Alsace-Lorraine (Ger. Elsass-Lothringen), since 1871 a state or 'imperial territory' (Reichsland) of the German empire, bounded west by France, east by Baden, and south by Switzerland. Its utmost length, from north to south, is 123 miles; its breadth varies between 22 and 105 miles; and its area is 5580 sq. m., of which 1353 belong to Upper Alsace (in the south), 1844 to Lower Alsace (NE.), and 2383 to Lorraine (NW.). Pop. (1871) 1,549,738; (1900) 1,719,470, of whom over 1,300,000 were Catholics, and 80 per cent. German-speaking,the French-speaking population being mainly in the larger towns and in Lorraine. The Rhine flows 115 miles north-by-eastward along all the eastern boundary, and receives, below Strasburg, the 111 from Alsace, 127 miles long. Other rivers are the Moselle, flowing through Lorraine past Metz, and its affluent the Saar. Along the Rhine is a strip of level country, 9 to 17 miles broad, and declining from 800 to 450 feet above sea-level. Westward of this rise the Vosges Mountains, culminating at a height of 4677 feet; whilst Lorraine, rather hilly than mountainous, rarely attains 1300 feet. About 48.5 per cent. of the entire area is arable, 11.6 meadow and pasture, and 30.8 under wood. Alsace-Lorraine produces much wine, grain, and tobacco; it is rich in mines, iron and coal; and manufactures iron, cotton, wool, silks, chemicals, glass, and paper. It contains the important cities of Strasburg, Muhlhausen, Metz, and Col-mar.
In Cesar's time Alsace-Lorraine was occupied by Celtic tribes, and formed part of ancient Gaul; thereafter largely Germanised, from the 10th century it formed part of the German empire, till a part of it was ceded to France at the Peace of Westphalia (1648), and the rest fell a prey to the aggressions of Louis XIV., who seized Strasburg (1681) by surprise in time of peace. By the Peace of Ryswick (1697), the cession of the whole was ratified. In 1814-15 Russia would not hear of the restitution of Alsace-Lorraine to Germany; and it was not till 1871, after the Franco-German war, that Alsace and German Lorraine were, by the treaty of Frankfort, incorporated in the new German empire. The great mass of the population were strongly against the change, and 160,000 elected to be French, though only 50,000 went into actual exile, refusing to become German subjects. For, at least since the era of the Revolution, Alsace in sentiment was wholly French. To France she gave the bravest of her sons - Keller-mann, Kleber, and many another hero; Strasburg first heard the Marseillaise; and MM. Erckmann-Chatrian, Lorrainers both, faithfully represented their countrymen's love of La Patrie in the days of the second as of the first Napoleon. See French works by Grad (1889) and Matthis (1890).