- Nord (department)
Cambrai Douai Dunkirk Valenciennes
2,555,020|pop_date=Jan.1, 2006 estimate
-Mar.8, 1999 census|pop_rank=1st|density=450
Nord ( _en. North) is a department in the far north of
France. It is the country's most populated department.
Nord was one of the original 83 departments that were created during the
French Revolutionon March 4, 1790. It was made up of three regions: the Spanish NetherlandsCounties of Flanders and Hainaut, and the Bishopric of Cambrai, which were ceded to France in successive treaties (1659, 1668, and 1678).
During the 4th and 5th centuries, the Roman practice of coopting Germanic tribes to provide military and defense services along the route from Boulogne to Cologne created a Germanic-Romance linguistic border in the region that persisted until the 8th century. Saxon colonization into the region from the 5th to the 8th centuries likely extended the linguistic border somewhat south so that by the 9th century most inhabitants north of Lille spoke a dialect of Middle Dutch, while the inhabitants to the south spoke a variety of Romance dialects. This linguistic border is still evident today in the place names of the region. After the 9th century, the linguistic border began to shift north and east, a process accelerated by modern government policies that recognize French as the country's official language. There are currently 20,000 speakers of a subset of the Dutch dialect
West Flemishin the arrondissement of Dunkirk and this particular subset is in danger of extinction within decades. [PDFlink| [http://www.multilingual-matters.net/jmmd/023/0022/jmmd0230022.pdf Dutch dialect] ]
Nord is part of the current
Nord-Pas-de-Calaisregion and is surrounded by the French departments of Pas-de-Calaisand Aisne, as well as by Belgiumand the North Sea.
Situated in the north of the country along the western half of the Belgian frontier, the department is unusually long and narrow. Its principal city is
Lille, which with nearby Roubaix, Tourcoingand Villeneuve d'Ascqconstitutes the center of a cluster of industrial and former mining towns totalling slightly over a million inhabitants. Other important cities are Valenciennes, Douai, and Dunkirk.The principal rivers are the following:
At the forefront of France's 19th century industrialisation, the area suffered severely during
World War Iand now faces the economic, social and environmental problems associated with the decline of coal miningwith its neighbours following the earlier decline of the Lille-Roubaix textile industry.
Until recently, the department was dominated economically by coal mining, which extended through the heart of the department from neighbouring
Artoisinto central Belgium.
Nord is the most heavily populated department, with a population of 2,583,493 and an area of 5,743 km².
Cantons of the Nord department
Communes of the Nord department
Arrondissements of the Nord department
* [http://www.nord.pref.gouv.fr/ Prefecture website]
* [http://www.cg59.fr/ General Council website]
* [http://www.france-voyage.com/travel-guide/nord.htm Nord Tourism Guide]
* [http://dmoz.org/Regional/Europe/France/Regions/Nord-Pas-de-Calais/Nord/ links DMOZ]
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