Alsace (Alsatian and German: Elsass, pre-1996 German: Elsaß) is one of the 26 régions of France. It is on the eastern border of France. It lies on the west bank of the Upper Rhine, next to Germany and Switzerland.
About 1.7 million people live there. Its capital and largest city is Strasbourg. It has changed hands between France and Germany many times. Today, the people living there have an attitude and set of social values that is closer to the German ones, than the French. Language, cuisine, music, dress and customs are very close to the Swabian ones across the Rhine.
The overall culture is generally more German than French, being somewhere between German and French. The language, cuisine, music, dress and customs are Germanic, and nearly similar with Swabian ones. Alsace was part of the Holy Roman Empire and is still inhabited by people speaking a dialect of Upper German. In the course of the 17th century, the whole of Alsace was annexed (in steps) under King Louis XIV of France. He made it one of the provinces of France. Alsace is frequently mentioned in conjunction with Lorraine, because the possession of these two régions (as Alsace-Lorraine) has been often contested in 19th and 20th century history. This was after a division among the successors of Charlemagne in the 9th century.
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