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Coat of arms
Location of Aisne in France
Coordinates: 49°30′N 3°30′E / 49.5, 3.5Coordinates: 49°30′N 3°30′E / 49.5, 3.5
Country France
Region Picardie
Prefecture Laon
Subprefectures Château-Thierry
 • President of the General Council Yves Daudigny (PS)
 • Total 7,369 km2 (2,845 sq mi)
Population (1999)
 • Total 535,489
 • Rank 49th
 • Density 73/km2 (190/sq mi)
Time zone CET (UTC+1)
 • Summer (DST) CEST (UTC+2)
Department number 02
Arrondissements 5
Cantons 42
Communes 816
^1  French Land Register data, which exclude estuaries, and lakes, ponds, and glaciers larger than 1 km2

Aisne (French pronunciation: [ɛːn]) is a department in the northern part of France named after the Aisne River.


Aisne is one of the original 83 departments created during the French Revolution on March 4, 1790. It was created from parts of the former provinces of Île-de-France, Picardie, and Champagne.

Most of the old growth forests in the area were destroyed during battles in World War I. The French offensive against the Chemin des Dames in spring 1917 is sometimes referred to as the Second Battle of the Aisne.


Aisne borders the Ardennes Forest and Belgium to the northeast. The Aisne River crosses the area from east to west, where it joins the Oise River. The landscape is dominated by masses of rock which often have steep flanks. These rocks appear all over the region, but the most impressive examples are at Laon and the Chemin des Dames ridge. The principal cities in Aisne are :

  • Laon, pop. 26,000 (capital)
  • Saint-Quentin, pop. 60,000
  • Soissons, pop. 30,000
  • Château-Thierry, pop. 15,000
  • Tergnier, pop. 15,000

See also: List of the communes of the Aisne department.


There is an average of 500 to 750 mm precipitation annually.


Agriculture dominates the economy, especially cereal crops. Beet sugar is one of the most important industrial crops of the area. Silk, cotton, and wool weaving flourish in Saint-Quentin and other towns. Saint-Gobain is known for its production of mirrors, which started in the 17th century. Guise is the agricultural centre of the northern area of Aisne.


During World War I a number of significant architectural monuments were destroyed. Of the buildings that survived, the medieval churches in Laon, Braine, and Urcel are the most significant. The ruined castle of La Ferté-Milon escaped further damage during the war. Of castles that survived, some were used as prison; as the Castle of Vadancourt, near Saint-Quentin ( 500 prisoners )[1]

It is thought that the Aisne River was the birthplace of the Trench Warfare seen throughout the First World War, as the BEF had initial early successes which drove the Germans back to the Aisne River. The German Troops dug in and managed to hold out against both British and French attacks. With this German success it was to mold the entire face of World War I as both sides began digging in and fortified their positions, thus beginning the Stalemate that was to become the significant feature of the First World War.


The President of the General Council is the Socialist Yves Daudigny.

Party seats
Socialist Party 17
Miscellaneous Left 7
Miscellaneous Right 8
Union for a Popular Movement 6
French Communist Party 4

See also[]

  • Cantons of the Aisne department
  • Communes of the Aisne department
  • Arrondissements of the Aisne department


External links[]

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This page uses content from the English language Wikipedia. The original content was at Aisne. The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with this Familypedia wiki, the content of Wikipedia is available under the Creative Commons License.