Charente-Maritime

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Charente-Maritime
Prefecture building in La Rochelle
Flag of Charente-Maritime
Flag
Coat of arms of Charente-Maritime
Coat of arms
Location of Charente-Maritime in France
Location of Charente-Maritime in France
Coordinates: 45°57′N 0°58′W / 45.950°N 0.967°W / 45.950; -0.967Coordinates: 45°57′N 0°58′W / 45.950°N 0.967°W / 45.950; -0.967
CountryFrance
RegionNouvelle-Aquitaine
PrefectureLa Rochelle
SubprefecturesJonzac
Rochefort
Saintes
Saint-Jean-d'Angély
Government
 • President of the Departmental CouncilDominique Bussereau (LR)
Area
 • Total6,864 km2 (2,650 sq mi)
Population
 (2016)
 • Total642,191
 • Rank39th
 • Density94/km2 (240/sq mi)
Time zoneUTC+1 (CET)
 • Summer (DST)UTC+2 (CEST)
Department number17
Arrondissements5
Cantons27
Communes463
^1 French Land Register data, which exclude estuaries and lakes, ponds and glaciers larger than 1 km2

Charente-Maritime (French pronunciation: [ʃaʁɑ̃t maʁitim] (About this soundlisten)) is a department in the Nouvelle-Aquitaine region on the southwestern coast of France. Named after the river Charente, its prefecture is La Rochelle. As of 2016, it had a population of 642,191 with an area of 6,864 square kilometres (2,650 square miles).

History[edit]

Charente-Maritime and the former provinces composing it, mostly Saintonge and Aunis

Previously a part of the provinces of Saintonge and Aunis, Charente-Inférieure was one of the 83 original departments created during the French Revolution on 4 March 1790. On 4 September 1941, during World War II, it was renamed as Charente-Maritime.

When the department was first organised, the commune of Saintes was designated as the prefecture of the department (Saintes had previously been the capital of Saintonge). This changed in 1810 when Napoleon passed an imperial decree to move the prefecture to La Rochelle.

During World War II, the department was invaded by the German Army and became part of occupied France. To provide defence against a possible beach landing by the Allies, the Organisation Todt constructed a number of sea defences in the area. Defences such as pillboxes are particularly noticeable on the beaches of the presqu'île d'Arvert and the island of Oléron.

At the end of the war, the two last pockets of German resistance were both in this area: at La Rochelle in the north and Royan in the south. Despite Royan having been nearly destroyed during an RAF bombing raid on 5 January 1945, the town was not liberated by the French Forces of the Interior until April of the same year. La Rochelle was finally liberated on 9 May 1945.

Geography[edit]

Sunset in Meschers-sur-Gironde in Charente-Maritime

Charente-Maritime is part of the Nouvelle-Aquitaine administrative region. It is surrounded by the departments of Gironde, Charente, Deux-Sèvres, Dordogne and Vendée. It has a land area of 6864 km2 and 628,733 inhabitants as of 2012.

The important rivers are the Charente and its tributaries, the Boutonne and the Seugne, along with the Sèvre Niortaise, the Seudre and the Garonne, in its downstream part, which is the estuary of the Gironde.

The department includes the Île de Ré, Île d'Aix, Ile d'Oléron and Île Madame.

The department forms the northern part of the Aquitaine Basin. It is separated from the Massif Armoricain by the Marais Poitevin to the north-west and from the Parisian basin by the Seuil du Poitou to the north-east. The highest point in the department is in the woods of Chantemerlière, near the commune of Contré in the north-east, and rises to 173 m.

Climate[edit]

The climate is mild and sunny, with less than 900 mm of precipitation per year and with insolation being remarkably high, in fact, the highest in Western France including southernmost sea resorts such as Biarritz. Average extreme temperatures vary from 38 °C (100 °F) in summer to−5 °C (23 °F) in winter.

Economy[edit]

The economy of Charente-Maritime is based on three major sectors: tourism, maritime industry, and manufacturing. Cognac and pineau are two of the major agricultural products with maize, corn and sunflowers being the others.

During the summer months, families flock from all over Europe to bask in the sun and enjoy the local seafood. Royan, popular for its extensive beaches and attractions, is one of the most famous seaside resort of atlantic coast.

Charente-Maritime is the headquarters of the major oyster producer Marennes-Oléron. Oysters cultivated here are shipped across Europe.

Rochefort is a shipbuilding site and has been a major French naval base since 1665.

La Rochelle is a seat of major French industry. Just outside the city is a factory for the French engineering giant Alstom, where the TGV, the cars for the Paris and other metros are manufactured. It is a popular venue for tourism, with its picturesque medieval harbour and city walls.

Demographics[edit]

The inhabitants of the department are called Charentais-Maritimes.

Historical population
YearPop.±% p.a.
1791438,042—    
1801399,162−0.93%
1806405,592+0.32%
1821409,477+0.06%
1831445,249+0.84%
1841460,245+0.33%
1851469,992+0.21%
1861481,060+0.23%
1872465,653−0.30%
1881466,416+0.02%
1891456,202−0.22%
1901452,149−0.09%
1911451,044−0.02%
1921418,310−0.75%
1931415,249−0.07%
1936419,021+0.18%
1946416,187−0.07%
1954447,973+0.92%
1962470,897+0.63%
1968483,622+0.45%
1975497,859+0.42%
1982513,220+0.44%
1990527,146+0.34%
1999557,024+0.61%
2006598,915+1.04%
2011625,682+0.88%
2016642,191+0.52%
source:[1]

Politics[edit]

Departmental Council of Charente-Maritime[edit]

The President of the Departmental Council has been Dominique Bussereau of The Republicans (LR) since 2008. Additionally, he has served as President of the Assembly of the Departments of France (Assemblée des départements de France) since 2015.

Party Seats
The Republicans 27
Socialist Party 16
Radical Party of the Left 8

National representation[edit]

In the 2017 legislative election, Charente-Maritime elected the following members of the National Assembly:

Constituency Member[2] Party
Charente-Maritime's 1st constituency Olivier Falorni Miscellaneous left
Charente-Maritime's 2nd constituency Frédérique Tuffnell La République En Marche!
Charente-Maritime's 3rd constituency Jean-Philippe Ardouin La République En Marche!
Charente-Maritime's 4th constituency Raphaël Gérard La République En Marche!
Charente-Maritime's 5th constituency Didier Quentin The Republicans

In the Senate, Charente-Maritime is represented by three members: Daniel Laurent (since 2008), Corinne Imbert (since 2014) and Mickaël Vallet (since 2020).

Tourism[edit]

Popular destinations include La Rochelle, Royan, Saintes, Saint-Jean-d'Angely, Rochefort, the Île d'Aix, Île de Ré and Île d'Oléron.

The department is served by the TGV at Surgères and La Rochelle. It can also be reached by motorway by the A10 (E5, Paris-Bordeaux) and A837 (E602, Saintes-Rochefort).

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]

  • (in English) "Charente-Inférieure" . Encyclopædia Britannica. 5 (11th ed.). 1911.
  • (in French) Charente Maritime website
  • (in French) News Charente Maritime
  • (in English) Official Tourism Guide of Charente-Maritime
  • (in French) Official Tourism Guide of Charente-Maritime
  • (in French) Charente Maritime News
  • (in French) Zoo de la Palmyre
  • (in French) Ile d'Oléron
  • (in French) Ile de ré
  • (in French) Tourisme Ile de re