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Pas-de-Calais (French pronunciation: [pɑ d(ə) kalɛ]) is a department in northern France. Its name is the French equivalent of the Strait of Dover, 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 Boulogne 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 Béthune and Berck 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. [1]

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, Boulonnais, Ponthieu and Artois, this last formerly part of the Spanish Netherlands.

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

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