Toulouse (French pronunciation: [tu.luz] ( ), locally: [tuˈluzə] ( ); Occitan: Tolosa [tuˈluzɔ], Latin: Tolosa, medieval Tholoza) is the capital city of the department of Haute-Garonne, in southwestern France. It lies on the banks of the River Garonne, 150 kilometres (93 miles) from the Mediterranean Sea, 230 km (143 mi) from the Atlantic Ocean, and 580 km (360 mi) from Paris. With 1,202,889 inhabitants as of 1 January 2008, the Toulouse metropolitan area is the fourth-largest in France, after Paris (12.1 million), Lyon (2.1 million), and Marseille (1.7 million).
Toulouse is the centre of the European aerospace industry, with the headquarters of Airbus, Galileo positioning system, the SPOT satellite system, EADS, ATR and the Aerospace Valley, considered as a global cluster.
The city also hosts l'Oncopole de Toulouse, the largest cancer research centre in Europe, the European headquarters of Intel and CNES's Toulouse Space Centre (CST), the largest space centre in Europe. Thales Alenia Space, and Astrium Satellites, EADS's satellite system subsidiary, also have a significant presence in Toulouse. Its world renowned university is one of the oldest in Europe (founded in 1229) and, with more than 119,000 students, is the third-largest university campus of France after Paris and Lyon.
Toulouse was the capital of the former province of Languedoc (provinces were abolished during the French Revolution), the former Visigothic Kingdom and was the capital of the historical region of Occitania (Southern France). It is now the capital of the Midi-Pyrénées region, the largest region in metropolitan France.
A city with architecture typical of Southern France, Toulouse counts two UNESCO World Heritage sites, the Canal Du Midi (designated in 1996 and shared with other cities), and the Basilica of St. Sernin, designated in 1998 because of its significance to the Santiago de Compostela pilgrimage route.
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