Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer (lit.: Saint Marys of the Sea) is the capital of the Camargue in the south of France.
It is a commune in the Bouches-du-Rhône department by the Mediterranean Sea.
The population in 2012 was 2,495 --it grows to 50,000+ during the summer holidays.
The town is situated in the Rhône River delta, about 1 km east of the mouth of the Petit Rhône.
The main industry is tourism. Agriculture is also significant, and ranchers raise horses and cattle unique to the Camargue.
The Camargue horse is an ancient indigenous breed of horse.
Its origins remain relatively unknown, although it is generally considered one of the oldest horse breeds in the world.
For centuries, possibly thousands of years, these small horses have lived wild in the harsh environment of the Camargue marshes and wetlands of the Rhône delta.
There they developed the stamina, hardiness and agility for which they are known today.
Traditionally, they live in semi-feral conditions in the marshy land of the region.
The Camargue horse is the traditional mount of the gardians, the Camargue "cowboys" who herd the black Camargue bulls used in bullfighting in southern France.
Camargue horses galloping through water is a popular and romantic image of the region.