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Charente-Maritime facts for kids

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Prefecture building of the Vienne department
Prefecture building of the Charente-Maritime department, in La Rochelle
Flag of Charente-Maritime
Coat of arms of Charente-Maritime
Coat of arms
Location of  Charente-Maritime in France
Location of Charente-Maritime in France
Country France
Region Nouvelle-Aquitaine
Département 4 March 1790
 • Total 6,863.8 km2 (2,650.1 sq mi)
Population (2013)
 • Total 633,417
 • Density 92.2837/km2 (239.0137/sq mi)
Demonym(s) Charentais maritimes
Time zone CET (UTC+1)
 • Summer (DST) CEST (UTC+2)
ISO 3166 code FR-17
Arrondissements 5
Cantons 27
Communes 469
Website Official website

Charente-Maritime (Saintongeais: Chérente-Marine) is a department on the west coast of France in the Nouvelle-Aquitaine region. It is named after the Charente river, the most important river in the department, and its position along the coast.

Its prefecture is La Rochelle.


Charente-Maritime et provinces
Charente-Maritime and the old provinces of Saintonge, Poitou and Aunis.

The department, as Charente-Inférieure ("Lower Charente" because it was in the lower part of the Charente river), is one of the 83 French departments made during the French revolution, on 4 March 1790.

It was created from parts of the old provinces of Saintonge and Aunis and small parts of Poitou and Angoumois.

The new department had seven districts: La Rochelle, Rochefort, Saint-Jean-d'Angély, Saintes, Pons, Montlieu and Marennes. The capital (now prefecture) was Saintes alternating with La Rochelle and Saint-Jean-d'Angély but soon was changed and Saintes was kept as the only capital.

In 1800, with the creation of the arrondissements in France, the seven districts were changed into six arrondissements: Saintes, Jonzac, Marennes, Rochefort, La Rochelle and Saint-Jean-d'Angély and 1810 the capital was moved to La Rochelle.

On 10 September 1926, the arrondissements of Marennes and Saint-Jean-d'Angély were eliminated. In 1943, Saint-Jean-d'Angély was made again an arrondissement.

On 4 Septembre 1941, the name of the department was changed from Charente-Inférieure to the present name of Charente-Maritime.


Charente-Maritime is part of the Nouvelle-Aquitaine region. It has an area of 6,863.8 km2 (2,650 sq mi).

The highest point in the department is in the woods of Chantemerlière, near the commune of Contré in the northeast, and that is 173 m (568 ft) high.

The department is bordered by the departments: Vendée, Deux-Sèvres, Charente, Dordogne and Gironde.

The main 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 islands of:

  • Île de Ré
  • Île d'Aix
  • Île d'Oléron, the largest island of Metropolitan France; it is 30 km (19 mi) long and 8 km (5 mi) wide, with an area of 174.39 km2 (67 sq mi)
  • Île Madame, the smallest of the four islands.


The climate of La Rochelle 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 La Rochelle is 685.8 mm (27.0 in). The month with the most precipitation on average is October with 83.8 mm (3.3 in) of precipitation. The month with the least precipitation on average is July with an average of 40.6 mm (1.6 in).

The average temperature for the year in La Rochelle is 12.8 °C (55.0 °F). The warmest month, on average, is July with an average temperature of 20.0 °C (68.0 °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-Maritime in La Rochelle. Charente-Maritime is part of the region of Nouvelle-Aquitaine.

Administrative divisions

There are 5 arrondissements (districts), 27 cantons and 469 communes (municipalities) in Charente-Maritime.

Arrondissement Capital Population
171 Jonzac Jonzac 56,884   1,529.9   37.2 112
172 Rochefort Rochefort 187,083   1,527.5   122.5 79
173 La Rochelle La Rochelle 207,697   817.7   254.0 57
174 Saintes Saintes 128,259   1,546.5   82.9 107
175 Saint-Jean-d'Angély Saint-Jean-d'Angély 53,494   1,442.2   37.1 114

The following is a list of the 27 cantons of the Charente-Maritime department, following the French canton reorganisation which came into effect in March 2015:

  1. Aytré
  2. Chaniers
  3. Châtelaillon-Plage
  4. Île d'Oléron
  5. Île de Ré
  6. La Jarrie
  7. Jonzac
  8. Lagord
  9. Marans
  10. Marennes
  11. Matha
  12. Pons
  13. Rochefort
  14. La Rochelle-1
  15. La Rochelle-2
  16. La Rochelle-3
  17. Royan
  18. Saint-Jean-d'Angély
  19. Saint-Porchaire
  20. Saintes
  21. Saintonge Estuaire
  22. Saujon
  23. Surgères
  24. Thénac
  25. Tonnay-Charente
  26. La Tremblade
  27. Les Trois Monts


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

Charente-Maritime has a population, in 2013, of 633,417, for a population density of 92.3 inhabitants/km2. The arrondissement of Rochelle, with 207,697 inhabitants, is by far the largest. The other four, Rochefort, Saintes, Jonzac and Saint-Jean-d'Angély, have respectively 187,083, 128,259, 56,884 and 53,494 inhabitants.

The city with more people living in it is La Rochelle (74,344).

The 10 main cities in the department are:

City Population
La Rochelle 74,344 La Rochelle
Saintes 25,601 Saintes
Rochefort 24,761 Rochefort
Royan 18,138 Rochefort
Aytré 8,844 La Rochelle
Tonnay-Charente 7,914 Rochefort
Périgny 7,811 La Rochelle
Saint-Jean-d’Angély 7,295 Saint-Jean-d’Angély
Lagord 7,256 La Rochelle
Saujon 7,111 Saintes


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