Overseas departments and territories of France explained

The French Overseas Departments and Territories (French: départements d'outre-mer and territoires d'outre-mer or DOM-TOM [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. 2,624,505 people lived in the French Overseas Departments and Territories in January 2009.[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 Parliamnent 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

Overseas Collectivities

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

Saint Martin and Saint Barthélemy

In 2003 the population of Saint Martin and Saint 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 Saint Barthélemy and neighbouring Saint Martin. [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]

Sui Generis Collectivity

New Caledonia has a unique status and is not even a territorial collectivity, unlike all other French subdivisions. As a result of the 1998 Nouméa Accord, New Caledonians will vote on an independence referendum 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 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 its status has no name and since its parliament can make local laws, New Caledonia is sometimes incorrectly termed an overseas country.

Minor Territories

As state private property, France also owns Clipperton Island, a remote island in the Pacific Ocean.

Political representation in the French Parliament

With 2,624,505 inhabitants in 2008, the French overseas departments and territories account for 4.0% 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:

5 deputies

4 deputies

4 deputies

2 deputies

2 deputies

2 deputies

1 deputy

1 deputy

1 deputy

still represented by the deputy of Guadeloupe's 4th constituency, doesn't have its own deputy yet

still represented by the deputy of Guadeloupe's 4th constituency, doesn't have its own deputy yet

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:

3 senators

3 senators

2 senators

2 senators

2 senators

2 senators

1 senator

1 senator

1 senator

1 senator

1 senator

List of French Overseas Territories

Inhabited departments and collectivities

NameCapitalPopulationLand area (km²)StatusLocationNotes
French GuianaCayenne221,500 (Jan. 2008)[7] 83,534 or 91,000[8] Overseas department / regionSouth America
French PolynesiaPapeete259,596 (Aug. 2007)[9] 4,167Overseas collectivitySouth Pacific Ocean
GuadeloupeBasse-Terre405,500 (Jan. 2008)1,628Overseas department / regionAntilles
MartiniqueFort-de-France402,000 (Jan. 2008)1,128Overseas department / regionAntilles
MayotteMamoudzou186,452 (July 2007)[10] 374Overseas collectivityAfrica
(Mozambique Channel)
Will vote on overseas region status in 2009
Also claimed by Comoros
New CaledoniaNouméa244,410 (Jan. 2008)[11] 18,575Sui generis collectivitySouth Pacific OceanReferendum for independence in 2014
RéunionSaint-Denis802,000 (Jan. 2008)2,512Overseas department / regionAfrica
(Indian Ocean)
Saint BarthélemyGustavia8,450 (Jan. 2007)[12] 21Overseas collectivityAntillesDetached from Guadeloupe on 22 February, 2007
Saint MartinMarigot35,263 (Jan. 2006)[13] 53Overseas collectivityAntillesDetached from Guadeloupe on 22 February, 2007
Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint-Pierre6,125 (Jan. 2006)242Overseas collectivitySouth East of Canada
Wallis and FutunaMata-Utu13,484 (Jul. 2008)[14] 274Overseas collectivitySouth Pacific Ocean
Overall Summary
StatusPopulation (Jan. 2009)Land area (km²)
Overseas Departments / Regions1,854,50591,847
Overseas Collectivities & New Caledonia770,00023,632
Total2,624,505120,049

Uninhabited lands

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

NameCapitalLand area (km²)StatusLocationNotes
Bassas da India-1TAAF districtAfrica
(Mozambique Channel)
Claimed by Madagascar
Clipperton-7French state private propertyWest of MexicoClaimed by Mexico
Crozet IslandsAlfred Faure352TAAF districtSouth Indian Ocean
Europa-28TAAF districtAfrica
(Mozambique Channel)
Claimed by Madagascar
Glorioso Islands-5TAAF districtIndian OceanClaimed by Comoros, Madagascar and Seychelles
Juan de Nova-4,4TAAF districtAfrica
(Mozambique Channel)
Claimed by Madagascar
Kerguelen IslandsPort-aux-Français7,215TAAF districtSouth Indian Ocean
Saint-Paul Island and
Amsterdam Island
Martin-de-Viviès66TAAF districtIndian Ocean
Tromelin Island-1TAAF districtIndian OceanClaimed by Mauritius

Antarctica

Largest cities in overseas France

Ranked by population in the urban area:

Further reading

See also

References

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

External links

Notes and References

  1. [About.com]
  2. Web site: Bilan démographique 2008. Government of France. INSEE. 2009-01-13.
  3. News: Staff reporter. French Caribbean voters reject change. HTML. Caribbean Net News. 2003-12-09. 2007-02-09. However voters on the two tiny French dependencies of Saint-Barthelemy 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. News: Bruno. Magras. 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. 2. 2007-02-16. 2007-02-18. On February 7 of this year, the French Parliament adopted the law granting Saint Barthelemy the Statute of an Overseas Collectivity..
  5. News: Staff reporter. Saint-Barth To Become An Overseas Collectivity. PDF. St. Barth Weekly. 2. 2007-02-09. 2007-02-09.
  6. Web site: Treaty of Lisbon, Article 2, points 287 and 293. 2008-01-31.
  7. Web site: Population des régions au 1er janvier. Government of France. INSEE. 2009-01-13.
  8. The estimated area of French Guiana varies from 83,534 to 91,000 kilometres based on the source. Book: Redfield, Peter. Space in the Tropics: From Convicts to Rockets in French Guiana. University of California Press. Berkeley. 2000. 269. 0-520-21985-6.
  9. Web site: Population légale au 20 août 2007. Institut Statistique de Polynésie Française (ISPF). 2009-01-13.
  10. Web site: INSEE Infos No 32. Government of France. INSEE. PDF. 2007-12-02.
  11. Web site: CHIFFRES CLÉS - Démographie. Institut de la statistique et des études économiques de Nouvelle-Calédonie (ISEE). PDF. 2009-01-13.
  12. Web site: Enquête annuelle de recensement 2007 - Saint-Barthélemy. Government of France. INSEE. 2009-01-13.
  13. Web site: Populations légales 2006 de collectivités d'outre-mer. Government of France. INSEE. 2009-01-13.
  14. Web site: Les populations des circonscriptions du Territoire des îles Wallis et Futuna. Government of France. INSEE. 2009-01-13.