Overseas France

Overseas France
Flag of
Territory of the French Republic (red) Overseas territories (circled)Claimed territory (Adélie Land; hatched)
Territory of the French Republic (red)
Overseas territories (circled)
Claimed territory (Adélie Land; hatched)
Location of
Largest settlementsNouméa (New Caledonia), Papeete (French Polynesia)
LanguagesFrench, Antillean Creole, Guianan Creole, Reunionese Creole, Shimaore, Tahitian, Marquesan, 'Uvean, Futunan, Drehu, Nengone, Paicî, Ajië, Javanese, and 35 other native languages of New Caledonia
DemonymFrench
Territories
Leaders
• President
Emmanuel Macron
• Minister
Annick Girardin
Area
• Total
119,396[a] km2 (46,099 sq mi)
Population
• Estimate
2,790,000 (Jan. 2018)
CurrencyEuro
CFP Franc
Date formatdd/mm/yyyy (AD)
  1. ^ Excluding Adélie Land.

Overseas France (French: France d'outre-mer) consists of all the French-administered territories outside the European continent, mostly relics of the French colonial empire. These territories have varying legal status and different levels of autonomy, although all (except those with no permanent inhabitants) have representation in both France's National Assembly and Senate, which together make up the French Parliament. Their citizens have French nationality and vote for the president of France. They have the right to vote in elections to the European Parliament (French citizens living overseas currently vote in the Overseas constituency). Overseas France includes 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.

Almost all inhabited French administrative divisions outside Europe are classified as either overseas regions or overseas collectivities; these statuses are very different from one another from a legal and administrative standpoint. Overseas regions have exactly the same status as mainland France's regions. 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 overseas regions the same as in mainland 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, whereas the overseas collectivities are empowered to make their own laws, except in certain areas reserved to the French national government (such as defense, international relations, trade and currency, and judicial and administrative law). The overseas collectivities are governed by local elected assemblies and by the French Parliament and French government, with a cabinet member, the Minister of Overseas France, in charge of issues related to the overseas territories. (New Caledonia is neither an overseas region nor an overseas collectivity; it has a sui generis status, in keeping with the Nouméa Accord.)

Overseas France covers a land area of 119,396 km2 (46,099 sq mi)[a] and accounts for 18.0% of the French Republic's land territory.[1] It has an exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of 9,825,538 km2 (3,793,661 sq mi) and accounts for 96.7% of the EEZ of the French Republic[2] (excluding the district of Adélie Land, part of the French Southern and Antarctic Lands, where the French sovereignty is effective de jure by French law, but where the French exclusive claim on this part of Antarctica is frozen by a mandatory international cooperation since the signing of the Antarctic Treaty in 1959).

Varying constitutional statuses

Overseas regions and departments

Historical population
YearPop.±%
1953 909,000—    
1963 1,194,000+31.4%
1973 1,475,000+23.5%
1983 1,656,000+12.3%
1993 2,028,000+22.5%
2003 2,414,000+19.0%
2013 2,691,000+11.5%
2018 2,790,000+3.7%
The population of all five overseas departments totaled 2,169,000[11] in January 2018. The population of the overseas collectivities amounted to 621,000 inhabitants (Saint-Pierre and Miquelon [12], Saint-Barthélemy [13], Saint-Martin [14], French Polynesia [15], Wallis et Futuna [16], New Caledonia [17]). The total population of the overseas departments and territories of France is estimated at 2,790,000.

Overseas collectivities

The category of "overseas collectivity" (French: collectivité d'outre-mer or COM) 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.[3] On February 7, 2007, the French Parliament passed a bill granting COM status to both jurisdictions.[4] The new status took effect on February 22, 2007 when the law was published in the Journal Officiel.[5] They remain part of the European Union, as stated in the Treaty of Lisbon.[6]
  • Saint Barthélemy (see the comments immediately above).

Overseas territories

Special status

  • 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 (in addition to the French citizenship which is kept in parallel, along with the consequent European citizenship), and a gradual transfer of power from the French state to New Caledonia itself was begun, to last from 15 to 20 years.[7]
  • Clipperton Island (French: Île de Clipperton or Île de la Passion, Spanish: Isla de la Pasión) is a 9 km2 (3.5 sq mi) coral atoll located 1,280 km (800 miles) 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.
Other Languages
Bahasa Melayu: Perancis Seberang Laut
Simple English: Overseas France
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Francuski prekomorski departmani i teritorije