Overseas departments and territories of France
The French Overseas Departments and Territories (French: départements et territoires d'outre-mer, colloquially referred to as the DOM-TOM ) 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. With a combined land area of 119,394 km² (46,098 sq. miles) and an exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of 9,821,231 km² (3,791,998 sq. miles), 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 1
- Overseas departments and regions 1.1
- Overseas collectivities 1.2
- Special collectivity 1.3
- Overseas territories 1.4
- Overseas country 1.5
- Minor territories 1.6
Political representation in the French Parliament 2
- Representation in the National Assembly 2.1
- Representation in the Senate 2.2
List of French overseas territories 3
- Inhabited departments and collectivities 3.1
- Uninhabited overseas territories 3.2
- Largest cities in overseas France 4
- See also 5
- References 6
- Further reading 7
- External links 8
Varying constitutional statuses
Overseas departments and regions
- Guadeloupe (since 1946)
- French Guiana (since 1946)
- Martinique (since 1946)
- Réunion (since 1946)
- Mayotte (since 2011) 1976–2003: sui generis overseas territory; 2001–2003: with the designation departmental community; 2003–2011: Overseas community. In the 2009 Mahoran status referendum, Mahorans voted to become an overseas department in 2011, which occurred on March 31, 2011.
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. On February 7, 2007, the French Parliament passed a bill granting COM status to both jurisdictions. The new status took effect on February 22, 2007 when the law was published in the Journal Officiel. They remain part of the European Union, as stated in the Treaty of Lisbon.
- Saint Barthélemy (see the comments immediately above).
- 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.
- French Southern and Antarctic Lands (French: Terres Australes et Antarctiques Françaises; overseas territory of France since 1956). According to law 2007-224 of February 21, 2007, the Scattered Islands in the Indian Ocean constitute the 5th district of TAAF. It is currently the only overseas territory.
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.
- 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. 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:
- Réunion: 7 députés
- Guadeloupe: 4 députés
- Martinique: 4 députés
- French Polynesia: 3 députés
- French Guiana: 2 députés
- Mayotte: 2 député
- New Caledonia: 2 députés
- Saint Pierre and Miquelon: 1 député
- Wallis and Futuna: 1 député
- Saint Barthélemy and Saint Martin: 1 député
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:
- Réunion: 4 senators
- Guadeloupe: 3 senators
- French Guiana: 2 senators
- French Polynesia: 2 senators
- Martinique: 2 senators
- Mayotte: 2 senators
- New Caledonia: 2 senators
- Saint Barthélemy: 1 senator
- Saint Martin: 1 senator
- Saint Pierre and Miquelon: 1 senator
- Wallis and Futuna: 1 senator
List of French overseas territories
Inhabited departments and collectivitiesThe 11 French overseas territories are :
(inh. per km2)
|French Guiana||Cayenne||250,109 (Jan. 2013)||83,534||3||Overseas department / region||South America|
|French Polynesia||Papeete||268,270 (Aug. 2012)||3,521||76||Overseas collectivity||South Pacific Ocean|
|Guadeloupe||Basse-Terre||405,739 (Jan. 2013)||1,628||249||Overseas department / region||Antilles|
|Martinique||Fort-de-France||386,486 (Jan. 2013)||1,128||343||Overseas department / region||Antilles|
|Mayotte||Mamoudzou||212,645 (Aug. 2012)||374||569||Overseas department / region||
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
|New Caledonia||Nouméa||256,000 (Jan. 2012)||18,575.5||14||Sui generis collectivity||South Pacific Ocean||Referendum for independence to occur sometime during the period of 2014 to 2019.|
|Réunion||Saint-Denis||840,974 (Jan. 2013)||2,504||336||Overseas department / region||
|Saint Barthélemy||Gustavia||9,035 (Jan. 2011)||25||361||Overseas collectivity||Antilles||Detached from Guadeloupe on February 22, 2007.|
|Saint Martin||Marigot||36,286 (Jan. 2011)||53||685||Overseas collectivity||Antilles||Detached from Guadeloupe on February 22, 2007.|
|Saint Pierre and Miquelon||Saint-Pierre||6,080 (Jan. 2011)||242||25||Overseas collectivity||Southeast of Canada|
|Wallis and Futuna||Mata-Utu||12,197 (Jul. 2013)||142||86||Overseas collectivity||South Pacific Ocean|
|Status||Population (Jan. 2013)||Land area (km2)|
|Overseas departments / regions||2,098,000||89,168|
|Overseas collectivities and New Caledonia||593,000||22,559|
Uninhabited overseas territories
(Lands generally uninhabited, except by researchers in scientific stations)
|Flag||Name||District||Scattered islands||Capital||Land area (km2)||Status||Location||Notes|
|Clipperton||-||-||-||2||French state private property||West of Mexico|
|French Southern and Antarctic Lands||Crozet Islands||-||Alfred Faure||340||TAAF district||South Indian Ocean|
|Kerguelen Islands||-||Port-aux-Français||7,215||TAAF district||South Indian Ocean|
Saint-Paul Island and
|-||Martin-de-Viviès||66||TAAF district||Indian Ocean|
|Adélie Land||-||Dumont d'Urville Station||432,000||TAAF district||Antarctica||Under terms of Antarctic Treaty System|
|Scattered Islands in the Indian Ocean||Banc du Geyser||-||0||TAAF district||
|Claimed by Madagascar and Comoros|
|Bassas da India||-||1||TAAF district||
|Claimed by Madagascar|
|Claimed by Madagascar|
|Glorioso Islands||-||7||TAAF district||Indian Ocean||Claimed by Comoros, Madagascar and Seychelles|
|Juan de Nova||-||5||TAAF district||
|Claimed by Madagascar|
|Tromelin Island||-||1||TAAF district||Indian Ocean||Claimed by Mauritius|
Largest cities in overseas France
This article is part of the series on
Administrative divisions of France
(incl. overseas regions)
(incl. overseas departments)
Others in Overseas France
Ranked by population in the urban area:
- Pointe-à-Pitre–Les Abymes (Guadeloupe): 178,631 inhabitants (in 2008)
- Saint-Denis (Réunion): 175,053 (in 2008)
- Fort-de-France (Martinique): 171,628 (in 2008)
- Nouméa (New Caledonia): 163,723 (in 2009)
- Saint-Pierre (Réunion): 148,273 (in 2008)
- Papeete (French Polynesia): 131,695 (in 2007)
- Saint-Paul (Réunion): 103,008 (in 2008)
- Cayenne (French Guiana): 102,089 (in 2008)
- French colonial empire
- Administrative divisions of France
- Government of France
- List of islands administered by France in the Indian and Pacific oceans
- Communes in France
- Metropolitan France
- Organisation internationale de la Francophonie
- List of French possessions and colony
- About.com, les DOM-TOMDefinition of
- See Demographics section.
- Land area of the 4 old overseas departments (), Mayotte and the overseas collectivities (), New Caledonia (), St Martin (), St Baths (), the French Southern and Antarctic Lands (), and Clipperton ().
"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".
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.
- "Saint-Barth To Become An Overseas Collectivity" (PDF). St. Barth Weekly. February 9, 2007. p. 2. Retrieved February 9, 2007.
- "Treaty of Lisbon, Article 2, points 287 and 293". Retrieved January 31, 2008.
- "Nouvelle-Calédonie", Le Petit Larousse (2010), Paris, page 1559.
- Délégation générale à l'outre-mer. "Terres Australes et Antarctiques Françaises : Données géographiques et humaines" (in Français). Retrieved January 31, 2014.
- 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  ;
- Official website
- Past and current developments of France's overseas administrative divisions (French)