Nord (French department)
Prefecture building of the Nord department, in Lille
Location of Nord in France
|• President of the General Council||Patrick Kanner|
|• Total||5,742.74 km2 (2,217.28 sq mi)|
|Population (1 Jan 2010 est.)|
|• Density||460/km2 (1,200/sq mi)|
|Time zone||CET (UTC+1)|
|• Summer (DST)||CEST (UTC+2)|
|^1 French Land Register data, which exclude estuaries, and lakes, ponds, and glaciers larger than 1 km2|
Nord is the country's most populous department. It also contains the metropolitan region of Lille, the fifth-largest urban area in France after Paris, Lyon, Marseille, and Toulouse. Within the department is located the only portion in France where the Dutch dialect of French Flemish is still spoken (along with French) as a native language.
Nord was one of the original 83 departments that were created during the French Revolution on 4 March 1790. It was made up of three regions: parts of the Counties 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 Flemish in the arrondissement of Dunkirk and this particular subset is in danger of extinction within decades.
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, and Dunkirk. The principal rivers are the following:
Nord is the most heavily populated department, with a population of 2,617,939 and an area of 5,743 km².
|•||French Communist Party||12|
|Union for a Popular Movement||10|
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.
The old stock exchange of Lille
Saint-Winoc Abbey in Bergues
Windmill in Boeschepe
Mining museum in Lewarde
- Cantons of the Nord department
- Communes of the Nord department
- Arrondissements of the Nord department (France)
- French Flemish
- Université Lille Nord de France
- PDF (404 KB)
- Insee 2010.
- (French) Prefecture website
- (French) General Council website
- (English) Nord (French department) at DMOZ
West Flanders, Belgium
|West Flanders, Belgium||Hainaut, Belgium|