CHER, a department of central France, embracing the eastern part of the ancient province of Berry, and parts of Bourbonnais, Nivernais and Orléanais, bounded N. by the department of Loiret, W. by Loir-et-Cher and Indre, S. by Allier and Creuse, and E. by Nièvre. Pop. (1906) 343,484. Area 2819 sq. m. The territory of the department is elevated in the south, where one point reaches 1654 ft., and in the east. The centre is occupied by a wide calcareous table-land, to the north of which stretches the plain of Sologne. The principal rivers, besides the Cher and its tributaries, are the Grande Sauldre and the Petite Sauldre on the north, but the Loire and Allier, though not falling within the department, drain the eastern districts, and are available for navigation. The Cher itself becomes navigable when it receives the Arnon and Yèvre, and the communications of the department are greatly facilitated by the Canal du Berry, which traverses it from east to west, the lateral canal of the Loire, which follows the left bank of that river, and the canal of the Sauldre. The climate is temperate, and the rainfall moderate. Except in the Sologne, the soil is generally fertile, but varies considerably in different localities. The most productive region is that on the east, which belongs to the valley of the Loire; the central districts are tolerably fertile but marshy, being often flooded by the Cher; while in the south and south-west there is a considerable extent of dry and fertile land. Wheat and oats are largely cultivated, while hemp, vegetables and various fruits are also produced. The vine flourishes chiefly in the east of the arrondissement of Sancerre. The department contains a comparatively large extent of pasturage, which has given rise to a considerable trade in horses, cattle, sheep and wool for the northern markets. Nearly one-fifth of the whole area consists of forest. Mines of iron are worked, and various sorts of stone are quarried. Brick, porcelain and glassworks employ large numbers of the inhabitants. There are also flour-mills, distilleries, oil-works, saw-mills and tanneries. Bourges and Vierzon are metallurgical and engineering centres. Coal and wine are leading imports, while cereals, timber, wool, fruit and industrial products are exported. The department is served by the Orléans railway, and possesses in all more than 300 m. of navigable waterways. It is divided into three arrondissements (29 cantons, 292 communes) cognominal with the towns of Bourges, Saint-Amand-Mont-Rond, and Sancerre, of which the first is the capital, the seat of an archbishop and of a court of appeal and headquarters of the VIII. army-corps. The department belongs to the académie (educational division) of Paris. Bourges, Saint-Amand-Mont-Rond, Vierzon and Sancerre (q.v.) are the principal towns. Méhun-sur-Yèvre (pop. 5227), a town with an active manufacture of porcelain, has a Romanesque church and a château of the 14th century. Among the other interesting churches of the department, that at St Satur has a fine choir of the 14th and 15th centuries; those of Dun-sur-Auron, Plaimpied, Aix d'Angillon and Jeanvrin are Romanesque in style, while Aubigny-Ville has a church of the 12th, 13th and 15th centuries and a château of later date. Drevant, built on the site of a Roman town, preserves ruins of a large theatre and other remains. Among the megalithic monuments of Cher, the most notable is that at Villeneuve-sur-Cher, known as the Pierre-de-la-Roche.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)