mountainous, nor yet a forest; rather it is a wide plateau or high plain out of which rise elevations in the form of ridges or higher plateaus erupting from the main mass. These elevations generally are unrelated to one another and combine with large forests to form isolated and independent compartments in which tactical domination of one hill mass seldom provides domination of another. The mass structure extends on a northeast-southwest axis, forming a watershed which drains away to the Meuse in the north and the Moselle in the southeast. Perhaps a third of the area is covered with forest, much of which is coniferous. This timber, however, is scattered all over the High Ardennes and presents a patchwork picture rather than a series of large forested preserves. The main mass is cut in zigzag patterns by winding, deeply eroded rivers and streams, some flowing parallel to the higher ridges, others crossing so as to chop the ridges and the welts on the plateau into separate sections. In some places the watercourses run through narrow, almost canyonlike depressions with steep walls rising from a hundred to three hundred feet. Even the wider valleys are narrow when compared with the western European norm.
The road net in 1944 was far richer than the population and the economic activity of the Ardennes would seem to warrant. This was not the result of military planning, as in the case of the Eifel rail lines, but rather of Belgian and Luxemburgian recognition of the value of automobile tourisme just prior to World War II. All of the main roads had hard surfaces, generally of macadam. Although the road builders tried to follow the more level stretches of the ridge lines or wider valley floors, in many cases the roads twisted sharply and turned on steep grades down into a deep ravine and out again on the opposite side. The bridges were normally built of stone. There were ten all-weather roads crossing from the German frontier into Belgium and Luxembourg in the sector between Monschau and Wasserbillig, but there was not a single main highway traversing the Ardennes in a straight east-west direction.
There are no cities in the Ardennes, unless the capital of Luxembourg and Arlon are included in this area. The largest villages had, in 1944, populations of 2,500 to 4,000. The normal settlement in the Ardennes was the small village with stone houses and very narrow, winding streets. These villages often constricted the through road to single-lane traffic. Another military feature was the lone farmstead or inn which gave its name to the crossroads at which it stood.
The fact that most of the High Ardennes lies inside Belgium leads to some confusion, since one of the administrative subdivisions of that kingdom is named "Ardennes" but is not exactly conterminous with the geographical area. Luxembourg, into which the Ardennes extends, is divided in two parts, roughly along a line from Attert on the west to a point midway between Vianden and Diekirch on the eastern boundary. The northern half generally is considered an extension of the High Ardennes (although one may find as many definitions of the south edge of the Ardennes as there are writers touching the subject); in any case it shares the same physical properties. The southern half of Luxembourg, known appropriately as the "Good Land," is less high,