La Manche, a N. W. department of France, in Normandy, bordering on the English channel and the departments of Calvados, Orne, Mayenne, and llle-et-Vilaine; area, 2,289 sq. m.; pop. in 1872, 544,776. The coast is generally flat, and lined with swamps. There are several excellent harbors, the principal of which are Cherbourg, La Hogue, and Granville. La Manche has several short but navigable rivers, the principal of which is the Vire, and is traversed from N. to S. by a hilly range of moderate height, called Cotentin, which gives its name to the peninsular portion of the department. The rest of the surface is undulating, the soil rich, and the climate moist and mild. A prevailing crop is a species of black oats. The quantity of cider made is very great. A considerable portion of the land is under pasturage. The horses are among the best in France. Iron, lead, and coal are mined, and granite, marble, slate, and limestone are quarried. Salt is largely manufactured on the coast, and in the towns iron, zinc, copper, woollen, and cotton.
The department is divided into the six arrondissements of St. L6, Avranches, Cherbourg, Coutances, Mortain, and Valognes. Capital, St. L6.