Last updated

Chérente  (Saintongeais)
Charanta (Occitan)
Ang prefect.JPG
Prefecture building of the Charente department, in Angoulême
Flag of Charente.svg
Blason departement fr Charente.svg
Location of Charente in France
Coordinates: 45°50′N0°20′E / 45.833°N 0.333°E / 45.833; 0.333 Coordinates: 45°50′N0°20′E / 45.833°N 0.333°E / 45.833; 0.333
Region Nouvelle-Aquitaine
Prefecture Angoulême
Subprefectures Cognac
   President of the Departmental Council Philippe Bouty [1] (DVG)
  Total5,956 km2 (2,300 sq mi)
 (Jan. 2019) [2]
  Rank 68th
  Density59/km2 (150/sq mi)
Time zone UTC+1 (CET)
  Summer (DST) UTC+2 (CEST)
Department number 16
Arrondissements 3
Cantons 19
Communes 365
^1 French Land Register data, which exclude estuaries, and lakes, ponds, and glaciers larger than 1 km2

Charente (French:  [ʃaʁɑ̃t] ( Loudspeaker.svg listen ); Saintongese: Chérente; Occitan : Charanta [tʃaˈɾantɔ] ) is a department in the administrative region of Nouvelle-Aquitaine, south western France. It is named after the river Charente, the most important and longest river in the department, and also the river beside which the department's two largest towns, Angoulême and Cognac, are sited. In 2019, it had a population of 352,015. [3]



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, and western and southern portions of Saintonge.

Prior to the creation of the department as a single unit, 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. [4] During the second half of the nineteenth century Charente, like many of France's rural departments, experienced a decline in population as the economic prospects available in the cities and in France's overseas empire attracted working-aged people. Economic ruin came to many in the Charentais wine industry with the arrival in 1872 of phylloxera.

During the twentieth century, the department with its traditional industries was adversely impacted by two major world wars, and in the second half of the century, it experienced relatively low growth. The overall population remaining remarkably stable at around 340,000 throughout 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, [5] placing the department fourth in this respect behind Paris, Dordogne and Alpes-Maritimes. [6]


It is largely part of the Aquitaine Basin, with the north-eastern part in the Massif Central. 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, Haute-Vienne, Vienne and Deux-Sèvres. It is entirely surrounded by the same region. The southernmost “major” town (town with over 1,000 people) in the Charente is Chalais.

Principal towns

The most populous commune is Angoulême, the prefecture. As of 2019, there are 9 communes with more than 5,000 inhabitants: [3]

CommunePopulation (2019)
Angoulême 41,603
Cognac 18,670
Soyaux 9,761
La Couronne 7,764
Saint-Yrieix-sur-Charente 7,381
Ruelle-sur-Touvre 7,305
Gond-Pontouvre 6,119
L'Isle-d'Espagnac 5,626
Champniers 5,149


The inhabitants of the department are called Charentais or in feminine, Charentaise.

Population development since 1791:

Historical population
YearPop.±% p.a.
YearPop.±% p.a.
source: [7] [8]


The President of the Departmental Council is Philippe Bouty of the Miscellaneous left (DVG), elected in July 2021.

Socialist Party 15
Union for a Popular Movement 6
Miscellaneous Right 6
Miscellaneous Left 6
French Communist Party 2

National Assembly representatives

ConstituencyMember [9] Party
Charente's 1st constituency Thomas Mesnier La République En Marche!
Charente's 2nd constituency Sandra Marsaud La République En Marche!
Charente's 3rd constituency Jérôme Lambert Socialist 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.


See also


  1. "Répertoire national des élus: les conseillers départementaux"., Plateforme ouverte des données publiques françaises (in French). 4 May 2022.
  2. "Téléchargement du fichier d'ensemble des populations légales en 2019". The National Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies. 29 December 2021.
  3. 1 2 Populations légales 2019: 16 Charente, INSEE
  4. 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. ( ISBN   2-903504-21-0)
  5. "Près de 13 000 Britanniques ont choisi de vivre en Poitou-Charentes - e.décim@l | Insee".
  6. La Charente libre du 4 janvier 2010
  7. "Historique de la Charente". Le SPLAF.
  8. "Évolution et structure de la population en 2016". INSEE.
  9. Nationale, Assemblée. "Assemblée nationale ~ Les députés, le vote de la loi, le Parlement français". Assemblée nationale.

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Charente-Maritime</span> Department of France

Charente-Maritime 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 2019, it had a population of 651,358 with an area of 6,864 square kilometres.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Gironde</span> Department of France

Gironde is the largest department in the Nouvelle-Aquitaine region of Southwestern France. Named after the Gironde estuary, a major waterway, its prefecture is Bordeaux. In 2019, it had a population of 1,623,749. The famous Bordeaux wine region is in Gironde. It has six arrondissements, making it one of the departments with the most arrondissements.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Angoulême</span> Prefecture and commune in Nouvelle-Aquitaine, France

Angoulême is a commune, the prefecture of the Charente department, in the Nouvelle-Aquitaine region of southwestern France.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Haute-Vienne</span> Department of France in Nouvelle-Aquitaine

Haute-Vienne is a department in the Nouvelle-Aquitaine region in southwest-central France. Named after the Vienne River, it is one of the twelve departments that together constitute Nouvelle-Aquitaine. The prefecture and largest city in the department is Limoges, the other towns in the department each having fewer than twenty thousand inhabitants. Haute-Vienne had a population of 372,359 in 2019.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Poitou-Charentes</span> Region of France

Poitou-Charentes is a former administrative region on the southwest coast of France. It is part of the new region Nouvelle-Aquitaine. It comprises four departments: Charente, Charente-Maritime, Deux-Sèvres and Vienne. Historical provinces are Angoumois, Aunis, Saintonge and Poitou.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Aubeterre-sur-Dronne</span> Commune in Nouvelle-Aquitaine, France

Aubeterre-sur-Dronne, commonly referred to as Aubeterre, is a commune in the Charente department in the Nouvelle-Aquitaine region of Southwestern France. In 2017, it had a population of 386. Its inhabitants are known as Aubeterriens (masculine) or Aubeterriennes (feminine).

Saintes is a commune and historic town in western France, in the Charente-Maritime department of which it is a sub-prefecture, in Nouvelle-Aquitaine. Its inhabitants are called Saintaises and Saintais. Saintes is the second-largest city in Charente-Maritime, with 26,470 inhabitants in 2008. The city's immediate surroundings form the second-most populous metropolitan area in the department, with 56,598 inhabitants. While a majority of the surrounding landscape consists of fertile, productive fields, a significant minority of the region remains forested, its natural state.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">County of Saintonge</span> French province (1371–1790)

The County of Saintonge, historically spelled Xaintonge and Xainctonge, is a former province of France located on the west central Atlantic coast. The capital city was Saintes. Other principal towns include Saint-Jean-d'Angély, Jonzac, Frontenay-Rohan-Rohan, Royan, Marennes, Pons, and Barbezieux-Saint-Hilaire.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Allas-Champagne</span> Commune in Nouvelle-Aquitaine, France

Allas-Champagne is a commune in the Charente-Maritime department in the Nouvelle-Aquitaine region of southwestern France.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Aigre</span> Commune in Nouvelle-Aquitaine, France

Aigre is a commune in the Charente department in the Nouvelle-Aquitaine region of southwestern France.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Baignes-Sainte-Radegonde</span> Commune in Nouvelle-Aquitaine, France

Baignes-Sainte-Radegonde is a commune in the Charente department in the Nouvelle-Aquitaine region of south-western France.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Brie, Charente</span> Commune in Nouvelle-Aquitaine, France

Brie is a commune in the Charente department in southwestern France.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Arvert</span> Commune in Nouvelle-Aquitaine, France

Arvert is a commune in the Charente-Maritime department and Nouvelle-Aquitaine region of south-western France.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Ballans</span> Commune in Nouvelle-Aquitaine, France

Ballans is a commune in the department of Charente-Maritime, southwestern France.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Surgères</span> Commune in Nouvelle-Aquitaine, France

Surgères is a commune in the Charente-Maritime department, southwestern France. It is the home of the Surgères 48 Hour Race.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Saintongeais dialect</span> Dialect of Poitevin, itself considered a French dialect

Saintongeais (saintonjhais) is a dialect of Poitevin-Santongeais spoken halfway down the western coast of France in the former provinces of Saintonge, Aunis and Angoumois, all of which have been incorporated into the current departments of Charente and Charente-Maritime as well as in parts of the neighbouring department of Gironde and a town in Dordogne. Although many of the same words are used in both Charente departments, they differ in what they mean or in how they are pronounced.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Chasseneuil-du-Poitou</span> Commune in Nouvelle-Aquitaine, France

Chasseneuil-du-Poitou is a commune in the Vienne department, administrative region of Nouvelle-Aquitaine, western France.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Vienne</span> Department of France

Vienne is a landlocked department in the French region of Nouvelle-Aquitaine. It takes its name from the river Vienne. It had a population of 438,435 in 2019.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Nouvelle-Aquitaine</span> Administrative region of France

Nouvelle-Aquitaine is the largest administrative region in France, spanning the west and southwest of the mainland. The region was created by the territorial reform of French regions in 2014 through the merger of three regions: Aquitaine, Limousin and Poitou-Charentes. It covers 84,036 km2 (32,446 sq mi) – or 18 of the country – and has 5,956,978 inhabitants. The new region was established on 1 January 2016, following the regional elections in December 2015.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Miss Poitou-Charentes</span>

Miss Poitou-Charentes is a French beauty pageant which selects a representative for the Miss France national competition from the region of Poitou-Charentes. Women representing the region under various different titles have competed at Miss France since 1957, although the Miss Poitou-Charentes title was not used regularly until 2006.