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Poitou-Charentes is an administrative region in central western France comprising four departments: Charente, Charente-Maritime, Deux-Sèvres and Vienne. The regional capital is Poitiers.
In French its residents are known as Picto-Charentais. In 2003, the region ranked 15th out of 26 in population. In area it ranked 12th in size.
A regional language, Poitevin-Saintongeais, is spoken by a minority of people in the region.
Poitou is believed to be the region of origin of most of the Acadian and Cajun populations of North America (now found chiefly in New Brunswick and Louisiana, respectively).
Poitou is a historic region in west central France. Poitiers, the former capital of the region, is its chief city, although the port city of La Rochelle rivals it in economic importance. Farming is important to the economy; wheat, corn, and cattle are raised. Industries produce machinery, chemicals, and dairy products.
The region's first known inhabitants, the Pictavi, a Gallic tribe, were conquered in 56 BC by the Romans who incorporated the area into Gaul as part of the province of Aquitania. The Visigoths seized the region in 418 AD, but it passed to the Franks in 507. In 732 or 733, Charles Martel brought the Muslim invasion of Western Europe to a standstill by his victory in the Battle of Poitiers. From the 10th to the mid-12th century, the counts of Poitou were also the dukes of Aquitaine, and the city of Poitiers grew in importance. In 1152, Poitou came under English control through the marriage of Eleanor of Aquitaine to Henry II (later king of England). The region was reunited with the French crown in 1416 and was a province of France until the Revolution (1789-95), when it was divided into three departments, Vienne, Deux-Sevres, and Vendee.
* La Rochelle
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