Klaipeda klī´pĕdä [key], formerly Memelmā´məl [key], city (1993 pop. 206,400), W Lithuania, on the Baltic Sea, at the entrance to the Courland Lagoon. An ice-free seaport and an industrial center, it has shipyards and industries producing textiles, fertilizers, and wood products. It is the home of a large fishing fleet. One of the oldest cities of Lithuania, Klaipeda was the site of a settlement as early as the 7th cent. It was conquered and burned in 1252 by the Teutonic Knights, who built a fortress and named it Memelburg. The city was ceded (1629) by Prussia to Sweden but reverted to Prussia in 1635. In the Napoleonic Wars the city was (1807) the refuge and residence of Frederick William III of Prussia, who signed there the edict emancipating the serfs in his kingdom. From 1919 it shared the history of the Memel Territory. The name has also appeared as Klaypeda.
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