, but were forced to retreat back into France after Franco sent reinforcements to defend Vielha.[5]

Before the construction of the Vielha tunnel, opened in 1948, the Aran valley had no direct communication with the south side of the mountains during winter.

Name and local language[edit]

Vielha and the other Occitan main cities, in Occitan

Aranese is the standardized form of the Gascon variety of the Occitan language. 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.

The name Aran comes from Basque haran, meaning valley. 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. The same practice goes for all towns and other locations in Aran, for example, the Aranese spelling Vielha is used instead of Catalan and Spanish Viella to refer to the capital of Aran.

Basque toponyms reveal that Basque was spoken further east along the Pyrenees than today. The growing influence of Latin began to drive Basque out after the turn of the first millennium.[6]

Government and economy[edit]

Administratively, Aran is a "unique territorial entity" , roughly equivalent to a comarca with additional powers, and informally referred to as a comarca. This status was most recently formalised in February 2015.[7] The area is divided into six administrative divisions called terçons (meaning "thirds", as there were formerly three divisions). The current arrangement of the divisions dates from the 15th century. Since 1991, Aran has an autonomous government called the Conselh Generau (Occitan: General Council).

The major political parties are the Unity of Aran - Aranese Nationalist Party (the local chapter of the Socialists' Party of Catalonia, currently the governing party), the Aranese Democratic Convergence (the local chapter of the (Democratic Convergence of Catalonia). The Occitan Republican Left party was founded in 2008.

The main economic activity in the valley is tourism; from the ski resorts in the winter and from other tourist activity in the summer. Other primary sectors of the economy include forest products, cattle ranching and agriculture, all of which have become progressively less important since the opening of ski resorts.


Municipality Population
Arres 73 11.6
Bausen 49 17.7
Es Bòrdes 234 21.4
Bossòst 1,140 28.2
Canejan 102 48.3
Les 968 23.4
Naut Aran 1,782 255.8
Vielha e Mijaran 5,474 211.7
Vilamòs 171 15.4
• Total: 9 9,993 633.5


Panorama of part of Aran, with Bossòst to the left

Many native animals of Aran are in danger of extinction. There are programs to reintroduce and/or protect:


  1. ^ Luzaide/Valcarlos, in Navarra, is also on the northern side of the Pyrenees.
  2. ^ "Cens lingüístic de l'aranès de 2001" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-08-06. 
  3. ^ Cens lingüístic de l'aranès de 2001 (section 10: Llengua materna de la població de la Val d'Aran. Distribució per lloc de naixement. 2001) (in Catalan)
  4. ^ Turell, ed. by M. Teresa (2001). Multilingualism in Spain : sociolinguistic and psycholinguistic aspects of linguistic minority groups ([Online-Ausg.]. ed.). Clevedon [u.a.]: Multilingual Matters. p. 142. ISBN 9781853594915. Retrieved 19 August 2015. 
  5. ^ Rodríguez Marcos, Javier. "El valle de la libertad". (in Spanish). El Pais. Retrieved 18 August 2015. 
  6. ^ Morvan, Michel (1997). Les Origines linguistiques du basque. Bordeaux: Presses Universitaires de Bordeaux (PUB). p. 26. ISBN 978-2-86781-182-1. 
  7. ^ "LLEI 1/2015, del 5 de febrer, del règim especial d'Aran" (PDF) (in Catalan). Generalitat of Catalonia. 2015-02-13. Retrieved 2015-11-19. 
  8. ^ a b "El municipi en xifres". Institut d'Estadística de Catalunya. Retrieved 2015-05-25. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 42°43′21″N 0°50′14″E / 42.72250°N 0.83722°E / 42.72250; 0.83722