Encyclopædia Britannica, Ninth Edition/Cantal
CANTAL, a department in central France, lying between 44 37 and 45 26 N. lat., and between 2 3 and 3 18 E. long., bounded N. by the department of Puy-de-Dôme, and E. by Haute-Loire and Lozere, S. by Aveyron and Lozere, and W. by Correze and Lot. Its area is 2208 square miles; and its population in 1872 was 231,867. It is formed of the ancient province of Upper Auvergne, and received its name from the Plomb-du-Cantal, the central peak of a bare and rugged chain which traverses the whole department, Near the Plomb, which attains a height of above 6090 feet, are the Col-de-Cabre and other peaks belonging to the same system, evidently of volcanic origin. The slopes of the higher mountains are steep and bare. The more elevated valleys are thinly peopled, and in summer afford pasture for the flocks and herds which migrate thither from the low countries. Most of the streams of the department have their sources in this central ridge, and fall by a short and rapid course into the rivers which traverse the extensive valleys on either side. The principal rivers are the Alagnon, which is a tributary of the Allier ; the Celle and Truyere, which are tributaries of the Lot; and the Cere and Rue, which are tributaries of the Dordogne. The climate of the department varies con siderably in the different localities. In the alluvial plain between Murat and Saint Flour, and in the S.W., in the arrondissemont of Aurillac, it is generally mild and dry ; but in the northern and central portions the winters are long and severe, and the hurricanes peculiarly violent. The internal resources of the department are considerable ; but the difficulty of land-carriage prevents them being sufficiently developed. The hills and valleys abound with game, and the streams with fish. Cantal produces a vast variety of aromatic and medicinal plants ; and its mineral products include coal, copper, lead, iron, antimony, granite, and slate. Several mines of coal and one of antimony are worked, but generally these natural sources of wealth are neglected. The cold and damp of the climate, which are great obstacles to the cultivation of corn, favour the growth of the pastures. Cattle and horses are accordingly reared with profit, while butter and cheese (including the famous Roquefort cheese) are made in large quantities. The wool of the district also is of a superior quality. The inhabitants are rude and uncultivated, accustomed to live on the scantiest fare, and plying the meanest handicrafts for a considerable part of the year in their migrations to Paris and through the provinces. The principal articles of food are rye, buckwheat, and chestnuts. Cantal is divided into four arrondissements, Aurillac, Mauriac, Murat, and SaintFlour. Its capital is Aurillac.