Administrative divisions of France

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Administrative divisions of France

Main article

(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

The administrative divisions of France are concerned with the institutional and territorial organization of French territory. There are many administrative divisions, which may have political (local government), electoral (districts), or administrative (decentralized services of the state) objectives.

The different status


The French republic is divided into 18 regions : 13 in metropolitan France and 5 in overseas France.

Metropolitan regions

As of 1 January 2016, metropolitan France is divided into the following:[1]

Furthermore, As of January 2009, there exist 2,585 intercommunal structures grouping 34,077 communes (93.2% of all the communes of metropolitan France), with 87.4% of the population of metropolitan France living in them.[3] These intercommunal structures are:

Overseas regions

  • each overseas region is coextensive with an overseas department (département d'outre-mer, or DOM), again with the same status as departments in metropolitan France. The first four overseas departments were created in 1946 and preceded the four overseas regions, Mayotte became a DOM in 2011. The dual structure overseas region/overseas department, with two separate assemblies administering the same territory, results from the extension of the regional scheme to the overseas departments in the 1970s. Each overseas region/department may transform into a single structure, with the merger of the regional and departmental assemblies, but voters in Martinique and Guadeloupe rejected this in two referendums in 2003. In Réunion the creation of a second department for the southern part of the island has been debated for some time.
  • the overseas departments are subdivided into 12 arrondissements (Mayotte does not have arrondissements)
  • the 12 arrondissements are further subdivided into 153 cantons with Mayotte having another 19 cantons
  • the 172 cantons are composed of 129 communes (in the five DOM, there are more cantons than communes, unlike in metropolitan France, because many communes are divided into several cantons, whereas in metropolitan France in general cantons are made up of several communes, except in large communes like Toulouse or Lille which are divided into several cantons)
  • Furthermore, as of January 1, 2009, there exist 16 intercommunal structures in the overseas departments, grouping 89 communes (79.5% of all the communes of the overseas departments), with 83.2% of the population of the overseas departments living in them intercommunal structures.[3] These intercommunal structures are:
  • 7 Agglomeration communities
  • 9 Commune communities

Overseas collectivities

The French Republic include five overseas collectivities (collectivités d'outre-mer, or COM): French Polynesia, Saint-Barthélemy, Saint-Martin, Saint-Pierre and Miquelon and Wallis and Futuna

  • French Polynesia (designated as an "overseas country", French: pays d'outre-mer) is divided into 5 administrative subdivisions (subdivisions administratives). For elections it is divided into 6 electoral districts (circonscriptions électorales) which differ slightly from the 5 administrative subdivisions. The 5 administrative subdivisions are divided into 48 communes. There also exist some associated communes as in metropolitan France.
  • Saint-Barthélemy (designated as a "collectivity", French: collectivité) is a new overseas collectivity created on February 22, 2007. It was previously a commune inside the Guadeloupe department. The commune structure was abolished and Saint-Barthélemy is now one of only three permanently inhabited territories of the French Republic with no commune structure. There are no cantons and arrondissements either.
  • Saint-Martin (designated as a "collectivity", French: collectivité) is also a new overseas collectivity created on February 22, 2007. It was also previously a commune inside the Guadeloupe department. The commune structure was abolished and Saint-Martin is now one of only three permanently inhabited territories of the French Republic with no commune structure. There are no cantons and arrondissements either.
  • Saint-Pierre and Miquelon (designated as a "territorial collectivity", French: collectivité territoriale, the same designation as Corsica which is a region and not an overseas collectivity) is divided into 2 communes with no arrondissements or cantons.
  • Wallis and Futuna (designated as a "territory", French: territoire) is divided into 3 districts (circonscriptions territoriales) which exactly match the three traditional chiefdoms (royaumes coutumiers) with their traditional kings still at their head, the only kings currently recognized in the French Republic. These 3 districts are: Uvea, Sigave, and Alo. Uvea is the most populous and is further divided into 3 wards (districts in French): Hahake, Mua, and Hihifo. Wallis and Futuna is one of only three permanently inhabited territories of the French Republic with no communes (the others being Saint-Barthélemy and Saint-Martin). It also has no arrondissements or cantons.

Overseas territory

1 overseas territory (territoire d'outre-mer, or TOM): the French Southern and Antarctic Lands, which have no permanent population and no communes.

  • the French Southern and Antarctic Lands are divided into 5 districts (districts in French):
1. Kerguelen Islands
2. Crozet Islands
3. Amsterdam Island and Saint Paul Island
4. Adelie Land.
5. the Scattered Islands (îles Éparses), a collection of six non permanently inhabited islands in the Indian Ocean: Banc du Geyser, Bassas da India, Europa, Juan de Nova, Glorioso, and Tromelin. These were previously administered separately but they have been joined with the French Southern and Antarctic Lands since February 2007.

Uninhabited island directly under the authority of the Minister of Overseas France

  • Clipperton Island: uninhabited island in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Mexico which is directly under the authority of the Minister of Overseas France in Paris (until February 2007 it was administered by the high-commissioner of the French Republic in French Polynesia). Since the Scattered Islands were joined with the French Southern and Antarctic Lands also in February 2007, Clipperton Island is now the only island left in this category.

New Caledonia

  • 1 special collectivity: New Caledonia, whose status is unique in the French Republic: it is the only French local government which is not a territorial collectivity (although its subdivisions are territorial collectivities). As agreed in the 1998 Nouméa Accord, a self-determination referendum will be held between 2014 and 2018 to decide the future status of the New Caledonia.
  • It is divided into 3 provinces
  • the provinces are subdivided into 33 communes

Territorial collectivities

French subdivisions that have a (limited) freedom of administration are called territorial collectivities. Among them are regions, departments, communes, overseas collectivities, provinces (only present in New Caledonia) and the territorial collectivity of Corsica which belongs to no category (but is usually grouped with the regions). New Caledonia is unique as it is not a territorial collectivity.[citation needed]

General rules

Citizens from all parts of France, including the overseas administrative divisions, vote in national elections (presidential, legislative), and all of the collectivities are represented in the Senate.

List of departments by region

Historical divisions

Regions and departments of France from 1982 to 2015.

In the Medieval period, the territory of modern metropolitan France was occupied by a complex mosaic of more or less independent entities. Their gradual incorporation into France may be followed in the article Territorial formation of France.

Historically, France was divided into provinces; see Provinces of France.

See also


  1. "Circonscriptions administratives au 1er janvier 2015 : comparaisons régionales" [Administrative constituencies of 1 January 2015: regional comparisons] (in français). INSEE. Retrieved 5 July 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. "La réforme territoriale" (in français). Government of France. 18 December 2015. Retrieved 1 January 2016.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. 3.0 3.1 Direction générale des collectivités locales (DGCL), Ministry of the Interior. "Intercommunalité - Bilan statistique 2009" (in français). Archived from the original on 6 March 2009. Retrieved 2009-03-24. Unknown parameter |deadurl= ignored (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links