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Sitting along the north-eastern edge of the French hexagon, just next to the Belgian border, Lille has long been a crossroads. In its centuries-long existence, the city has been under the rule or influence of the Counts of Flanders, the dukes of Burgundy, the Habsburgs, and the Spanish crown. It fell into French hands with Louis XIV’s marriage into the Spanish royal family.
Lille industrialized heavily in the 19th century. The city and its population have since expanded considerably. With nearly 220,000 inhabitants, it is the tenth largest city in France, and its metropolitan population (including 700,000 people in Belgium) is the fourth largest in the country. With over 110,000 students and 36% of the population aged under 25, Lille is one of the youngest cities in France.