Metropolitan France

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Coordinates: 46°00′N2°00′E / 46.000°N 2.000°E / 46.000; 2.000


Metropolitan France
France métropolitaine
Motto: " Liberté, égalité, fraternité "
"Liberty, Equality, Fraternity"
Anthem: " La Marseillaise "
France in the World (+Antarctica claims).svg
Territory of the French Republic (red)
Overseas regions and territories (circled)
Claimed territory (Adélie Land; hatched)
Capital Paris
Largest settlementsParis (Île-de-France), Marseille (Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur), Lyon (Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes), Toulouse (Occitania), Nice (Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur)
Languages French, Alsatian, Catalan, Basque, Corsican, Breton, Gallo, Occitan, Walloon, West Flemish, Franco-Provençal, Lorraine Franconian, Oïl languages, Yenish and 400 other languages of Metropolitan France
Demonym(s) French
Emmanuel Macron
Élisabeth Borne
543,940 km2 (210,020 sq mi)
65,250,000 (Jan 2021)
Currency Euro
Date formatdd/mm/yyyy (AD)

    Metropolitan France (French : France métropolitaine or la Métropole), also known as European France (French : Territoire européen de la France) [1] is the area of France which is geographically in Europe. This collective name for the European regions of France is used in everyday life in France but has no administrative meaning. Indeed, the overseas regions have exactly the same administrative status as the metropolitan regions. Metropolitan France comprises mainland France and Corsica, as well as nearby islands in the Atlantic Ocean, the English Channel (French : la Manche) and the Mediterranean Sea.

    In contrast, overseas France is the collective name for all the French territories outside Europe. Metropolitan and overseas France together form the French Republic. Metropolitan France accounts for 82.0% of the land territory, 3.3% of the exclusive economic zone (EEZ), and 95.9% of the population of the French Republic. Some small parts of France (as example the Cerdagne) are part of the Iberian Peninsula.

    In overseas France, a person from metropolitan France is often called a métro, short for métropolitain.


    The term "metropolitan France" dates from the country's colonial period (from the 16th to the 20th centuries), when France was referred to as la Métropole (literally "the Metropolis"), as distinguished from its colonies and protectorates, known as les colonies or l'Empire. Similar terms existed to describe other European colonial powers (e.g. "metropolitan Britain", "España metropolitana"). This application of the words "metropolis" and "metropolitan" came from Ancient Greek "metropolis" (from μήτηρ mētēr "mother" and πόλις pólis "city, town"), which was the name for a city-state that created colonies across the Mediterranean (e.g. Marseille was a colony of the city-state of Phocaea; therefore Phocaea was the "metropolis" of Marseille). By extension "metropolis" and "metropolitan" came to mean "motherland", a nation or country as opposed to its colonies overseas.

    Paris, Metropolitan France Paris from the Arc de Triomphe, 17 October 2019.jpg
    Paris, Metropolitan France

    Today, some people[ who? ] in Overseas France object to the use of the term la France métropolitaine due to its colonial history. They prefer to call it "the European territory of France" (le territoire européen de la France), as the Treaties of the European Union do.[ citation needed ] Likewise, they oppose treating overseas France and metropolitan France as separate entities. For example, INSEE used to calculate its statistics (demography, economy, etc.) for metropolitan France only, and to analyze separate statistics for the overseas departments and territories. People[ who? ] in the overseas departments have opposed this separate treatment, arguing that the then four overseas departments were fully part of France.[ citation needed ]

    As a result, since the end of the 1990s INSEE has included the four overseas departments in its figures for France (such as total population or GDP). The fifth overseas department, Mayotte, has been included in the figures for France since the mid-2010s too. INSEE refers to metropolitan France and the five overseas departments as la France entière ("the whole of France"). "The whole of France" includes the five overseas departments, but does not include the other overseas collectivities and territories that have more autonomy than the departments. Other branches of the French administration may have different definitions of what la France entière is. For example, in contrast to INSEE, when the Ministry of the Interior releases election results, they use the term la France entière to refer to the entire French Republic, including all of overseas France, and not just the five overseas departments.

    Note that since INSEE now calculates statistics for la France entière, this practice has spread to international institutions. For instance, the French GDP published by the World Bank includes metropolitan France and the five overseas departments. The World Bank refers to this total as "France"; it does not use the phrase "the whole of France", as INSEE does.


    Metropolitan France covers a land area of 543,940 km2 (210,020 sq mi), [lower-alpha 1] while Overseas France covers a land area of 119,396 km2 (46,099 sq mi), [2] for a total of 663,336 km2 (256,115 sq mi) in the French Republic (excluding Adélie Land in Antarctica where sovereignty is suspended since the signing of the Antarctic Treaty in 1959). Thus, metropolitan France accounts for 82.0% of the French Republic's land territory.

    At sea, the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of metropolitan France covers 333,691 km2 (128,839 sq mi), while the EEZ of Overseas France covers 9,825,538 km2 (3,793,661 sq mi), for a total of 10,159,229 km2 (3,922,500 sq mi) in the French Republic (excluding Adélie Land). [3] Thus, metropolitan France accounts for 3.3% of the French Republic's EEZ.

    According to INSEE, 65,250,000 people lived in metropolitan France as of January 2021, while 2,785,000 lived in overseas France, for a total of 68,035,000 inhabitants in the French Republic. [4] Thus, metropolitan France accounts for 95.9% of the French Republic's population.

    In the second round of the 2017 French presidential election, 35,467,327 French people cast a ballot (meaning a turnout of 74.56%). 33,883,463 of these (95.53% of the total voters) cast their ballots in metropolitan France (turnout: 76.26%), 1,003,910 (2.83% of the total voters) cast their ballots in overseas France (turnout: 53.59%), and 579,954 (1.64% of the total voters) cast their ballots in foreign countries (French people living abroad; turnout: 45.84%). [5]

    The French National Assembly is made up of 577 deputies, 539 of whom (93.4% of the total) are elected in metropolitan France, 27 (4.7% of the total) in overseas France, and 11 (1.9% of the total) by French citizens living in foreign countries.

    Mainland France

    l'Hexagone illustrated by overlaying the outline of mainland France with the hexagon on the 1988 Charles de Gaulle commemorative 1 franc coin. Going counterclockwise, the sides of the hexagon are: 1. the Channel coast, 2. the Atlantic coast, 3. the Pyrenees (border with Spain), 4. the Mediterranean coast, 5. the eastern border (Alps, Jura and Upper Rhine; Monaco to Karlsruhe), and 6. the northeastern border (German Rhineland, Belgium and Luxembourg; Karlsruhe to Dunkirk). Hexagone.png
    l'Hexagone illustrated by overlaying the outline of mainland France with the hexagon on the 1988 Charles de Gaulle commemorative 1 franc coin. Going counterclockwise, the sides of the hexagon are: 1. the Channel coast, 2. the Atlantic coast, 3. the Pyrenees (border with Spain), 4. the Mediterranean coast, 5. the eastern border (Alps, Jura and Upper Rhine; Monaco to Karlsruhe), and 6. the northeastern border (German Rhineland, Belgium and Luxembourg; Karlsruhe to Dunkirk).

    Mainland France (French: la France continentale), or just "the mainland" (French: le continent), does not include the French islands in the Atlantic Ocean, English Channel or Mediterranean Sea, the largest of which is Corsica.

    In Corsica, people from the mainland part of metropolitan France are referred to as les continentaux.

    A casual synonym for the mainland part of metropolitan France is l'Hexagone ("the Hexagon"), for its approximate shape, and the adjective hexagonal may be a casual synonym of French (usually understood as metropolitan only, except in topics related to the foreign affairs and national politics of France as a whole). The image of France as a hexagon first appeared in French geography texts of the 1850s. [6]

    See also


    1. French Land Register data, which exclude lakes, ponds and glaciers larger than 1 km2 (0.39 sq mi) as well as the estuaries of rivers. French National Geographic Institute data, which includes bodies of water, gives a value of 551,695 km2 (213,011 sq mi) for the land area of Metropolitan France.

    Related Research Articles

    <span class="mw-page-title-main">Mayotte</span> Overseas department of France in the Indian Ocean

    Mayotte, officially the Department of Mayotte, is an overseas department and region and single territorial collectivity of France. It is located in the northern part of the Mozambique Channel in the Indian Ocean off the coast of Southeastern Africa, between Northwestern Madagascar and Northeastern Mozambique. Mayotte consists of a main island, Grande-Terre, a smaller island, Petite-Terre, as well as several islets around these two. Mayotte is the most prosperous territory in the Mozambique Channel, making it a major destination for immigration.

    <span class="mw-page-title-main">Wallis and Futuna</span> Overseas collectivity of France

    Wallis and Futuna, officially the Territory of the Wallis and Futuna Islands, is a French island collectivity in the South Pacific, situated between Tuvalu to the northwest, Fiji to the southwest, Tonga to the southeast, Samoa to the east, and Tokelau to the northeast.

    <span class="mw-page-title-main">Departments of France</span> Administrative subdivision in France

    In the administrative divisions of France, the department is one of the three levels of government under the national level, between the administrative regions and the communes. Ninety-six departments are in metropolitan France, and five are overseas departments, which are also classified as overseas regions. Departments are further subdivided into 332 arrondissements, and these are divided into cantons. The last two levels of government have no autonomy; they are the basis of local organisation of police, fire departments and, sometimes, administration of elections.

    <span class="mw-page-title-main">Geography of France</span> Overview of the geography of France

    The geography of France consists of a terrain that is mostly flat plains or gently rolling hills in the north and west and mountainous in the south and the east. Metropolitan France has a total size of 551,695 km2 (213,011 sq mi). It is the third largest country in Europe by area and the largest in Western Europe.

    ISO 3166-2:FR is the entry for France in ISO 3166-2, part of the ISO 3166 standard published by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), which defines codes for the names of the principal subdivisions of all countries coded in ISO 3166-1.

    The overseas departments and regions of France are departments of France that are outside metropolitan France, the European part of France. They have exactly the same status as mainland France's regions and departments. The French Constitution provides that, in general, French laws and regulations 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.

    <span class="mw-page-title-main">Communes of France</span> France territorial subdivision for municipalities

    The commune is a level of administrative division in the French Republic. French communes are analogous to civil townships and incorporated municipalities in the United States and Canada, Gemeinden in Germany, comuni in Italy, or municipios in Spain. The United Kingdom's equivalent are civil parishes, although some areas, particularly urban areas, are unparished. Communes are based on historical geographic communities or villages and are vested with significant powers to manage the populations and land of the geographic area covered. The communes are the fourth-level administrative divisions of France.

    <span class="mw-page-title-main">Administrative divisions of France</span> Class grouping all types of territorial divisions of France (administrative or electoral)

    The administrative divisions of France are concerned with the institutional and territorial organization of French territory. These territories are located in many parts of the world. There are many administrative divisions, which may have political, electoral (districts), or administrative objectives. All the inhabited territories are represented in the National Assembly, Senate and Economic and Social Council and their citizens have French citizenship and elect the President of France.

    A territorial collectivity, or territorial authority, is a chartered subdivision of France with recognized governing authority. It is the generic name for any subdivision with an elective form of local government and local regulatory authority. The nature of a French territorial collectivity is set forth in Article 72 of the Constitution of France (1958), which provides for local autonomy within limits prescribed by law.

    <span class="mw-page-title-main">Exclusive economic zone</span> Adjacent sea zone in which a state has special rights

    An exclusive economic zone (EEZ), as prescribed by the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, is an area of the sea in which a sovereign state has special rights regarding the exploration and use of marine resources, including energy production from water and wind. It stretches from the outer limit of the territorial sea out to 200 nautical miles (nmi) from the coast of the state in question. It is also referred to as a maritime continental margin and, in colloquial usage, may include the continental shelf. The term does not include either the territorial sea or the continental shelf beyond the 200 nautical mile limit. The difference between the territorial sea and the exclusive economic zone is that the first confers full sovereignty over the waters, whereas the second is merely a "sovereign right" which refers to the coastal state's rights below the surface of the sea. The surface waters, as can be seen in the map, are international waters.

    <span class="mw-page-title-main">Metropole</span> Homeland of a colonial empire

    A metropole is the homeland, central territory or the state exercising power over a colonial empire. From the 19th century, the English term metropole was mainly used in the scope of the British, French, Portuguese, Spanish and Ottoman empires to designate those empires' European territories, as opposed to their colonial or overseas territories.

    <span class="mw-page-title-main">Seine (department)</span> Former department of France encompassing Paris and its suburbs

    Seine was the former department of France encompassing Paris and its immediate suburbs. It is the only enclaved department of France at that time. Its prefecture was Paris and its INSEE number was 75. The Seine department was disbanded in 1968 and its territory divided among four new departments: Paris, Hauts-de-Seine, Seine-Saint-Denis and Val-de-Marne.

    <span class="mw-page-title-main">Demographics of Paris</span>

    The city of Paris had a population of 2,165,423 people within its administrative city limits as of January 1, 2019. It is surrounded by the Paris unité urbaine, or urban area, the most populous urban area in the European Union. In 2018 the unité urbaine had a population of 10,816,803 in 2,854 km2 (1,102 sq mi). The Paris Region, or Île-de-France covers 12,012 km2 (4,638 sq mi), and has its own regional council and president. It has a population of 12,213,447 as of January 2018, or 18.3 percent of the population of France. The metropolitan or functional area of Paris covers 18,941 km2 (7,313 sq mi) and has 13,064,617 inhabitants (2018).

    <span class="mw-page-title-main">Paris metropolitan area</span> Statistical area

    The Paris metropolitan area is a statistical area that describes the reach of commuter movement to and from Paris, France and its surrounding suburbs.

    <span class="mw-page-title-main">French Guiana</span> Overseas department of France in South America

    French Guiana is an overseas department/region and single territorial collectivity of France on the northern Atlantic coast of South America in the Guianas. It borders Brazil to the east and south and Suriname to the west.

    <span class="mw-page-title-main">Overseas France</span> French-administered territories outside Europe

    Overseas France consists of 13 French-administered territories outside Europe, mostly the remains of the French colonial empire that chose to remain a part of the French state under various statuses after decolonization. They are part of the European Union. This collective name is used in everyday life in France but is not an administrative designation in its own right. Instead, the five overseas regions have exactly the same administrative status as the metropolitan regions; the five overseas collectivities are semi-autonomous; and New Caledonia is an autonomous territory. 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. Excluding the district of Adélie Land, where French sovereignty is effective de jure by French law, but where the French exclusive claim on this part of Antarctica is frozen by the Antarctic Treaty, overseas France covers a land area of 120,396 km2 (46,485 sq mi) and accounts for 18.0% of the French Republic's land territory. Its exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of 9,825,538 km2 (3,793,661 sq mi) accounts for 96.7% of the EEZ of the French Republic.

    <span class="mw-page-title-main">Lyon Metropolis</span> Territorial collectivity in Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, France

    The Metropolis of Lyon, also known as Grand Lyon, is a French territorial collectivity located in the east-central region of Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes. It is a directly elected metropolitan authority encompassing the city of Lyon and most of its suburbs. It has jurisdiction as both a department and a métropole, taking the territory out of the purview of the department of Rhône. It had a population of 1,411,571 in 2019, 37% of whom lived in the city of Lyon proper.

    France has, due to its Overseas departments and regions that are scattered in all the oceans of Earth, the largest exclusive economic zone of the world. The total EEZ of France is 11,691,000 km2 (4,514,000 sq mi). It covers approximately 8% of the surface of all the EEZs of the world, while the French Republic is only 0.45% of the world's land surface.


    1. "Ministère des Affaires Étrangères- Les étrangers titulaires d'un passeport ordinaire dispensés de l'obligation de visa - 1. Le territoire européen de la France". Archived from the original on 2017-02-25. Retrieved 2018-05-15.
    2. Land area of the four old overseas departments (), Mayotte, the overseas collectivities, and New Caledonia (page 21), the French Southern and Antarctic Lands and the Scattered Islands ( Archived 2018-06-19 at the Wayback Machine ), and Clipperton ().
    3. "Sea Around Us – Fisheries, Ecosystems and Biodiversity" . Retrieved 2018-06-20.
    4. Population of Metropolitan France: . The population of all five overseas departments totaled 2,172,000 in January 2021. The population of the overseas collectivities amounted to 613,000 inhabitants (Saint-Pierre and Miquelon , Saint-Barthélemy , Saint-Martin , French Polynesia , Wallis et Futuna , New Caledonia ). The total population of the overseas departments and territories of France is estimated at 2,785,000.
    5. "Résultats de l'élection présidentielle 2017". Minister of the Interior (in French). Government of France . Retrieved 2018-06-20.
    6. Peter Sahlins, "Natural Frontiers Revisited: France's Boundaries since the Seventeenth Century", The American Historical Review, Vol. 95, No. 5 (Dec., 1990), p. 1451