Normandy is a geographical region of France corresponding to the former Duchy of Normandy.
The name is derived from the settlement of the territory by Vikings(“Northmen”) from the 9th century, and confirmed by treaty in the 10th century. For a century and a half following the Norman Conquest of England in 1066, Normandy and England were linked by Norman and Frankish rulers.
1066: Battle at Hastings! Visit the Tapistry Museum in Bayeux.
Since 1956, it has been divided into two administrative regions: Lower Normandy and Upper Normandy; the regions will be merged into one single region effective 1 January, 2016. The continental territory covers 30,627 km² and forms the preponderant part of Normandy and roughly 5% of the territory of France. The population of Normandy is around 3.45 million. The Channel Islands (referred to as Îles Anglo-Normandes in French) are historically part of Normandy, cover 194 km² and comprise two bailiwicks: Guernsey and Jersey, which are British Crown dependencies.
Upper Normandy (Haute-Normandie) consists of the French departments of Seine-Maritime and Eure, and Lower Normandy (Basse-Normandie) of the departments of Orne, Calvados, and Manche. The earlier province of Normandy comprised present-day Upper and Lower Normandy, as well as small areas now part of the départements of Mayenne and Sarthe. The name is derived from the settlement of the territory by Vikings (“Northmen”) from the 9th century, and confirmed by treaty in the 10th century. For a century and a half following the Norman Conquest of England in 1066, Normandy and England were linked by Norman and Frankish rulers.
During World War II, the D-Day landings on the Normandy beaches, under the code name Operation Overlord, started the lengthy Battle of Normandy and resulted in the Liberation of Paris and occupied Europe. These landings were a significant turning point in the war.
Lower Normandy is predominantly agricultural in character, with cattle breeding the most important sector (although in decline from the peak levels of the 1970s and 1980s). The bocage is a patchwork of small fields with high hedges, typical of western areas. Upper Normandy contains a higher concentration of industry. Normandy is a significant cider-producing region, and also produces calvados, a distilled cider or apple brandy. Other activities of economic importance are dairy produce, flax (60% of production in France), horse breeding (including two French national stud farms), fishing, seafood, and tourism. The region contains three French nuclear power stations. There is also easy access to and from the UK using the ports of Cherbourg, Caen (Ouistreham), Le Havre and Dieppe.