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
Bas-Rhin is a department in Alsace, a part of the Grand Est super-region of France. The name means "Lower Rhine", geographically speaking it belongs to the Upper Rhine region, it is the more populous and densely populated of the two departments of the traditional Alsace region, with 1,121,407 inhabitants in 2016. The prefecture and the General Council are based in Strasbourg; the INSEE and Post Code is 67. The inhabitants of the department are known as Bas-Rhinoises; the Rhine has always been of great historical and economic importance to the area, it forms the eastern border of Bas-Rhin. The area is home to some of the foothills of the Vosges Mountains. To the north of Bas-Rhin lies the Palatinate forest in the German State of Rhineland-Palatinate, the German State of Baden-Württemberg lies to the east. To the south lies the department of Haut-Rhin, the town of Colmar and southern Alsace, to the west the department of Moselle. On its south-western corner, Bas-Rhin joins the department of Vosges.
The Bas-Rhin has a continental-type climate, characterised by cold, dry winters and hot, stormy summers, due to the western protection provided by the Vosges. The average annual temperature is 7 °C on high ground; the annual maximum temperature is high. The average rainfall is 700 mm per year. Established according to data from the Infoclimat station at Strasbourg-Entzheim, over the period from 1961 to 1990; this is the last French department to have kept the term Bas meaning "Lower" in its name. Other departments using this prefix preferred to change their names - e.g.: Basses-Pyrenees in 1969 became Pyrénées-Atlantiques and Basses-Alpes in 1970 became the department of Alpes-de-Haute-Provence. The same phenomenon was observed for the inférieur departments such as Charente-Inférieure, Seine-Inférieure, Loire-Inférieure. Bas-Rhin is one of the original 83 departments created on 4 March 1790, during the French Revolution. On 14 January 1790 the National Constituent Assembly decreed: "- That Alsace be divided into two departments with Strasbourg and Colmar as their capitals.
In 1871 Bas-Rhin was annexed by Germany and became Bezirk Unterelsass in Reichsland Elsaß-Lothringen. Strasbourg, the chef lieu of Bas-Rhin is the official seat of the European Parliament as well as of the Council of Europe; the demography of Bas-Rhin is characterized by high density and high population growth since the 1950s. In January 2014 Bas-Rhin had 1,112,815 inhabitants and was 18th by population at the national level. In fifteen years, from 1999 to 2014, its population grew by more than 86,000 people, or about 5,800 people per year, but this variation is differentiated among the 517 communes. The population density of Bas-Rhin is 234 inhabitants per square kilometre in 2014, more than twice the average in France, 112 in 2009; the first census was conducted in 1801 and this count, renewed every five years from 1821, provides precise information on the evolution of population in the department. With 540,213 inhabitants in 1831, the department represented 1.66% of the total French population, 32,569,000 inhabitants.
From 1831 to 1866, the department gained 48,757 people, an increase of 0.26% on average per year compared to the national average of 0.48% over the same period. Demographic change between the Franco-Prussian War of 1870 and the First World War was higher than the national average. Over this period, the population increased by 100,532 inhabitants, an increase of 16.74%, compared to 10% nationally. The population increased by 9.23% between the two world wars from 1921 to 1936 compared to a national growth of 6.9%. Like other French departments, Bas-Rhin experienced a population boom after the Second World War, higher than the national level; the rate of population growth between 1946 and 2007 was 83.83%
Grand Est Alsace-Champagne-Ardenne-Lorraine, is an administrative region in eastern France. It superseded three former administrative regions—Alsace, Champagne-Ardenne, Lorraine—on 1 January 2016, as a result of territorial reform, passed by the French legislature in 2014. Alsace-Champagne-Ardenne-Lorraine was a provisional name, created by hyphenating the merged regions in alphabetical order. France's Conseil d'État approved Grand Est as the new name of the region on 28 September 2016, effective 30 September 2016; the administrative capital and largest city is Strasbourg. The provisional name of the region was Alsace-Champagne-Ardenne-Lorraine, formed by combining the names of the three present regions—Alsace, Champagne-Ardenne, Lorraine—in alphabetical order with hyphens; the formula for the provisional name of the region was established by the territorial reform law and applied to all but one of the provisional names for new regions. The ACAL regional council, elected in December 2015, was given the task of choosing a name for the region and submitting it to the Conseil d'État—France's highest authority for administrative law—by 1 July 2016 for approval.
The provisional name of the region was retired on 30 September 2016, when the new name of the region, Grand Est, took effect. In Alsace and in Lorraine, the new region has been called ALCA, for Alsace-Lorraine-Champagne-Ardennes, on the internet. Like the name Région Hauts-de-France, the name Région Grand Est contains no reference whatsoever to the area's history or identity, but describes its geographical location within metropolitan France. In a poll conducted in November 2014 by France 3 in Champagne-Ardenne, Grand Est and Austrasie were the top two names among 25 candidates and 4,701 votes. Grand Est topped a poll the following month conducted by L'Est Républicain, receiving 42% of 3,324 votes; the names which received a moderate amount of discussion were: Grand Est français, a term used to refer to the northeast quarter of Metropolitan France, although this term refers to a geographic region larger than just ACAL. The term has been used and topped the polls mentioned above. Grand Est Europe, a variant of Grand Est that alludes to the region being a gateway to Europe both through trade and since Strasbourg is home to several European institutions.
However, the name was mocked for. Austrasie, which refers to an historical region spanning parts of present-day northeast France, the Benelux, northwest Germany. Quatre frontières. Grand Est is the sixth-largest of the regions of France. Grand Est borders four countries—Belgium, Luxembourg and Switzerland—along its northern and eastern sides, it is the only French region to border more than two countries. To the west and south, it borders the French regions Hauts-de-France, Île-de-France, Bourgogne-Franche-Comté. Grand Est contains ten departments: Ardennes, Bas-Rhin, Haute-Marne, Haut-Rhin, Meurthe-et-Moselle, Moselle, Vosges; the main ranges in the region include the Vosges to the Ardennes to the north. The region is bordered on the east by the Rhine. Other major rivers which flow through the region include the Meuse, Marne, Saône. Lakes in the region include lac de Gérardmer, lac de Longemer, lac de Retournemer, lac des Corbeaux, Lac de Bouzey, lac de Madine, étang du Stock and lac de Pierre-Percée.
Grand Est climate depends of the proximity of the sea. In Champagne and Western Lorraine, the climate is oceanic, with mild summers, but Moselle and Alsace climates are humid continental, characterized by cold winters with frequent days below the freezing point, hot summers, with many days with temperatures up to 32°C. Grand Est is the result of territorial reform legislation passed in 2014 by the French Parliament to reduce the number of regions in Metropolitan France—the part of France in continental Europe—from 22 to 13. ACAL is the merger of three regions: Alsace, Champagne-Ardenne, Lorraine; the merger has been, still is opposed by some groups in Alsace, a large majority of Alsatians. The territorial reform law allows new regions to choose the seat of the regional councils, but made Strasbourg the seat of the Grand Est regional council—a move to appease the region's politicians; the region has an official population of 5,555,186. The regional council has limited administrative authority concerning the promotion of the region's economy and financing educational and cultural activities.
The regional council has no legislative authority. The seat of the regional council will be Strasbourg; the regional council, elected in December 2015, is controlled by The Republicans. The elected inaugural president of the Grand Est Regional Council is Philippe Richert, the President of the Alsace Regional Council; the current president is Jean Rottner. The region has five tram networks: Strasbourg tramway Reims tramway Nancy Guided Light Transit Mulhouse tramway Saarbahn The region has four airports: EuroAirport Basel M
Alsace is a cultural and historical region in eastern France, on the west bank of the upper Rhine next to Germany and Switzerland. From 1982 to 2016, Alsace was the smallest administrative région in metropolitan France, consisting of the Bas-Rhin and Haut-Rhin departments. Territorial reform passed by the French legislature in 2014 resulted in the merger of the Alsace administrative region with Champagne-Ardenne and Lorraine to form Grand Est. Alsatian is an Alemannic dialect related to Swabian and Swiss German, although since World War II most Alsatians speak French. Internal and international migration since 1945 has changed the ethnolinguistic composition of Alsace. For more than 300 years, from the Thirty Years' War to World War II, the political status of Alsace was contested between France and various German states in wars and diplomatic conferences; the economic and cultural capital of Alsace, as well as its largest city, is Strasbourg. The city is the seat of bodies; the name "Alsace" can be traced to the Old High German Ali-saz or Elisaz, meaning "foreign domain".
An alternative explanation is from a Germanic Ell-sass, meaning "seated on the Ill", a river in Alsace. In prehistoric times, Alsace was inhabited by nomadic hunters. By 1500 BC, Celts began to settle in Alsace and cultivating the land, it should be noted that Alsace is a plain surrounded by the Vosges mountains and the Black Forest mountains. It creates Foehn winds which, along with natural irrigation, contributes to the fertility of the soil. In a world of agriculture, Alsace has always been a rich region which explains why it suffered so many invasions and annexations in its history. By 58 BC, the Romans had established Alsace as a center of viticulture. To protect this valued industry, the Romans built fortifications and military camps that evolved into various communities which have been inhabited continuously to the present day. While part of the Roman Empire, Alsace was part of Germania Superior. With the decline of the Roman Empire, Alsace became the territory of the Germanic Alemanni; the Alemanni were agricultural people, their Germanic language formed the basis of modern-day dialects spoken along the Upper Rhine.
Clovis and the Franks defeated the Alemanni during the 5th century AD, culminating with the Battle of Tolbiac, Alsace became part of the Kingdom of Austrasia. Under Clovis' Merovingian successors the inhabitants were Christianized. Alsace remained under Frankish control until the Frankish realm, following the Oaths of Strasbourg of 842, was formally dissolved in 843 at the Treaty of Verdun. Alsace formed part of the Middle Francia, ruled by the eldest grandson Lothar I. Lothar died early in 855 and his realm was divided into three parts; the part known as Lotharingia, or Lorraine, was given to Lothar's son. The rest was shared between Louis the German; the Kingdom of Lotharingia was short-lived, becoming the stem duchy of Lorraine in Eastern Francia after the Treaty of Ribemont in 880. Alsace was united with the other Alemanni east of the Rhine into the stem duchy of Swabia. At about this time, the surrounding areas experienced recurring fragmentation and reincorporations among a number of feudal secular and ecclesiastical lordships, a common process in the Holy Roman Empire.
Alsace experienced great prosperity during the 13th centuries under Hohenstaufen emperors. Frederick I set up Alsace as a province to be ruled by ministeriales, a non-noble class of civil servants; the idea was that such men would be more tractable and less to alienate the fief from the crown out of their own greed. The province had a central administration with its seat at Hagenau. Frederick II designated the Bishop of Strasbourg to administer Alsace, but the authority of the bishop was challenged by Count Rudolf of Habsburg, who received his rights from Frederick II's son Conrad IV. Strasbourg began to grow to become the commercially important town in the region. In 1262, after a long struggle with the ruling bishops, its citizens gained the status of free imperial city. A stop on the Paris-Vienna-Orient trade route, as well as a port on the Rhine route linking southern Germany and Switzerland to the Netherlands and Scandinavia, it became the political and economic center of the region. Cities such as Colmar and Hagenau began to grow in economic importance and gained a kind of autonomy within the "Décapole", a federation of ten free towns.
As in much of Europe, the prosperity of Alsace came to an end in the 14th century by a series of harsh winters, bad harvests, the Black Death. These hardships were blamed on Jews, leading to the pogroms of 1336 and 1339. In 1349, Jews of Alsace were accused of poisoning the wells with plague, leading to the massacre of thousands of Jews during the Strasbourg pogrom. Jews were subsequently forbidden to settle in the town. An additional natural disaster was the Rhine rift earthquake of 1356, one of Europe's worst which made ruins of Basel. Prosperity returned to Alsace under Habsburg administration during the Renaissance. Holy Roman Empire central power had begun to decline following years of imperial adventures in Italian lands ceding hegemony in Western Europe to France, which had long since centralized power. France began an aggressive policy of expanding eastward, first to the riv
Asswiller is a French commune in the Bas-Rhin department in the Grand Est region of north-eastern France. The inhabitants of the commune are known as Asswilleroises; the commune has been awarded one flower by the National Council of Towns and Villages in Bloom in the Competition of cities and villages in Bloom. Asswiller is in the Northern Vosges Regional Natural Park some 27 km south-east of Sarralbe and 38 km south-west of Bitche. Access to the commune is by the D9 road from Durstel in the north-west passing through the heart of the commune and the village and continuing south-east to Petersbach; the D309 road goes south-west from the village to Drulingen. There is a large forest in the west with strips of forest along the borders with the remainder of the commune farmland; the Isch forms the south-western boundary of the commune as it flows west to join the Sarre west of Wolfskirchen. The Ottwillergraben forms the eastern border of the commune as it flows north to join the Eichel at Tieffenbach.
718: Asco vilare 1793: Asveiller 1801: AsswilerIn German the commune name is Aßweiler. Asswiller was a small lordship dependent on the Counts of La Petite-Pierre; when the Count palatine of Bavaria, Georg Johann I of Bavaria, took possession of the county, he granted Asswiller as a hereditary fief to the Dalheim family, who were soon succeeded by the Steinkallenfels family: senior officials of the palatine counts. These Protestant lords introduced the Reformation and remained in Asswiller from the 16th century to 1819. In 1789 Asswiller belonged to the Lord of Carbiston who had acquired it in 1771 by marriage with the heiress of the Steincallenfels family. After the French Revolution Asswiller was attached to France in 1793 by decree of the National Convention which overrode the rights of princes holding possessions. List of Successive Mayors In 2010 the commune had 285 inhabitants; the evolution of the number of inhabitants is known from the population censuses conducted in the commune since 1793.
From the 21st century, a census of communes with fewer than 10,000 inhabitants is held every five years, unlike larger towns that have a sample survey every year. Population change Sources: Ldh/EHESS/Cassini until 1962, INSEE database from 1968 Many buildings and structures in Asswiller are registered as historical monuments: A Farmhouse at 2 Rue du Cimetière A Chateau at 6 Rue de Drulingen The Town Hall/School at 10 Rue de Durstel A Farmhouse at 18 Rue de Durstel A Courthouse at 2 Rue de Durstel A Farmhouse at 26 Rue de Durstel A Farmhouse at 5 Rue de Durstel A Farmhouse at 5 Bis Rue de Durstel A Farmhouse at 14 Rue de Petersbach A Farmhouse at 8 Rue de Petersbach A Mill called Jaegermuhle Several religious buildings and structures are registered as historical monuments: A Cemetery at Rue du Cimetière A Protestant Church at Rue de Durstel A Protestant Presbytery at 4 Rue de Durstel A Lutheran Church at Rue de l'Eglise The Cemetery contains two items that are registered as historical objects: The Rauscher family tomb 3 SculpturesThe Lutheran Church contains two items that are registered as historical objects: The Furniture in the church The Organ Communes of the Bas-Rhin department Asswiller on the old IGN website Asswiller on Lion1906 Asweiller on the 1750 Cassini Map Asswiller on the INSEE website INSEE
Andlau is a French commune in the Bas-Rhin department in the Alsace region of northeastern France. The village owes its origin to Andlau Abbey, founded in 880 by Richardis, the empress of Charles the Fat. Andlau has been a wine-growing traveler destination since its earliest days; the inhabitants of the commune are known as Andlaviens or AndlaviennesThe commune has been awarded two flowers by the National Council of Towns and Villages in Bloom in the Competition of cities and villages in Bloom. Andlau is located some 40 km south by 20 km north of Selestat, it is a small town in the Canton of Barr located in the valley of the Andlau river in the foothills of the Vosges Mountains. The surroundings of Andlau town are the Vosges, including a summit, the Stosskopf, which attains a height of 700 metres; the surrounding communes include Mittelbergheim to the north-east, Eichhoffen to the east, Bernardvillé to the south, Le Hohwald to the north-west and Barr. The commune has an area of 23.69 km² and its highest point is towards the northern tip of Niederberg and rises to 807 metres.
Access to the commune is by the D62 road from Exit 13 on the A35 autoroute which goes west to the town. There is the D425 from just north of Eichhoffen going west to the village continuing west to Le Hohwald. West of the town the commune is forested with an extensive network of forest roads. East of the town there is a small area of farmland; the Andlau River: a small river which rises in the Vosges Mountains near the Champ du Feu, a mountain situated at the eastern end of the Ban-de-la-Roche. It flows from west to east through Andlau, Saint-Pierre, Zellwiller, Hindisheim and Fegersheim empties into the Ill downstream of Ill commune. Further upstream the waters of the Valff and the Kirneck used to power 60 mills and other factories until the 19th century, its course is about 45 km. Andelaha Andelelaha Andeloïa Andeloha Andelow Andeloa Andelow Andelach Andlau is a distortion of the word Andelaha from Andelaw or Andlaw. Andelaha could come from the original name of the river of which there are traces in old maps drawn in the 15th and 16th centuries.
The Andlau River is 42.8 km long and flows from the Champ du Feu to the Ill and is the origin of the name of the town. On 30 July 1857 Andlau was called Andlau-au-Val to distinguish it from that of Andelot in Haute-Marne. At the beginning of the 20th century the name became Andlau; the village undoubtedly existed in Gallo-Roman times. The village developed around the abbey of nuns founded in 880 AD by Richarde de Souabe, daughter of the Count of Alsace, known as Erchangar. Sainte Richarde the wife of Emperor Charles the Fat, grandson of Louis the Pious; the abbey was placed in Saint-Sauveur following the rule of Saint Benedict and received the protection of the Pope. It was allowed to raise money until 1004, it subsequently received many privileges. The Emperor Charles IV, in confirming it in 1347, declared the abbey free of all charges and contributions and granted to the abbess Adelaide de Geroldseck, her successors, the title of Princess of the Empire; the exact date of its secularization is not known but it is believed that it took place between the 12th and 14th centuries.
In addition to the charter from Emperor Charles IV many other anterior and posterior diplomas were granted to the abbey to confirm the privileges it had obtained or to give it new ones. The recipients were required to demonstrate sixteen Quarters of nobility without misalliance and the most illustrious families of Alsace and Germany vied for the honour of admitting their girls, they were not subject to a vow and could, when they wished, return to their families and marry. This abbey received from its inception an illustration that contributed to its prosperity and its status, it is known that the Emperor Charles the Fat was too weak to govern the vast empire, reunited under him by the death of his two brothers left in the care of the Empress Richarde, his wife. She had to advise Bishop of Vercelli. Courtiers, jealous of the authority of the bishop and the confidence, accorded him by the Empress, long meditated his ruin and found a way to turn the heart of the weak monarch to jealousy which piety, the eminent qualities of his wife, twenty-five years of happy marriage were powerless to stop.
Liutward was expelled from the court and the repudiated Empress retired to the monastery of Andlau. The legend of Saint Richarde was that she suffered the ordeal of fire and, dressed in a shirt coated with wax, was set fire in four places, she was not burned by the flames which were miraculously extinguished. In any case it was in this monastery that the wife of Charles the Fat ended her days in prayer and good works, she found a source of consolation in letters in which she wrote with great distinction several beautiful poems which have been preserved until now where she writes of her resignation and the purity of her soul. She was buried in a side chapel of the Andlau church. A century and a half she was canonized by Pope Leo IX, in Alsace, his homeland, came to bless Andlau's new church built by the Abbess Mathilde, sister of Emperor Henry III; the first references to the house of Andlau are in the 12th century which makes this family one of the oldest lines in France. The Andlau line forms 0.5% of the French nobility and their origins date back to the late Middle Ages so are considered old nobility – distinguished nobility or ancient nobility.
The nobles of Andlau may have given their name to the town. According to some sources, the Andlau family
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