Identification. The Auvergne is both a historical province in France and one of twenty-two administrative regions created in 1972. The name "Auvergne" derives from the "Arvernes," the Celtic peoples of Gaul who occupied this region during Roman times. Today, the Auvergne is officially composed of the four departments of Allier, Cantal, Haute-Loire, and Puy-de-Dôme. Regional cultural affiliation is sometimes also ascribed to the departments of Aveyron, Corrèze, Lot, and Lozère.
Location. Auvergne is located in the center of France, Primarily on the Massif Central, a huge plateau. It covers an area of 26,012.89 square kilometers. Its regional capital, Clermont-Ferrand, is situated at approximately 45° N and 3° E. The climate varies from humid and windy with cold winters in the west to less humid and warmer weather in the east. The average elevation is 850 meters, but the highest mountains in the region, found in Cantal, surpass 1,000 meters. There are ancient volcanoes in both Cantal and Puy-de-Dôme.
Demography. The population of the Auvergne region was 1,334,400 in 1986. There is also a large population of Auvergnats living outside of the region, particularly in Paris. The density of the population is 51 persons per square kilometer. The population of Clermont-Ferrand was 601,900 in 1986. Although historically rural, the region has become increasingly urbanized since the turn of the century; the urban Population surpassed the rural population during the 1960s.
Linguistic Affiliation. The Auvergne was a linguistic Frontier between northern and southern dialects (the "langue d'oïl" and the "langue d'oc"). French is now the official language spoken among Auvergnats. Except for the very young, many people are bilingual in French and a local dialect (or patois).