Calais is a city and major ferry port in northern France in the department of Pas-de-Calais, of which it is a sub-prefecture. Although Calais is by far the largest city in Pas-de-Calais, the department's prefecture is its third-largest town of Arras. The population of the city proper is 73,911, and that of the urban area is 128,931. Calais overlooks the Strait of Dover, the narrowest point in the English Channel, which is only 34 km wide here, and is the closest French town to England. The White Cliffs of Dover can easily be seen on a clear day from Calais. Calais is a major port for ferries between France and England, and since 1994, the Channel Tunnel has linked nearby Coquelles to Folkestone by rail.
Due to its position, Calais since the Middle Ages has been a major port and a very important centre for transport and trading with England. Calais came under English control after Edward III of England captured the city in 1347, followed by a treaty in 1360 that formally assigned Calais to English rule.