1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Camargue

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CAMARGUE (Insula Camaria), a thinly-populated region of southern France contained wholly in the department of Bouches-du-Rhône, and comprising the delta of the Rhone. The Camargue is a marshy plain of alluvial formation enclosed between the two branches of the river, the Grand Rhône to the east and the Petit Rhône to the west. Its average elevation is from 61/2 to 8 ft. The Camargue has a coast-line some 30 m. in length and an area of 290 sq. m., of which about a quarter consists of cultivated and fertile land. This is in the north and on the banks of the rivers. The rest consists of rough pasture grazed by the black bulls and white horses of the region and by large flocks of sheep, or of marsh, stagnant water and waste land impregnated with salt. The region is inhabited by flocks of flamingoes, bustards, partridge, and by sea-birds of various kinds. The Étang de Vaccarès, the largest of the numerous lagoons and pools, covers about 23 sq. m.; it receives three main canals constructed to drain off the minor lagoons. The Camargue is protected by dikes from the inundations both of the sea and of the rivers. Inlets in the sea-dike let in water for the purposes of the lagoon fisheries and the salt-pans; and the river-water is used for irrigation and for the submersion of vines. The climate is characterized by hard winters and scorching summers. Rain falls in torrents, but at considerable intervals. The mistral, blowing from the north and north-west, is the prevailing wind. The south-eastern portion of the Camargue is known as the Ile du Plan du Bourg. A secondary delta to the west of the Petit Rhône goes by the name of Petite Camargue.