The Nice agglomeration extends far beyond the administrative city limits, with a population of nearly 1 million on an area of 744 km2 (287 sq mi). Located on the French Riviera, the southeastern coast of France on the Mediterranean Sea, at the foot of the French Alps, Nice is the second-largest French city on the Mediterranean coast and second-largest city in the Provence-Alpes-Cote d'Azur region after Marseille. Nice is approximately 13 kilometres (8 mi) from the principality of Monaco and 30 kilometres (19 mi) from the French–Italian border. Nice's airport serves as a gateway to the region.
The city is nicknamed Nice la Belle (Nissa La Bella in Nicard), meaning 'Nice the Beautiful', which is also the title of the unofficial anthem of Nice, written by Menica Rondelly in 1912. The area of today's Nice contains Terra Amata, an archaeological site which displays evidence of a very early use of fire 380,000 years ago. Around 350 BC, Greeks of Marseille founded a permanent settlement and called it Ν?καια, Nikaia, after Nike, the goddess of victory. Through the ages, the town has changed hands many times. Its strategic location and port significantly contributed to its maritime strength. From 1388 it was a dominion of Savoy, then became part of the French First Republic between 1792 and 1815, when it was returned to the Kingdom of Piedmont-Sardinia, the legal predecessor of the Kingdom of Italy, until its re-annexation by France in 1860.