Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes (ARA) is a region in southeast-central France created by the territorial reform of French Regions in 2015; it resulted from the merger of Auvergne and Rhône-Alpes. The new region came into effect on 1 January 2016, after the regional elections in December 2015. The region covers an area of 69,711 km2 (26,916 sq mi), making it the third largest in metropolitan France, and has a population of 7,948,287, second only to Île-de-France. It consists of 12 departments and one territorial collectivity. Lyon is the chef-lieu of the region. This new region combines diverse geographical, sociological, economic, and cultural regions, which was already true of Rhône-Alpes, as well as Auvergne, to a lesser extent. While the old Rhône-Alpes and Auvergne regions each enjoyed a unity defined by axes of communication and the pull of their respective metropoles, the new combination is heterogeneous, and sustained lively opposition from some local officials after its creation.