Oostende (ōstĕnˈdə) [key], Fr. Ostende, city (1991 pop. 68,500), West Flanders prov., W Belgium, on the North Sea. It is a major commercial and fishing port, connected by canals with Bruges and Ghent. Oostende is also an industrial and rail center, as well as a seaside resort. It has a ferry terminal that connects the city with England. Manufactures include processed food, ships, soap, tobacco, and chemicals. A port by the time of the First Crusade (11th cent.), Oostende was fortified (1583) by William the Silent and played a leading role in the Dutch struggle for independence. The city was taken (1604) by the Spaniards under Ambrogio Spinola after a three-year siege in which it was almost totally destroyed, was sacked again in 1745 by the French, and suffered heavy Allied bombardment in World War II. From the mid-19th cent. to World War I it was one of Europe's most fashionable social centers. The city is also known as Ostend.