Rhône (department)

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Rhône (Franco-Provençal : Rôno) is a French department located in the central Eastern region of Rhône-Alpes. It is named after the Rhône River.



The Rhône department was created on August 12, 1793 when the former département of Rhône-et-Loire was split into two departments: Rhône and Loire.

Originally, the eastern border of Rhône was the city of Lyon itself, so that the communes immediately east of Lyon belonged to neighboring department. With the growth of Lyon and the spilling of the urban area over the suburban communes of Lyon, the limits of the department were judged impractical as they left the suburbs of Lyon outside of Rhône . Thus, Rhône was enlarged several times to incorporate into it the suburbs of Lyon from neighboring department:

  • In 1852, 4 communes from Isère were incorporated into Rhône.
  • In 1967, 23 communes of Isère and 6 communes of Ain were incorporated into Rhône.
  • In 1971, 1 commune from Isère was incorporated into Rhône.

With these enlargements, the area of the Rhône department increased from 2,791 km² to the current 3,249 km² (16.4% larger). At the 1999 French census, the original Rhône department would have had only 1,071,288 inhabitants, which means that the population in the territories added in the last two centuries was 507,581 inhabitants in 1999.


Rivers include the Rhône and the Saône (which joins the Rhône in Lyon).

The neighboring departments are Ain, Isère, Loire and Saône-et-Loire.

Over 75% of the population lives within the Lyon metropolitan area. Apart from Villefranche-sur-Saône, the largest cities of the Rhône department are all part of the Urban Community of Lyon|Lyon metropolitan area (1999 census):


The President of the General Council is the independent centrist Senator Michel Mercier, who leads a coalition between centrists and the local UMP, led by Dominique Perben.

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