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Pas-de-Calais is a department in northern Francemarker. Its name is the French equivalent of the Strait of Dovermarker, which it borders.


Inhabited since prehistoric times, the Pas-de-Calais region was populated in turn by the Celtic Belgae, the Romans, the Germanic Franks and the Alemanni. During the fourth and fifth centuries, the Roman practice of coopting Germanic tribes to provide military and defense services along the route from Boulognemarker to Cologne created a Germanic-Romance linguistic border in the region that persisted until the eighth century.

Saxon colonization into the region from the fifth to the eighth centuries likely extended the linguistic border somewhat south and west so that by the ninth century most inhabitants north of the line between Béthunemarker and Berckmarker spoke a dialect of Middle Dutch, while the inhabitants to the south spoke Picard, a variety of Romance dialects.

This linguistic border is still evident today in the toponyms and patronyms of the region. Beginning in the ninth century, the linguistic border began a steady move to north and the east, and by the end of the 15th century Romance dialects had completely displaced those of Dutch. [6516]

Pas-de-Calais is one of the original 83 departments created during the French Revolution on March 4, 1790. It was created from parts of the former provinces of Calaisis, formerly English, Boulonnaismarker, Ponthieu and Artoismarker, this last formerly part of the Spanish Netherlands.

Some of the costliest battles of World War I were fought in the region. The Vimy Memorialmarker commemorates the Battle of Vimy Ridgemarker and is Canadamarker's most important memorial to its fallen soldiers.

Pas-de-Calais was also the target of Operation Fortitude during World War II, which was an Allied plan to deceive the Germans that the invasion of Europe at D-Day was to occur here, rather than in Normandy.


Pas-de-Calais is in the current region of Nord-Pas de Calaismarker and is surrounded by the departments of Nordmarker and Sommemarker, the English Channelmarker, and the North Seamarker.

Its principal towns are, on the coast, Calaismarker and Boulogne-sur-Mermarker, and in Artois, Lensmarker, Liévinmarker, Arrasmarker, and Saint-Omermarker.

The principal rivers are the following:


The economy of the department was long dependent on mining, primarily the coal mine. However, since World War II, the economy has become more diversified.


The inhabitants of the department are called Pas-de-Calaisiens.

Pas-de-Calais is one of the most heavily populated departments of France, and yet it has no large cities. Calaismarker has only about 80,000 inhabitants, followed closely by Arrasmarker, Boulogne-sur-Mermarker,Lensmarker and Liévinmarker. The remaining population is primarily concentrated along the border with the department of Nord in the mining district, where a string of small towns constitutes an urban area with a population of about 1.2 million. The center and south of the department are more rural, but still quite heavily populated, with many villages and small towns.

Although the department saw some of the heaviest fighting of World War I, its population rebounded quickly after both world wars. However, many of the mining towns have seen dramatic decreases in population, some up to half of their population.


Although Pas-de-Calais is one of the most populous departments of France, it did not contain a university until 1992.

See also


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