On April 13, 1970, the department of Basses-Alpes was renamed Alpes-de-Haute-Provence.
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The population was once distributed fairly evenly across the department, both in the mountainous regions and the agricultural ones. However, near the end of the 19th century it markedly decreased due to rural exodus to the cities. It fell from about 150,000 to below 100,000 after World War I. It was not until 1960, that the population began to grow again, from 84,335 in 1968 to 139,561 in 1999. However, although the population figures are about what they were before, the distribution is very different. The population is now centered around the larger towns, Manosque and Digne-les-Bains, and the mountainous regions are very sparsely populated.
The arrondissements of Barcelonette and Castellane are the two least heavily populated of France, the only ones with under 10,000 inhabitants. The town of Castellane is the smallest subprefecture of France.