Landes (department)

For other uses, see Landes (disambiguation).

Prefecture building of the Landes department, in Mont-de-Marsan

Coat of arms

Location of Landes in France
Coordinates: 44°0′N 0°50′W / 44.000°N 0.833°W / 44.000; -0.833Coordinates: 44°0′N 0°50′W / 44.000°N 0.833°W / 44.000; -0.833
Country France
Region Nouvelle-Aquitaine
Prefecture Mont-de-Marsan
Subprefectures Dax
  President of the General Council Henri Emmanuelli
  Total 9,243 km2 (3,569 sq mi)
Population (2013)
  Total 397,226
  Rank 60th
  Density 43/km2 (110/sq mi)
Time zone CET (UTC+1)
  Summer (DST) CEST (UTC+2)
Department number 40
Arrondissements 2
Cantons 15
Communes 331
^1 French Land Register data, which exclude estuaries, and lakes, ponds, and glaciers larger than 1 km2

Landes (French pronunciation: [lɑ̃d]; Gascon: Lanas Occitan pronunciation: ['lanəs]) is a department in southwestern France.


Landes is one of the original 83 departments that were created during the French Revolution on 4 March 1790. It was created from parts of the provinces of Guyenne and Gascony.

During the first part of the nineteenth century large parts of the department were covered with poorly drained heathland (lande in French) which is the origin of its name. The vegetation covered rich soil and was periodically burned off, leaving excellent pasturage for sheep, which around 1850 are thought to have numbered between 900,000 and 1,000,000 in this area. The sheep were managed by shepherds who moved around on stilts and became proficient at covering long distances thus supported. Most of the sheep departed during the second half of the nineteenth century when systematic development of large pine plantations transformed the landscape and the local economy.

The Nobel Prize–winning novelist François Mauriac set his novels in the Landes.


Landes is part of the current region of Nouvelle-Aquitaine and is surrounded by the departments of Gironde, Lot-et-Garonne, Gers, and Pyrénées-Atlantiques, as well as the Atlantic Ocean on the west. With an area stretching over more than 9000 km², Landes is, after Gironde, the second largest department of the metropolitan French territory.

It is well known for the Côte d'Argent beach which is Europe's longest, and attracts many surfers to Mimizan and Hossegor each year.


The President of the General Council is Henri Emmanuelli of the Socialist Party.

Party seats
Socialist Party 24
French Communist Party 2
Union for a Popular Movement 2
New Centre 1
Miscellaneous Right 1


In terms of agriculture, Landes is known for its large pine forests which are the raw material for a timber and resin industries in the region. The forests were planted in the early nineteenth century to prevent erosion of the region's sandy soil by the sea.


See also

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