Autonomous region (pop., 2001 prelim.: 119,356), northwestern Italy. Covering an area of 1,259 sq mi (3,262 sq km), it is enclosed on three sides by the Alps; the capital is Aosta. Originally the territory of the Celtic Salassi, it was annexed by the Romans. After the fall of the Western Roman Empire in the 5th century, it formed part of the Burgundian and Frankish kingdoms. It was acquired in the 11th century by the house of Savoy. The autonomous region of Valle d'Aosta was created in 1945, in recognition of the area's special French linguistic and cultural orientation. It is important for dairy products and tourism.