It is an extremely densely populated region with some 4 million
inhabitants - 7% of France's total population, making it the fourth most populous region
in the country, with 83% of whom live in urban communities.
Its administrative centre and capital city is Lille. Other major towns include
Valenciennes, Lens, Douai, Béthune, Dunkirk, Maubeuge, Calais, Boulogne-sur-Mer and
Calais is the biggest passenger port in continental Europe with it being a major point of
travel to and from Britain, which is just 36 kilometres over the Channel, or even under the Channel, via the tunnel for
travel to France and back.
Nord-Pas-de-Calais has 140 kilometres of coastline
and 350 kilometres of frontier with Belgium.
Although the population of the region is considerably younger than the French average, the
very high density of higher education facilities, with seven universities and 24
engineering schools can explain this. And the total student population reaches
Plus all of the region's larger towns such as Lille, Villeneuve-d'Asq, Valenciennes, Arras
and Dunkerque- have a university centre.
Although Nord-Pas-de-Calais is France's third biggest industrial region, housing major
foodstuffs, biotech, automotive, textile (in Roubaix-Tourcoing) and metallurgy companies,
it is also the hub of thriving retail and mail order businesses such as La Redoute and
The regional capital is Lille and this tends to play a vital role in the European Union,
and its ultra-modern business district, Euralille, was designed with precisely this