World English Dictionary
département (French departəmɑ̃)
(in France) a major subdivision or branch of the administration of the government
[C18: from départir to divide; see depart]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
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Encyclopedia Britannica


largest unit of local government in France and in some former French colonies. The departements were originally created in 1790. Each departement is governed by an elected general council, which holds responsibility for local services, laws, and budget; an officer called a commissioner represents the national government and is the council's executive agent

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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