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Former French Region (until 2015)
Flag of the former Aquitaine region Coat of arms of the former Aquitaine region
Nord-Pas-de-Calais Picardie Champagne-Ardenne Lothringen Elsass Haute-Normandie Basse-Normandie Bretagne Centre-Val de Loire Ile-de-France Burgund Franche-Comté Pays de la Loire Poitou-Charentes Limousin Aquitanien Midi-Pyrénées Languedoc-Roussillon Auvergne Rhône-Alpes Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur Korsika Andorra Monaco Liechtenstein Österreich Luxemburg Belgien Niederlande Vereinigtes Königreich Deutschland Schweiz Italien Guernsey Jersey SpanienLocation of the former Aquitaine region in France
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Basic data
Today part of Nouvelle-Aquitaine
Administrative headquarters Bordeaux

 - total January 1, 2017
 - density

3,414,585 inhabitants
82.7 inhabitants per km²


 - total
 - share in France :

41,284 km²

Departments 5
Arrondissements 19th
Cantons 235
Communities 2,296
Formerly ISO 3166-2 code FR-B

Aquitaine ( French Aquitaine [ akiˈtɛn ], Occitan Aquitània [ akiˈtanjɒ ], Basque Akitania , saintongeais Aguiéne ) is a landscape and historical region in southwestern France . She was a province and an administrative region consisting of the departments of Dordogne , Gironde , Landes , Lot-et-Garonne and Pyrénées-Atlantiques was. This had an area of ​​41,284 km² and 3,414,585 inhabitants (as of January 1, 2017). The capital of the region was Bordeaux .

On January 1, 2016, the Aquitaine region was merged with the neighboring regions of Limousin and Poitou-Charentes to form a new region called Nouvelle-Aquitaine ("New Aquitaine").


Aquitaine is bordered by the Pyrenees to the south and by the Bay of Biscay of the Atlantic to the west. The Bay of Biscay was formerly called Aquitanicus oceanus (Latin name).

The region borders in the north on the Poitou-Charentes region , in the northeast on the Limousin region , in the east on the Midi-Pyrénées region , in the south on Spain and in the west - mainly with the Côte d'Argent - on the Atlantic Ocean . It covered most of the Aquitaine basin , a fairly flat and geologically young landscape. It is mainly drained by the Garonne , Adour , Dordogne , Charente and their tributaries, which have deposited very young sediments. Hilly or mountainous areas can only be found in the extreme north-east and south: the first steep section of the Massif Central lies on the north-eastern edge of the region , and the Pyrenees rise there on the border with Spain , which already rise far above 2000 m. Between the Massif Central and the core area of ​​the Aquitaine Basin there are extensive, relatively low limestone plateaus, the foothills of which extend to immediately before Bordeaux .

The climate is - apart from the high altitudes - mild all year round. On the Atlantic coast, the average annual temperature is over 15 ° C, in Bordeaux around 14 ° C, on the border with the Limousin it is 11 ° C. This difference is mainly due to the mild winters near the coast. Precipitation is relatively high and increases towards the south. They fall mainly in the winter months.

The soil conditions are varied: the river plains are mostly very fertile, as is the foothills of the Pyrenees. Between them, however, the soil is mostly barren: the limestone soils in the northeast are suitable for viticulture and specialized crops such as truffles , nuts and fruit , but are not productive for arable farming due to their permeability . The wide alluvial plain between the Garonne and the Pyrenees has extremely poor loam and sandy soils, so that for centuries only extensive sheep farming was possible here and swamps dominated the picture. After afforestation from the 18th century, the largest contiguous forest area in France, the Landes de Gascogne , is now located here .

The dune of Pilat is over 100 m high and almost 3 km in length, the largest sand dune in Europe. Inland are the famous Bordeaux vineyards . The entire coastal region from Biscarrosse to the Spanish border is lined with a fine sandy beach.


Aquitaine in south-west Gaul at the time of Caesar

Aquitaine is an area with megalithic systems of the Allée couverte ( gallery grave ) type and is one of the oldest Neolithic regions in Western Europe.

At the time of the Roman conquest (by Julius Caesar in De bello Gallico ) the area south of the Garonne (Latin: Garuna) was called Aquitaine. Its inhabitants, including the Ausker , did not speak Celtic , in contrast to the population of the actual Gaul to the north , but a language (or languages) close to today's Basque , of which only a few words are known through place names and very short inscriptions.

The province of Gallia Aquitania , established by the Romans, reached far beyond ancient Aquitaine to the Loire (Latin: Liger). Later it was divided into Aquitania prima and Aquitania secunda , both north of the Garonne, and Novempopulana (literally "nine peoples (-land)") south of the river. The native population was Romanized and adopted a colonial modification of the Latin language.

In 418, the Visigoths were contractually settled as federates in Aquitaine , in line with the Gallo-Roman upper class, who hoped for protection from other barbarians less influenced by Rome. After the middle of the 5th century, however, the already weak Roman supremacy collapsed. The Visigoths ruled this area until 507.

Then Gaul was conquered by the Franks as far as the Pyrenees , and the Visigoths withdrew to the Iberian Peninsula . After losing their Gallic part of the empire, they tried to control the Basque Country. The Frankish power in the northern foothills of the Pyrenees, on the other hand, was little developed. Basques, who had preserved their language under Roman rule, pushed north from the Pyrenees and extended their hegemony to the original Aquitaine without the previously Romanized inhabitants giving up their provincial Latin . The name Gascogne also comes from the Basques .

Aquitania as part of the Frankish Empire during the Merovingian times .

In the 8th century, after conquering the Iberian Peninsula, the Moors temporarily extended their Islamic rule over the Pyrenees and Garonne to Aquitaine (in a large-scale sense). But then Karl Martell succeeded in 732 in the battle of Tours and Poitiers to stop their advance and to secure Aquitaine and the entire area up to the Pyrenees for the Frankish Empire.

Until 771 Aquitaine was an independent duchy , but was already under the rule of the Carolingians (see Duke Hunold ), from 781 even a kingdom under Ludwig the Pious , who was crowned Emperor of Franconia in 814. His successors in Aquitaine could not maintain the power of the kingdom, so that in 866 with the death of the last king, Charles the Child, the area was annexed to the West Frankish Empire.

France 1477

In 1152 Aquitaine came to Anjou through the marriage of the feudal heiress Eleanor of Aquitaine with Heinrich Plantagenet Count of Anjou and from 1154 belonged to the English crown after his accession to the throne. When he was installed as Henry II of England, he laid claim to large parts of France. After the Hundred Years War between England and France, Aquitaine finally came to France in 1453.

Over the centuries, the boundaries of the region have changed again and again: While Aquitaine was almost the south-western quarter of today's France in Roman times, the area split into several duchies and counties in the Middle Ages . The name Aquitaine was ground to Guyenne . The Duchy of Guyenne, taken by the English, shrank with their territorial losses in the Hundred Years War and after its end only included the Bordelais and the Agenais . In the south, Gascony , Béarn and northern Navarra joined, and in the northeast was the county of Périgord . With the establishment of the departments as a result of the French Revolution , the old provinces as administrative units came to an end.

With the establishment of the regions in 1960, Aquitaine was rebuilt within the current borders. In 1972 the region received the status of an établissement public under the direction of a regional prefect . The decentralization laws of 1982 gave the regions the status of collectivités territoriales ( territorial authorities ), which until then had only been enjoyed by the municipalities and the départements . In 1986 the regional councils were directly elected for the first time. Since then, the region's powers vis-à-vis the central government in Paris have been gradually expanded.

Aquitaine has had a partnership with the German state of Hesse since November 1, 1995 .

See also: Ausker , Duchy of Aquitaine ; Eudo of Aquitaine


Population development in the Aquitaine region from 1851–1999


The population development in the Aquitaine region is inconsistent. Overall, the region has increased in population over the past 150 years, but remains below the overall French average. This development is due to the fact that Aquitaine is still very rural in large parts.

So who departments Dordogne and Lot-et-Garonne, which is also the highest proportion of Agriculture have on the economic performance, suffered a population loss during this period, they still do not have to compensate. The Landes, on the other hand, were able to compensate for the loss due to smaller industrial locations, extensive agricultural management and, above all, their tourism development in the post-war period.

The winners in terms of population development are the Gironde and Pyrénées-Atlantiques departments, both of which have urban centers. The importance of the Bordeaux area is many times greater than the smaller metropolitan areas around Pau and Bayonne - Anglet - Biarritz . The development of the population of the Gironde has therefore practically decoupled from the other departments.

There is also a shift in weight within the départements: medium-sized cities with their own agglomeration , diversified and / or future-proof economic conditions are gaining T. clearly. Examples are Dax or Bergerac . Rural areas with no opportunities to compensate for lost jobs in agriculture, on the other hand, have practically emptied themselves during this period. For example, the region in the far north of the Dordogne department lost more than half of its population between 1921 and 1999 alone.


The most populous cities in Aquitaine are:

city Inhabitants (year) Department
Bordeaux 254,436 (2017) Gironde
Pau 77,130 (2017) Pyrénées-Atlantiques
Mérignac 70,105 (2017) Gironde
Pessac 63,808 (2017) Gironde
Bayonne 51,228 (2017) Pyrénées-Atlantiques
Talence 42,606 (2017) Gironde
Anglet 38,929 (2017) Pyrénées-Atlantiques
Agen 33,576 (2017) Lot-et-Garonne
Mont-de-Marsan 29,554 (2017) Country
Périgueux 29,966 (2017) Dordogne


Political structure

The Aquitaine region is divided into five departments :

Department prefecture ISO 3166-2 Arrondissements Cantons Communities Inhabitants (year) Area
(inh / km²)
Dordogne Périgueux FR-24 4th 50 557
000000000413606.0000000000413,606 (2017)
000000000009060.00000000009,060 000000000000045.700000000045.7
Gironde Bordeaux FR-33 6th 63 542
000000001583384.00000000001,583,384 (2017)
000000000009975.00000000009,975 000000000000158.7000000000158.7
Country Mont-de-Marsan FR-40 2 30th 331
000000000407444.0000000000407,444 (2017)
000000000009243.00000000009,243 000000000000044.100000000044.1
Lot-et-Garonne Agen FR-47 4th 40 319
000000000332842.0000000000332,842 (2017)
000000000005361.00000000005,361 000000000000062.100000000062.1
Pyrénées-Atlantiques Pau FR-64 3 52 547
000000000677309.0000000000677,309 (2017)
000000000007645.00000000007,645 000000000000088.600000000088.6

Regional council

Result of the election of the regional council on March 28, 2004:

  • List Alain Rousset (Socialist Party (PS) / Social Liberals (PRG) / Greens): 54.87% = 769,893 votes
  • List of Xavier Darcos (Conservative Parties UMP / UDF): 33.46% = 469,382 votes
  • Jacques Colombier list (Front National (FN)): 11.67% = 163,737 votes

See also: List of Presidents of the Regional Council of Aquitaine since 1986


In the first quarter of 2004 the unemployment rate was 9.7%, which was the French average. In comparison with the GDP of the European Union expressed in purchasing power standards , the region achieved an index of 99.6 in 2006 (EU-27 = 100).

Important branches of the economy are tourism , agriculture (8% of employees), the wood industry and aeronautical engineering .


The entire coastal region from Biscarrosse to the Spanish border is characterized by tourism. The Pilat dunes, the Arcachon sea ​​basin and the naturist holiday centers at Montalivet les-Bains are particular highlights. The coast is famous for the endless fine sand beach; known the cold waters of the Biscay .


The region is represented by three clubs in the first French rugby division TOP 14: Bordeaux-Begles, Pau and Agen. The teams from Bayonne, Biarritz, Dax and Mont-de-Marsan take part in the second division, Pro D2.

Web links

Wiktionary: Aquitaine  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. Graesse, Johann Georg Theodor / Benedict, Friedrich: Orbis latinus, Latin lexicon of Geographical Names of the Middle Ages and the modern era, Großausg. / edit and ed. by Helmut Plechl u. a., Vol .: 1, A - D, Braunschweig, 1972 , p. 126
  2. Alain Bouet: Aquitaine in Roman times. Darmstadt 2015, Fig. 2 (map)
  3. Partner regions Aquitaine and Hesse ( Memento from July 19, 2011 in the Internet Archive )
  4. Eurostat press release 23/2009: Regional GDP per inhabitant in the EU27 (PDF; 360 kB)

Coordinates: 44 ° 35 '  N , 0 ° 1'  E