Overseas France: Wikis


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French overseas departments, territories and claims on Antarctica
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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

The French Overseas Departments and Territories (French: départements d'outre-mer and territoires d'outre-mer or DOM-TOM [dɔmtɔm][1]) consist broadly of French-administered territories outside of the European continent. These territories have varying legal status and different levels of autonomy, although all have representation in the Parliament of France (except those with no permanent inhabitants), and 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, a territory on the South American coast, and several periantarctic islands as well as an extensive claim in Antarctica. 2,653,942 people lived in the French Overseas Departments and Territories in January 2010.[2]

From a legal and administrative standpoint, departments are very different from territories: according to the French constitution, French laws and regulations generally apply (civil code, penal code, administrative law, social laws, tax laws et cetera), in departments as in the mainland. However, specific laws and regulations can be adapted to their specific situation. In territories, the principle is the opposite: territories are governed by autonomy statutes that allow them to make their own laws, except for some specific areas (like defense, international relations, international trade and currency, courts and administrative law), as provided in the autonomy statute, that are reserved to the central government and its local appointee.

Each inhabited French territory, metropolitan or overseas, is represented in both the French National Assembly and the French Senate (which 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 Overseas Regions

In a 2009 referendum, Mayotte voted in favour of becoming an overseas department. This transition from overseas collectivity to overseas department is expected to occur in 2011 (see below and Mahoran status referendum, 2009).

Overseas Collectivities

This category was created with the constitutional reform on 28 March 2003. Each collectivity has its own statutory laws.

  • French Polynesia (1946-2003: overseas territory), since 2003: Overseas collectivity. Its new status of 2004 gives it the particular designation of overseas country (French: pays d'outre-mer), but the Constitutional Council of France judged that it was just a designation, not a particular status.
  • Mayotte (1976-2003: sui generis overseas territory; 2001-2003: with the designation departmental community); since 2003: Overseas community. Mayotte has kept its particular designation of departmental community, which is not a particular status. In the 2009 Mahoran status referendum, Mahorans voted to become an overseas department in 2011.
  • Saint Pierre et Miquelon (1976-1985: overseas department, 1985-2003: sui generis overseas territory, since 2003: Overseas collectivity. Saint Pierre et Miquelon is still called collectivité territoriale de Saint-Pierre-et-Miquelon).
  • Wallis and Futuna (1961-2003: overseas territory, since 2003: Overseas collectivity). It is still commonly referred as a territoire (Territoire des îles Wallis et Futuna).
  • St. Martin - In 2003 the populations of St. Martin and St. Barthélemy voted in favour of secession from Guadeloupe in order to form separate overseas collectivities 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 22 February 2007 when the law was published in the Journal Officiel.[5] They remain part of the European Union, as explicitly stated in the Treaty of Lisbon.[6]
The lands making up the French Republic, shown at the same geographic scale.

Sui Generis Collectivity

  • New Caledonia (1946-1999: overseas territory) - New Caledonia has a unique sui generis status and is not a territorial collectivity, unlike all other French subdivisions. As a result of the 1998 Nouméa Accord, New Caledonians will vote in an independence referendum to be scheduled between 2014 and 2019. This referendum will determine whether the territory remains a part of the French Republic as an overseas collectivity, or whether it will become an independent nation. The accords also specify a gradual devolution of powers to the local New Caledonian assembly.

Overseas Territories

  • French Southern and Antarctic Lands (Terres Australes et Antarctiques Françaises; overseas territory of France since 1956). According to law 2007-224 of February 21, 2007, the Scattered Islands constitute the 5th district of TAAF. It is currently the only overseas territory.

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 recalls that it belongs to the category of overseas communities. 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 remote 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, administered by the Minister of Overseas France.

Political representation in the French Parliament

With 2,653,942 inhabitants in 2010, the French overseas departments and territories account for 4.1% of the population of the French Republic.[2] They enjoy a corresponding representation in the two chambers of the French Parliament.

Representation in the National Assembly

In the 13th Legislature (2007–2012), the French overseas departments and territories are represented by 22 deputies in the French National Assembly, accounting for 3.8% of the 577 deputies in the National Assembly:

Representation in the Senate

Since September 2008, the French overseas departments and territories are represented by 19 senators in the French Senate, accounting for 5.5% of the 343 senators in the Senate:

List of French Overseas Territories

Inhabited departments and collectivities

The 11 French Overseas Territories are :

Flag Name Capital Population Land area (km2) Status Location Notes
Flag of French Guiana.svg French Guiana Cayenne 229,000 (Jan. 2009)[7] 83,534 or 91,000[8] Overseas department / region South America
Flag of French Polynesia.svg French Polynesia Papeete 264,000 (Jan. 2009)[9] 4,167 Overseas collectivity South Pacific Ocean
Flag of Guadeloupe (local).svg Guadeloupe Basse-Terre 404,000 (Jan. 2009)[7] 1,628 Overseas department / region Antilles
Flag of Martinique.svg Martinique Fort-de-France 402,000 (Jan. 2009)[7] 1,128 Overseas department / region Antilles
Flag of Mayotte (local).svg Mayotte Mamoudzou 186,452 (July 2007)[10] 374 Overseas collectivity Africa
(Mozambique Channel)
Voted on March 29, 2009 in favour of attaining overseas department / region status. That status will become effective in 2011.
Also claimed by Comoros
New Caledonia Nouméa 244,410 (Jan. 2008)[11] 18,575 Sui generis collectivity South Pacific Ocean Referendum for independence to occur sometime during the period of 2014 to 2019.
ReunionRadiantVolcanoFlag.png Réunion Saint-Denis 817,000 (Jan. 2009)[7] 2,512 Overseas department / region Africa
(Indian Ocean)
Flag of Saint Barthelemy (local).svg Saint Barthélemy Gustavia 8,450 (Jan. 2007)[12] 21 Overseas collectivity Antilles Detached from Guadeloupe on 22 February 2007.
Saint Martin Marigot 35,925 (Jan. 2007)[12] 53 Overseas collectivity Antilles Detached from Guadeloupe on 22 February 2007.
Flag of Saint-Pierre and Miquelon.svg Saint Pierre and Miquelon Saint-Pierre 6,099 (Jan. 2007)[12] 242 Overseas collectivity Southeast of Canada
Flag of Wallis and Futuna.svg Wallis and Futuna Mata-Utu 13,484 (Jul. 2008)[13] 274 Overseas collectivity South Pacific Ocean
Overall Summary
Status Population (Jan. 2010)[2] Land area (km2)
Overseas Departments / Regions 1,873,942 91,847
Overseas Collectivities & New Caledonia 780,000 23,632
Total 2,653,942 120,049

Uninhabited lands

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

Flag Name Capital Land area (km2) Status Location Notes
French Southern and Antarctic Lands Banc du Geyser - 1 TAAF district Africa
(Mozambique Channel)
Claimed by Madagascar and Comoros
French Southern and Antarctic Lands Bassas da India - 1 TAAF district Africa
(Mozambique Channel)
Claimed by Madagascar
France Clipperton - 7 French state private property West of Mexico Claimed by Mexico
French Southern and Antarctic Lands Crozet Islands Alfred Faure 352 TAAF district South Indian Ocean
French Southern and Antarctic Lands Europa - 28 TAAF district Africa
(Mozambique Channel)
Claimed by Madagascar
French Southern and Antarctic Lands Glorioso Islands - 5 TAAF district Indian Ocean Claimed by Comoros, Madagascar and Seychelles
French Southern and Antarctic Lands Juan de Nova - 5 TAAF district Africa
(Mozambique Channel)
Claimed by Madagascar
French Southern and Antarctic Lands Kerguelen Islands Port-aux-Français 7,215 TAAF district South Indian Ocean
French Southern and Antarctic Lands Saint-Paul Island and
Amsterdam Island
Martin-de-Viviès 66 TAAF district Indian Ocean
French Southern and Antarctic Lands Tromelin Island - 1 TAAF district Indian Ocean Claimed by Mauritius


Flag Name Capital Land area (km2) Status Location Notes
Flag of the French Southern and Antarctic Lands.svg Adélie Land Dumont d'Urville Station 432,000 TAAF district Antarctica Under terms of Antarctic Treaty System

Largest cities in overseas France

Ranked by population in the urban area:

Further reading

  • Frédéric Monera, L'idée de République et la jurisprudence du Conseil constitutionnel - Paris : L.G.D.J., 2004 [1] [2];

See also


  1. ^ About.com, Definition of les DOM-TOM
  2. ^ a b c INSEE, Government of France. "Bilan démographique 2009". http://www.insee.fr/fr/themes/document.asp?ref_id=ip1276#inter1. Retrieved 2010-01-30.  (French)
  3. ^ "French Caribbean voters reject change". Caribbean Net News. 2003-12-09. http://www.caribbeannetnews.com/2003/12/09/voters.htm. Retrieved 2007-02-09. "However voters on 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 (2007-02-16). "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. http://www.st-barths.com/jsb/pdf_files/weekly108.pdf. Retrieved 2007-02-18. "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. 2007-02-09. p. 2. http://www.st-barths.com/jsb/pdf_files/weekly107.pdf. Retrieved 2007-02-09. 
  6. ^ "Treaty of Lisbon, Article 2, points 287 and 293". http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=OJ:C:2007:306:0042:0133:EN:PDF. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  7. ^ a b c d INSEE, Government of France. "Population des régions au 1er janvier". http://www.insee.fr/fr/themes/tableau.asp?reg_id=99&ref_id=CMRSOS02137. Retrieved 2010-01-30.  (French)
  8. ^ The estimated area of French Guiana varies from 83,534 to 91,000 kilometres based on the source. Redfield, Peter (2000). Space in the Tropics: From Convicts to Rockets in French Guiana. Berkeley: University of California Press. pp. 269. ISBN 0-520-21985-6. 
  9. ^ Institut Statistique de Polynésie Française (ISPF). "Enquêtes & Répertoires > Etat Civil". http://www.ispf.pf/ISPF/EnqRep/EtatCivil.aspx. Retrieved 2009-09-14. 
  10. ^ (French) INSEE, Government of France. "INSEE Infos No 32" (PDF). http://www.insee.fr/fr/insee_regions/reunion/zoom/mayotte/publications/inseeinfos/pdf/insee%20infos%20n32.pdf. Retrieved 2007-12-02. 
  11. ^ (French) Institut de la statistique et des études économiques de Nouvelle-Calédonie (ISEE). "CHIFFRES CLÉS - Démographie" (PDF). http://www.isee.nc/chiffresc/chiffresc.html#d%C3%A9mographie. Retrieved 2009-01-13. 
  12. ^ a b c INSEE, Government of France. "Populations légales 2007 pour les départements et les collectivités d'outre-mer". http://www.insee.fr/fr/ppp/bases-de-donnees/recensement/populations-legales/france-departements.asp?annee=2007. Retrieved 2010-01-30.  (French)
  13. ^ INSEE, Government of France. "Les populations des circonscriptions du Territoire des îles Wallis et Futuna". http://www.insee.fr/fr/themes/detail.asp?ref_id=poplegalescom&page=recensement/poplegalescom/popcircwallisetfutuna.htm. Retrieved 2009-01-13.  (French)

Robert Aldrich and John Connell, France's Overseas Frontier, Cambride University Press, 1992

External links


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