Nord (French department)

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Prefecture building of the Nord department, in Lille
Prefecture building of the Nord department, in Lille
Flag of Nord
Coat of arms of Nord
Location of Nord in France
Location of Nord in France
Coordinates: 50°23′N 03°19′E / 50.383°N 3.317°E / 50.383; 3.317Coordinates: 50°23′N 03°19′E / 50.383°N 3.317°E / 50.383; 3.317

 • President of the General CouncilJean-René Lecerf
 • Total5,742.74 km2 (2,217.28 sq mi)
 • Total2,604,361
 • Rank1st
 • Density450/km2 (1,200/sq mi)
Time zoneUTC+1 (CET)
 • Summer (DST)UTC+2 (CEST)
Department number59
^1 French Land Register data, which exclude estuaries, and lakes, ponds, and glaciers larger than 1 km2

Nord (French pronunciation: [nɔʁ] (About this soundlisten); officially French: département du Nord; Picard: départémint dech Nord; Dutch: Noorderdepartement, lit.'Northern Department'), is a department, Hauts-de-France region, France bordering Belgium. It was created from the western halves of the historical counties of Flanders and Hainaut, and the Bishopric of Cambrai. The modern coat of arms was inherited from the County of Flanders.

Nord is the country's most populous department. It also contains the metropolitan region of Lille (the main city and the prefecture of the department), the fourth-largest urban area in France after Paris, Lyon and Marseille. Within the department is located the part of France where the French Flemish dialect of Dutch has historically been spoken as a native language. Similarly, the distinct French Picard dialect Ch'ti is spoken here.


Tribes of the Belgae, such as the Menapii and Nervii were the first peoples recorded in the area later known as Nord.

During the 4th and 5th Centuries, Roman rulers of Gallia Belgica secured the route from the major port of Bononia (Boulogne) to Colonia (Cologne), by co-opting Germanic peoples north-east of this corridor, such as the Tungri. In effect, the area known later as Nord became an isogloss (linguistic border) between the Germanic and Romance languages. Saxon colonisation of the region from the 5th to the 8th centuries likely shifted the isogloss further south so that, by the 9th century, most people immediately north of Lille spoke a dialect of Old Dutch. This has remained evident in the place names of the region. After the County of Flanders became part of France in the 9th century, the isogloss moved north and east.[1]

Extent of West Flemish spoken in the arrondissement of Dunkirk in 1874 and 1972 respectively.

During the 14th century, much of the area came under the control of the Duchy of Burgundy and in subsequent centuries was therefore part of the Habsburg Netherlands (from 1482) and the Spanish Netherlands (1581).

Areas that later constituted Nord were ceded to France by treaties in 1659, 1668, and 1678, becoming the Counties of Flanders and Hainaut, and part of the Bishopric of Cambrai.

On 4 March 1790, during the French Revolution, Nord became one of the original 83 departments created to replace the counties.

Modern government policies making French the only official language have led to a decline in use of the Dutch West Flemish dialect. There are currently 20,000 speakers of a sub-dialect of West Flemish in the arrondissement of Dunkirk and it appears likely that this particular sub-dialect will be extinct within decades.[1]


Nord is part of the current Hauts-de-France region and is surrounded by the French departments of Pas-de-Calais, Somme, and Aisne, as well as by Belgium and the North Sea. Its area is 5,742.8 km2 (2,217.3 sq mi).[2] It is the longest department in France, measuring 184 km from Fort-Philippe in the north-west to Anor in the south-east.

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, Tourcoing and Villeneuve d'Ascq constitutes the center of a cluster of industrial and former mining towns totalling slightly over a million inhabitants. Other important cities are Valenciennes, Douai, Maubeuge and Dunkirk. The principal rivers are the following: Yser, Lys, Escaut, Scarpe, Sambre


Historical population
YearPop.±% p.a.
source:SPLAF[3] and INSEE[4]

With a population of 2,606,234 in 2018,[4] Nord is the department with the largest population.


The President of the Departmental Council is the unaffiliated right-winger Jean-René Lecerf.

The first President of the Fifth Republic, General Charles de Gaulle, was born in Lille in the department on 22 November 1890.

Party seats
The Republicans (LR) 25
Socialist Party (PS) 16
Miscellaneous right (DVD) 15
Union of Democrats and Independents (UDI) 11
French Communist Party (PCF) 10
Miscellaneous left (DVG) 2
France Arise (DLF) 1
Citizen and Republican Movement (MRC) 1
Radical Party of the Left (PRG) 1

Current National Assembly Representatives[edit]

Constituency Member[5] Party
Nord's 1st constituency Adrien Quatennens La France Insoumise
Nord's 2nd constituency Ugo Bernalicis La France Insoumise
Nord's 3rd constituency Christophe Di Pompeo La République En Marche!
Nord's 4th constituency Brigitte Liso La République En Marche!
Nord's 5th constituency Sébastien Huyghe The Republicans
Nord's 6th constituency Charlotte Lecocq La République En Marche!
Nord's 7th constituency Francis Vercamer Union of Democrats and Independents
Nord's 8th constituency Catherine Osson La République En Marche!
Nord's 9th constituency Valérie Petit La République En Marche!
Nord's 10th constituency Vincent Ledoux The Republicans
Nord's 11th constituency Laurent Pietraszewski La République En Marche!
Nord's 12th constituency Anne-Laure Cattelot La République En Marche!
Nord's 13th constituency Christian Hutin Citizen and Republican Movement
Nord's 14th constituency Paul Christophe The Republicans
Nord's 15th constituency Jennifer de Temmerman Liberties and Territories
Nord's 16th constituency Alain Bruneel French Communist Party
Nord's 17th constituency Dimitri Houbron La République En Marche!
Nord's 18th constituency Guy Bricout Union of Democrats and Independents
Nord's 19th constituency Sébastien Chenu National Rally
Nord's 20th constituency Fabien Roussel French Communist Party
Nord's 21st constituency Béatrice Descamps Union of Democrats and Independents


At the forefront of France's 19th century industrialisation, the area suffered severely during World War I and now faces the economic, social and environmental problems associated with the decline of coal mining with 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 Artois into central Belgium.


See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Dutch dialect" (PDF). (404 KB)
  2. ^ Comparateur de territoire: Département du Nord (59), INSEE
  3. ^ Site sur la Population et les Limites Administratives de la France
  4. ^ a b Population en historique depuis 1968, INSEE
  5. ^

External links[edit]