Brittany (; ; (ブルトン語:Breizh), pronounced (:bʁɛjs) or (:bʁɛχ); Gallo: ''Bertaèyn'', pronounced (:bəʁ.taɛɲ)) is a cultural region in the north-west of France. Covering the western part of Armorica, as it was known during the period of Roman occupation, Brittany subsequently became an independent kingdom and then a duchy before being united with the Kingdom of France in 1532 as a province governed as if it were a separate nation under the crown. Brittany has also been referred to as ''Less'', ''Lesser'' or ''Little'' Britain (as opposed to ''Great Britain''). 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 .
The historical province of Brittany is now split among five French 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. Since reorganisation in 1956, the modern administrative region of Brittany comprises only four of the five Breton departments, or 80% of historical Brittany. The remaining area of old Brittany, the Loire-Atlantique department around Nantes, now forms part of the Pays de la Loire region.
At the 2010 census, the population of historic Brittany was estimated to be 4,475,295. Of these, 71% lived in the region of Brittany, while 29% lived in the Loire-Atlantique department. In 2012, the largest metropolitan areas were Nantes (897,713 inhabitants), Rennes (690,467 inhabitants), and Brest (314,844 inhabitants). Brittany is the traditional homeland of the Breton people and is recognised by the Celtic League as one of the six Celtic nations, retaining a distinct cultural identity that reflects its history. A nationalist movement seeks greater autonomy within the French Republic.
The word "Brittany", along with its French, Breton and Gallo equivalents "Bretagne", "Breizh" and "Bertaèyn", derive from the Latin ''Britannia'', which means "Britons' land". This word has been used by the Romans since the 1st century to name Great Britain, and more specifically the Roman province of Britain. This word derives from a Greek word, Πρεττανικη (Prettanike) or Βρεττανίαι (Brettaniai), used by Pytheas, an explorer from Massalia who visited the British Islands around 320 BC.
The Romans called Brittany ''Armorica'', together with a quite indefinite region that extended along the Channel coast from the Seine estuary to the Loire estuary, and according to several sources, maybe along the Atlantic coast to the Garonne estuary. This term probably comes from a Gallic word, ''aremorica'', which means "close to the sea". Another name, ''Letauia'' (in English "Litavis"), was used until the 12th century. It possibly means "wide and flat" or "to expand" and it gave the Welsh name for Brittany: ''Llydaw''.
After the fall of the Western Roman Empire, many Britons settled in the Western part of Armorica, and the region started to be called ''Brittania'', although this name only replaced ''Armorica'' in the sixth century or perhaps by the end of the fifth. Later, authors like Geoffrey of Monmouth used the terms ''Britannia minor'' and ''Britannia major'' to distinguish Brittany from Britain.
Breton speaking people may pronounce the word "Breizh" in two different ways, according to their region of origin. Breton can be divided into two main dialects: the ''KLT'' (Kerne-Leon-Tregor) and the dialect of Vannes. KLT speakers pronounce it (:brɛjs) and would write it "Breiz", while the Vannetais speakers pronounce it (:brɛχ) and would write it "Breih". The official spelling is a compromise between both variants, with a ''z'' and an ''h'' together. In 1941, efforts to unify the dialects led to the creation of the so-called "Breton zh", a standard which has never been widely accepted.〔 On its side, Gallo language has never had a widely accepted writing system and several ones coexist. For instance, the name of the region in that language can be written "Bertaèyn" in ''ELG'' script, or "Bertègn" in ''MOGA'', and a couple of other scripts also exist.
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