Marseille, South of France

Major seaport and an important commercial and industrial center.  The second largest city of France after Paris. Population (1990) 807,726.

Manufactures of the Marseille metropolitan area include iron and steel, chemicals, plastic and metal products, ships, refined petroleum, construction materials, soap, and processed food.

Commerce at the port increased in the 18th century, before suffering a severe setback during the French Revolution (1789-1799) and the Napoleonic Wars (1799-1815). After 1850 port facilities were greatly expanded, and many industries were established at Marseille.

The city was occupied and badly damaged by the Germans in World War II (1939-1945). Subsequently, major construction programs transformed Marseille into a modern community with many high-rise buildings.

Many of the city's residents are descendants of immigrants from Italy, Spain, and North Africa. Marseille was also a major resettlement point for former colonists who returned to Europe when Algeria became independent in 1962.

About 600 BC the site of Marseille was colonized by Greeks from Asia Minor and called Massalía. The settlement flourished, and during the Punic Wars in the 2nd and 3rd centuries BC it sided with Rome against Carthage. In 49 BC, after supporting Pompey the Great in the civil war against Julius Caesar, the city was annexed by Rome. The inhabitants were converted to Christianity during the 3rd century AD, and in 304 St. Vincent was martyred here. In the 10th century it became a dominion of the counts of Provence, and in the 13th century it was made a republic. The city was incorporated into the kingdom of France in 1481.

The city is linked by canal with the Rhône River and is served by extensive rail and air transport facilities. The large petroleum port of Fos, chiefly developed in the 1970s, is nearby.

Major cities near Marseille:

Southwest
Barcelona
350 km
Northwest
Paris
650 km
North
Lyon
250 km
Turin

 

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