Bordeaux is a port city on the Garonne in the Gironde department in Southwestern France. The municipality of Bordeaux proper has a population of 252,040. Together with its suburbs and satellite towns, Bordeaux is the centre of the Bordeaux Métropole. With 1,195,335 in the metropolitan area, it is the sixth-largest in France, after Paris, Lyon and Lille, it is the capital of the Nouvelle-Aquitaine region, as well as the prefecture of the Gironde department. Its inhabitants are called "Bordelais" or "Bordelaises"; the term "Bordelais" may refer to the city and its surrounding region. Being at the center of a major wine-growing and wine-producing region, Bordeaux remains a prominent powerhouse and exercises significant influence on the world wine industry although no wine production is conducted within the city limits, it is home to the world's main wine fair and the wine economy in the metro area takes in 14.5 billion euros each year. Bordeaux wine has been produced in the region since the 8th century.
The historic part of the city is on the UNESCO World Heritage List as "an outstanding urban and architectural ensemble" of the 18th century. After Paris, Bordeaux has the highest number of preserved historical buildings of any city in France. In historical times, around 567 BC it was the settlement of a Celtic tribe, the Bituriges Vivisci, who named the town Burdigala of Aquitanian origin; the name Bourde is still the name of a river south of the city. In 107 BC, the Battle of Burdigala was fought by the Romans who were defending the Allobroges, a Gallic tribe allied to Rome, the Tigurini led by Divico; the Romans were defeated and their commander, the consul Lucius Cassius Longinus, was killed in the action. The city fell under Roman rule around its importance lying in the commerce of tin and lead, it became capital of Roman Aquitaine, flourishing during the Severan dynasty. In 276 it was sacked by the Vandals. Further ravage was brought by the same Vandals in 409, the Visigoths in 414, the Franks in 498, beginning a period of obscurity for the city.
In the late 6th century, the city re-emerged as the seat of a county and an archdiocese within the Merovingian kingdom of the Franks, but royal Frankish power was never strong. The city started to play a regional role as a major urban center on the fringes of the newly founded Frankish Duchy of Vasconia. Around 585, Gallactorius is fighting the Basque people; the city was plundered by the troops of Abd er Rahman in 732 after they stormed the fortified city and overwhelmed the Aquitanian garrison. Duke Eudes mustered a force ready to engage the Umayyads outside Bordeaux taking them on in the Battle of the River Garonne somewhere near the river Dordogne; the battle had a high death toll. Although Eudes was defeated here, he saved part of his troops and kept his grip on Aquitaine after the Battle of Poitiers. In 735, the Aquitanian duke Hunald led a rebellion after his father Eudes's death, at which Charles responded by sending an expedition that captured and plundered Bordeaux again, but did not retain it for long.
The following year, the Frankish commander descended again to Aquitaine, but clashed in battle with the Aquitanians and left to take on hostile Burgundian authorities and magnates. In 745, Aquitaine faced yet another expedition by Charles's sons Pepin and Carloman, against Hunald, the Aquitanian princeps strong in Bordeaux. Hunald was defeated, his son Waifer replaced him, confirmed Bordeaux as the capital city. During the last stage of the war against Aquitaine, it was one of Waifer's last important strongholds to fall to King Pepin the Short's troops. Next to Bordeaux, Charlemagne built the fortress of Fronsac on a hill across the border with the Basques, where Basque commanders came over to vow loyalty to him. In 778, Seguin was appointed count of Bordeaux undermining the power of the Duke Lupo, leading to the Battle of Roncevaux Pass that year. In 814, Seguin was made Duke of Vasconia, but he was deposed in 816 for failing to suppress or sympathise with a Basque rebellion. Under the Carolingians, sometimes the Counts of Bordeaux held the title concomitantly with that of Duke of Vasconia.
They were meant to keep the Basques in check and defend the mouth of the Garonne from the Vikings when the latter appeared c. 844 in the region of Bordeaux. In Autumn 845, count Seguin II marched on the Vikings, who were assaulting Bordeaux and Saintes, but he was captured and executed. No bishops were mentioned during part of the 9th in Bordeaux. From the 12th to the 15th century, Bordeaux regained importance following the marriage of Duchess Eléonore of Aquitaine with the French-speaking Count Henri Plantagenet, born in Le Mans, who became, within months of their wedding, King Henry II of England; the city flourished due to the wine trade, the cathedral of St. André was built, it was the capital of an independent state under Edward, the Black Prince, but in the end, after the Battle of Castillon, it was annexed by France which extended its territory. The Château Trompette and the Fort du Hâ, built by Charles VII of France, were the symbols of the new domination, which however deprived the city of its wealth by halting the wine commerce with England.
In 1462, Bordeaux obtained a parliament, but regained importance only in the 16th century when it became the centre of the distribution of sugar and slaves from the West Indies along with the traditional wine. Bordeaux adhered to the Fronde
The Franks were a collection of Germanic peoples, whose name was first mentioned in 3rd century Roman sources, associated with tribes on the Lower and Middle Rhine, on the edge of the Roman Empire. The term was associated with Romanized Germanic dynasties within the collapsing Roman Empire, who commanded the whole region between the rivers Loire and Rhine, they imposed power over many other post-Roman kingdoms and Germanic peoples, still they were given recognition by the Catholic Church as successors to the old rulers of the Western Roman Empire. Although the Frankish name does not appear until the 3rd century, at least some of the original Frankish tribes had long been known to the Romans under their own names, both as allies providing soldiers and as enemies; the new name first appears when their allies were losing control of the Rhine region. The Franks were first reported as working together to raid Roman territory, but from the beginning these raids were associated with attacks upon them from outside their frontier area, by the Saxons, for example, with the desire of frontier tribes to move into Roman territory with which they had had centuries of close contact.
Frankish peoples inside Rome's frontier on the Rhine river were the Salian Franks who from their first appearance were permitted to live in Roman territory, the Ripuarian or Rhineland Franks who, after many attempts conquered the Roman frontier city of Cologne and took control of the left bank of the Rhine. In a period of factional conflict in the 450s and 460s, Childeric I, a Frank, was one of several military leaders commanding Roman forces with various ethnic affiliations in Roman Gaul. Childeric and his son Clovis I faced competition from the Roman Aegidius as competitor for the "kingship" of the Franks associated with the Roman Loire forces; this new type of kingship inspired by Alaric I, represents the start of the Merovingian dynasty, which succeeded in conquering most of Gaul in the 6th century, as well as establishing its leadership over all the Frankish kingdoms on the Rhine frontier. It was on the basis of this Merovingian empire that the resurgent Carolingians came to be seen as the new Emperors of Western Europe in 800.
In the Middle Ages, the term Frank came to be used as a synonym for Western European, as the Carolingian Franks were rulers of most of Western Europe, established a political order, the basis of the European ancien regime that only ended with the French revolution. Western Europeans shared their allegiance to the Roman Catholic church and worked as allies in the Crusades beyond Europe in the Levant, where they still referred to themselves and the Principalities they established as Frankish; this has had a lasting impact on names for Western Europeans in many languages. From the beginning the Frankish kingdoms were politically and divided between an eastern Frankish and Germanic part, the western part that the Merovingians had founded on Roman soil; the eastern Frankish kingdom came to be seen as the new "Holy Roman Empire", was from early times called "Germany". Within "Frankish" Western Europe itself, it was the original Merovingian or "Salian" Western Frankish kingdom, founded in Roman Gaul and speaking Romance languages, which has continued until today to be referred to as "France" - a name derived directly from the Franks.
The name Franci was not a tribal name, but within a few centuries it had eclipsed the names of the original peoples who constituted it. Following the precedents of Edward Gibbon and Jacob Grimm, the name of the Franks has been linked with the English adjective "frank" meaning "free". There have been proposals that Frank comes from the Germanic word for "javelin". Words in other Germanic languages meaning "fierce", "bold" or "insolent", may be significant. Eumenius addressed the Franks in the matter of the execution of Frankish prisoners in the circus at Trier by Constantine I in 306 and certain other measures: Latin: Ubi nunc est illa ferocia? Ubi semper infida mobilitas?. Latin: Feroces was used to describe the Franks. Contemporary definitions of Frankish ethnicity vary both by point of view. A formulary written by Marculf about 700 AD described a continuation of national identities within a mixed population when it stated that "all the peoples who dwell, Romans and those of other nations, live... according to their law and their custom."
Writing in 2009, Professor Christopher Wickham pointed out that "the word'Frankish' ceased to have an exclusive ethnic connotation. North of the River Loire everyone seems to have been considered a Frank by the mid-7th century at the latest. Apart from the more respected History of the Franks by Gregory of Tours, two more colourful early sources that describe the origin of the Franks are a 7th-century work known as the Chronicle of Fredegar and the anonymous Liber Historiae Francorum, written a century later; the author of the Chronicle of Fredegar claimed that the Franks came from Troy and quoted the works of Vergil and Hieronymous, the Franks are mentioned in those works, by Hieronymous. The chronicle describes Priam as a Frankish king whose people migrated to Macedonia after the fall of Troy. In Macedonia, the Franks divided; the Eur
Blaye is a wine region in Bordeaux, centred on the town of Blaye, producing both red and white wine, plus a small amount of rosé and sparkling wine. It is located on the right bank of the River Gironde, surrounds Côtes de Bourg. A number of different Appellations d'origine contrôlée apply, or have applied, to Blaye. In 1936, 3 AOCs were created for this region: Blaye AOC, Côtes de Blaye AOC and Premières Côtes de Blaye AOC; these all covered the same geographical area, with Premières Côtes de Blaye including the most prestigious properties. These AOCs were revised in the 1990s, Blaye AOC was used for the top reds. In 2007, the AOCs were revised again. Blaye AOC is now red, Côtes de Blaye AOC is white. Premières Côtes de Blaye has been absorbed into Côtes de Bordeaux AOC, which covers both red and white wines, may have the word Blaye appended, subject to stricter controls. Rosé wines are not covered by any of these AOCs, must be sold under a generic Bordeaux appellation; the area is hillier than the Médoc, rising to a height of over 70m above sea-level.
The soil is clay over limestone. The area under vines is around 7000 hectares. A little river, called Rau de Brouillon separates Blaye from the Bourgeais. Red wine is made predominantly from Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc, with small quantities of Malbec, Petit Verdot and Carménère. White wine under the label Côtes de Blaye is made predominantly from Colombard and Ugni blanc, whereas white wine under the label Côtes de Bordeaux is made predominantly from Sauvignon blanc and Muscadelle; the red wines are fresh and fruity, should be drunk young, while the whites are light and fruity. There is no classification for the châteaux of Blaye, this is therefore a somewhat arbitrary list, but the following are considered noteworthy by one or other of the references: Château du Grand Barrail, Château Barbé, Château le Menaudat, Château Segonzac, Château Bourdieu, Château l'Escadre, Château Bel-Air la Royère, Château Bertinerie, Château Haut-Bertinerie, Château Gigault, Château les Jonqueyres, Château Mondésir-Gazin, Château Rolande-la-Garde, Château Crusquet Sabourin, Château Les Moines, Château Gauthier Clarke, Oz.
Oz Clarke's New Essential Wine Book. New York: Websters International Publishers and Octopus Publishing Group. Johnson, Hugh. World Atlas of Wine. London: Octopus Publishing Group Ltd. Johnson, Hugh. Pocket Wine Book 2010. London: Octopus Publishing Group Ltd. Rowe, David. Collins Gem Wine Dictionary. Glasgow: HarperCollins Publishers
Romania is a country located at the crossroads of Central and Southeastern Europe. It borders the Black Sea to the southeast, Bulgaria to the south, Ukraine to the north, Hungary to the west, Serbia to the southwest, Moldova to the east, it has a predominantly temperate-continental climate. With a total area of 238,397 square kilometres, Romania is the 12th largest country and the 7th most populous member state of the European Union, having 20 million inhabitants, its capital and largest city is Bucharest, other major urban areas include Cluj-Napoca, Timișoara, Iași, Constanța, Brașov. The River Danube, Europe's second-longest river, rises in Germany's Black Forest and flows in a general southeast direction for 2,857 km, coursing through ten countries before emptying into Romania's Danube Delta; the Carpathian Mountains, which cross Romania from the north to the southwest, include Moldoveanu Peak, at an altitude of 2,544 m. Modern Romania was formed in 1859 through a personal union of the Danubian Principalities of Moldavia and Wallachia.
The new state named Romania since 1866, gained independence from the Ottoman Empire in 1877. Following World War I, when Romania fought on the side of the Allied powers, Bessarabia, Transylvania as well as parts of Banat, Crișana, Maramureș became part of the sovereign Kingdom of Romania. In June–August 1940, as a consequence of the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact and Second Vienna Award, Romania was compelled to cede Bessarabia and Northern Bukovina to the Soviet Union, Northern Transylvania to Hungary. In November 1940, Romania signed the Tripartite Pact and in June 1941 entered World War II on the Axis side, fighting against the Soviet Union until August 1944, when it joined the Allies and recovered Northern Transylvania. Following the war, under the occupation of the Red Army's forces, Romania became a socialist republic and member of the Warsaw Pact. After the 1989 Revolution, Romania began a transition back towards a market economy; the sovereign state of Romania is a developing country and ranks 52nd in the Human Development Index.
It has the world's 47th largest economy by nominal GDP and an annual economic growth rate of 7%, the highest in the EU at the time. Following rapid economic growth in the early 2000s, Romania has an economy predominantly based on services, is a producer and net exporter of machines and electric energy, featuring companies like Automobile Dacia and OMV Petrom, it has been a member of the United Nations since 1955, part of NATO since 2004, part of the European Union since 2007. An overwhelming majority of the population identifies themselves as Eastern Orthodox Christians and are native speakers of Romanian, a Romance language. Romania derives from the Latin romanus, meaning "citizen of Rome"; the first known use of the appellation was attested to in the 16th century by Italian humanists travelling in Transylvania and Wallachia. The oldest known surviving document written in Romanian, a 1521 letter known as the "Letter of Neacșu from Câmpulung", is notable for including the first documented occurrence of the country's name: Wallachia is mentioned as Țeara Rumânească.
Two spelling forms: român and rumân were used interchangeably until sociolinguistic developments in the late 17th century led to semantic differentiation of the two forms: rumân came to mean "bondsman", while român retained the original ethnolinguistic meaning. After the abolition of serfdom in 1746, the word rumân fell out of use and the spelling stabilised to the form român. Tudor Vladimirescu, a revolutionary leader of the early 19th century, used the term Rumânia to refer to the principality of Wallachia."The use of the name Romania to refer to the common homeland of all Romanians—its modern-day meaning—was first documented in the early 19th century. The name has been in use since 11 December 1861. In English, the name of the country was spelt Rumania or Roumania. Romania became the predominant spelling around 1975. Romania is the official English-language spelling used by the Romanian government. A handful of other languages have switched to "o" like English, but most languages continue to prefer forms with u, e.g. French Roumanie and Swedish Rumänien, Spanish Rumania, Polish Rumunia, Russian Румыния, Japanese ルーマニア.
1859–1862: United Principalities of Moldavia and Wallachia 1862–1866: Romanian United Principalities or Romania 1866–1881: Romania or Principality of Romania 1881–1947: Kingdom of Romania or Romania 1947–1965: Romanian People's Republic or Romania 1965–December, 1989: Socialist Republic of Romania or Romania December, 1989–present: Romania Human remains found in Peștera cu Oase, radiocarbon dated as being from circa 40,000 years ago, represent the oldest known Homo sapiens in Europe. Neolithic techniques and agriculture spread after the arrival of a mixed group of people from Thessaly in the 6th millenium BC. Excavations near a salt spring at Lunca yielded the earliest evidence for salt exploitation in Europe; the first permanent settlements appeared in the Neolithic. Some of them developed into "proto-cities"; the Cucuteni–Trypillia culture—the best known archaeological culture of Old Europe—flourished in Muntenia, southeastern Transylvania and northeastern Moldavia in the 3rd m
France the French Republic, is a country whose territory consists of metropolitan France in Western Europe and several overseas regions and territories. The metropolitan area of France extends from the Mediterranean Sea to the English Channel and the North Sea, from the Rhine to the Atlantic Ocean, it is bordered by Belgium and Germany to the northeast and Italy to the east, Andorra and Spain to the south. The overseas territories include French Guiana in South America and several islands in the Atlantic and Indian oceans; the country's 18 integral regions span a combined area of 643,801 square kilometres and a total population of 67.3 million. France, a sovereign state, is a unitary semi-presidential republic with its capital in Paris, the country's largest city and main cultural and commercial centre. Other major urban areas include Lyon, Toulouse, Bordeaux and Nice. During the Iron Age, what is now metropolitan France was inhabited by a Celtic people. Rome annexed the area in 51 BC, holding it until the arrival of Germanic Franks in 476, who formed the Kingdom of Francia.
The Treaty of Verdun of 843 partitioned Francia into Middle Francia and West Francia. West Francia which became the Kingdom of France in 987 emerged as a major European power in the Late Middle Ages following its victory in the Hundred Years' War. During the Renaissance, French culture flourished and a global colonial empire was established, which by the 20th century would become the second largest in the world; the 16th century was dominated by religious civil wars between Protestants. France became Europe's dominant cultural and military power in the 17th century under Louis XIV. In the late 18th century, the French Revolution overthrew the absolute monarchy, established one of modern history's earliest republics, saw the drafting of the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, which expresses the nation's ideals to this day. In the 19th century, Napoleon established the First French Empire, his subsequent Napoleonic Wars shaped the course of continental Europe. Following the collapse of the Empire, France endured a tumultuous succession of governments culminating with the establishment of the French Third Republic in 1870.
France was a major participant in World War I, from which it emerged victorious, was one of the Allies in World War II, but came under occupation by the Axis powers in 1940. Following liberation in 1944, a Fourth Republic was established and dissolved in the course of the Algerian War; the Fifth Republic, led by Charles de Gaulle, remains today. Algeria and nearly all the other colonies became independent in the 1960s and retained close economic and military connections with France. France has long been a global centre of art and philosophy, it hosts the world's fourth-largest number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites and is the leading tourist destination, receiving around 83 million foreign visitors annually. France is a developed country with the world's sixth-largest economy by nominal GDP, tenth-largest by purchasing power parity. In terms of aggregate household wealth, it ranks fourth in the world. France performs well in international rankings of education, health care, life expectancy, human development.
France is considered a great power in global affairs, being one of the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council with the power to veto and an official nuclear-weapon state. It is a leading member state of the European Union and the Eurozone, a member of the Group of 7, North Atlantic Treaty Organization, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, the World Trade Organization, La Francophonie. Applied to the whole Frankish Empire, the name "France" comes from the Latin "Francia", or "country of the Franks". Modern France is still named today "Francia" in Italian and Spanish, "Frankreich" in German and "Frankrijk" in Dutch, all of which have more or less the same historical meaning. There are various theories as to the origin of the name Frank. Following the precedents of Edward Gibbon and Jacob Grimm, the name of the Franks has been linked with the word frank in English, it has been suggested that the meaning of "free" was adopted because, after the conquest of Gaul, only Franks were free of taxation.
Another theory is that it is derived from the Proto-Germanic word frankon, which translates as javelin or lance as the throwing axe of the Franks was known as a francisca. However, it has been determined that these weapons were named because of their use by the Franks, not the other way around; the oldest traces of human life in what is now France date from 1.8 million years ago. Over the ensuing millennia, Humans were confronted by a harsh and variable climate, marked by several glacial eras. Early hominids led a nomadic hunter-gatherer life. France has a large number of decorated caves from the upper Palaeolithic era, including one of the most famous and best preserved, Lascaux. At the end of the last glacial period, the climate became milder. After strong demographic and agricultural development between the 4th and 3rd millennia, metallurgy appeared at the end of the 3rd millennium working gold and bronze, iron. France has numerous megalithic sites from the Neolithic period, including the exceptiona
Duchy of Aquitaine
The Duchy of Aquitaine was a historical fiefdom in western and southern areas of present-day France to the south of the Loire River, although its extent, as well as its name, fluctuated over the centuries, at times comprising much of what is now southwestern France and central France. It originated in the 7th century as a duchy of Francia a recreation of the Roman provinces of Aquitania Prima and Secunda; as a duchy, it broke up after the conquest of the independent Aquitanian duchy of Waiofar, going on to become a sub-kingdom within the Carolingian Empire subsumed in West Francia after the 843 partition of Verdun. It reappeared as a duchy, in the High Middle Ages, an enlarged Aquitaine pledged loyalty to the Angevin kings of England, their claims in France triggered the Hundred Years' War, in which the kingdom of France emerged victorious in the 1450s, with many incorporated areas coming to be ruled directly by the French kings. Gallia Aquitania fell under Visigothic rule in the 5th century.
It was conquered by the Franks under Clovis I in 507, as a result of the Battle of Vouillé. During the 6th and early 7th century, it was under direct rule of Frankish kings, divided between the realms of Childebert II and Guntram in the Treaty of Andelot of 587. Under Chlothar II, Aquitaine was again integral part of Francia, but after Chlothar's death in 628, his heir Dagobert I granted a subkingdom in southern Aquitaine to his younger brother Charibert II; this subkingdom, consisting of Gascony and the southern fringe of Aquitaine proper, is conventionally known as "Aquitaine" and forms the historical basis for the duchy. Charibert campaigned against the Basques, but after his death in 632, they revolted again, in 635 subdued by an army sent by Dagobert; the duchy of Aquitaine as a quasi-independent realm within the Frankish empire established itself during the second half of the 7th century by 700 under Odo the Great. The first duke is on record under the name of Felix, as having ruled from about 660.
As his successor Lupus, he owed allegiance to the Frankish kings. Odo signed a peace treaty with Charles Martel, he inflicted on the Moors a crushing defeat at the Battle of Toulouse in 721. However, Charles Martel coveted the southern realm, crossed the Loire in 731 and looted much of Aquitaine. Odo engaged the Franks in battle, but came out weakened. Soon after this battle, in 732, the Moors raided Vasconia and Aquitaine as far north as Poitiers and defeated Odo twice near Bordeaux. Odo saw no option but to invoke the aid of Charles Martel and pledge allegiance to the Frankish prince. Odo was succeeded by his son Hunald, who reverted to former independence, so defying the Frankish Mayor of the Palace Charles Martel's authority; the Carolingian leader attacked Hunald twice in 735 and 736, but was unable to subdue the duke and an army put together by counts of key Aquitanian towns, e.g. Bourges, etc. Hunald retired to a monastery, leaving both the kingdom and the continuing conflict to Waifer, or Guaifer.
For some years Waifer strenuously carried on an unequal struggle with the Franks, but his assassination in 768 marked the demise of Aquitaine's relative independence. As a successor state to the Roman province of Gallia Aquitania and the Visigothic Kingdom and Languedoc inherited the Visigothic Law and Roman Law which had combined to allow women more rights than their contemporaries in other parts of Europe. With the Liber Judiciorum, codified in 642 and 643 and expanded in the Code of Recceswinth in 653, women could inherit land and title and manage it independently from their husbands or male relations, dispose of their property in legal wills if they had no heirs, women could represent themselves and bear witness in court by age 14 and arrange for their own marriages by age 20; as a consequence, male-preference primogeniture was the practiced succession law for the nobility. The autonomous and troublesome duchy of Aquitaine was conquered by the Franks in 769, after a series of revolts against their suzerainty.
In order to avoid a new demonstration of Aquitain particularism, Charlemagne decided to organize the land within his kingdom. After the Carolingian conquest, the duchy ceased to exist as such, whose powers were taken over by the counts of Toulouse, main seat of the Carolingian government in the Midi, represented by Chorso and, after being deposed, by Charlemagne's trustee William, a close relative of his. In 781, he made his third son Louis three years of age, king of Aquitaine; the Carolingian Kingdom of Aquitaine subordinated to the Carolingian king or emperor based in Francia. It included not only Aquitaine proper, but Gothia and the Carolingian possessions in Spain as well. In 806, Charlemagne planned to divide his empire between his sons. Louis received Burgundy as additions to his kingdom; when Louis succeeded Charlemagne as emperor in 814, he granted Aquitaine to his son Pepin I, after whose death in 838 the nobility of Aquitaine chose his son Pepin II of Aquitaine as their king. The emperor Louis I, opposed this arrangement and gave the kingdom to his youngest son Charles, afterwards the emperor Charles the Bald.
Confusion and conflict resulted falling in favor of Charles.
Communes of France
The commune is a level of administrative division in the French Republic. French communes are analogous to civil townships and incorporated municipalities in the United States and Canada, Gemeinden in Germany, comuni in Italy or ayuntamiento in Spain; the United Kingdom has no exact equivalent, as communes resemble districts in urban areas, but are closer to parishes in rural areas where districts are much larger. Communes are based on historical geographic communities or villages and are vested with significant powers to manage the populations and land of the geographic area covered; the communes are the fourth-level administrative divisions of France. Communes vary in size and area, from large sprawling cities with millions of inhabitants like Paris, to small hamlets with only a handful of inhabitants. Communes are based on pre-existing villages and facilitate local governance. All communes have names, but not all named geographic areas or groups of people residing together are communes, the difference residing in the lack of administrative powers.
Except for the municipal arrondissements of its largest cities, the communes are the lowest level of administrative division in France and are governed by elected officials with extensive autonomous powers to implement national policy. A commune is city, or other municipality. "Commune" in English has a historical bias, implies an association with socialist political movements or philosophies, collectivist lifestyles, or particular history. There is nothing intrinsically different between commune in French; the French word commune appeared in the 12th century, from Medieval Latin communia, for a large gathering of people sharing a common life. As of January 2015, there were 36,681 communes in France, 36,552 of them in metropolitan France and 129 of them overseas; this is a higher total than that of any other European country, because French communes still reflect the division of France into villages or parishes at the time of the French Revolution. The whole territory of the French Republic is divided into communes.
This is unlike some other countries, such as the United States, where unincorporated areas directly governed by a county or a higher authority can be found. There are only a few exceptions: COM of Saint-Martin, it was a commune inside the Guadeloupe région. The commune structure was abolished when Saint-Martin became an overseas collectivity on 22 February 2007. COM of Wallis and Futuna, which still is divided according to the three traditional chiefdoms. COM of Saint Barthélemy, it was a commune inside the Guadeloupe region. The commune structure was abolished when Saint-Barthélemy became an overseas collectivity on 22 February 2007. Furthermore, two regions without permanent habitation have no communes: TOM of the French Southern and Antarctic Lands Clipperton Island in the Pacific Ocean In metropolitan France, the average area of a commune in 2004 was 14.88 square kilometres. The median area of metropolitan France's communes at the 1999 census was smaller, at 10.73 square kilometres. The median area is a better measure of the area of a typical French commune.
This median area is smaller than that of most European countries. In Italy, the median area of communes is 22 km2. Switzerland and the Länder of Rhineland-Palatinate, Schleswig-Holstein, Thuringia in Germany were the only places in Europe where the communes had a smaller median area than in France; the communes of France's overseas départements such as Réunion and French Guiana are large by French standards. They group into the same commune several villages or towns with sizeable distances among them. In Réunion, demographic expansion and sprawling urbanization have resulted in the administrative splitting of some communes; the median population of metropolitan France's communes at the 1999 census was 380 inhabitants. Again this is a small number, here France stands apart in Europe, with the lowest communes' median population of all the European countries; this small median population of French communes can be compared with Italy, where the median population of communes in 2001 was 2,343 inhabitants, Belgium, or Spain.
The median population given here should not hide the fact that there are pronounced differences in size between French communes. As mentioned in the introduction, a commune can be a city of 2 million inhabitants such as Paris, a town of 10,000 inhabitants, or just a hamlet of 10 inhabitants. What the median population tells us is that the vast majority of the French communes only have a few hundred inhabitants. In metropolitan France just over 50 percent of the 36,683 communes have fewer than 500 inhabitants a