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Located in the north of France, most of Nord-Pas-de-Calais once helped form part of the Netherlands. Today it shares a border with Belgium. The region is divided into two departments: Nord and Pas-de-Calais, with the largest city and economic centre being Lille in Nord. Calais is the second largest city and serves as an economic and transportation hub. Roughly 7% of the country’s population calls this densely populated region home.
Historically, the area we call Nord-Pas-de-Calais was used by various invading forces, such as the Celtic Belgae, the Romans, the Germanic Franks, the English, the Spanish, Austrian Netherlands and the United Provinces of Holland, to gain entry into what is now modern-day France. The area was not greatly affected by the Franco-Prussian war, however, during the First and Second World Wars the region was occupied by Germany and suffered more damage than any other part of the country.