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The Scheldt (Dutch: Schelde [ˈsxɛldə], French Escaut) is a 350 km[1] long river in northern France, western Belgium and the southwestern part of the Netherlands. Its name is derived from an adjective corresponding to Old English sceald "shallow", Modern English shoal, Low German schol, Frisian skol, and Swedish skäll "thin".



The headwaters of the Scheldt are in Gouy, in the Aisne department of northern France. It flows north through Cambrai and Valenciennes, and enters Belgium near Tournai. In Ghent, where it receives the Lys, its main tributary, the Scheldt turns east. Near Antwerp, the largest city on its banks, the Scheldt flows west into the Netherlands towards the North Sea.

Originally there were two branches from that point: the Oosterschelde (Eastern Scheldt) and the Westerschelde (Western Scheldt) but in the 19th century the river was cut off from its eastern (actually: northern) branch by a dyke that connects Zuid-Beveland with the mainland (North Brabant). Today the river therefore continues into the Westerschelde estuary only, passing Terneuzen to reach the North Sea between Breskens in Zeeuws-Vlaanderen and Vlissingen (Flushing) on Walcheren.

The Scheldt is an important waterway, and has been made navigable from its mouth up to Cambrai. The port of Antwerp, the second largest in Europe, lies on its banks. Several canals (including the Albert Canal) connect the Scheldt with the basins of the Rhine, Meuse and Seine, and with the industrial areas around Brussels, Liège, Lille, Dunkirk and Mons.

The Scheldt flows through the following departments of France, provinces of Belgium, provinces of the Netherlands and towns:

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