Saintes is a commune and historic town in western France, in the Charente-Maritime department of which it is a sub-prefecture, in Nouvelle-Aquitaine. Its inhabitants are called Saintaises and Saintais. Saintes is the second-largest city in Charente-Maritime, with inhabitants in 2008. The city's immediate surroundings form the second-most populous metropolitan area in the department, with inhabitants. While a majority of the surrounding landscape consists of fertile, productive fields, a significant minority of the region remains forested; its natural state.