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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

File:Flag of the Minister of Overseas France.svg

The French Overseas Departments and Territories (French: départements et territoires d'outre-merScript error, colloquially referred to as the DOM-TOM [dɔmtɔm][1]) 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.[2] With a combined land area of 119,394 km² (46,098 sq. miles)[3] and an exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of 9,821,231 km² (3,791,998 sq. miles),[4] 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 statusesEdit

Overseas departments and regionsEdit

Overseas collectivities Edit

Script error The category of "overseas collectivity" was created by France's constitutional reform of 28 March 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-merScript error), 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-MiquelonScript error, literally "territorial collectivity."
  • Wallis and Futuna (1961–2003: overseas territory, since 2003: overseas collectivity). It is still commonly referred to as a territoireScript error (Territoire des îles Wallis et FutunaScript error).
  • 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.[5] On February 7, 2007, the French Parliament passed a bill granting COM status to both jurisdictions.[6] The new status took effect on 22 February 2007 when the law was published in the Journal Officiel.[7] They remain part of the European Union, as stated in the Treaty of Lisbon.[8]
  • Saint Barthélemy (see the comments immediately above).

Special collectivity Edit

  • 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.[9]

Overseas territories Edit

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Overseas country Edit

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.

Minor territoriesEdit

  • 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.

Geography Edit


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Political representation in the French ParliamentEdit

With 2,691,000 inhabitants in 2013, the French overseas departments and territories account for 4.1% of the population of the French Republic.[3] They enjoy a corresponding representation in the two chambers of the French Parliament.

Representation in the National Assembly Edit

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:

Representation in the SenateEdit

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:

List of French overseas territories Edit

Inhabited departments and collectivities Edit

The 11 French overseas territories are :

Flag Name Capital Population Land area
Population density 
(inh. per km2)
Status Location Notes
50px French Guiana Cayenne 250,109 (Jan. 2013)[10] 83,534[11] 3 Overseas department / region South America
50px French Polynesia Papeete 268,270 (Aug. 2012)[12] 3,521[13] 76 Overseas collectivity South Pacific Ocean
50px Guadeloupe Basse-Terre 405,739 (Jan. 2013)[10] 1,628[11] 249 Overseas department / region Antilles
50px Martinique Fort-de-France 386,486 (Jan. 2013)[10] 1,128[11] 343 Overseas department / region Antilles
50px Mayotte Mamoudzou 212,645 (Aug. 2012)[14] 374[13] 569 Overseas department / region Africa
(Mozambique Channel)
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
50px New Caledonia Nouméa 256,000 (Jan. 2012)[15] 18,575.5[16] 14 Sui generis collectivity South Pacific Ocean Referendum for independence to occur sometime during the period of 2014 to 2019.
50px Réunion Saint-Denis 840,974 (Jan. 2013)[10] 2,504[11] 336 Overseas department / region Africa
(Indian Ocean)
50px Saint Barthélemy Gustavia 9,035 (Jan. 2011)[17] 25[18] 361 Overseas collectivity Antilles Detached from Guadeloupe on 22 February 2007.
50px Saint Martin Marigot 36,286 (Jan. 2011)[17] 53[19] 685 Overseas collectivity Antilles Detached from Guadeloupe on 22 February 2007.
50px Saint Pierre and Miquelon Saint-Pierre 6,080 (Jan. 2011)[17] 242[13] 25 Overseas collectivity Southeast of Canada
50px Wallis and Futuna Mata-Utu 12,197 (Jul. 2013)[20] 142[13] 86 Overseas collectivity South Pacific Ocean
Overall summary
Status Population (Jan. 2013)[2] Land area (km2)
Overseas departments / regions 2,098,000 89,168
Overseas collectivities and New Caledonia 593,000 22,559
Total 2,691,000 111,727

Uninhabited overseas territories Edit

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

Flag Name District Scattered islands Capital Land area (km2) Status Location Notes
50px Clipperton - - - 2[21] French state private property West of Mexico
50px French Southern and Antarctic Lands Crozet Islands - Alfred Faure 340[22] TAAF district South Indian Ocean
Kerguelen Islands - Port-aux-Français 7,215[22] TAAF district South Indian Ocean
Saint-Paul Island and
Amsterdam Island
- Martin-de-Viviès 66[22] TAAF district Indian Ocean
Adélie Land - Dumont d'Urville Station 432,000[22] TAAF district Antarctica Under terms of Antarctic Treaty System
Scattered Islands in the Indian Ocean Banc du Geyser - 0 TAAF district Africa
(Mozambique Channel)
Claimed by Madagascar and Comoros
Bassas da India - 1[22] TAAF district Africa
(Mozambique Channel)
Claimed by Madagascar
Europa - 30[22] TAAF district Africa
(Mozambique Channel)
Claimed by Madagascar
Glorioso Islands - 7[22] TAAF district Indian Ocean Claimed by Comoros, Madagascar and Seychelles
Juan de Nova - 5[22] TAAF district Africa
(Mozambique Channel)
Claimed by Madagascar
Tromelin Island - 1[22] TAAF district Indian Ocean Claimed by Mauritius

Largest cities in overseas FranceEdit

Ranked by population in the urban area:

See alsoEdit

References Edit

  1., Definition of les DOM-TOM
  2. 2.0 2.1 See Demographics section.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Land area of the 4 old overseas departments ([1]), Mayotte and the overseas collectivities ([2]), New Caledonia ([3]), St Martin ([4]), St Baths ([5]), the French Southern and Antarctic Lands ([6]), and Clipperton ([7]).
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  9. "Nouvelle-Calédonie", Le Petit Larousse (2010), Paris, page 1559.
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  • Robert Aldrich and John Connell, France's Overseas Frontier, Cambridge University Press, 1992

Further readingEdit

  • Frédéric Monera, L'idée de République et la jurisprudence du Conseil constitutionnel - Paris : L.G.D.J., 2004 [8] [9];

External links Edit

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