1 French Land Register data, which excludes lakes, ponds, glaciers
> 1 km2 (0.386 sq mi or 247 acres) and river
2 Population without double counting: residents of multiple communes
(e.g., students and military personnel) only counted once.
Dunkirk (/dʌnˈkɜːrk/ or /ˈdʌnkɜːrk/; French: Dunkerque,
pronounced [dœ̃kɛʁk]; Dutch: Duinkerke(n), pronounced
[ˈdœyŋkɛr(ə)kə(n)] ( listen)) is a commune in the Nord
department in northern France. It lies 10 kilometres (6.2 mi)
from the Belgian border. The population of the city (commune) at the
2016 census was 91,412 inhabitants.
1 Etymology and language use
2.1 Middle Ages
2.2 Corsair base
Dunkirk in World War I
Dunkirk in World War II
2.5 Postwar Dunkirk
3.1 Presidential elections 2nd round
9 Prototype metre
10 Tourist attractions
13 Notable residents
14 International relations
14.1 Twin towns – sister cities
14.2 Friendship links
15 See also
17 External links
Etymology and language use
Linguistic evolution in Dunkirk
The name of
Dunkirk derives from
West Flemish dun(e) 'dune' or 'dun'
and kerke 'church', which together means 'church in the dunes'.
Until the middle of the 20th century, the city was situated in the
French Flemish area; today the local
Flemish variety of the Dutch
language can still be heard, but has largely been supplanted by
Dunkirk is the world's northernmost Francophone city (not
counting minor Canadian settlements such as Fermont, Quebec, which
does have French as a majority language, but is not classified as a
Saint Eloi Church.
A fishing village arose late in the tenth century, in the originally
flooded coastal area of the
English Channel south of the Western
Scheldt, when the area was held by the Counts of Flanders, vassals of
the French Crown. About 960AD, Count Baldwin III had a town wall
erected in order to protect the settlement against
Viking raids. The
surrounding wetlands were drained and cultivated by the monks of
Bergues Abbey. The name Dunkirka was first mentioned in a tithe
privilege of 27 May 1067, issued by Count Baldwin V of
Flanders. Count Philip I (1157–1191) brought
further large tracts of marshland under cultivation, laid out the
first plans to build a Canal from
Bergues and vested the
Dunkirkers with market rights.
In the late 13th century, when the Dampierre count Guy of Flanders
entered into the Franco-
Flemish War with his suzerain King Philippe IV
of France, the citizens of
Dunkirk sided with the French against their
count, who at first was defeated at the 1297 Battle of Furnes, but
reached de facto autonomy upon the victorious Battle of the Golden
Spurs five years later and exacted vengeance. Guy's son, Count Robert
III (1305–1322), nevertheless granted further city rights to
Dunkirk; his successor Count Louis I (1322–1346) had to face the
Peasant revolt of 1323–1328, which was crushed by King Philippe VI
France at the 1328 Battle of Cassel, whereafter the Dunkirkers
again were affected by the repressive measures of their
Count Louis remained a loyal liensman of the French king upon the
outbreak of the
Hundred Years' War
Hundred Years' War with
England in 1337, and
prohibited the maritime trade, which led to another revolt by the
Dunkirk citizens. After the count had been killed in the 1346 Battle
of Crécy, his son and successor Count Louis II of Flanders
(1346–1384) signed a truce with the English; the trade again
flourished and the port was significantly enlarged. However, in the
course of the
Western Schism from 1378, English supporters of Pope
Urban VI (the Roman claimant) disembarked at Dunkirk, captured the
city and flooded the surrounding estates. They were ejected by King
Charles VI of France, but left great devastations in and around the
Upon the extinction of the Counts of Flanders with the death of Louis
II in 1384, Flanders was acquired by the Burgundian, Duke Philip the
Bold. The fortifications were again enlarged, including the
construction of a belfry daymark. As a strategic point,
always been exposed to political covetousness, by Duke Robert I of Bar
in 1395, by Louis de Luxembourg in 1435 and finally by the Austrian
archduke Maximilian I of Habsburg, who in 1477 married Mary of
Burgundy, sole heiress of late Duke Charles the Bold. As Maximilian
was the son of Emperor Frederick III, all Flanders was immediately
seized by King Louis XI of France. However, the archduke defeated the
French troops in 1479 at the Battle of Guinegate. When Mary died in
1482, Maximilian retained Flanders according to the terms of the 1482
Treaty of Arras. Dunkirk, along with the rest of Flanders, was
incorporated into the
Habsburg Netherlands and upon the 1581 secession
of the Seven United Netherlands, remained part of the Southern
Netherlands, which were held by
Habsburg Spain (Spanish Netherlands)
as Imperial fiefs.
Main article: Dunkirkers
Jean Bart in Dunkirk, the most famous corsair of the city.
The area remained much disputed between the Kingdom of Spain, the
United Netherlands, the
Kingdom of England
Kingdom of England and the Kingdom of France.
At the beginning of the Eighty Years' War,
Dunkirk was briefly in the
hands of the Dutch rebels, from 1577. Spanish forces under Duke
Alexander Farnese of Parma re-established Spanish rule in 1583 and it
became a base for the notorious Dunkirkers. The
lost their home port when the city was conquered by the French in 1646
but Spanish forces recaptured the city in 1652. In 1658, as a result
of the long war between
France and Spain, it was captured after a
siege by Franco-English forces following the battle of the Dunes. The
city along with
Fort-Mardyck was awarded to
England in the peace the
following year as agreed in the Franco-English alliance against Spain.
It came under French rule when King
Charles II of England
Charles II of England sold it to
France for £320,000 on 17 October 1662. The French government
developed the town as a fortified port. The town's existing defences
were adapted to create ten bastions. The port was expanded in the
1670s by the construction of a basin that could hold up to thirty
warships with a double lock system to maintain water levels at low
tide. The basin was linked to the sea by a channel dug through coastal
sandbanks secured by two jetties. This work was completed by 1678. The
jetties were defended a few years later by the construction of five
forts, Château d'Espérance, Château Vert, Grand Risban, Château
Gaillard, and Fort de Revers. An additional fort was built in 1701
called Fort Blanc. The jetties, their forts, and the port facilities
were demolished in 1713 under the terms of the Treaty of Utrecht.
During the reign of King Louis XIV, a large number of commerce raiders
once again made their base at Dunkirk.
Jean Bart was the most famous.
The main character (and possible real prisoner) in the famous novel
Man in the Iron Mask
Man in the Iron Mask by
Alexandre Dumas was arrested at Dunkirk. The
eighteenth-century Swedish privateers and pirates
Lars Gathenhielm and
his wife Ingela Hammar, are known to have sold their ill-gotten gains
in Dunkirk. The
Treaty of Paris (1763)
Treaty of Paris (1763) between
France and Great
Britain ending the
Seven Years' War
Seven Years' War (1756–1763), included a clause
restricting French rights to fortify Dunkirk, to allay British fears
of it being used as an invasion base to cross the English Channel.
Dunkirk in World War I
In January, 1916, spy hysteria broke out in Dunkirk. The writer Robert
W. Service, then a war correspondent for the Toronto Star, was
mistakenly arrested as a spy and narrowly avoided being executed out
of hand. On 1 January 1918, the
United States Navy
United States Navy established a naval
air station to operate seaplanes during the First World War
(1914–1918). The base closed shortly after the Armistice of 11
During the war,
Dunkirk was heavily attacked by the largest gun of the
world, the German 'Lange Max'. On a regular basis, heavy shells
weighing approximately 750kg were fired from
Koekelare (Belgium) to
Dunkirk, which is about 45–50 km away.
Dunkirk in World War II
Main articles: Battle of Dunkirk,
Dunkirk evacuation, and Siege of
Film reenactment of British troops retreating from
Dunkirk in 1940.
During the Second World War (1939–1945), in the May, 1940 Battle of
France, the British Expeditionary Force (BEF), while aiding the French
and Belgian armies, were forced to retreat in the face of the
overpowering German Panzer attacks. Fighting bravely in
France, the BEF and a portion of the French Army became outflanked by
the Germans and retreated to the area around the port of Dunkirk. More
than 400,000 soldiers were trapped in the pocket as the German Army
closed in for the kill. Unexpectedly, the German Panzer attack halted
for several days at a critical juncture. For years, it was assumed
Adolf Hitler ordered the German Army to suspend the attack,
favouring bombardment by the Luftwaffe. However, according to the
Official War Diary of Army Group A, its commander,
von Rundstedt, ordered the halt to allow maintenance on his tanks,
half of which were out of service, and to protect his flanks which
were exposed and, he thought, vulnerable. Hitler merely validated
the order several hours after the fact. This lull in the action
gave the British and French a few days to fortify their defences and
evacuate by sea. Winston Churchill, the British Prime Minister,
ordered any ship or boat available, large or small, to collect the
stranded soldiers. 338,226 men (including 123,000 French soldiers)
were evacuated – the miracle of Dunkirk, as Churchill called it. It
took over 900 vessels to evacuate the BEF, with two-thirds of those
rescued embarking via the harbour, and over 100,000 taken off the
beaches. More than 40,000 vehicles as well as massive amounts of other
military equipment and supplies were left behind, their value being
regarded as less than that of trained fighting men. The British
Dunkirk through the
English Channel was codenamed
Operation Dynamo. Forty thousand Allied soldiers (some who carried on
fighting after the official evacuation) were captured or forced to
make their own way home through a variety of routes including via
neutral Spain. Many wounded who were unable to walk were also
Dunkirk surroundings, during the Allied attempt to re-take
Dunkirk in 1944.
The city was again contested in 1944, with the 2nd Canadian Infantry
Division attempting to liberate the city in September, as Allied
forces surged northeast after their victory in the Battle of Normandy.
However, German forces refused to relinquish their control of the
city, which had been converted into a fortress. The German garrison
there was "masked" by Allied troops, notably 1st Czechoslovak Armoured
Brigade. During the German occupation,
Dunkirk was largely destroyed
by Allied bombings. The artillery siege of
Dunkirk was directed on the
final day of the war by pilots from No. 652 Squadron RAF, and No. 665
Squadron RCAF. The fortress under command of German
Friedrich Frisius eventually unconditionally surrendered to
the commander of the Czechoslovak forces,
Brigade General Alois
Liška, on 9 May 1945.
This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (August
On 14 December 2002, the Norwegian auto carrier Tricolor collided with
the Bahamian-registered Kariba and sank off
Dunkirk Harbour, causing a
hazard to navigation in the English Channel.
Presidential elections 2nd round
Dunkirk has an oceanic climate, with cool winters and warm summers.
According to the
Köppen Climate Classification
Köppen Climate Classification system,
Dunkirk has a
marine west coast climate, abbreviated "Cfb" on climate maps.
Summers are averaging around 21 °C (70 °F), being
significantly influenced by the marine currents.
Climate data for
Dunkirk (1981–2010 averages, records
Record high °C (°F)
Average high °C (°F)
Daily mean °C (°F)
Average low °C (°F)
Record low °C (°F)
Average precipitation mm (inches)
Average precipitation days (≥ 1.0 mm)
Average snowy days
Average relative humidity (%)
Source #1: Météo France,  Infoclimat.fr (humidity and snowy
Source #2: 
The arms of
Dunkirk are blazoned:
Per fess Or and argent, a lion passant sable armed and langued gules,
and a dolphin naiant azure crested, barbed, finned and tailed gules.
Full achievement of the arms of Dunkirk
Dunkirk in the arrondissement of Dunkirk
The commune has grown substantially by absorbing several neighbouring
1970: Merger with Malo-les-Bains (which had been created by being
Dunkirk in 1881)
1972: Fusion with
Petite-Synthe and Rosendaël (the latter had been
created by being detached from
Téteghem in 1856)
1980: Fusion-association with Mardyck (which became an associated
commune, with a population of 372 in 1999)
1980: A large part of
Petite-Synthe is detached from
included into Grande-Synthe
2003: Project of fusion with
Saint-Pol-sur-Mer (commune created by its
territory being detached from
Petite-Synthe in 1877). On 19 December
2003, the municipal councils of
in favour of a fusion-association, which would create a new entity
with a population of 94,187. The prefect requested a referendum,
although this procedure was not mandatory (it became mandatory on 1
January 2005). The referendum took place on 5 December 2004, actually
covering three communes: Dunkerque,
Fort-Mardyck. Although the yes won with 54% of the votes, it did not
gather 25% of the potential electorate, as required by the law. The
prefect rejected the fusion proposal as a consequence.
Dunkirk has the third-largest harbour in France, after those of Le
Havre and Marseille. As an industrial city it depends heavily on the
steel, food processing, oil-refining, ship-building and chemical
The cuisine of
Dunkirk closely resembles
Flemish cuisine; perhaps one
of the best known dishes is coq à la bière – chicken in a creamy
Main article: History of the metre
The free-standing belfry – the northerly end of meridianal survey of
In June 1792 the French astronomers
Jean Baptiste Joseph Delambre
Jean Baptiste Joseph Delambre and
Pierre François André Méchain set out to measure the meridian arc
Dunkirk to Barcelona, two cities lying on approximately
the same longitude as each other and also the longitude through Paris.
The belfry was chosen as the reference point in Dunkirk.
Using this measurement and the latitudes of the two cities they could
calculate the distance between the
North Pole and the
classical French units of length and hence produce the first prototype
metre which was defined as being one ten millionth of that
distance. The definitive metre bar, manufactured from platinum,
was presented to the French legislative assembly on 22 June 1799.
Dunkirk was the most easterly cross-channel measuring point for the
Anglo-French Survey (1784–1790), which used trigonometry to
calculate the precise distance between the
Paris Observatory and the
Royal Greenwich Observatory. Sightings were made of signal lights at
Dover Castle from the
Dunkirk Belfry, and vice versa.
The Musée Portuaire displays exhibits of images about the history and
presence of the port.
The Musée des Beaux-Arts has a large collection of Flemish, Italian
and French paintings and sculptures.
The Carnival of Dunkirk
The Tour du Leughenaer (fr) (the Liar's Tower)
Dunkirk Town Hall
Carnival in Dunkirk
Malo-les-Bains beach front
Dunkirk has a ferry with the firm
DFDS with regular services each day
to England. The
Gare de Dunkerque
Gare de Dunkerque railway station offers connections
to Gare de Calais-Ville, Gare de
Lille Flandres, Arras and Paris, and
several regional destinations in France. The railway line from Dunkirk
De Panne and Adinkerke, Belgium, is closed and has been dismantled
Dunkirk's public transit service offers free public transport on
weekends; and starting in September 2018 it will be free every
USL Dunkerque, French football club, currently playing in the
Four Days of Dunkirk
Four Days of Dunkirk (or Quatre Jours de Dunkerque) is an
important elite professional road bicycle racing event.
Stage 2 of the 2007 Tour de
France departed from Dunkirk.
Jean Bart, naval commander and privateer
Marvin Gakpa, footballer
Robert Malm, footballer
Jean-Paul Rouve, actor
François Rozenthal, ice hockey player
Maurice Rozenthal, ice hockey player
Djoumin Sangaré, footballer
Tancrède Vallerey, writer
KioShiMa, CSGO player
Louise Lavoye (19th-century soprano)
See also: List of twin towns and sister cities in France
Twin towns – sister cities
Dunkirk is twinned with:
Krefeld, North Rhine-Westphalia,
Germany since 15 June 1974
United Kingdom since 12 April
Gaza, Palestine since 2 April 1996
Latvia since 1960
Liberec, Czech Republic
Germany since 9 April 2000
Vitória, Espírito Santo,
Brazil since unknown date
Corumbá, Mato Grosso do Sul,
Brazil since unknown date
Israel since 15 September 1997
China since 25–26 September 2000
Dunkirk has co-operation agreements with:
Dartford, Kent, England,
United Kingdom since March 1988
Thanet, Kent, England,
United Kingdom since 18 June 1993
Hortense Clémentine Tanvet
Treaty of Dunkirk
^ Pul, Paul Van (2007). In Flanders Flooded Fields: Before Ypres There
Was Yser. Pen and Sword. p. 89. ISBN 978-1473814318. The
French name of Dunkerque in fact is derived from the Flemish
Duinkerke, which means 'church in the dunes'!
^ "Correspondence and papers of the first Duke of Ormonde, chiefly on
Irish and English public affairs: ref. MS. Carte 218, fol(s). 5 –
date: 26 December 1662" (Description of contents of carte papers).
Oxford University, Bodleian Library,
Special Collections and Western
Manuscripts: Carte Papers. 2006. Retrieved 17 October 2007.
^ "> 3D >
Dunkirk Sea Forts". Fortified Places. Retrieved
^ Van Wyen, Adrian O. (1969). Naval Aviation in World War I.
Washington, D.C.: Chief of Naval Operations. p. 60.
^ Lange Max Museum
^ Levine, Joshua (2017) Dunkirk, Harper Collins, New York
^ Lord, Walter (1982). "2: No. 17 Turns Up". The Miracle of Dunkirk.
New York City: Open Road Integrated Media, Inc. pp. 28–35.
^ (in Czech) Czech army page Archived 2007-12-02 at the Wayback
Köppen Climate Classification
Köppen Climate Classification (Weatherbase)".
Weatherbase. Retrieved 6 September 2015.
^ "Dunkerque (59)" (PDF). Fiche Climatologique: Statistiques
1981–2010 et records (in French). Meteo France. Archived from the
original (PDF) on 10 March 2018. Retrieved 10 March 2018.
^ "Normes et records 1961–1990: Dunkerque (59) - altitude 11m" (in
French). Infoclimat. Archived from the original on 3 March 2016.
Retrieved 10 March 2018.
^ "Meteo 59-62". Archived from the original on October 18, 2013.
Retrieved April 18, 2013.
^ Adler, Ken (2002). The measure of all things: The seven year odyssey
that transformed the world. Abacus. ISBN 0-349-11507-9.
^ Bliss, Laura (25 October 2017). "This Petite French Town Turned a
Stadium Boondoggle into Free Public Transportation". CityLab. The
Atlantic. Retrieved 25 October 2017.
^ a b c d e f g h i j "
Dunkirk International" (in French). Archived
from the original on November 9, 2007. Retrieved December 17,
^ "British towns twinned with French towns". Archant Community Media
Ltd. Archived from the original on 2013-07-05. Retrieved
^ "Town Twinning".
Middlesbrough Council. Retrieved 4 March
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Dunkerque.
Dunkirk in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.
Wikinews has related news: French fishermen blockade Channel ports
City council website (in French)
Tourist office website
Communes of the Nord department
BNF: cb152667584 (d