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Montpellier (môNpĕlyāˈ) [key], city (1990 pop. 210,866), capital of Hérault dept., S France, near the Mediterranean coast. It is a great commercial center. Its industries, many of them recently developed, include food processing, salt working, textile milling, printing, and the manufacture of metal items and chemicals. Tourism, improved by the development of the nearby coast, is a major industry. Montpellier's population increased dramatically during the 1960s, due in part to an influx of refugees from Algeria. Dating from the 8th cent., Montpellier was the center of a fief under the counts of Toulouse; it passed (13th cent.) to the kings of Majorca, from whom it was purchased (1349) by Philip VI of France. A Huguenot center, it was besieged and taken by Louis XIII in 1622. It was the seat of the provincial estates of Languedoc. Montpellier's fame rests principally on its university, founded in 1289. Its noted medical faculty is traced to the 10th cent.; Rabelais was its most famous student. The city is also the seat of agricultural and military schools and of an international wine festival. The botanical garden there was founded in 1593.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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