Sarthe (French pronunciation: [saʁt]) is a French department, named after the Sarthe River.
The department was created during the French Revolution on March 4, 1790, pursuant to the law of December 22, 1789, starting from a part of province of Maine which divided into two departments, Sarthe to the east and Mayenne to the west.
In Roman Times, this province contained the city of Mans, and many ruins are still left standing. The Thermal Bathhouse attracts many tourists, as does the theater of Aubigné-Racan, both located on the limits of Anjou, Maine, and Touraine
The department of Sarthe is at the north end of the administrative region of Pays-de-la-Loire. This places it south of Basse-Normandie and on the south edge of the Armorican Massif. It is bordered by the departments of Orne, Eure-et-Loir, Loir-et-Cher, Indre-et-Loire, Maine-et-Loire and Mayenne.
Approximately 300,00 people, comprising more than half of the department's population, live in Le Mans, its conurbation or the essentially urban communes close by. The rest of the department retains its rural character, however, being dominated economically by agriculture.
The economy, especially in the Le Mans area, received a boost with the arrival of the railways in 1854 and of a TGV connection in 1989. In terms of road connections the A11 autoroute, which reached Le Mans from the east in 1978, also highlights Sarthe's strategic position as the gateway to the French west.
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