Memel, the northernmost town of Prussia, in the province of East Prussia, on the Baltic sea near the Russian frontier, at the N. end of the Kurisches Haff, and at the mouth of the river Dange, 72 m. N. N. E. of Konigsberg; pop. in 1871, 19,019. It is fortified and well built, has several churches, an excellent naval school, a gymnasium, a high school for girls, and various charitable institutions. The harbor is commodious and safe, and its entrance from 13 to 15 ft. deep. A fort was built on the N. end of the Kurische Nehrung in 1866. A considerable part of the trade between Russia and Germany passes through the town. It is the centre of the Baltic timber trade. The other principal exports are grain, linseed, hemp, flax, hides, and tallow, most of which are received from Russia and Poland. The chief imports are salt, coal, colonial produce, herrings, and manufactured goods. The important manufactures are articles of amber, soap, and brandy. There are iron foumleries, chain factories, and about GO saw mills, and the ship building is considerable. - Memel was built in the middle of the 13th century by the Teutonic knights.
In the 17th century it was for some time in the possession of the Swedes, and in 1757 it was taken by the Russians. In 1854 the town was nearly destroyed by fire.