Battle of Mars-la-Tour
The Battle of Mars-La-Tour was fought on 16 August 1870, during the Franco-Prussian War, near the village of Mars-La-Tour in northeast France. One Prussian corps, reinforced by two more in the day, encountered the entire French Army of the Rhine in a meeting engagement and forced the Army of the Rhine to retreat into the fortress of Metz. A cavalry patrol of the 1st Squadron of the 1st Hanoverian Dragoon Regiment No. 9, led by Rittmeister Oskar von Blumenthal, discovered that Marshal François Bazaine's 160,000-man Army of the Rhine was attempting to escape from Metz to join with French forces at Verdun. This intelligence prompted General Prince Friedrich Karl, commander of the Prussian Second Army, to order at 1900 on 15 August a grossly outnumbered group of 30,000 men of the advanced III Corps under General Constantin von Alvensleben to cut off the French line of retreat at Mars-la-Tour and Vionville. At 0900 on 16 August, they engaged the French army near Vionville, east of Mars-la-Tour. III Corps routed the French 2nd Army Corps and captured Vionville at 1130, blocking any further escape attempts to the west.
From 1200 to 1600, Alvensleben defeated all attempts by four French corps to dislodge his III Corps. The arrival of X Corps under General Konstantin Bernhard von Voigts-Rhetz to the west and that of IX Corps under General Albrecht Gustav von Manstein to the east, solidified the German position after 1600. On 16 August, the French escaped. Alvensleben attacked the French advance guard, believing that it was the rearguard of the retreating Army of the Rhine. Despite his misjudgment, Alvensleben held off four French corps for seven hours; the aggression and skill of the Prussians prevailed over Bazaine's gross indecision. Prevented from retreating, the French inside Metz had no choice but to fight the Battle of Gravelotte on 18 August. After the Battle of Spicheren on 6 August, the German High Command under Graf Helmuth von Moltke the Elder believed that the French Army of the Rhine would not fight on the eastern side of the Moselle. After 12 August, German cavalry reconnaissance made clear the French intention.
At 1800 on 14 August, Moltke ordered the Second Army under Prince Friedrich Karl to prepare to cross the Moselle and send all available cavalry to the area between Metz and Verdun to ascertain the French movements. On the morning of 15 August, King Wilhelm I, convinced by Quartermaster General Eugen Anton Theophil von Podbielski's argument that the French would not fight east of Metz, ordered the First Army under General Karl Friedrich von Steinmetz to move forward to the western side of Moselle as well. Meanwhile, Prince Friedrich Karl on 14 August ordered his III and XII Corps to cross the Moselle on 15 August and advance to the Seille, while his four other corps followed behind them. At 1100 15 August, Moltke sent a telegram to Friedrich Karl, informing him that the French were retreating without delay from Metz to Verdun. Friedrich Karl ordered III Corps under General Constantin von Alvensleben to cross the Moselle; the divisions of the corps marched off at the men not having had time to eat.
The 5th Infantry Division crossed the bridge at Novéant. The 6th Infantry Division erected a light pontoon bridge at Champey, sending its artillery and supply trains to cross at Pont-à-Mousson; the divisions reached their positions near midnight. The French withdrawal to the west was ordered on 13 August, interrupted on 14 August by the Battle of Borny-Colombey and resumed on 15 August. Fighting between German and French cavalry went on all day on 15 August to the south-west of Metz, the Germans forcing the French to retreat back toward Metz. At 1830 on 15 August, Moltke ordered Second Army to cut off the French line of retreat along the Metz-Verdun roads and left to Friedrich Karl's judgement the best means to accomplish this task. Friedrich Karl had made clear in an 1100 telegram to royal headquarters that reports from III Corps had convinced him that the French were retreating toward the Meuse with full speed and the Second Army would have to hurry to cut them off. At 1900 Friedrich Karl ordered III Corps to advance in force to Vionville.
X Corps under General Konstantin Bernhard von Voigts-Rhetz and two cavalry divisions would assist III Corps in the offensive toward the Metz-Verdun roads. The French were, in fact, not retreating at full speed; the French staff officers were busy organizing the supply trains and road traffic, when the battle of Mars-la-Tour began at 0900 on 16 August. Moltke and the royal headquarters had wrongly assumed that a battle would not be fought until the Germans had reached the supposed French positions at the Meuse and directed the German armies to march toward the river without delay; the westward march of the German armies would leave the German troops at Mars-la-Tour outnumbered and without all possible support. The French were therefore the favorites to win the battle at Mars-la-Tour on 16 August and break out toward the Meuse. Only the lack of vigor and decisiveness on the part of the French high command prevented them from accomplishing it. In the evening of 15 August, Voigts-Rhetz ordered the 5th Cavalry Division under General Paul von Rheinbaben to conduct a reconnaissance-in-force against the French positions near Rezonville.
Around 0830 on 16 August, Murat's French dragoon brigade west of Vionville was busy cooking
Lorraine Regional Natural Park
Lorraine Regional Natural Park is a protected area of pastoral countryside in the Grand Est region of northeastern France. The park covers a total area of 205,000 hectares; the parkland spreads between spans three departments. Ancient ruins and modern monuments are common throughout the area; the land was designated a regional natural park in 1974. There are 193 communes within the parkland boundaries. Albestroff • Ancy-sur-Moselle • Andilly • Ansauville • Apremont-la-Forêt • Arnaville • Assenoncourt • Avricourt • Azoudange Bar-le-Duc • Bayonville-sur-Mad • Beaumont • Belles-Forêts • Belleville • Beney-en-Woëvre • Bernecourt • Blanche-Église • Boncourt-sur-Meuse • Bonzée • Bouconville-sur-Madt • Boucq • Bouillonville • Bourdonnay • Broussey-Raulecourt • Bruley • Bruville • Buxières-sous-les-Côtes Chaillon • Chambley-Bussières • Charey • Château-Voué • Combres-sous-les-Côtes Dampvitoux • Desseling • Dieue-sur-Meuse • Dieulouard • Domèvre-en-Haye • Dommartin-la-Chaussée • Dommartin-la-Montagne • Dompierre-aux-Bois • Donnelay • Dornot Écrouves • Les Éparges • Essey-et-Maizerais • Euvezin • Euville Fénétrange • Fey-en-Haye • Flirey • Frémeréville-sous-les-Côtes • Fresnes-en-Woëvre • Fribourg Gelucourt • Génicourt-sur-Meuse • Geville • Gézoncourt • Girauvoisin • Givrycourt • Gondrexange • Gorze • Gravelotte • Griscourt • Grosrouvres • Guéblange-lès-Dieuze • Guermange Hagéville • Hamonville • Hampont • Han-sur-Meuse • Hannonville-sous-les-Côtes • Hannonville-Suzémont • Haraucourt-sur-Seille • Haudiomont • Herbeuville • Heudicourt-sous-les-Côtes Insviller Jaulny • Jezainville • Juvelize Lachaussée • Lacroix-sur-Meuse • Lagarde • Lagney • Lahayville •Lamorville • Laneuveville-derrière-Foug • Languimberg • Lidrezing • Limey-Remenauville • Lindre-Basse • Lironville • Loudrefing • Loupmont • Lucey Maidières • Maizières-lès-Vic • Mamey • Mandres-aux-Quatre-Tours • Manoncourt-en-Woëvre • Manonville • Marbache • Mars-la-Tour • Marsal • Martincourt • Mécrin • Ménil-la-Tour • Metz • Minorville • Mittersheim • Montauville • Morville-les-Vic • Mouilly • Moussey • Moyenvic • Mulcey • Munster Nancy • Nébing • Nonsard-Lamarche • Norroy-lès-Pont-à-Mousson • Novéant-sur-Moselle • Noviant-aux-Prés Obreck • Ommeray • Onville Pagney-derrière-Barine • Pagny-sur-Moselle • Pannes • Pont-sur-Meuse • Prény • Puxieux Rambucourt • Ranzières • Réchicourt-le-Château • Rembercourt-sur-Mad • Rening • Rezonville • Rhodes • Richecourt • Rogéville • Ronvaux • Rorbach-lès-Dieuze • Rosières-en-Haye • Rouvrois-sur-Meuse • Royaumeix • Rupt-en-Woëvre Saint-Julien-les-Gorze • Saint-Julien-sous-les-Côtes • Saint-Maurice-sous-les-Côtes • Saint-Médard • Saint-Remy-la-Calonne • Saizerais • Sanzey • Saulx-lès-Champlon • Seicheprey • Seuzey • Sommedieue • Sotzeling • Sponville Tarquimpol • Thiaucourt • Thillot • Tomblaine • Torcheville • Tremblecourt • Trésauvaux • Trondes • Tronville • Troyon Val-de-Bride • Valbois • Vandelainville • Varneville • Vaux • Vaux-les-Palameix • Vic-sur-Seille • Viéville-en-Haye • Vigneulles-lès-Hattonchâtel • Vignot • Vilcey-sur-Trey • Ville-sur-Yron • Villecey-sur-Mad • Villers-en-Haye • Villers-sous-Prény • Vionville Waville • Wuisse Xammes • Xivray-et-Marvoisin • Xonville Zarbeling • Zommange List of regional natural parks of France Woëvre Official park website
Moselle is the most populous department in Lorraine, in the east of France, is named after the river Moselle, a tributary of the Rhine, which flows through the western part of the department. Inhabitants of the department are known as Mosellans. Moselle is one of the original 83 departments created during the French Revolution on March 4, 1790, it was created from the former province of Lorraine. In 1793, France annexed the enclaves of Manderen, Lixing-lès-Rouhling, Créhange - all possessions of princes of the Duchy of Luxemburg - a state of the Holy Roman Empire, incorporated them into the Moselle département. One of its first prefects was the comte de Vaublanc, from 1805 to 1814. By the Treaty of Paris of 1814 following the first defeat and abdication of Napoleon, France had to surrender all the territory it had conquered since 1792. In northeastern France, the Treaty did not restore the 1792 borders, but defined a new frontier to put an end to the convoluted nature of the border, with all its enclaves and exclaves.
As a result, France ceded the exclave of Tholey as well as a few communes near Sierck-les-Bains to Austria. On the other hand, the Treaty confirmed the French annexations of 1793, furthermore, the south of the Napoleonic département of Sarre was ceded to France, including the town of Lebach, the city of Saarbrücken, the rich coal basin nearby. France thus became a net beneficiary of the Treaty of Paris: all the new territories ceded to her being far larger and more strategic than the few territories ceded to Austria. All these new territories were incorporated into the Moselle department, so Moselle had now a larger territory than since 1790. However, with the return of Napoleon and his final defeat at the Battle of Waterloo, the Treaty of Paris in November 1815 imposed much harsher conditions on France. Tholey and the communes around Sierck-les-Bains were still to be ceded as agreed in 1814, but the south of the Sarre department with Saarbrücken was withdrawn from France. In addition, France had to cede to Austria the area of Rehlingen as well as the strategic fort-town of Saarlouis and the territory around it, all territories and towns which France had controlled since the 17th century, which formed part of the Moselle department since 1790.
At the end of 1815 Austria transferred all these territories to Prussia, making for the first time a shared border for those two states. Thus, by the end of 1815, the Moselle department had the limits that it would keep until 1871, it was smaller than at its creation in 1790, the incorporation of the Austrian enclaves not compensating for the loss of Saarlouis, Rehlingen and the communes around Sierck-les-Bains. Between 1815 and 1871, the department had an area of 5,387 km², its prefecture was Metz. It had four arrondissements: Metz, Briey and Thionville. After the French defeat in the Franco-Prussian War of 1870–71 all of the Moselle department, along with Alsace and portions of the Meurthe and Vosges departments, went to the German Empire by the Treaty of Frankfurt on the grounds that most of the population in those areas spoke German dialects. Bismarck omitted only one-fifth of Moselle from annexation, The Moselle department ceased to exist on May 18, 1871, the eastern four-fifths of Moselle was annexed to Germany merged with the German-annexed eastern third of the Meurthe Department into the German Department of Lorraine, based in Metz, within the newly established Imperial State of Alsace-Lorraine.
France merged the remaining area of Briey with the truncated Meurthe department to create the new Meurthe-et-Moselle department with its préfecture at Nancy. In 1919, following the French victory in the First World War, Germany returned Alsace-Lorraine to France under the terms of the Treaty of Versailles. However, it was decided not to recreate the old separate departments of Meurthe and Moselle by reverting to the old department borders of before 1871. Instead, Meurthe-et-Moselle was left untouched, the annexed part of Lorraine was reconstituted as the new department of Moselle. Thus, the Moselle department was reborn, but with quite different borders from those before 1871. Having lost the area of Briey, it had now gained the areas of Château-Salins and Sarrebourg which before 1871 had formed one-third of the Meurthe department and, part of the Reichsland of Alsace-Lorraine since 1871; the new Moselle department now reached its current area of 6,216 km², larger than the old Moselle because the areas of Château-Salins and Sarrebourg were far larger than the area of Briey and Longwy.
When the Second World War was declared on September 3, 1939 around 30% of Moselle's territory lay between the Maginot Line and the German frontier. 302,732 people, around 45% of the department's population, were evacuated to departments in central and western France during September 1939. Of those evacuated, around 200,000 returned after the war. In spite of the June 22, 1940 armistice, Moselle was again annexed by Germany in July of that year by becoming part of the Gau Westmark. Adolf Hitler considered Moselle and Alsace parts of Germany, as a result the inhabitants were drafted into the German Wehrmacht. Several organized groups were formed in resistance to the German occupation, notably the Groupe Mario
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
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
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
Departments of France
In the administrative divisions of France, the department is one of the three levels of government below the national level, between the administrative regions and the commune. Ninety-six departments are in metropolitan France, five are overseas departments, which are classified as regions. Departments are further subdivided into 334 arrondissements, themselves divided into cantons; each department is administered by an elected body called a departmental council. From 1800 to April 2015, these were called general councils; each council has a president. Their main areas of responsibility include the management of a number of social and welfare allowances, of junior high school buildings and technical staff, local roads and school and rural buses, a contribution to municipal infrastructures. Local services of the state administration are traditionally organised at departmental level, where the prefect represents the government; the departments were created in 1790 as a rational replacement of Ancien Régime provinces with a view to strengthen national unity.
All of them were named after physical geographical features, rather than after historical or cultural territories which could have their own loyalties. The division of France into departments was a project identified with the French revolutionary leader the Abbé Sieyès, although it had been discussed and written about by many politicians and thinkers; the earliest known suggestion of it is from 1764 in the writings of d'Argenson. They have inspired similar divisions in some of them former French colonies. Most French departments are assigned a two-digit number, the "Official Geographical Code", allocated by the Institut national de la statistique et des études économiques. Overseas departments have a three-digit number; the number is used, for example, in the postal code, was until used for all vehicle registration plates. While residents use the numbers to refer to their own department or a neighbouring one, more distant departments are referred to by their names, as few people know the numbers of all the departments.
For example, inhabitants of Loiret might refer to their department as "the 45". In 2014, President François Hollande proposed to abolish departmental councils by 2020, which would have maintained the departments as administrative divisions, to transfer their powers to other levels of governance; this reform project has since been abandoned. The first French territorial departments were proposed in 1665 by Marc-René d'Argenson to serve as administrative areas purely for the Ponts et Chaussées infrastructure administration. Before the French Revolution, France gained territory through the annexation of a mosaic of independent entities. By the close of the Ancien Régime, it was organised into provinces. During the period of the Revolution, these were dissolved in order to weaken old loyalties; the modern departments, as all-purpose units of the government, were created on 4 March 1790 by the National Constituent Assembly to replace the provinces with what the Assembly deemed a more rational structure.
Their boundaries served two purposes: Boundaries were chosen to break up France's historical regions in an attempt to erase cultural differences and build a more homogeneous nation. Boundaries were set so that every settlement in the country was within a day's ride of the capital of a department; this was a security measure, intended to keep the entire national territory under close control. This measure was directly inspired by the Great Terror, during which the government had lost control of many rural areas far from any centre of government; the old nomenclature was avoided in naming the new departments. Most were named after other physical features. Paris was in the department of Seine. Savoy became the department of Mont-Blanc; the number of departments 83, had been increased to 130 by 1809 with the territorial gains of the Republic and of the First French Empire. Following Napoleon's defeats in 1814–1815, the Congress of Vienna returned France to its pre-war size and the number of departments was reduced to 86.
In 1860, France acquired the County of Nice and Savoy, which led to the creation of three new departments. Two were added from the new Savoyard territory, while the department of Alpes-Maritimes was created from Nice and a portion of the Var department; the 89 departments were given numbers based on the alphabetical order of their names. The department of Bas-Rhin and parts of Meurthe, Moselle and Haut-Rhin were ceded to the German Empire in 1871, following France's defeat in the Franco-Prussian War. A small part of Haut-Rhin became known as the Territoire de Belfort; when France regained the ceded departments after World War I, the Territoire de Belfort was not re-integrated into Haut-Rhin. In 1922, it became France's 90th department; the Lorraine departments were not changed back to their original boundaries, a new Moselle department was created in the regaine