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Overseas departments and territories of France

French Overseas Territories
Flag of125px
Largest settlements Nouméa, New Caledonia, Papeete, French Polynesia
Languages French, Tahitian, Antillean Creole, 'Uvean, Futunan, Drehu, Nengone, Paicî, Ajië, Xârâcùù, and 35 other native languages of New Caledonia
Demonym French
 -  President François Hollande
 -  Ministry George Pau-Langevin
 -  Total 462,225 km2
178,466 sq mi
 -  estimate 587,868
Currency Euro
CFP Franc
Date format dd/mm/yyyy (AD)
"Overseas territories of France" redirects here. For the Euro-constituency, see Overseas Territories of France (European Parliament constituency).
"Outre-mer" redirects here. For the historical term, see Outremer.
Historical population
1953 909,000—    
1963 1,194,000+31.4%
1973 1,475,000+23.5%
1983 1,656,000+12.3%
1993 2,028,000+22.5%
2003 2,414,000+19.0%
2013 2,691,000+11.5%

The French Overseas Departments and Territories (French: départements et territoires d'outre-mer, colloquially referred to as the DOM-TOM Template:IPA-fr[8]) consist of all the French-administered territories outside of the European continent. These territories have varying legal status and different levels of autonomy, although all (except those with no permanent inhabitants) have representation in the Parliament of France, and consequently the right to vote in elections to the European Parliament. The French Overseas Departments and Territories include island territories in the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian oceans, French Guiana on the South American continent, and several periantarctic islands as well as a claim in Antarctica.

2,691,000 people lived in the French Overseas Departments and Territories in January 2013.[9] With a combined land area of 119,394 km² (46,098 sq. miles)[10] and an exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of 9,821,231 km² (3,791,998 sq. miles),[11] the French Overseas Departments and Territories (excluding Adélie Land in Antarctica where sovereignty is suspended since the signing of the Antarctic Treaty in 1959) account for 17.8% of the land territory and 96.7% of the EEZ of the French Republic.

From a legal and administrative standpoint, departments are very different from territories. 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 departments the same as in mainland France, but can be adapted as needed to suit the departments' particular needs. In French territories, the reverse is true (laws can't be adapted). Under France's so-called "autonomy statutes", the departments are empowered to make their own laws, except in certain areas (such as defense, international relations, trade and currency, and judicial and administrative law), where the territories are bound by the laws promulgated by the French government and by those France appoints to oversee the territories.

Each inhabited French territory, metropolitan or overseas, is represented in both the French National Assembly and the French Senate (which together make up the French Parliament). The overseas departments and territories are governed by local elected assemblies and by the French Parliament and French Government (where a cabinet member, the Minister of Overseas France, is in charge of issues related to the overseas departments and territories).

Varying constitutional statuses

Overseas departments and regions

Overseas collectivities

Main article: Overseas collectivity

The category of "overseas collectivity" 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 and St. Barthélemy voted in favour of secession from Guadeloupe in order to become separate overseas collectivities of France.[12] On February 7, 2007, the French Parliament passed a bill granting COM status to both jurisdictions.[13] The new status took effect on February 22, 2007 when the law was published in the Journal Officiel.[14] They remain part of the European Union, as stated in the Treaty of Lisbon.[15]
  • Saint Barthélemy (see the comments immediately above).

Special 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, and a gradual transfer of power from the French state to New Caledonia itself was begun, to last from fifteen to twenty years.[16]

Overseas territories

Overseas country

The status of overseas country (French: Pays d'outre-mer), projected for French Pacific dependencies, was finally never created. The 2004 status of French Polynesia gives it this designation but also reflects that it belongs to the category of overseas collectivities. The Constitutional Council of France confirmed that the designation of overseas country had no legal consequences. Since New Caledonia's status has no name, and since its parliament can make local laws, it is sometimes incorrectly termed an overseas country.

Minor territories

  • Clipperton Island (French: Île de Clipperton or Île de la Passion) (Spanish: Isla de la Pasión) is a nine-square-kilometre coral atoll located 1,280 kilometers south-west of Acapulco, Mexico, in the Pacific Ocean. It is held as 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 2,691,000 inhabitants in 2013, the French overseas departments and territories account for 4.1% of the population of the French Republic.[10] They enjoy a corresponding representation in the two chambers of the French Parliament.

Representation in the National Assembly

In the 13th Legislature (2012-2017), the French overseas departments and territories are represented by 27 députés (M.P.s) in the French National Assembly, accounting for 4.7% of the 577 députés in the National Assembly:

Representation in the Senate

Since September 2011, the French overseas departments and territories are represented by 21 senators in the French Senate, accounting for 6.0% of the 343 senators in the Senate:

List of French overseas territories

Inhabited departments and collectivities

The 11 French overseas territories are :

Flag[17] Name Capital Population Land area
Population density
(inh. per km2)
Status Location Notes
50px French Guiana Cayenne 250,109 (Jan. 2013)[18] 83,534[19] 3 Overseas department / region South America
50px French Polynesia Papeete 268,270 (Aug. 2012)[5] 3,521[20] 76 Overseas collectivity South Pacific Ocean
50px Guadeloupe Basse-Terre 405,739 (Jan. 2013)[18] 1,628[19] 249 Overseas department / region Antilles
50px Martinique Fort-de-France 386,486 (Jan. 2013)[18] 1,128[19] 343 Overseas department / region Antilles
50px Mayotte Mamoudzou 212,645 (Aug. 2012)[3] 374[20] 569 Overseas department / region Africa
(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
50px New Caledonia Nouméa 256,000 (Jan. 2012)[4] 18,575.5[21] 14 Sui generis collectivity South Pacific Ocean Referendum for independence to occur sometime during the period of 2015 to 2019.
50px Réunion Saint-Denis 840,974 (Jan. 2013)[18] 2,504[19] 336 Overseas department / region Africa
(Indian Ocean)
50px Saint Barthélemy Gustavia 9,035 (Jan. 2011)[2] 25[22] 361 Overseas collectivity Antilles Detached from Guadeloupe on February 22, 2007.
50px Saint Martin Marigot 36,286 (Jan. 2011)[2] 53[23] 685 Overseas collectivity Antilles Detached from Guadeloupe on February 22, 2007.
50px Saint Pierre and Miquelon Saint-Pierre 6,080 (Jan. 2011)[2] 242[20] 25 Overseas collectivity Southeast of Canada
50px Wallis and Futuna Mata-Utu 12,197 (Jul. 2013)[6] 142[20] 86 Overseas collectivity South Pacific Ocean
Overall summary
Status Population (Jan. 2013)[9] Land area (km2)
Overseas departments / regions 2,098,000 89,168
Overseas collectivities and New Caledonia 593,000 22,559
Total 2,691,000 111,727

Uninhabited overseas territories

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

Flag Name District Scattered islands Capital Land area (km2) Status Location Notes
50px Clipperton - - - 2[24] French state private property West of Mexico
50px French Southern and Antarctic Lands Crozet Islands - Alfred Faure 340[25] TAAF district South Indian Ocean
Kerguelen Islands - Port-aux-Français 7,215[25] TAAF district South Indian Ocean
Saint-Paul Island and
Amsterdam Island
- Martin-de-Viviès 66[25] TAAF district Indian Ocean
Adélie Land - Dumont d'Urville Station 432,000[25] TAAF district Antarctica Under terms of Antarctic Treaty System
Scattered Islands in the Indian Ocean Banc du Geyser - 0 TAAF district Africa
(Mozambique Channel)
Claimed by Madagascar and Comoros
Bassas da India - 1[25] TAAF district Africa
(Mozambique Channel)
Claimed by Madagascar
Europa - 30[25] TAAF district Africa
(Mozambique Channel)
Claimed by Madagascar
Glorioso Islands - 7[25] TAAF district Indian Ocean Claimed by Comoros, Madagascar and Seychelles
Juan de Nova - 5[25] TAAF district Africa
(Mozambique Channel)
Claimed by Madagascar
Tromelin Island - 1[25] TAAF district Indian Ocean Claimed by Mauritius

Largest cities in overseas France

The lands making up the French Republic, shown at the same geographic scale.

This article is part of the series on
Administrative divisions of France

(incl. overseas regions)

(incl. overseas departments)

Urban communities
Agglomeration communities
Commune communities
Syndicates of New Agglomeration

Associated communes
Municipal arrondissements

Others in Overseas France

Overseas collectivities
Sui generis collectivity
Overseas country
Overseas territory
Clipperton Island

Ranked by population in the urban area:

See also


  1. ^ INSEE. "Indicateurs démographiques annuels et mensuels - Population au début de la période" (in français). Retrieved October 26, 2013. 
  2. ^ a b c d INSEE, Government of France. "Populations légales 2011 des collectivités d'outre-mer" (in français). Retrieved January 31, 2014. 
  3. ^ a b INSEE. "212 600 habitants à Mayotte en 2012 - La population augmente toujours fortement" (in français). Retrieved October 26, 2013. 
  4. ^ a b ISEE. "Chiffres clés Nouvelle-Calédonie - Démographie" (in français). Retrieved October 26, 2013. 
  5. ^ a b ISPF. "Population des subdivisions administratives de Polynésie française" (in français). Retrieved October 26, 2013. 
  6. ^ a b STSEE. "Populations légales au recensement de la population 2013 de Wallis et Futuna" (in français). Retrieved January 31, 2014. 
  7. ^ "File POP/1-1: Total population (both sexes combined) by major area, region and country, annually for 1950-2100 (thousands) - Estimates, 1950-2010". United Nations, Population Division. Retrieved October 26, 2013. 
  8. ^, Definition of les DOM-TOM
  9. ^ a b See Demographics section.
  10. ^ a b Land area of the 4 old overseas departments ([1]), Mayotte and the overseas collectivities ([2]), New Caledonia ([3]), St Martin ([4]), St Baths ([5]), the French Southern and Antarctic Lands ([6]), and Clipperton ([7]).
  11. ^ The Pew Charitable Trusts. "SEA AROUND US PROJECT: Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZ)". Retrieved January 31, 2014. 
  12. ^ "French Caribbean voters reject change". Caribbean Net News. December 9, 2003. Retrieved February 9, 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". 
  13. ^ 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 February 18, 2007. On February 7 of this year, the French Parliament adopted the law granting Saint-Barthélemy the Statute of an Overseas Collectivity. 
  14. ^ "Saint-Barth To Become An Overseas Collectivity" (PDF). St. Barth Weekly. February 9, 2007. p. 2. Retrieved February 9, 2007. 
  15. ^ "Treaty of Lisbon, Article 2, points 287 and 293". Retrieved January 31, 2008. 
  16. ^ "Nouvelle-Calédonie", Le Petit Larousse (2010), Paris, page 1559.
  17. ^ Article 2 of the French Constitution states that the French flag is the only legal flag of France. Only French Polynesia, a collectivity, and New Caledonia, a special collectivity are allowed official flags. This right was granted to French Polynesia by a September, 6th, 1984, law and to New Caledonia by the Nouméa Accord. The Administrator of French Antarctica is also granted his own flag through a February, 23rd, 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 below.
  18. ^ a b c d INSEE. "Estimation de population au 1er janvier, par région, sexe et grande classe d'âge – Année 2013" (in français). Retrieved January 26, 2014. 
  19. ^ a b c d INSEE. "Base chiffres clés : évolution et structure de la population 2010" (in français). Retrieved January 31, 2014. 
  20. ^ a b c d INSEE. "Tableau Économique de Mayotte 2010" (PDF) (in français). p. 21. Retrieved January 31, 2014. 
  21. ^ ISEE. "Tableaux de l'Economie Calédonienne : Population, superficie et densité par commune et province en 2009" (PDF) (in français). Retrieved January 31, 2014. 
  22. ^ INSEE. "Actualités : 2008, An 1 de la collectivité de Saint-Barthélemy" (in français). Retrieved January 31, 2014. 
  23. ^ INSEE. "Actualités : 2008, An 1 de la collectivité de Saint-Martin" (in français). Retrieved January 31, 2014. 
  24. ^ Ministry of Overseas France. "L’île de Clipperton" (in français). Retrieved January 31, 2014. 
  25. ^ 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 français). Retrieved January 31, 2014. 
  • Robert Aldrich and John Connell, France's Overseas Frontier, Cambridge University Press, 1992

Further reading

  • Frédéric Monera, L'idée de République et la jurisprudence du Conseil constitutionnel - Paris : L.G.D.J., 2004 [8] [9];

External links