CALVADOS, a department of north-western France, formed in 1790 out of Bessin, Cinglais, Hiémois, Bocage, the Campagne de Caen, Auge and the western part of Lieuvin. Pop. (1906) 403,431. Area, 2197 sq. m. It received its name from a ledge of rocks, stretching along the coast for a distance of about 15 m. between the mouths of the rivers Orne and Vire. It is bounded N. by the English Channel, E. by the department of Eure, S. by that of Orne, W. by that of Manche. The Bocage, or south-western part of the department, is elevated, being crossed from south-east to north-west by the hills of Normandy, the highest of which is 1197 ft.; the rest of the surface is gently undulating, and consists of extensive valleys watered by numerous streams which fall into the English Channel. The coast, formed by cliffs, sandy beaches or reefs, is generally inaccessible, except at the mouths of the principal rivers, such as the Touques, the Dives, the Orne and the Vire, which are navigable at high tide for several miles inland. Trouville is the chief of the numerous coast resorts. The climate, though humid and variable, is healthy. The raising of cattle, sheep and horses is the mainstay of the agriculture of the department. Pasture is good and abundant in the east and north-west, and there is a large export trade in the butter, eggs and cheese (Camembert, Livarot, Pont l’Evêque) of these districts, carried on by Honfleur, Isigny and other ports. The plain of Caen is a great centre for horse breeding. Wheat, oats, barley, colza and potatoes are the chief crops. The orchards of Auge and Bessin produce a superior kind of cider, of which upwards of 40,000,000 gallons are made in the department; a large quantity of cider brandy (eau-de-vie de Calvados) is distilled. Poultry to a considerable amount is sent to the Paris markets, and there is a large output of honey and wax. The spinning and weaving of wool and cotton are the chief industries. Besides these, paper-mills, oil-mills, tanneries, saw-mills, shipbuilding yards, rope-works, dye-works, distilleries and bleach-fields, scattered throughout the department, give employment to a number of hands. There are productive iron-mines and building-stone, slate and lime are plentiful. Fisheries, chiefly of lobster, oyster (Courseulles), herring and mackerel, are prosecuted. Coal, timber, grain, salt-fish and cement are among the imports; exports include iron, dairy products and sand. Caen and Honfleur are the most important commercial ports. There is a canal 9 m. in length from Caen to Ouistreham on the coast. The department is served by the Ouest-État railway. It is divided into the six arrondissements (38 cantons, 763 communes) of Caen, Falaise, Bayeux, Vire, Lisieux and Pont l’Evêque. Caen, the capital, is the seat of a court of appeal and the centre of an académie (educational division). The department forms the diocese of Bayeux, in the ecclesiastical province of Rouen, and belongs to the region of the III. army-corps. The other principal towns are Falaise, Lisieux, Condé-sur-Noireau, Vire, Honfleur and Trouville (q.v.).
Amongst the great number of medieval churches which the department possesses, the fine Gothic church of St. Pierre-sur-Dives is second in importance only to those of Lisieux and Bayeux; that of Norrey, a good example of the Norman-Gothic style, and that of Tour-en-Bessin, in which Romanesque and Gothic architecture are mingled, are of great interest. Fontaine-Henri has a fine château of the 15th and 16th centuries.