1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Alpes Maritimes

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ALPES MARITIMES, a department in the S.E. of France, formed in 1860 out of the county of Nice, to which were added the districts of Grasse (formerly in the department of the Var) and of Mentone (purchased from the prince of Monaco). Pop. (1906) 334,007. It is bounded N.E. and E. by Italy, S. by the Mediterranean Sea, and W. by the departments of the Var and the Basses Alpes, while its northern extremity forms a sharp angle between France and Italy. Its area is 1444 sq. m., its greatest length is 59 m. and its greatest breadth 48½ m. It is composed of the valley of the Var river (which is all but completely within this department), together with those of its chief affluents, the Tinée and the Vésubie. The region of Grasse is hilly, but the rest of the department is mountainous, its loftiest point being the Mont Tinibras (9948 ft.) at the head of the Tinée valley. Two singular features of the frontier of the department towards the east are only to be explained by historical reasons. One is that the central bit of the Roja valley is French, while the upper and lower bits of this valley are Italian; the reason is that those bits which are now Italian formed part of the county of Ventimiglia, and the central bit part of the county of Nice, which alone became French in 1860. The result is that the Italians are now unable to build a railway from Cuneo by the Col de Tenda and down the Roja valley direct to Ventimiglia. The other strange feature is that from near Isola in the upper Tinée valley southwards the political frontier does not coincide with the physical frontier, or the main watershed of the Alpine chain; the reason (it is said) is that in 1860 all the higher valleys of the Maritime Alps (on both sides of the watershed) were expressly excepted from the treaty of cession, in order that Victor Emmanuel II. might retain his right of chamois hunting in these parts. The department is divided into three arrondissements (Nice, Grasse and Puget Théniers), 27 cantons and 155 communes. It forms the bishopric of Nice (the first bishop certainly known is mentioned at the end of the 4th century), which till 1792 was in the ecclesiastical province of Embrun, then (1802) in that of Aix en Provence, next in that of Genoa (1814), and finally (1860) in that of Aix again. Its chief town is Nice. The broad-gauge railways in the department cover 56 m., including the line along the coast, while there are also 82 m. of narrow-gauge railways. The chief industries are distilleries for perfumes and manufacture of olive oil, of pottery and of tiles, besides a great commerce in cut flowers. To foreigners the department is best known for its health resorts, Nice, Cannes, Mentone, Antibes and Beaulieu, while other important towns are Grasse and Puget Théniers. (W. A. B. C.)