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—  Hamlet  —
Artist's rendering of Goust and its ruined "City of the Hills" (1899).
Goust is located in France
Coordinates: 42°57′N 00°27′E / 42.95°N 0.45°E / 42.95; 0.45Coordinates: 42°57′N 00°27′E / 42.95°N 0.45°E / 42.95; 0.45
Country France
Region Aquitaine
Department Pyrénées-Atlantiques
Arrondissement Oloron-Sainte-Marie
Canton Laruns
Commune Laruns
 - Total 2.5 km2 (1 sq mi)
Postal Code
Unrecognized state
Life span?
Capital Not specified
Language(s) Béarnese, French
Religion Roman Catholic
Government Republic
 - Established Enter start year
 - Recognized by France and Spain 1648
 - Disestablished Enter end year
 - 1865 2.5 km2 (1 sq mi)
 - 1865 est. 59 
     Density 23.6 /km2  (61.1 /sq mi)
 - 1885 est. 61 
 - 1900 est. 150 
Currency French franc

Goust is a hamlet in the Pyrénées-Atlantiques department of southwestern France. For centuries it was governed as an independent republic, and was never formally annexed by France. Noted for its centenarians, one pensioner was reported to have reached the age of 123.[1]



Goust is located on the territory of the commune of Laruns. It occupies one square mile on a plateau at the southern (upper) end of the valley of the Gave d'Ossau in the Western Pyrenees, across the river from Eaux-Chaudes. At an elevation of 995 m/3264 ft, it is accessible only by a narrow mountain footpath across the Pont d'Enfer ("Bridge of Hell"). The nearest town is Laruns in the valley below.

The community is made up of 10-12 households, with a population fluctuating between 50 and 150 residents. The traditional economy was based on animal husbandry, wool, and silk production, augmented more recently by tourism. All baptisms, weddings, and burials are performed at the Catholic church in Laruns.

Due to its isolated situation, the inhabitants of Goust have evolved a curious funeral custom: the deceased is placed in a coffin and sent down the mountainside via a specially-constructed chute, to be collected at the bottom for burial in the Laruns cemetery.


Although self-governing for centuries, Goust's independence was recognized by France and Spain only in 1648. The government consisted of a Council of Ancients composed of 3-12 citizens, who elected a President for a term of five years.[2][3]

In 1896 the president proclaimed a ban on publication of any newspaper without executive authorization, which led to an uprising of the citizens.[4]

Although never formally annexed, Goust has not recently asserted its claim to independence, so is generally considered a part of France.

See also


  1. ^ Cayet, Pierre Victor Palma (1605), Chronologie septenaire de l'histoire de la paix entre les Roys de France et d'Espagne
  2. ^ "Smallest Republic in the World," Dallas Morning News, August 15, 1896, p 8
  3. ^ "Pinhead Republics," Idaho Daily Statesman, May 9, 1894, p 5
  4. ^ "Fighting for Journalism," Boston Daily Globe, July 14, 1896, p 8

Further reading

External links


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