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Strasbourg (German Straßburg, "town of roads") is the principal city of the Alsace region of eastern France, near the Rhine frontier with Germany. Population: 250,000, or 410,000 including the extensive suburbs. It is the préfecture (capital) of the Bas-Rhin département.

Strasbourg is an important centre of manufacturing and engineering, as well as of road, rail and river communications. It is the seat of the Council of Europe and the European Court of Human Rights and it is one of the seats of the European Parliament.


At the site of Strasbourg, the Romans established a military outpost and named it Argentoratum. From the 4th century, Strasbourg was the seat of a bishopric. The town was occupied successively in the 5th century by Alamanni, Huns and Franks. A major commercial centre in the later middle ages, it became in 1262 a Free City of the Holy Roman Empire, with a broad-based city government from 1332. The minster of Strasbourg was completed in 1439, then the tallest man-made structure in the world. During the 1520s the city embraced the religious teachings of Martin Luther, whose adherents established a university in the following century.

Annexing Strasbourg in September 1681, France was confirmed in possession of the city by the Treaty of Ryswick (1697). The official policy of religious intolerance which drove many Protestants from France after 1685 was not applied in Strasbourg, as the Edict of Nantes (1598) had still been in effect in France at the time of the city's annexation. With the growth of industry and commerce, the city's population tripled in the 19th century to 150,000.

Annexed to the newly-established German Empire in 1871 following the Franco-Prussian War, the city was restored to France in 1919 by the Treaty of Versailles. It was again administered as part of Nazi Germany during the occupation of 1940-1945.