The Port of Nieuwpoort is located in western Belgium on the Yser River. An important fishing and oyster culture port, it is on the shores of the North Sea near the resort of Nieuwpoort-Bad. Located in the Flanders region, the municipality of Nieuwpoort also includes the towns of Sint-Joris and Ramskapelle. In 1992, almost ten thousand people lived there.
The region surrounding what is now the municipality of Nieuwpoort was a marshy plain full of swamps and dunes in prehistoric times. During the Iron Age, the marshes dried out, and people began to move into the area. Belgians moved there in the 4th Century BC. The Romans were discouraged from conquest due to the wet swampy terrain and the guerilla wars waged by the local tribes, the Morins. Eventually, however, the Morins were forced to let the Romans use their ports for traffic with the British Isles.
Until the latest centuries of the first millennium AD, the sea invaded and retreated, flooding the area for many years at a time. The Yser River delta began to accumulate, creating a large dune on which the Port of Nieuwpoort was eventually built. Even when people were able to settle there, they were under constant threat from invaders.
As the second millennium began, silting and diking was creating livable land as the dune grew with alluvial soils. The village of Oostduinkerke was founded in 1080, and Ramskapelle was founded in 1120. The town of Nieuwpoort was established when the northern arm of the Yser silted so badly that it could not be used for a port.
In 1163, Nieuwpoort (New Port) was established. The natural port there made it the object of many invasion attempts. The Port of Nieuwpoort survived sieges in 1213, 1299, and 1328. In 1383, the nearby town of Ghent was attacked, and people from the Port of Nieuwpoort helped defend the city.
The Port was occupied by the Dutch from 1576 to 1583. French armies set upon the Port of Nieuwpoort in 1600, 1647, 1658, 1745, 1793, and 1794. The people of Nieuwpoort became a rugged lot.
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