Martinican /mahr'tn ee"keuhn/, n.
/mahr'tn eek"/, n.
an island in the E West Indies; an overseas department of France. 342,000; 425 sq. mi. (1100 sq. km). Cap.: Fort-de-France.

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Introduction Martinique -
Background: Colonized by France in 1635, the island has subsequently remained a French possession except for three brief periods of foreign occupation. Geography Martinique
Location: Caribbean, island in the Caribbean Sea, north of Trinidad and Tobago
Geographic coordinates: 14 40 N, 61 00 W
Map references: Central America and the Caribbean
Area: total: 1,100 sq km water: 40 sq km land: 1,060 sq km
Area - comparative: slightly more than six times the size of Washington, DC
Land boundaries: 0 km
Coastline: 350 km
Maritime claims: exclusive economic zone: 200 NM territorial sea: 12 NM
Climate: tropical; moderated by trade winds; rainy season (June to October); vulnerable to devastating cyclones (hurricanes) every eight years on average; average temperature 17.3 degrees C; humid
Terrain: mountainous with indented coastline; dormant volcano
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Caribbean Sea 0 m highest point: Montagne Pelee 1,397 m
Natural resources: coastal scenery and beaches, cultivable land
Land use: arable land: 9.43% permanent crops: 11.32% other: 79.25% (1998 est.)
Irrigated land: 30 sq km (1998 est.)
Natural hazards: hurricanes, flooding, and volcanic activity (an average of one major natural disaster every five years) Environment - current issues: NA
Geography - note: the island is dominated by Mount Pelee, which on 8 May 1902 erupted and completely destroyed the city of Saint Pierre, killing 30,000 inhabitants People Martinique -
Population: 422,277 (July 2002 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 23% (male 49,261; female 47,843) 15-64 years: 66.8% (male 140,616; female 141,460) 65 years and over: 10.2% (male 19,274; female 23,823) (2002 est.)
Population growth rate: 0.89% (2002 est.)
Birth rate: 15.37 births/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Death rate: 6.4 deaths/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Net migration rate: -0.07 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.02 male(s)/female under 15 years: 1.03 male(s)/female 15-64 years: 0.99 male(s)/female 65 years and over: 0.81 male(s)/ female total population: 0.98 male(s)/ female (2002 est.)
Infant mortality rate: 7.62 deaths/1,000 live births (2002 est.) Life expectancy at birth: total population: 78.56 years female: 77.92 years (2002 est.) male: 79.19 years
Total fertility rate: 1.79 children born/woman (2002 est.) HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate: NA% HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/ NA
HIV/AIDS - deaths: NA
Nationality: noun: Martiniquais (singular and plural) adjective: Martiniquais
Ethnic groups: African and African-white-Indian mixture 90%, white 5%, East Indian, Chinese less than 5%
Religions: Roman Catholic 95%, Hindu and pagan African 5%
Languages: French, Creole patois
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write total population: 93% male: 92% female: 93% (1982 est.) Government Martinique -
Country name: conventional long form: Department of Martinique conventional short form: Martinique local short form: Martinique local long form: Departement de la Martinique
Dependency status: overseas department of France
Government type: NA
Capital: Fort-de-France Administrative divisions: none (overseas department of France)
Independence: none (overseas department of France)
National holiday: Bastille Day, 14 July (1789)
Constitution: 28 September 1958 (French Constitution)
Legal system: French legal system
Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal
Executive branch: chief of state: President Jacques CHIRAC of France (since 17 May 1995); Prefect Michel CADOT (since 21 June 2000) elections: French president elected by popular vote for a five-year term; prefect appointed by the French president on the advice of the French Ministry of Interior; the presidents of the General and Regional Councils are elected by the members of those councils head of government: President of the General Council Claude LISE (since 22 March 1992); President of the Regional Council Alfred MARIE-JEANNE (since NA March 1998) cabinet: NA
Legislative branch: unicameral General Council or Conseil General (45 seats; members are elected by popular vote to serve six-year terms) and a unicameral Regional Assembly or Conseil Regional (41 seats; members are elected by popular vote to serve six-year terms) elections: General Council - last held NA March 2000 (next to be held NA 2006); Regional Assembly - last held on 15 March 1998 (next to be held by March 2004) election results: General Council - percent of vote by party - NA%; seats by party - left-wing parties 29, right-wing parties 14, independents 2; note - the PPM won a plurality; Regional Assembly - percent of vote by party - NA%; seats by party - RPR-UDF 14, MIM 13, PPM 7, left parties 4, PMS 3 note: Martinique elects 2 seats to the French Senate; elections last held NA September 2001 (next to be held September 2004); results - percent of vote by party - NA%; seats by party - PPM 2; Martinique also elects 4 seats to the French National Assembly; elections last held, first round - 9 June 2002, second round - 16 June 2002 (next to be held June 2007); results - percent of vote by party - NA%; seats by party - NA
Judicial branch: Court of Appeal or Cour d'Appel Political parties and leaders: Martinique Independence Movement or MIM [Alfred MARIE-JEANNE]; Martinique Progressive Party or PPM [Camille DARSIERES]; note - may no longer be in existence; Martinique Socialist Party or PMS [Ernest WAN- AJOUHU]; Movement of Democrats and Ecologists for a Sovereign Martinique or Modemas [Garcin MALSA]; Rally for the Republic or RPR [Michel CHARLONE]; Socialist Revolution Group or GRS [Philippe PIERRE-CHARLES]; Union for French Democracy or UDF [Jean MAREN] Political pressure groups and Caribbean Revolutionary Alliance or
leaders: ARC; Central Union for Martinique Workers or CSTM [Marc PULVAR]; Frantz Fanon Circle; League of Workers and Peasants; Proletarian Action Group or GAP International organization FZ, WCL, WFTU
participation: Diplomatic representation in the US: none (overseas department of France) Diplomatic representation from the none (overseas department of France)
Flag description: a light blue background is divided into four quadrants by a white cross; in the center of each rectangle is a white snake; the flag of France is used for official occasions Economy Martinique
Economy - overview: The economy is based on sugarcane, bananas, tourism, and light industry. Agriculture accounts for about 6% of GDP and the small industrial sector for 11%. Sugar production has declined, with most of the sugarcane now used for the production of rum. Banana exports are increasing, going mostly to France. The bulk of meat, vegetable, and grain requirements must be imported, contributing to a chronic trade deficit that requires large annual transfers of aid from France. Tourism, which employs more than 11,000 people, has become more important than agricultural exports as a source of foreign exchange. The majority of the work force is employed in the service sector and in administration.
GDP: purchasing power parity - $4.39 billion (1997 est.)
GDP - real growth rate: NA%
GDP - per capita: purchasing power parity - $11,000 (1997 est.) GDP - composition by sector: agriculture: 6% industry: 11% services: 83% (1997 est.) Population below poverty line: NA% Household income or consumption by lowest 10%: NA%
percentage share: highest 10%: NA% Inflation rate (consumer prices): 3.9% (1990)
Labor force: 170,000 (1997) Labor force - by occupation: agriculture 10%, industry 17%, services 73% (1997)
Unemployment rate: 27.2% (1998)
Budget: revenues: $900 million expenditures: $2.5 billion, including capital expenditures of $140 million (1996)
Industries: construction, rum, cement, oil refining, sugar, tourism Industrial production growth rate: NA% Electricity - production: 1.125 billion kWh (2000) Electricity - production by source: fossil fuel: 100% hydro: 0% other: 0% (2000) nuclear: 0% Electricity - consumption: 1.046 billion kWh (2000)
Electricity - exports: 0 kWh (2000)
Electricity - imports: 0 kWh (2000)
Agriculture - products: pineapples, avocados, bananas, flowers, vegetables, sugarcane
Exports: $250 million (f.o.b., 1997)
Exports - commodities: refined petroleum products, bananas, rum, pineapples
Exports - partners: France 45%, Guadeloupe 28% (1997)
Imports: $2 billion (c.i.f., 1997)
Imports - commodities: petroleum products, crude oil, foodstuffs, construction materials, vehicles, clothing and other consumer goods
Imports - partners: France 62%, Venezuela 6%, Germany 4%, Italy 4%, US 3% (1997)
Debt - external: $180 million (1994) Economic aid - recipient: $NA; note - substantial annual aid from France
Currency: euro (EUR); French franc (FRF)
Currency code: EUR; FRF
Exchange rates: euros per US dollar - 1.1324 (January 2002), 1.1175 (2001), 1.0854 (2000), 0.9386 (1999); French francs per US dollar - 5.8995 (1998), 5.8367 (1997)
Fiscal year: calendar year Communications Martinique - Telephones - main lines in use: 170,000 (1997) Telephones - mobile cellular: 15,000 (1997)
Telephone system: general assessment: domestic facilities are adequate domestic: NA international: microwave radio relay to Guadeloupe, Dominica, and Saint Lucia; satellite earth stations - 2 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean) Radio broadcast stations: AM 0, FM 14, shortwave 0 (1998)
Radios: 82,000 (1997) Television broadcast stations: 11 (plus nine repeaters) (1997)
Televisions: 66,000 (1997)
Internet country code: .mq Internet Service Providers (ISPs): 2 (2000)
Internet users: 5,000 (2000) Transportation Martinique - Railways: 0 km (2002) Highways: total: 2,105 km (2000) paved: NA km unpaved: NA km
Waterways: none
Ports and harbors: Fort-de-France, La Trinite
Merchant marine: none (2002 est.) Airports: 2 (2001)
Airports - with paved runways: total: 1 over 3,047 m: 1 (2001)
Airports - with unpaved runways: total: 1 under 914 m: 1 (2001) Military Martinique -
Military branches: no regular indigenous military forces; French Forces (Army, Navy, Air Force), Gendarmerie
Military - note: defense is the responsibility of France Transnational Issues Martinique - Disputes - international: none
Illicit drugs: transshipment point for cocaine and marijuana bound for the US and Europe

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Island (pop., 2002 est.: 386,000) of the Windward Islands, West Indies, and overseas department of France.

It is 50 mi (80 km) long and 22 mi (35 km) wide and occupies an area of 436 sq mi (1,128 sq km). Largely mountainous, its highest point, Mount Pelée, is an active volcano. Its capital is Fort-de-France. Tourism is the basis of its economy. Carib Indians, who had ousted earlier Arawak inhabitants, resided on the island when Christopher Columbus visited it in 1502. In 1635 a Frenchman established a colony there, and in 1674 it passed to the French crown. The British captured and held the island from 1762 to 1763 and occupied it again during the Napoleonic Wars, but each time it was returned to France. Made a department of France in 1946, it remained under French rule despite a communist-led independence movement in the 1970s.

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▪ overseas department, France
 island and overseas département and région of France, in the eastern Caribbean Sea. It is included in the Lesser Antilles island chain. Its nearest neighbours are the island republics of Dominica, 22 miles (35 km) to the northwest, and Saint Lucia, 16 miles (26 km) to the south. Guadeloupe, also a French overseas département and région, lies about 75 miles (120 km) to the north. The name Martinique is probably a corruption of the Indian name Madiana (“Island of Flowers”) or Madinina (“Fertile Island with Luxuriant Vegetation”), as reputedly told to Christopher Columbus by the Caribs in 1502. The administrative capital and chief town is Fort-de-France. Area 436 square miles (1,128 square km). Pop. (2007 est.) 401,000.

Land (Martinique)
  Martinique is about 50 miles (80 km) long and reaches a maximum width of 22 miles (35 km). Among the smallest of the French overseas territories, Martinique has one of the highest population densities in the Antilles.

Relief and drainage
      The mountainous relief of Martinique takes the form of three principal massifs. These are an active volcano, Mount Pelée (Pelée, Mount), which rises to 4,583 feet (1,397 metres), to the north; the Carbet Mountains, of which Lacroix Peak reaches 3,923 feet (1,195 metres), in the centre; and Mount Vauclin, rising to 1,654 feet (504 metres), in the south.

      The tortuous relief of the island has created a complex drainage pattern characterized by short watercourses. In the south the Salée and Pilote rivers flow down from the slopes of Mount Vauclin. In the centre the rivers flow outward from the Carbet Mountains in a starlike pattern; they include the Lorrain, Galion, Capot, and Lézarde rivers. In the north the Grande, Céron, Roxelane, Pères, and Sèche rivers are little more than irregular torrents.

      The northern coastline of Martinique is characterized by steep cliffs; farther south, however, the cliffs become lower. There are two large bays—Fort-de-France and Marin—on the western coast. Coral reefs, headlands, and coves line the eastern coast.

      The climate is remarkably constant, the average temperature being about 79 °F (26 °C), with average minimums of 68–72 °F (20–22 °C), average maximums of 86–90 °F (30–32 °C), and temperature extremes of 59 °F (15 °C) and 93 °F (34 °C). The northeast trade winds, which blow almost 300 days per year, temper the heat, but winds from the south are hot and humid and sometimes bring hurricanes.

      There are two distinct seasons—a relatively dry season, which lasts from December to June, and a rainy winter season from July to December. There is abundant precipitation, especially in July and September, but it is irregularly distributed, varying from about 40 inches (1,000 mm) to almost 400 inches (10,000 mm) per year, depending on elevation and landforms.

Plant and animal life
      The climate, together with the fertile volcanic soil, produces a luxuriant flora in four vegetational zones: the maritime zone, the lowlands, the former forest zone, and the upper mountain slopes. The maritime zone includes an enormous mangrove swamp, half of which is located in the bay of Fort-de-France. Morning glories, tropical twining herbs, and sea grapes inhabit the beaches. The lowland vegetation zone, extending from the coast to an elevation of about 1,500 feet (460 metres), has ferns and orchids, as well as various trees, including mahogany, white gum, and other species. Above 1,500 feet is the former virgin forest zone, where large trees and bracken are still found. As elevation increases the trees grow smaller. A transitional zone is characterized by peat moss. Above about 3,000 feet (900 metres) the upper slopes are almost bare, except for some stunted forest. Forests cover about one-fourth of the total land area.

      There are relatively few kinds of animals on the island. The mongoose was introduced in the 19th century in the hope of eliminating the deadly rat-tailed viper, but the plan was unsuccessful. Also found are manicons (a kind of opossum), wild rabbits, wild pigeons, turtledoves, and ortolans, which are small birds that are often netted and fattened as a table delicacy.

People (Martinique)
 The original Carib Indian population disappeared after Europeans arrived, partly as a result of disease, conflicts with the Europeans, and assimilation. In 1658 French settlers on the island numbered about 5,000. Slaves brought from Africa added a further ethnic component. Today people of mixed European and African ancestry account for more than nine-tenths of the population, but the island's economy is largely controlled by the small proportion of people of European descent. A small fraction of the population is descended from labourers brought from the Indian subcontinent. A creole (creole languages) similar to that spoken in Haiti is commonly heard, but French is the official language.

      The majority of the population is Roman Catholic; there are smaller numbers of Protestants (mostly Seventh-day Adventists), other Christians, and adherents of other religions. Some people incorporate elements of Vodou (Voodoo) into their beliefs.

      The population of Martinique increased rapidly until the late 1970s, when, plagued by unemployment and other economic maladies, the residents of the island began to emigrate in large numbers to France and in smaller numbers to French Guiana. About one-fourth of the total population lives in Fort-de-France, and nearly the entire population lives in urban areas.

      Martinique has a typically Caribbean economy, depending heavily on a few agricultural products and tourism and relying on outside sources, principally France, for aid. A large trade deficit and a high rate of unemployment are major impediments to economic progress. Nevertheless, the island enjoys one of the higher standards of living in the Caribbean, partly due to a wage scale linked to that of metropolitan France.

Agriculture and fishing
      The principal agricultural products are sugarcane and bananas, the latter grown chiefly for export. Sugarcane is mainly used to produce rum, which is also exported. Fresh and canned pineapples and pineapple juice, cut flowers, avocados, eggplants, and citrus fruits are other exports. Grown for the domestic market are yams, cassava, sweet potatoes, and breadfruits. Crabs, lobsters, clams, cod, and crayfish are fished mainly for local consumption. The widespread destruction of banana plantations caused by occasional hurricanes has created major setbacks.

      Significant manufactures include cement, processed sugar and rum, clothing, fabricated metals, and yawls and other small craft. There is an important oil refinery at Fort-de-France. Other industries include rum distilling, fish and fruit canning, sugar refining, the processing of cattle feed, soft drinks, and food, and the manufacture of pottery, wooden furniture, and chemicals. The government has promoted light manufacturing, and the construction of yachts and sport boats is of growing importance.

Tourism and trade
 One of the most popular tourist areas in the Caribbean, Martinique has a flourishing cruise ship business that brings tourists mainly from France, Canada, and the United States.

      Martinique's economy is heavily dependent on trade with France, which provides the majority of the island's imports and exports. The value of imports far surpasses that of exports, resulting in large trade deficits. Exports include agricultural products (significantly bananas), refined petroleum products, and processed foods and beverages (notably rum). Chief imports are agricultural implements and machinery, food, automobiles, mineral fuels, and chemicals and chemical products.

      Martinique maintains regular air and sea links with France and North America. The main port is Fort-de-France. There is an international airport at Lamentin, to the east of Fort-de-France. An expressway links Fort-de-France with coastal towns. There are local bus services, and small coastal steamers connect various points around the island.

Government and society
      As an overseas département and région, Martinique is divided into four arrondissements and subdivided into cantons and communes, each of which is administered by an elected municipal council. The French state is represented by an appointed prefect and three regional subprefects, and there are two elected legislative councils; the General Council and the Regional Council, the presidents of which share executive authority in the département. Martinique is represented in the French National Assembly, in the French Senate, on the French Economic and Social Council, and in the European Parliament.

      The French system of justice is in force. The Court of Appeal at Fort-de-France also has jurisdiction over French Guiana. There are two lower courts (tribunaux d'instance), one higher court (tribunal de grande instance), one administrative court, and a commercial court.

Health and welfare
      There are several general and maternity hospitals, as well as some dispensaries. Martinique receives the same social benefits as mainland France.

      Education is free and compulsory for children between 6 and 16 years of age. There are primary, secondary, and vocational schools. The vast majority of the people are literate. Higher education is usually pursued in metropolitan France; a number of scholarships are available. The Martinique campus of the University of the Antilles and Guiana is in a suburb of Fort-de-France.

Cultural life
      The pre-Lenten carnival of Fort-de-France, featuring a parade with elaborate masks, is an annual event. Vodou (Voodoo) ceremonies are sometimes held, though they are far less important in Martinique than they are in Haiti. Cockfighting is a popular sport. Sites of historical interest include the Pagerie Museum, the reconstructed birthplace of Empress Joséphine, consort of Napoleon I, in Les Trois-Îlets. Joséphine was born in 1763 to a Martinique planter named Joseph Tascher de La Pagerie.

History (Martinique)

Early period
       Carib Indians inhabited the island at the time Christopher Columbus (Columbus, Christopher) sighted it in 1493. It was not until 1502, on his fourth voyage, that he visited the island, leaving some pigs and goats there. Neglected by the Spaniards, who sought more material rewards than those the island offered, Martinique was occupied in 1635 by a Frenchman, Pierre Bélain, sieur (lord) d'Esnambuc (Bélain, Pierre, sieur d'Esnambuc), who established 80 settlers at Fort-Saint-Pierre at the mouth of the Roxelane River. A year later d'Esnambuc, who had fallen ill, entrusted Martinique to his nephew, Jacques-Dyel du Parquet, who bought the island from the Compagnie des Îles d'Amérique and developed it into a remarkably prosperous colony. In 1654 a group of 250 Dutch Jews, whom Portuguese forces had ousted from Brazil, introduced sugarcane. Cotton was another early introduction. About 1660 the first cacao (the source of chocolate) plantation was established.

French rule
 After the death of du Parquet, his widow governed the island in the name of her children, but her policies were often opposed by the settlers. In 1658 the French king, Louis XIV, resumed sovereignty over the island and paid an indemnity to du Parquet's children. In 1664 the island was placed under the authority of the Compagnie des Indes Occidentales (West Indies Company); in 1674 it was made part of the French crown domain and was administered according to the Pacte Colonial, a body of principles summarized in the statement “The mother country founds and maintains the colonies; the colonies enrich the mother country.” Supplies and slaves were transported to the French Antilles by the Compagnie du Sénégal, founded in 1664; the slave ships called at Martinique before proceeding to Guadeloupe, permitting the colony first choice of the slaves. In 1723 coffee was introduced from Arabia, thus further contributing to the island's prosperity. In 1787 Louis XVI granted Martinique the right to establish a colonial assembly.

      At various times Martinique was attacked by foreign fleets. An attack by the Dutch was repulsed in 1674; further assaults by the British were repelled in 1693 and 1759. In 1762, however, the British captured the island, only to return it to France under the terms of the Treaty of Paris (Paris, Treaty of) in 1763. The British recaptured it in 1794 and occupied it until 1802; after having been captured once more by the British in 1809, it was definitively restored to France in 1814.

      Slave uprisings occurred in 1789, 1815, and 1822. Following the abolition of slavery in 1848, plantation owners imported workers from India and China in order to avoid paying high labour costs. Universal suffrage was proclaimed in 1848 but was abolished under Napoleon III; after 1870 the Third Republic of France restored representation for the island in the French Parliament.

 In 1902 the volcanic eruption of Mount Pelée (Pelée, Mount) destroyed the town of Saint-Pierre, killing about 30,000 people. During World War II Martinique adhered to the Vichy government of Nazi-occupied France for three years before rallying to the Free French cause in 1943. In 1946 Martinique was granted the status of a French département, and in 1974 it was made a région.

Developments since World War II
      The postwar politics of Martinique, which was more vociferous in its demands for independence than Guadeloupe, was influenced by Aimé Césaire (Césaire, Aimé), the Martiniquais writer who was one of the founders of the Negritude movement. Césaire, first elected as a deputy in 1946, had originally been a member of the Communist Party, but by 1956 he had resigned and formed his own party, the Progressive Party of Martinique. In 1957 Césaire's party won the Martinique elections by an enormous margin, and it seemed that independence would be achieved.

      Martinique's economy was depressed, however, and massive unemployment worked against the independence movement. Emigration to France and French foreign aid had always been palliatives for Martinique's economic problems, and demands for independence resulted only in Martinique's being given greater autonomy. Unrest continued, and by the late 1970s the French government, in an apparent about-face, decided to help Martinique become economically self-sufficient in preparation for independence. Economic problems were exacerbated by the widespread destruction from hurricanes in 1979 and 1980.

      Liberation groups were responsible in the 1980s for several bombings in Paris and the French Caribbean islands. Some movement toward autonomy came with France's decentralization law of 1982, under which executive power in the overseas départements devolved from the appointed prefect to the locally elected legislative councils. Over the next several years the local councils also gained greater control over the economy, police, and taxation. After 1986, pro-independence parties won progressively more seats on the legislative councils, in part because of apprehension over France's—and thus Martinique's—joining the European Union (EU). Although a plurality of the island's voters approved the Treaty on European Union in 1992, less than one-fourth of the electorate participated in the election. A subsequent wave of protests and work stoppages swept the island over fears that Martinique's farms and industries would lose the special protections they had enjoyed under French rule.

      In 1999 and 2000 the presidents of the Regional Councils of Martinique, Guadeloupe, and French Guiana proposed—and France's Parliament subsequently approved—a number of institutional and economic changes for the overseas départements, such as establishing congresses of the Regional and General Councils and granting greater autonomy in international relations. As part of a general reclassification of French overseas possessions in January 2007, Martinique received the combined designation of overseas département and région (DOM-ROM).

Robert Cornevin Ed.

Additional Reading
Travel guides include Lynne M. Sullivan, Martinique and Guadeloupe Alive! (2002); and Douglas Stallings et al. (eds.), Fodor's 08 Caribbean (2007). Katherine E. Browne, Creole Economics: Caribbean Cunning Under the French Flag (2005), examines how the people of the French West Indies, especially Martinique, have incorporated “Frenchness” into their culture and economics. Alwyn Scarth, La Catastrophe: Mount Pelée and the Destruction of Saint-Pierre, Martinique (2002), gives a day-by-day account of the 1902 eruption.

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Universalium. 2010.

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