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Charente-Maritime(shäräNt`-märētēm`), department (1990 pop. 528,700), W France, on the Atlantic coast, formerly Charente-Inférieure. La Rochelle is the capital.
a department in France, in the basin of the Charente River, on the Bay of Biscay. Area, 7,200 sq km (including the islands of Oléron and Ré). Population, 498,000 (1975).
The capital of Charente-Maritime is La Rochelle. In 1968, 28 percent of the department’s economically active population was employed in agriculture, and 15 percent was employed in industry. Viticulture and wine-making accounted for 47 percent of the value of the agricultural output in 1974. Cattle and other live stock are raised in the department. Salt is extracted from seawater. The department has food-processing, shipbuilding, aviation, and glass industries. La Rochelle is the chief port and the most important center of industry and fishing. Oyster culture is carried on along the coast.