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The seaport city of Nice is situated in the French Riviera, at the foot of the Alps and on the southeast coast of the Mediterranean Sea. It is the capital of the Alpes-Maritimes département. It is approximately 13 kilometers from Monaco, home of the legendary Monte Carlo Casino. The city's nickname is "Nice la Bella," which means "Nice the Beautiful." That nickname is also the title of the unofficial anthem of the city of Nice.

Nice was first settled in about 350 BC by the Greeks, who called it Nikaia, in honor of the Greek goddess of victory, Nike. There have been archeological findings, largely at the site called Terra Amata, which is thought to prove that it area was populated as long ago as 400,000 years. Cemenelum, the center of Roman dominion, was separate from the settlement of Nice, but today, it is known as Cimiez which is part of the city of Nice.

Nice has changed hands, as it were, repeatedly over the years, largely because of its location because of both its strategic position and its port. It was occupied by the Romans in 14 BC, at the beginning of the Empire, until the fall of the Roman Empire when it was taken over by the House of Savoy. It remained part of the dominion of the Duchy of Savoy until the the late 13th century. It went back and forth between France and Italy for the next few centuries. At the tail end of the 17th century, the French army destroyed Nice's defenses not once, but twice. In 1860, it was re-annexed by France as part of the price for Napoleon III to give his consent to forming a state involving north-central Italy under the House of Savoy. Nice has long been credited with inspiring painters including Henri Matisse, Marc Chagall, Arman, and Niki Musee Matisse, all of whom appreciated climate which provided the soft light and clear air as they painted. One can find many of their paintings commemorated in the city's museums.

At the very beginning of the 20th century, the Tramway de Nice, the first generation of electric streetcars, came to Nice. In September of 1939, as Hitler's Germany began the Second World War, Jews fleeing the Nazi movements into Eastern Europe found their way to Nice, which quickly became a refugee city. The establishment of the Vichy Regime, many of the refugees fled Nice and the wildly anti-Semitic Vichy for safe harbor in the French colonies, North and South America, and Morocco. In 1942, as German troops moved into mot of unoccupied France, Italian troops moved into Nice and the surrounding area.

While much of Nice's residents were on the fence as to which side their loyalty was on, given the recent immigration of many from Italy. Despite that fact, the resistance gained momentum once Italy surrendered in 1943. The first resistants to the regime were high school seniors, beginning their activism in what is now called Lycee Massena in 1940. They were arrested and executed in 1944. Retribution against the resistance in Nice heated up between December of 1943 and July of 1944 when partisans who were captured were tortured and executed by the Gestapo and the French militia, created by the Vichy regime with the German army's help. American planes heavily bombarded Nice prior to the Allied landing in Provence, with the bombs causing 1,000 deaths or injuries and leaving more than 56,000 homeless.

It took years after the liberation of France for Nice to get caught up with economic prosperity again. When it did happen, it was largely due to two men: Jean Medecin (mayor prior to the war, but also from 1957 to 1965) and his son Jacques (mayor from 1966 until 1990). With these two men at the helm, Nice enjoyed extensive urban renewal, including the construction of theaters, a convention center, and new expressways and thoroughfares. Algerian refugees called the Pieds-Noirs, who left for their ancestral home, France, as soon as Algerian gained independence. Many arrived in Nice in 1962 and 1963, who changed the economic a shot in the arm as well as changing the demographics of the city and its traditional views.

By the end of the 1980s, rumors began to circulate about political corruption within the city government. In 1990, formal accusations about Jacques inspired him to abscond from France entirely. He was arrested in Uruguay in 1993 and extradited to France in 1994, where he was convicted of corruption and accompanying crimes and sent to prison.

On July 14, 2016, while the streets were full of people celebrating Bastille Day and watching the fireworks, a truck driven by Mohamed Lahouaiej-Bouhlel was deliberately driven into a crowd on the Promenade des Anglais. Eighty-seven people were killed, including the murderer who died when he was shot by the police. Another 202 people were injured enough to go to the hospital.

 

 

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