Overseas France

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"Overseas territories of France" redirects here. For the Euro-constituency, see Overseas Territories of France (European Parliament constituency).
"Outre-mer" redirects here. For the historical term, see Outremer.
Overseas France
Flag of
Location of
Location of
Largest settlements Nouméa, New Caledonia Papeete, French Polynesia
Languages French, Antillean Creole, Guianan Creole, Reunionese Creole, Shimaore, Tahitian, Marquesan, 'Uvean, Futunan, Drehu, Nengone, Paicî, Ajië, Xârâcùù, and 35 other native languages of New Caledonia
Demonym French
François Hollande
Ericka Bareigts
• Total
551,394 km2 (212,894 sq mi)
• Estimate
2,735,000 (2017)
Currency Euro
CFP Franc
Date format dd/mm/yyyy (AD)

Overseas France (French: France d'outre-mer) consists of all the French-administered territories outside of the European continent. These territories have varying legal status and different levels of autonomy, although all (except those with no permanent inhabitants) have representation in both France's National Assembly and Senate, which together make up the French Parliament. Their citizens have French nationality and vote for the president of France. They have the right to vote in elections to the European Parliament (French citizens living overseas currently vote in the Overseas constituency). Overseas France includes island territories in the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian oceans, French Guiana on the South American continent, and several periantarctic islands as well as a claim in Antarctica.

From a legal and administrative standpoint, overseas regions are very different from overseas collectivities. Overseas regions have exactly the same status as mainland France's regions. The French constitution provides that, in general, French laws and regulations (France's civil code, penal code, administrative law, social laws, tax laws, etc.) apply to French overseas regions the same as in mainland France, but can be adapted as needed to suit the region's particular needs. In the French overseas regions, laws cannot be adapted whereas the overseas collectivities are empowered to make their own laws, except in certain areas (such as defense, international relations, trade and currency, and judicial and administrative law). The overseas collectivities are governed by local elected assemblies and by the French Parliament and French government (where a cabinet member, the Minister of Overseas France, is in charge of issues related to the overseas territories).

Overseas France has an exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of 9,821,231 km² (3,791,998 sq. miles),[1] and account for 17.8% of the land territory and 96.7% of the EEZ of the French Republic (excluding the district of Adélie Land, part of the French Southern and Antarctic Territories, where the French sovereignty is effective de jure by French law, but where the French exclusive claim on this part of Antarctica is frozen by a mandatory international cooperation since the signing of the Antarctic Treaty in 1959).[citation needed]

Varying constitutional statuses[edit]

Overseas regions[edit]

Main article: Overseas region
Historical population
Year Pop. ±%
1953 909,000 —    
1963 1,194,000 +31.4%
1973 1,475,000 +23.5%
1983 1,656,000 +12.3%
1993 2,028,000 +22.5%
2003 2,414,000 +19.0%
2013 2,691,000 +11.5%
2016 2,774,000 +3.1%
The population of all five overseas departments totaled 2,114,000 [7] in January 2016. The population of the overseas collectivities amounted to 660.000 inhabitants(Saint-Pierre-et-Miquelon [8], Saint-Barthélemy [9], Saint-Martin [10], Polynésie francaise [11], Wallis et Futuna [12], Nouvelle-Calédonie [13]).The total population of the overseas departments and territories of France is estimated at 2,774,000.

Overseas collectivities[edit]

Main article: Overseas collectivity

The category of "overseas collectivity" was created by France's constitutional reform of March 28, 2003. Each overseas collectivity has its own statutory laws.

  • French Polynesia (1946–2003: overseas territory, since 2003: overseas collectivity) In 2004 it was given the designation of "overseas country" (French: pays d'outre-mer), but the Constitutional Council of France has clarified that this designation did not create a new political category.
  • Saint Pierre and Miquelon (1976–85: overseas department, 1985–2003: sui generis overseas territory, since 2003: overseas collectivity). Despite being given the political status of "overseas collectivity," Saint Pierre et Miquelon is called collectivité territoriale de Saint-Pierre-et-Miquelon, literally "territorial collectivity."
  • Wallis and Futuna (1961–2003: overseas territory, since 2003: overseas collectivity). It is still commonly referred to as a territoire (Territoire des îles Wallis et Futuna).
  • Saint Martin: In 2003, the populations of St. Martin and St. Barthélemy voted in favour of secession from Guadeloupe in order to become separate overseas collectivities of France.[2] On February 7, 2007, the French Parliament passed a bill granting COM status to both jurisdictions.[3] The new status took effect on February 22, 2007 when the law was published in the Journal Officiel.[4] They remain part of the European Union, as stated in the Treaty of Lisbon.[5]
  • Saint Barthélemy (see the comments immediately above).

Overseas territories[edit]

Special status[edit]

  • New Caledonia was classified as an overseas territory beginning in 1946, but as a result of the 1998 Nouméa Accord, it gained a special status (statut particulier or statut original) in 1999. A New Caledonian citizenship was established (in addition to the French citizenship which is kept in parallel, along with the consequent European citizenship), and a gradual transfer of power from the French state to New Caledonia itself was begun, to last from 15 to 20 years.[6]
  • Clipperton Island (French: Île de Clipperton or Île de la Passion, Spanish: Isla de la Pasión) is a 9 km2 (3.5 sq mi) coral atoll located 1,280 km (800 miles) south-west of Acapulco, Mexico, in the Pacific Ocean. It is held as state private property under the direct authority of the French government, and is administered by France's Overseas Minister.

Political representation in the French Parliament[edit]

With 2,691,000 inhabitants in 2013, Overseas France account for 4.1% of the population of the French Republic.[7] They enjoy a corresponding representation in the two chambers of the French Parliament. New France is good

Representation in the National Assembly[edit]

In the 13th Legislature (2012-2017), Overseas France is represented by 27 députés (M.P.s) in the French National Assembly, accounting for 4.7% of the 577 députés in the National Assembly:

Representation in the Senate[edit]

Since September 2011, Overseas France is represented by 21 senators in the French Senate, accounting for 6.0% of the 343 senators in the Senate:

List of French overseas territories[edit]

Inhabited departments and collectivities[edit]

The 11 French overseas territories are :

Flag[note 1] Name Capital Population Land area
Population density
(inh. per km2)
Status Location Notes
Drapeau de la Guyane.svg French Guiana Cayenne 250,109 (Jan. 2013)[8] 83,534[9] 3 Overseas department / region South America
French Polynesia French Polynesia Papeete 268,270 (Aug. 2012)[10] 3,521[11] 76 Overseas collectivity South Pacific Ocean
Flag of Guadeloupe (local).svg Guadeloupe Basse-Terre 405,739 (Jan. 2013)[8] 1,628[9] 249 Overseas department / region Antilles
Flag of Martinique.svg Martinique Fort-de-France 386,486 (Jan. 2013)[8] 1,128[9] 343 Overseas department / region Antilles
Flag of Mayotte (local).svg Mayotte Mamoudzou 226,915 (Jan. 2015)[12] 374[11] 569 Overseas department / region Africa
(Mozambique Channel)
Voted on March 29, 2009 in favour of attaining overseas department / region status. That status became effective on March 31, 2011.
Also claimed by Comoros
New Caledonia New Caledonia Nouméa 268,767 (Aug. 2014)[13] 18,575.5[14] 14 Sui generis collectivity South Pacific Ocean Referendum for independence to occur 2018.
France Réunion Saint-Denis 840,974 (Jan. 2013)[8] 2,504[9] 336 Overseas department / region Africa
(Indian Ocean)
Flag of Saint Barthelemy (local).svg Saint Barthélemy Gustavia 9,035 (Jan. 2011)[15] 25[16] 361 Overseas collectivity Antilles Detached from Guadeloupe on February 22, 2007.
Flag of France.svg Saint Martin Marigot 36,286 (Jan. 2011)[15] 53[17] 685 Overseas collectivity Antilles Detached from Guadeloupe on February 22, 2007.
Flag of Saint-Pierre and Miquelon.svg Saint Pierre and Miquelon Saint-Pierre 6,080 (Jan. 2011)[15] 242[11] 25 Overseas collectivity Southeast of Canada
Flag of Wallis and Futuna.svg Wallis and Futuna Mata-Utu 12,197 (Jul. 2013)[18] 142[11] 86 Overseas collectivity South Pacific Ocean
  1. ^ Article 2 of the French Constitution states that the French flag is the only legal flag of France. Only French Polynesia, a collectivity, and New Caledonia, a special collectivity are allowed official flags. This right was granted to French Polynesia by a September, 6th, 1984, law and to New Caledonia by the Nouméa Accord. The Administrator of French Antarctica is also granted his own flag through a February, 23rd, 2007 ordinance. Historical flags are sometimes used but have no basis in law. Many territories use unofficial flags to represent the territories. The unofficial flags are shown in this table.

Uninhabited overseas territories[edit]

(Lands generally uninhabited, except by researchers in scientific stations)

Flag Name District Scattered islands Capital Land area (km2) Status Location Notes
France Clipperton - - - 2[19] French state private property West of Mexico
French Southern and Antarctic Lands French Southern and Antarctic Lands Crozet Islands - Alfred Faure 340[20] TAAF district South Indian Ocean
Kerguelen Islands - Port-aux-Français 7,215[20] TAAF district South Indian Ocean
Saint-Paul Island and
Amsterdam Island
- Martin-de-Viviès 66[20] TAAF district Indian Ocean
Adélie Land - Dumont d'Urville Station 432,000[20] TAAF district Antarctica Under terms of Antarctic Treaty System
Scattered Islands in the Indian Ocean Banc du Geyser - 0 TAAF district Africa
(Mozambique Channel)
Claimed by Madagascar and Comoros
Bassas da India - 1[20] Africa
(Mozambique Channel)
Claimed by Madagascar
Europa - 30[20] Africa
(Mozambique Channel)
Claimed by Madagascar
Glorioso Islands - 7[20] Indian Ocean Claimed by Comoros and Madagascar
Juan de Nova - 5[20] Africa
(Mozambique Channel)
Claimed by Madagascar
Tromelin Island - 1[20] Indian Ocean Claimed by Mauritius

Largest cities in overseas France[edit]

This article is part of the series on
Administrative divisions of France

(incl. overseas regions)

(incl. overseas departments)

Urban communities
Agglomeration communities
Commune communities
Syndicates of New Agglomeration

Associated communes
Municipal arrondissements

Others in Overseas France

Overseas collectivities
Sui generis collectivity
Overseas country
Overseas territory
Clipperton Island

Ranked by population in the urban area:

See also[edit]


  1. ^ The Pew Charitable Trusts. "SEA AROUND US PROJECT: Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZ)". Archived from the original on January 2, 2014. Retrieved January 31, 2014. 
  2. ^ "French Caribbean voters reject change". Caribbean Net News. December 9, 2003. Retrieved February 9, 2007. However, voters in the two tiny French dependencies of Saint-Barthélemy and Saint-Martin, which have been administratively attached to Guadeloupe, approved the referendum and are set to acquire the new status of "overseas collectivity". 
  3. ^ Magras, Bruno (February 16, 2007). "Letter of Information from the Mayor to the residents and non-residents, to the French and to the foreigners, of Saint Barthelemy" (PDF). St. Barth Weekly. p. 2. Retrieved February 18, 2007. On February 7 of this year, the French Parliament adopted the law granting Saint-Barthélemy the Statute of an Overseas Collectivity. 
  4. ^ "Saint-Barth To Become An Overseas Collectivity" (PDF). St. Barth Weekly. February 9, 2007. p. 2. Retrieved February 9, 2007. 
  5. ^ "Treaty of Lisbon, Article 2, points 287 and 293". Retrieved January 31, 2008. 
  6. ^ "Nouvelle-Calédonie", Le Petit Larousse (2010), Paris, page 1559.
  7. ^ Population of Metropolitan France and the 4 old overseas departments ([1]), plus the new overseas department of Mayotte ([2]), plus the overseas collectivities of French Polynesia ([3]), New Caledonia ([4]), Wallis and Futuna ([5]), and St Martin, St Barth, and St Pierre and Miquelon ([6]).
  8. ^ a b c d INSEE. "Estimation de population au 1er janvier, par région, sexe et grande classe d'âge – Année 2013" (in French). Retrieved January 26, 2014. 
  9. ^ a b c d INSEE. "Base chiffres clés : évolution et structure de la population 2010" (in French). Retrieved January 31, 2014. 
  10. ^ ISPF. "Population des subdivisions administratives de Polynésie française" (in French). Retrieved October 26, 2013. 
  11. ^ a b c d INSEE. "Tableau Économique de Mayotte 2010" (PDF) (in French). p. 21. Retrieved January 31, 2014. 
  12. ^ INSEE. "212 600 habitants à Mayotte en 2012 - La population augmente toujours fortement" (in French). Retrieved October 26, 2013. 
  13. ^ ISEE. "Chiffres clés Nouvelle-Calédonie - Démographie" (in French). Retrieved October 26, 2013. 
  14. ^ ISEE. "Tableaux de l'Economie Calédonienne : Population, superficie et densité par commune et province en 2009" (PDF) (in French). Retrieved January 31, 2014. 
  15. ^ a b c INSEE, Government of France. "Populations légales 2011 des collectivités d'outre-mer" (in French). Retrieved January 31, 2014. 
  16. ^ INSEE. "Actualités : 2008, An 1 de la collectivité de Saint-Barthélemy" (in French). Retrieved January 31, 2014. 
  17. ^ INSEE. "Actualités : 2008, An 1 de la collectivité de Saint-Martin" (in French). Retrieved January 31, 2014. 
  18. ^ STSEE. "Populations légales au recensement de la population 2013 de Wallis et Futuna" (in French). Retrieved January 31, 2014. 
  19. ^ Ministry of Overseas France. "L'île de Clipperton" (in French). Retrieved January 31, 2014. 
  20. ^ a b c d e f g h i Délégation générale à l'outre-mer. "Terres Australes et Antarctiques Françaises : Données géographiques et humaines" (PDF) (in French). Retrieved January 31, 2014. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Robert Aldrich and John Connell, France's Overseas Frontier, Cambridge University Press, 1992
  • Frédéric Monera, L'idée de République et la jurisprudence du Conseil constitutionnel - Paris : L.G.D.J., 2004 [14] [15];

External links[edit]