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Prefecture building of the Charente department
Prefecture building of the Charente department, in Angoulême
Flag of Charente
Coat of arms
Coat of arms
Location of Charente in France
Location of Charente in France
Country France
Region Nouvelle-Aquitaine
Département 4 March 1790
 • Total 5,956 km2 (2,300 sq mi)
Population (2013)
 • Total 353,482
 • Rank 67th
 • Density 59.349/km2 (153.713/sq mi)
Demonym(s) Charentais
Time zone CET (UTC+1)
 • Summer (DST) CEST (UTC+2)
ISO 3166 code FR-16
Arrondissements 3
Cantons 19
Communes 394

Charente (Saintongeais: Chérente, Occitan: Charanta) is a department in southwestern France, in the Nouvelle-Aquitaine region.

It is named after the Charente river, the most important river in the department. The two largest towns of the department, Angoulême and Cognac, are along this river.


Charente is one of the 83 French departments made during the French revolution, on 4 March 1790. It was created from the old province of Angoumois with lands around Angoulême.

The new department had six districts: Ruffec, Confolens, La Rochefoucauld, Angoulême, Barbezieux and Cognac. The capital (now prefecture) was Angoulême.

In 1800, with the creation of the arrondissements in France, the six districts were changed into five arrondissements: Angoulême, Barbezieux, Cognac, Confolens and Ruffec.

On 10 September 1926, the arrondissements of Barbezieux and Ruffec were eliminated.


Charente is part of the Nouvelle-Aquitaine region. It has an area of 5,956 km2 (2,300 sq mi).

The highest point of the department is Rocher aux Oiseaux, 368 m (1,207 ft) high, in the commune of Montrollet; the lowest point is in the valley of the Charente river, commune of Merpins, and is 8 m (26 ft) high.

The department is bordered by the departments: Deux-Sèvres, Vienne, Haute-Vienne, Dordogne and Charente-Maritime.

The main river in the department is the Charente that gives its name to the deparment. Other rivers are the Dronne and the Vienne.


The climate of Cognac is an oceanic climate with template summers, Cfb (Marine West Coast Climate) in the Köppen climate classification.

The average amount of precipitation for the year in Cognac is 777.2 mm (30.6 in). The month with the most precipitation on average is November with 86.4 mm (3.4 in) of precipitation. The month with the least precipitation on average is July with an average of 48.3 mm (1.9 in).

The average temperature for the year in Cognac is 13.3 °C (55.9 °F). The warmest month, on average, is July with an average temperature of 21.1 °C (70.0 °F). The coolest month on average is January, with an average temperature of 6.1 °C (43.0 °F).


The department is managed by the General Council of the Charente in Angoulême. Charente is part of the region of Nouvelle-Aquitaine.

Administrative divisions

There are 3 arrondissements (districts), 19 cantons and 394 communes (municipalities) in Charente.

Arrondissement Capital Population
161 Angoulême Angoulême 196,993   2,217.1   88.9 148
162 Cognac Cognac 92,032   1,471.2   62.6 108
163 Confolens Confolens 64,457   2,267.7   28.4 138

The following is a list of the 19 cantons of the Charente department, following the French canton reorganisation which came into effect in March 2015:

  1. Angoulême-1
  2. Angoulême-2
  3. Angoulême-3
  4. Boëme-Échelle
  5. Boixe-et-Manslois
  6. Charente-Bonnieure
  7. Charente-Champagne
  8. Charente-Nord
  9. Charente-Sud
  10. Charente-Vienne
  11. Cognac-1
  12. Cognac-2
  13. La Couronne
  14. Gond-Pontouvre
  15. Jarnac
  16. Touvre-et-Braconne
  17. Tude-et-Lavalette
  18. Val de Nouère
  19. Val de Tardoire


The inhabitants of Charente are known, in French, as Charentais (women: Charentaises).

Charente has a population, in 2013, of 353,482, for a population density of 59.3 inhabitants/km2. The arrondissement of Angoulême, with 196,993 inhabitants, is by far the largest. The other two, Cognac and Confolens, have respectively 92,032 and 64,457 inhabitants.

The city with more people living in it is Angoulême (41,970).

The main cities in the department are:

City Population
Angoulême 41,970 Angoulême
Cognac 18,705 Cognac
Soyaux 9,366 Angoulême
La Couronne 7,466 Angoulême
Ruelle-sur-Touvre 7,357 Angoulême
Saint-Yrieix-sur-Charente 7,167 Angoulême


The cognac is an alcoholic drink, a kind of brandy. It is made from grapes. It is made mainly around the city of Cognac.


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