Roussillon ro͞osēyôN´ [key], small region and former province, S France, bordering on Spain along the Pyrenees and on the Mediterranean, part of the administrative region of Occitania. It is now roughly coextensive with Pyrénées-Orientales dept. Perpignan is the historical capital. Wine, fruit, and olives are the chief products of this fertile and densely populated region, which also has a tourist industry. The area has changed hands many times, from the Romans, who arrived c.121 BC, through the Visigoths, the Arabs, the Carolingians, the Spaniards, the counts of Barcelona, and the kings of Aragón, France, and Majorca. Louis XIII conquered it from Spain in 1642, and French possession of the Catalan-speaking region was confirmed by the Treaty of the Pyrenees (1659).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
See more Encyclopedia articles on: French Political Geography