Alsace is the fifth-smallest of the 27 regions of France in land area (8,280.2 km2), and the smallest in metropolitan France. It is also the seventh-most densely populated region in France and third most densely populated region in metropolitan France, with ca. 224 inhabitants per km2 (total population in 2006: 1,815,488; 1 January 2011 estimate: 1,852,325).
Alsace is located on France's eastern border and on the west bank of the upper Rhine adjacent to Germany and Switzerland. Historical decisions, wars, and strategic politics have resulted in Alsace being administered as a "region" within the Republic of France. The political, economic and cultural capital as well as largest city of Alsace is Strasbourg. Because that city is the seat of dozens of international organizations and bodies, Alsace is politically one of the most important regions in the European Union.
The historical language of Alsace is Alsatian, a Germanic (mainly Alemannic) dialect spoken in Lorraine and across the Rhine, but today most Alsatians speak French, the official language of France. 43% of the adult population, and 3% of those 3–17 years old, stated in 2012 that they speak Alsatian. The place names used in this article are in French; for the German place names, see German place names (Alsace).