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Nord

Nord (French, the "north") is the name of France's most populous département, with a population of 2.55 million and an area of 5740 sq. km., until recently dominated economically by the coalfield extending through its heart from neighbouring Artois into central Belgium.

Préfecture: (capital): Lille.

Sous-préfectures: Avesnes sur Helpe[?], Cambrai, Douai, Dunkerque, Valenciennes[?].

Situated in the north-east of the country along the western half of the Belgian frontier, the département's area is unusually long and narrow, reflecting in part its history (below). Its principal city is Lille, which with nearby Roubaix[?] and Tourcoing[?] constitutes the centre of a cluster of industrial and mining towns totalling nearly a million inhabitants.

Nord comprises the French part of former Flanders excluding the western part separated (1237) as the county of Artois (now a part of the neighbouring Pas-de-Calais), with which Nord is grouped in the Nord-Pas-de-Calais region. Ruled by Spain from 1556 but ceded to France in successive treaties (1659, 1668 and 1678), it was created a département in 1790.

At the forefront of France's 19th century industrialisation, the area suffered severely during World War I and now faces in common with its western and eastern neighbours the economic, social and environmental problems associated with the run-down of coalmining, following the earlier decline of Lille-Roubaix's textile industry.



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