—  Department  —

Coat of arms
Location of Bas-Rhin in France
Coordinates: 48°49′N 7°47′E / 48.817, 7.783Coordinates: 48°49′N 7°47′E / 48.817, 7.783
Country France
Region Alsace
Prefecture Strasbourg
(2 arrondissements:
Subprefectures Haguenau
 • President of the General Council Guy-Dominique Kennel (UMP)
 • Total 4,755 km2 (1,836 sq mi)
Population (2006)
 • Total 1,079,013
 • Rank 19th
 • Density 230/km2 (590/sq mi)
Time zone CET (UTC+1)
 • Summer (DST) CEST (UTC+2)
Department number 67
Arrondissements 7
Cantons 44
Communes 527
^1  French Land Register data, which exclude estuaries, and lakes, ponds, and glaciers larger than 1 km2

Bas-Rhin (Alsatian: Unterelsàss) is a department of France. The name means "Lower Rhine". It is the more populous and densely populated of the two departments of the Alsace region, with 1,079,013 inhabitants in 2006.


Bas-Rhin is one of the original 83 departments created on 4 March 1790, during the French Revolution.

In the mid-1790s, following the French occupation of the entire left bank of the Rhine, the northern boundary of the department was extended north beyond the Lauter to the Queich river to include the areas of Annweiler am Trifels, Landau in der Pfalz, Bad Bergzabern, and Wörth am Rhein. However, upon Napoleon's second defeat in 1815, the Congress of Vienna reassigned the areas north of the Lauter to Bavaria; and those territories are now presently located in the neighbouring German state of Rhineland-Palatinate.

The department has twice been incorporated into Germany: from 1871 (after France's defeat in the Franco-Prussian War) until the end of World War I in 1918, and again briefly during World War II (from 1940 to 1945) during the German occupation of France.


The Rhine has always been of great historical and economic importance to the area, and it forms the eastern border of Bas-Rhin. The area is also home to some of the foothills of the Vosges.

To the north of Bas-Rhin lies the Palatinate forest (Pfälzerwald) in the German State of Rhineland-Palatinate, and the German State of Baden-Württemberg lies to the east. To the south lies the department of Haut-Rhin, the town of Colmar and southern Alsace, and to the west the department of Moselle in Lorraine. On its south-western corner, Bas-Rhin also joins the department of Vosges.


See also the French wikipedia entry (in French) on local law in Alsace for a summary of the position, or the English wikipedia entry (in English) for a brief summary on the same subject.

Alsace and the adjacent Moselle department apply their own legal code for certain areas of the law. The statutes in question date from the period 1871 - 1919 when the area was part of the German Empire. With the return of Alsace-Lorraine to France in 1919, many in central government assumed that the recovered territories would be subject to French law.

Local resistance to a total acceptance of the French legal code arose in Alsace because in various respects reforms under Bismarck had left Germany with a relatively advanced legal system, especially with regard to civil and social rights. After much discussion and uncertainty, Paris accepted in 1924 that Alsace should retain its German originating laws in respect of certain matters, especially with regard to hunting, economic life, local government relationships, health insurance and social rights. Since many of the relevant texts have never been formally translated, occasions continue to arise where reference has to be made to German-language texts.

Numerous other anomalies arise which challenge the centralising instincts of the state. These include the absence, in Alsace and Moselle, of any formal separation between church and state: several mainstream denominations of the Christian church benefit from state funding, in defiance of principals applied rigorously in the rest of France.

Another manifestation of Alsatian legal differences arises on the railways. Where trains run on double tracks, the rule here is that they should travel on the right-hand track. In the rest of France the trains, unlike the cars, travel on the left.


Strasbourg, the chef lieu (principal city) of Bas-Rhin is one of two seats of the European Parliament, the other being Brussels.

See also[]

  • Communes of the Bas-Rhin department sorted by arrondissements and cantons
  • Communities of Communes of the Bas-Rhin département
  • Arrondissements of the Bas-Rhin département
  • Cantons of the Bas-Rhin département

External links[]

This page uses content from the English language Wikipedia. The original content was at Bas-Rhin. 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.