Départment de la Meuse
The Meuse has the lowest density of population and the 3rd lowest total population of any department of France in the Northern half of France (north of the Alps).
It has a surface area of 6,211 km², a population of 192,000 inhabitants, and is divided into three administrative districts (arrondissements in French) for a total of 31 cantons and 500 municipalities.
It borders (clockwise from the North) the Belgian province of Luxembourg, and the French départments of Meurthe-et-Moselle, Vosges, Haute-Marne, Marne and Ardennes.
In ancient times, the départment de la Meuse was settled by Celtic tribes such as the Remi (to the west) and the Mediomatrici (to the east). After Julius Caesar's conquest of Gaul, it belonged to the Roman Province of Gallia Belgica. From the 5th century, the Franks settled in the region. (=> see History of the Franks)
Inherited by Lothair, the eldest of Charlemagne's three grandsons, the region would soon become contested by the two other brothers. Eventually, it became part of the Holy Roman Empire. Verdun became a Free Imperial City, then the seat of a Bishopric, while Bar-le-Duc was the capital of the Duchy of Bar, before being united with the Duchy of Lorraine in 1483. Verdun was annexed by France in 1552, while the Duchy of Lorraine formally joined France in 1766. (=> see history of Nancy)