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Chennai (formerly Madras) City in se India, on the Bay of Bengal; capital of Tamil Nadu state. India's second-largest port and fourth-largest city, Chennai was founded in 1639 as a British trading post. As Fort St. George, it became the seat of the East India Company and rapidly developed as a commercial centre. It was occupied by the French in 1746, but returned to Britain in 1748. The harbour was constructed in the second half of the 19th century. Industries: textiles, Tamil films, railroad stock, transport equipment. Pop. (2001) 4,216,268.