Brittany is a cultural region in the north-west of France. Previously a kingdom and then a duchy, Brittany was united to the Kingdom of France in 1532 as a province. Brittany has also been referred to as Less, Lesser or Little Britain (as opposed to Great Britain). Brittany is considered as one of the seven Celtic nations.
Brittany occupies the northwest peninsula of continental Europe in northwest France. It is bordered by the English Channel to the north, the Celtic Sea and the Atlantic Ocean to the west, and the Bay of Biscay to the south. Its land area is 34,023 km² (13,136 sq mi). The historical province of Brittany is divided into five departments: Finistère in the west, Côtes-d’Armor in the north, Ille-et-Vilaine in the north east, Loire-Atlantique in the south east and Morbihan in the south on the Bay of Biscay.
In 1956, French regions were created by gathering departments between them. The Region of Brittany comprises, since then, four of the five Breton departments (80% of historical Brittany), while the remaining area of the old Brittany, the Loire-Atlantique department, around Nantes, forms part of the Pays de la Loire region. This territorial organisation is regularly contested. The Kingdom and the Duchy of Brittany, the province of Brittany, and the modern Region of Brittany cover the Western part of Armorica, as it was known during the period of Roman occupation.
In January 2007 the population of historic Brittany was estimated to be 4,365,500. Of these, 71% lived in the region of Brittany, while 29% lived in the region of Pays-de-la-Loire. At the 1999 census, the largest metropolitan areas were Nantes (711,120 inhabitants), Rennes (521,188 inhabitants), and Brest (303,484 inhabitants).