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During the 19th and 20th centuries, the French colonial empire was the second largest colonial empire behind the British Empire; it extended over 12,898,000 km2 (4,980,000 sq mi) of land at its height in the 1920s and 1930s. In terms of population however, on the eve of World War II, France and her colonial possessions totaled only 110 million inhabitants, compared to 330 million for British India alone.
France began to establish colonies in North America, the Caribbean and India, following Spanish and Portuguese successes during the Age of Discovery, in rivalry with Britain. A series of wars with Britain during the 18th century and early 19th century, which France finally lost, almost ended its colonial ambitions in these regions, and without it what some historians term the "first" French colonial empire. In the 19th century, starting with the conquest of Algiers in 1830, France began to establish a new empire in Africa and Southeast Asia.
The following is a list of all countries that were part of the French colonial empires in the last 500 years, either entirely or in part, either under French sovereignty or as mandate.
In the Americas
This map shows the Louisiana Purchase area, which corresponds approximately with colonial French Louisiana.
Cheikh Saïd (1868-1936) (Some French atlases and history books claimed the territory was French, but France never occupied it and never claimed formal jurisdiction or sovereignty over the territory which remained under Turkish, then Yemeni control.)
Hawaiian Islands (1837) (at the beginning of French presence there; however, the United States persuaded the local Queen to negotiate with them instead, by means of the strength of a company of U.S. Marines)
Adélie Land (1840-present) (sheltering one of two French Bases in Antarctica, the other one being Franco-Italian (that borders with the Australian Antarctic Territory on both sides and divides that in two)
^Godard, Philippe; Kerros, Tugdual de; Margot, Odette; Stanbury, Myra; Baxter, Sue; Western Australian Museum; Godard, Phillippe; De Kerros, Tugdual; Margot, Odette; Stanbury, Myra; Baxter, Sue (2008), 1772 : the French annexation of New Holland : the tale of Louis de Saint Aloürn, Western Australian Museum, ISBN978-1-920843-98-4
^Philippe Godard, Tugdual de Kerros 2002, "Louis de Saint Aloüarn, un marin breton à la conquête des terres australes", Les Portes du large, Saint-Jacques-de-la-Lande, 331-336