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Grand Place, Lille


Lille (Ryssel in old texts) is a city in northern France on the Deûle River. It is the capital of the Nord-Pas de Calais région. It is also the prefecture (capital) of the Nord departement. It lies near the border with Belgium and its Dutch name is Rijsel. The name Lille comes from insula or l'Isla, since the area was at one time marshy. This name was used for the Count of Flanders' castle (Château du Buc), built on dry land in the middle of the marsh.

The city of Lille absorbed Lomme on February 27, 2000. Their combined population at the 1999 census was 212,597 inhabitants. The whole metropolitan area of Lille, both on French and Belgian territory (Kortrijk) was estimated in 2000 at around 1,730,000 inhabitants, ranking as one of the major metropolitan areas of Europe.

In the 19th century Lille became the centre of French industry due to the large nearby coal deposits. It thus became a central part of the country's rail network.

The legend of "Lyderic and Phinaert" puts the foundation of the city of "L'Isle" at 640. Although the first mention of the town appears in archives from the year 1066, some archeological digs seem to show the area as inhabited by as early as 2000 BCE, most notably in the modern-day quartiers of Fives, Wazemmes, and Old Lille.

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