Mar·seille or Mar·seilles\mär-ˈsā, -ˈsālz\ or ancient Mas·sil·ia\mə-ˈsi-lē-ə\
geographical name(Concise Encyclopedia)
City (pop., 2006 est.: city, 839,043; metro. area, 1,418,481), southeastern France. One of the Mediterranean's major seaports and the second largest city in France, it is located on the Gulf of Lion, west of the French Riviera. It was settled by Greeks during the 7th century BC and was annexed by the Romans, who called it Massilia, in 49 BC. It declined along with the Roman Empire but revived as a commercial port during the Crusades era; it passed to the French crown in 1481. The plague of 1720 killed half of its population. In the 19th century the development of France's colonial empire added to the city's importance. Following World War II, rapid industrial growth took place around the port complex at Fos-sur-Mer and in suburbs such as Marignane and Vitrolles.