Nord (French department)

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Hotel de prefecture du Nord.jpg
Prefecture building of the Nord department, in Lille
Drapeau fr departement Nord.svg
Blason Nord-Pas-De-Calais.svg
Coat of arms
Location of Nord in France
Coordinates: 50°23′N03°19′E / 50.383°N 3.317°E / 50.383; 3.317 Coordinates: 50°23′N03°19′E / 50.383°N 3.317°E / 50.383; 3.317
Country France
Region Hauts-de-France
Prefecture Lille
Subprefectures Avesnes-

   President of the General Council Patrick Kanner
  Total5,742.74 km2 (2,217.28 sq mi)
  Rank 1st
  Density450/km2 (1,200/sq mi)
Time zone UTC+1 (CET)
  Summer (DST) UTC+2 (CEST)
Department number 59
Arrondissements 6
Cantons 41
Communes 648
^1 French Land Register data, which exclude estuaries, and lakes, ponds, and glaciers larger than 1 km2

Nord (French : département du Nord or simply Nord, pronounced  [nɔʁ] ; West Flemish and Dutch : Noorderdepartement, lit.'Northern department') is a department in the Hauts-de-France region of 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 is still spoken (along with French) 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. FlemishinDunkirkdistrict.PNG
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] There is, however, a movement to bring back use of the Dutch language as a second official language.


Nord is part of the current Hauts-de-France region and is surrounded by the French departments of Pas-de-Calais and Aisne, as well as by Belgium and 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, 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: Yser, Lys, Escaut, Scarpe, Sambre


Historical population
YearPop.±% p.a.
source: [2]

Nord is the most heavily populated department, with a population of 2,617,939 [3] and an area of 5,743 km².


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.

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

ConstituencyMember [4] 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 La République En Marche!
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

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Spanish Netherlands Historical region of the Low Countries (1581–1714)

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French Flanders

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Hazebrouck Commune in Hauts-de-France, France

Hazebrouck is a commune in the Nord department, Hauts-de-France. Hazebrouck in Flanders was a small market town before it became an important railway junction in the 1860s. West Flemish was the usual popular language used in the town until 1880. At that time French was taught at school by mandate of the French government in an effort to "Frenchify" the people of the Nord-Pas-de-Calais and to extinguish their Flemish roots. The development of the railways linked Hazebrouck to Lille to Calais and Dunkirk.

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The 6 arrondissements of the Nord department are:

  1. Arrondissement of Avesnes-sur-Helpe, with 151 communes. Its population was 230,372 in 2016.
  2. Arrondissement of Cambrai, with 116 communes. Its population was 162,045 in 2016.
  3. Arrondissement of Douai, with 64 communes. Its population was 245,280 in 2016.
  4. Arrondissement of Dunkirk (Dunkerque), with 111 communes. Its population was 377,294 in 2016.
  5. Arrondissement of Lille, with 124 communes. Its population was 1,237,472 in 2016.
  6. Arrondissement of Valenciennes, with 82 communes. Its population was 351,260 in 2016.
French Flemish West Flemish language

French Flemish is a West Flemish dialect spoken in the north of contemporary France. Place names attest to Flemish having been spoken since the 8th century in the area that was ceded to France in the 17th century and which became known as French Flanders. Its dialect subgroup, called French Flemish, meanwhile, became a minority dialect that survives mainly in Dunkirk, Bourbourg, Calais (Kales), Saint-Omer (Sint-Omaars) with an ethnic enclave Haut-Pont (Haute-Ponte) known for its predominantly Flemish community and Bailleul (Belle). French-Flemish has about 20,000 daily users, and twice that number of occasional speakers. The language's status appears to be moribund, but there has been an active movement to retain French Flemish in the region.

Westhoek (region) region in Belgium and France

Westhoek or Maritime Flanders is a region in Belgium and France and includes the following areas:

  1. Belgian Westhoek including the West Flanders arrondissements of Diksmuide, Ypres, and Veurne including the cities of Veurne, Poperinge, Wervik, Ypres, De Panne, Langemark-Poelkapelle, Diksmuide and Koekelare. However, the three Belgian coast municipalities of De Panne, Koksijde, and Nieuwpoort are frequently considered a separate region known as the Belgian or Flemish West Coast (Westkust).
  2. French Westhoek, roughly the arrondissement of Dunkirk, including the cities of Dunkirk, Gravelines, and Hazebrouck, itself part of a larger area known as French Flanders.
French Hainaut

French Hainaut is one of two areas in France that form the département du Nord, the eastern part. It corresponds roughly with the Arrondissement of Avesnes-sur-Helpe (east), Arrondissement of Cambrai (south-west) and Arrondissement of Valenciennes (north-west).

Walloon Flanders

Walloon Flanders was a semi-independent part of the County of Flanders, composed of the burgraviates of Lille, Douai and Orchies. It is sometimes referred to as Lille–Douai–Orchies

County of Flanders French fiefdom and historic territory in the Low Countries

The County of Flanders was a historic territory in the Low Countries.


  1. 1 2 "Dutch dialect" (PDF). (404 KB)
  2. Site sur la Population et les Limites Administratives de la France
  3. Insee 2010.