Montpellier is the prefecture of the Département Hérault (centre of administration of Languedoc-Roussillon) in the south of France not far from the Spanish boarder line. With round 230,000 inhabitants the city is on the 8th place in France and the centre of the Agglomeration of Montpellier (40 municipalities, 320,000 inhabitants).
A new phase of economic development started with the settlement of IBM in 1965. The population and the economy expanded rapidly and today Montpellier is a spreading administrative and regional capital with new suburbs on its periphery. But the picturesque city centre has kept its medieval character. The heart of the cities economical concept „Technopole“ are the five thematic Pôles: Euromédicine, Agropolis (agricultural research centres), Informatique (computer science with IBM), Antenna (multimedia visual arts and telecommunication), Héliopolis (tourism and city marketing).
The city has a long tradition of public and private gardens and parks, originating from the 17th and 18th centuries. The oldest botanical garden of France was founded here in 1593 as a medicinal garden. Today Montpellier has 804 ha public green spaces. The medieval city centre contains a lot of smaller parks, squares and green spaces; towards the outskirts there are bigger green areas, for example pinewoods, riverbanks, the zoo and the nature Reserve Naturelle du Lez.