Overseas France
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Overseas France

Overseas France
Flag of
Territory of the French Republic (red) Overseas territories (circled) Claimed territory (Adélie Land; hatched)
Territory of the French Republic (red)
Overseas territories (circled)
Claimed territory (Adélie Land; hatched)
Location of
Largest settlementsNouméa (New Caledonia), Papeete (French Polynesia)
LanguagesFrench, Antillean Creole, Guianan Creole, Reunionese Creole, Shimaore, Tahitian, Marquesan, 'Uvean, Futunan, Drehu, Nengone, Paicî, Ajië, Javanese, and 35 other native languages of New Caledonia
o Total
119,396[a] km2 (46,099 sq mi)
o Estimate
2,790,000 (Jan. 2018)
CFP Franc
Date formatdd/mm/yyyy (AD)
  1. ^ Excluding Adélie Land.

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

Almost all inhabited French administrative divisions outside Europe are classified as either overseas departments/regions or overseas collectivities; these statuses are very different from one another from a legal and administrative standpoint.

  • Overseas regions have exactly the same status as mainland France's regions. The French Constitution provides that, in general, French laws and regulations (France's civil code, penal code, administrative law, social laws, tax laws, etc.) apply to French overseas regions the same as in metropolitan France, but can be adapted as needed to suit the region's particular needs. Hence, the local administrations of French overseas regions cannot themselves pass new laws.
  • In contrast, the overseas collectivities are empowered to make their own laws, except in certain areas reserved to the French national government (such as defense, international relations, trade and currency, and judicial and administrative law). The overseas collectivities are governed by local elected assemblies and by the French Parliament and French Government, with a cabinet member, the Minister of the Overseas, in charge of issues related to the overseas territories.
  • New Caledonia is neither an overseas region nor an overseas collectivity; it has a sui generis status enshrined in the French Constitution, in keeping with the Nouméa Accord.

Overseas France covers a land area of 119,396 km2 (46,099 sq mi)[a] and accounts for 18.0% of the French Republic's land territory.[1] It has an exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of 9,825,538 km2 (3,793,661 sq mi) and accounts for 96.7% of the EEZ of the French Republic[2] (excluding the district of Adélie Land, a part of the French Southern and Antarctic Lands, where the French sovereignty is effective de jure by French law, but where the French exclusive claim on this part of Antarctica is frozen by a mandatory international cooperation since the signing of the Antarctic Treaty in 1959).

Varying constitutional statuses

Overseas regions and departments

Overseas collectivities

The category of "overseas collectivity" (French: collectivité d'outre-mer or COM) was created by France's constitutional reform of March 28, 2003. Each overseas collectivity has its own statutory laws.

  • French Polynesia (1946-2003: overseas territory, since 2003: overseas collectivity) In 2004 it was given the designation of "overseas country" (French: pays d'outre-mer), but the Constitutional Council of France has clarified that this designation did not create a new political category.
  • Saint Pierre and Miquelon (1976-85: overseas department, 1985-2003: sui generis overseas territory, since 2003: overseas collectivity). Despite being given the political status of "overseas collectivity," Saint Pierre et Miquelon is called collectivité territoriale de Saint-Pierre-et-Miquelon, literally "territorial collectivity."
  • Wallis and Futuna (1961-2003: overseas territory, since 2003: overseas collectivity). It is still commonly referred to as a territoire (Territoire des îles Wallis et Futuna).
  • Saint Martin: In 2003, the populations of St. Martin voted in favour of secession from Guadeloupe in order to become separate overseas collectivity of France.[3] On February 7, 2007, the French Parliament passed a bill granting COM status to both jurisdictions.[4] The new status took effect on February 22, 2007 when the law was published in the Journal Officiel.[5] St. Martin remains part of the European Union, as stated in the Treaty of Lisbon.[6]
  • Saint Barthélemy: In 2003, St. Barthélemy voted to become an overseas collectivity of France. St. Barthélemy is not part of the European Union, having changed the status to an overseas country or territory associated with the European Union in 2012.

Overseas territory

Sui generis collectivity

  • New Caledonia was classified as an overseas territory beginning in 1946, but as a result of the 1998 Nouméa Accord, it gained a special status (statut particulier or statut original) in 1999. A New Caledonian citizenship was established (in addition to the French citizenship which is kept in parallel, along with the consequent European citizenship), and a gradual transfer of power from the French state to New Caledonia itself was begun, to last from 15 to 20 years.[7]

Special status

  • Clipperton Island (French: Île de Clipperton or Île de la Passion, Spanish: Isla de la Pasión) is a 9 km2 (3.5 sq mi) coral atoll located 1,280 km (800 miles) south-west of Acapulco, Mexico, in the Pacific Ocean. It is held as an overseas state private property under the direct authority of the French government, and is administered by France's Overseas Minister.

Political representation in the French Parliament

With 2,790,000 inhabitants in 2018, Overseas France accounts for 4.1% of the population of the French Republic.[8] They enjoy a corresponding representation in the two chambers of the French Parliament.

Representation in the National Assembly

In the 14th Legislature (2017-2022), Overseas France is represented by 27 deputies in the French National Assembly, accounting for 4.7% of the 577 deputies in the National Assembly:

Representation in the Senate

Since September 2011, Overseas France has been represented by 21 senators in the French Senate, accounting for 6.0% of the 348 senators in the Senate:


Inhabited departments and collectivities

The 11 inhabited French overseas territories are:

Flag[note 1] Name Capital Population Land area
Population density
(inh. per km2)
Status Location Notes
Flag of French Guiana.svg French Guiana Cayenne 281,612
(Jan. 2018)[9]
83,534[10] 3 Overseas department / region South America
French Polynesia French Polynesia Papeete 275,918
(Aug. 2017)[11]
3,521[12] 78 Overseas collectivity South Pacific Ocean
Unofficial flag of Guadeloupe (local).svg Guadeloupe Basse-Terre 390,704
(Jan. 2018)[9]
1,628[10] 240 Overseas department / region Caribbean
Snake Flag of Martinique.svg Martinique Fort-de-France 371,246
(Jan. 2018)[9]
1,128[10] 329 Overseas department / region Caribbean
Flag of Mayotte (local).svg Mayotte Mamoudzou 259,154
(Jan. 2018)[9]
374[12] 693 Overseas department / region Mozambique Channel Voted on March 29, 2009, in favour of attaining overseas department/region status. That status became effective on March 31, 2011.
Also claimed by Comoros.
Flags of New Caledonia.svg New Caledonia Nouméa 278,500
(Jan. 2017)[13]
18,575.5[14] 15 Sui generis collectivity South Pacific Ocean Referendum for independence occurred on November 4, 2018, with 56.4% voting against and 43.6% voting in favor of independence from France.
Proposed flag of Réunion (VAR).svg Réunion Saint-Denis 865,826
(Jan. 2018)[9]
2,504[10] 346 Overseas department / region Indian Ocean
Flag of Saint Barthélemy (local).svg Saint Barthélemy Gustavia 9,625
(Jan. 2015)[15]
25[16] 385 Overseas collectivity Caribbean Detached from Guadeloupe on February 22, 2007.
Flag of France.svg Saint Martin Marigot 35,684
(Jan. 2015)[15]
53[17] 673 Overseas collectivity Caribbean Detached from Guadeloupe on February 22, 2007.
Flag of Saint-Pierre and Miquelon.svg Saint Pierre and Miquelon Saint-Pierre 6,021
(Jan. 2015)[15]
242[12] 25 Overseas collectivity North Atlantic Ocean
Flag of Wallis and Futuna.svg Wallis and Futuna Mata-Utu 12,197
(Jul. 2013)[18]
142[12] 86 Overseas collectivity South Pacific Ocean
  1. ^ Article 2 of the French Constitution states that the French Flag is the only legal flag of France. Only French Polynesia, an overseas country, and New Caledonia, a special collectivity are allowed to have their official flags. This right was granted to French Polynesia by a 6 September 1984, law and to New Caledonia by the Nouméa Accord. The Administrator of French Antarctica is also granted his own flag through a 23 February 2007 ordinance. Historical flags are sometimes used but have no basis in law. Many territories use unofficial flags to represent the territories. The unofficial flags are shown in this table.

Uninhabited overseas territories

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

Flag Name District Scattered islands Capital Land area (km2) Status Location Notes
France Clipperton - - - 2[19] French state private property Central America
French Southern and Antarctic Lands French Southern and Antarctic Lands Crozet Islands - Alfred Faure 340[20] TAAF district Indian Ocean
Kerguelen Islands - Port-aux-Français 7,215[20] TAAF district Indian Ocean population: 45 researchers in winter, 110 in summer
Saint-Paul Island and
Amsterdam Island
- Martin-de-Viviès 66[20] TAAF district Indian Ocean
Adélie Land - Dumont d'Urville Station 432,000[20] TAAF district Antarctica Under the terms of the Antarctic Treaty System
Scattered Islands in the Indian Ocean Banc du Geyser - 0 TAAF district Mozambique Channel Claimed by Madagascar and Comoros
Bassas da India - 1[20] Mozambique Channel Claimed by Madagascar
Europa - 30[20] Mozambique Channel Claimed by Madagascar
Glorioso Islands - 7[20] Indian Ocean Claimed by Comoros and Madagascar
Juan de Nova - 5[20] Mozambique Channel Claimed by Madagascar
Tromelin Island - 1[20] Indian Ocean Claimed by Mauritius


Outre-mer en.png

Largest cities in overseas France

Ranked by population in the urban area:

See also


  1. ^ Excluding Adélie Land.


  1. ^ Land area of the four old overseas departments ([1]), Mayotte, the overseas collectivities, and New Caledonia (page 21), the French Southern and Antarctic Lands and the Scattered Islands ([2]), and Clipperton ([3]).
  2. ^ "Sea Around Us - Fisheries, Ecosystems and Biodiversity". Retrieved 2018.
  3. ^ "French Caribbean voters reject change". Caribbean Net News. December 9, 2003. Archived from the original on March 18, 2009. Retrieved 2007. However, voters in the two tiny French dependencies of Saint-Barthélemy and Saint-Martin, which have been administratively attached to Guadeloupe, approved the referendum and are set to acquire the new status of "overseas collectivity".
  4. ^ Magras, Bruno (February 16, 2007). "Letter of Information from the Mayor to the residents and non-residents, to the French and to the foreigners, of Saint Barthelemy" (PDF). St. Barth Weekly. p. 2. Retrieved 2007. On February 7 of this year, the French Parliament adopted the law granting Saint-Barthélemy the Statute of an Overseas Collectivity.
  5. ^ "Saint-Barth To Become An Overseas Collectivity" (PDF). St. Barth Weekly. February 9, 2007. p. 2. Retrieved 2007.
  6. ^ "Treaty of Lisbon, Article 2, points 287 and 293". Retrieved 2008.
  7. ^ "Nouvelle-Calédonie", Le Petit Larousse (2010), Paris, page 1559.
  8. ^ The population of all five overseas departments totaled 2,169,000 [4] in January 2018. The population of the overseas collectivities amounted to 621,000 inhabitants (Saint-Pierre and Miquelon [5], Saint-Barthélemy [6], Saint-Martin [7], French Polynesia [8], Wallis et Futuna [9], New Caledonia [10]). The total population of the overseas departments and territories of France is estimated at 2,790,000.
  9. ^ a b c d e INSEE. "Estimation de population par région, sexe et grande classe d'âge - Années 1975 à 2018" (in French). Retrieved 2018.
  10. ^ a b c d INSEE. "Base chiffres clés : évolution et structure de la population 2010" (in French). Retrieved 2014.
  11. ^ "La population légale au 17 août 2017 : 275 918 habitants". ISPF. Retrieved 2018.
  12. ^ a b c d INSEE. "Tableau Économique de Mayotte 2010" (PDF) (in French). p. 21. Retrieved 2014.
  13. ^ ISEE. "Bilan démographique 2016" (in French). Retrieved 2018.
  14. ^ ISEE. "Tableaux de l'Economie Calédonienne : Population, superficie et densité par commune et province en 2009" (PDF) (in French). Retrieved 2014.
  15. ^ a b c INSEE, Government of France. "Populations légales 2015 des départements et collectivités d'outre-mer" (in French). Retrieved 2018.
  16. ^ INSEE. "Actualités : 2008, An 1 de la collectivité de Saint-Barthélemy" (in French). Retrieved 2014.
  17. ^ INSEE. "Actualités : 2008, An 1 de la collectivité de Saint-Martin" (in French). Retrieved 2014.
  18. ^ STSEE. "Populations légales au recensement de la population 2013 de Wallis et Futuna" (in French). Retrieved 2014.
  19. ^ Ministry of Overseas France. "L'île de Clipperton" (in French). Retrieved 2014.
  20. ^ a b c d e f g h i Délégation générale à l'outre-mer. "Terres Australes et Antarctiques Françaises : Données géographiques et humaines" (PDF) (in French). Archived from the original (PDF) on February 2, 2014. Retrieved 2014.

Further reading

  • Robert Aldrich and John Connell, France's Overseas Frontier, Cambridge University Press, 1992
  • Frédéric Monera, L'idée de République et la jurisprudence du Conseil constitutionnel - Paris: L.G.D.J., 2004 [18] [19];

External links

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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