Charente (French pronunciation: [ʃa.ʁɑ̃t], Saintongeais:
Chérente, Occitan: Charanta) is a department in southwestern France,
Nouvelle-Aquitaine region, named after the
Charente River, the
most important river in the department, and also the river beside
which the department's two largest towns,
Angoulême and Cognac, are
7 Sources and further reading
8 See also
9 External links
Charente is one of the original 83 departments created during the
French Revolution on 4 March 1790. It was created from the former
province of Angoumois, west and south of Saintonge.
Prior to the creation of the department, the area was not a natural
unit, but much of it was commercially prosperous thanks to traditional
industries such as salt and cognac production. Although the river
Charente became silted up and was unnavigable for much of the
twentieth century, in the eighteenth century it provided important
links with coastal shipping routes both for traditional businesses and
for newly evolving ones such as paper goods and iron smelting.
The accelerating pace of industrial and commercial development during
the first half of the nineteenth century led to a period of
prosperity, and the department's population peaked in 1851. During
the second half of the nineteenth century Charente, like many of
France's rural departments, experienced a declining population as the
economic prospects available in the cities and in France's overseas
empire attracted the working age generations away. Economic ruin came
to many in the Charentais wine industry with the arrival in 1872 of
During the twentieth century, the department with its traditional
industries was adversely impacted by two major world wars and even in
the second half of the century experienced relatively low growth, the
overall population remaining remarkably stable at around 340,000
through the second half of the twentieth century, although industrial
and commercial developments in the conurbation surrounding Angoulême
have added some 10,000 to the overall population during the first
decade of the twenty-first century.
The relatively relaxed pace of economic development in the twentieth
century encouraged the immigration of retirees from overseas. Census
data in 2006 revealed that the number of British citizens residing in
the department had risen to 5,083, placing the department fourth in
this respect behind Paris,
Dordogne and Alpes-Maritimes.
It is part of the
Aquitaine Basin for its major part, and of the
Massif Central for its north-eastern part. The
Charente flows through
it and gave its name to the department, along with Charente-Maritime.
It is composed with the historical region of
Angoumois and contains
part of the regions of Saintonge, Limousin,
Périgord and Poitou.
The department is part of the current region of Nouvelle-Aquitaine. It
is surrounded by the departments of Charente-Maritime, Dordogne,
Vienne and Deux-Sèvres. Its capital is Angoulême.
The inhabitants of the department are called Charentais.
The President of the General Council is
Michel Boutant of the
Union for a Popular Movement
French Communist Party
Cognac and pineau are two of the major agricultural products of the
region, along with butter. The Charentaise slipper (a type of slipper
made from felt and wool) is another well-known traditional product.
Abbey of La Couronne
Château de la Faye
Sources and further reading
^ Jean Combes (dir.) et Michel Luc (dir.), La
Charente de la
préhistoire à nos jours, Imprimerie Bordessoules, coll.
« L'histoire par les documents », 1986, 429 p.
Charente libre du 4 janvier 2010
^ "The thoroughly modern Charentaise slipper", 2 March 2012. Accessed
1 April 2013
Cantons of the
Communes of the
Arrondissements of the
"Charente". Encyclopædia Britannica. 5 (11th ed.). 1911.
(in French) Prefecture website
(in French) General Council website
Departments of France
90 Territoire de Belfort
973 French Guiana
Metropolis with territorial collectivity statute