Brittany (French: Bretagne, Breton: Breizh, Gaellic: Bertaèyn) is the largest peninsula of France (about 34,099 km², coastline: 2,863 km) and is located in the north-west of this country. It's lying between Bay of Biscay in the south and the English Channel in the north. Brittany can be understood as the cultural area which corresponds to the old province which was split up during the French revolution. About 80 % of this old area is corresponding to the current region Bretagne, while the remainder belongs now to the département Loire-Atlantique. The capital of Brittany is Rennes. Brittany is split up into four départements: Morbihan, Finistère, Côtes d'Armor
and Ille-et-Vilaine (Bretron: Mor-bihan,Penn-ar-Bed, Aodoù-an-Arvor
The people of Brittany differentiaties between Armor (land at the sea, coastal region) and Argoat (forest land)
Human habitation in the area of Brittany can be traced back back to 5th millennium BC. There are still some Megaliths to be seen. Julius Caesar conquered the area in the year 56 BC and called it Armorica, or Gallia Lugdunensis.
During uprise of the Bagaudae (a group of peasant rebells, also called Bacaudae), - with bands of brigands who roamed the countryside looting and pillaging - in the 3rd century led to the destruction of settlements in Brittany and a shrinking population. The uprising was quelled in 286. The name Brittany (little Britain) stemms from the time when the Romans had left, ie. after 500 A.D. when Anglo-Saxons an Scoti continually invaded the area.
Three kingdoms constituted itself until the Middle Ages on the territory: Domnonia , Cornouaille, and Bro Waroch. These three kingdoms built later the Duchy of Brittany.
The Duchess Anne - nowadays still celebrated like a Saint in Brittany - was the last independent ruler of the duchy. But after France defeated the army of Brittany in the year 1488, she was forced to marry Louis XII of France. François I, who married Anne's daughter heiress of the duchess, incorporated the duchy into the Kingdom of France in 1532. But nevertheless Brittany kept a lot of privileges, concerning laws and tex regulationes. Under the French revolution the Duchy was split up into independent regions and the privileges were completely withdrawn.
Breton (Brezhoneg) is not a French dialect, but a language of it's own. It is a descendant of the Celtic languages, though it is not directly descended from any Continental Celtic language such as Gaulish. Is is descended from insular Brythonic. There exists another language in Brittany which is derived from Latin: Gallo
Nowadays, Breton is not spoken everywhere in Brittany, it is mainly restricted to Lower Brittany, roughly to the west.
Before the French revolution the minority languages of France had no problems. After the evolution French was favored French over the "regional" languages. The revolutionaries argued, that reactionary and monarchist forces favored regional languages in an attempt to keep the peasant masses underinformed.
Though Breton is still spoken nowadays, there are just between 250,000 and 500,000 people who have some knowledge in Breton. Today, there might be hardly anybody in Brittany who is a monolingual Breton, in 1950 there were 100,000 monolingual speakers.
Brittany's economy is based on agriculture, fishing, and tourism. Cider from the area is famous. Industry includes food processing, automobile manufacturing and ship-building. Close to Saint-Malo is a prestigious tidal power station. More than two thirds of the work force work in agriculture.