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Rhône (department) facts for kids

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Prefecture building of the Rhône department, in Lyon
Prefecture building of the Rhône department, in Lyon
Coat of arms of Rhône
Coat of arms
Location of Rhône in France
Location of Rhône in France
Country France
Region Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes
Prefecture Lyon (provisional)
Subprefectures Villefranche-sur-Saône
 • Total 2,715 km2 (1,048 sq mi)
 • Total 471,026
 • Rank 4th
 • Density 173.49/km2 (449.34/sq mi)
Time zone UTC+1 (CET)
 • Summer (DST) UTC+2 (CEST)
Department number 69
Arrondissements 2
Cantons 13
Communes 208
French Land Register data, which excludes estuaries and lakes, ponds, and glaciers larger than 1 km².

Rhône is a department in the center of France in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region. Its prefecture is Lyon and about 1,646,000 people live there (2006 estimation).


The Rhône department was created on August 12, 1793 when the former département of Rhône-et-Loire was split into two departments: Rhône and Loire.

Originally, the eastern border of Rhône was the city of Lyon itself, so that the communes immediately east of Lyon belonged to neighboring departments. With the growth of Lyon and the spilling of the urban area into the suburban communes of Lyon, such as Villeurbanne, the limits of the department were judged impractical as they left the suburbs of Lyon outside of Rhône. Thus, Rhône was enlarged several times to incorporate into it the suburbs of Lyon from neighboring department:

  • In 1852, four communes from Isère were incorporated into Rhône.
  • In 1967, 23 communes of Isère and six communes of Ain were incorporated into Rhône.
  • In 1971, one commune from Isère was incorporated into Rhône.

With these enlargements, the area of the Rhône department increased from 2,791 km² to the current 3,249 km² (16.4% larger). At the 1999 French census, the original Rhône department would have had only 1,071,288 inhabitants, which means that the population in the territories added in the last two centuries was 507,581 inhabitants in 1999.

In 2015 the Metropolis of Lyon was separated from the Rhône department. Lyon, although no longer part of the department, remains its administrative center.


Rivers include the Rhône and the Saône (which joins the Rhône in Lyon). The neighboring departments are Ain, Isère, Loire and Saône-et-Loire.

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