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In the
administrative divisions of France 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 p ...
, the department (french: département, ) is one of the three levels of government under the national level (" territorial collectivities"), between the administrative regions and the
communes A commune is an intentional community of people sharing living spaces, interests, values, beliefs, and often property, possessions, and resources in common. In some communes, the people also share common Employment, work, income, or assets. ...

communes
. Ninety-six departments are in
metropolitan France Metropolitan France (french: France métropolitaine or ''la Métropole''), also known as European France, is the area of the French Republic which is geographically in Europe Europe is a continent A continent is one of several lar ...

metropolitan France
, and five are overseas departments, which are also classified as overseas regions. Departments are further subdivided into 332
arrondissements An arrondissement (, , ) is any of various administrative division Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). , country subdivision, administrative region, subnational entity, first-level subdivision, as well as many similar terms ...
, and these are divided into
cantons A canton is a type of administrative division of a country. In general, cantons are relatively small in terms of area and population when compared with other administrative divisions such as county, counties, Department (administrative division), ...
. 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. Each department is administered by an elected body called a departmental council (
ing.#REDIRECT ING Group The ING Group ( nl, ING Groep) is a Dutch multinational banking and financial services corporation headquartered in Amsterdam. The three letters (ING) stand for "Internationale Nederlanden Groep". Its primary businesses are ...
lur.. From 1800 to April 2015, these were called general councils (
ing.#REDIRECT ING Group The ING Group ( nl, ING Groep) is a Dutch multinational banking and financial services corporation headquartered in Amsterdam. The three letters (ING) stand for "Internationale Nederlanden Groep". Its primary businesses are ...
lur.. Each council has a president. Their main areas of responsibility include the management of a number of social and welfare allowances, of
junior high school ()
junior high school ()
buildings and technical staff, and local roads and school and rural buses, and a contribution to municipal infrastructures. Local services of the state administration are traditionally organised at departmental level, where the
prefect Prefect (from the Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Ro ...
represents the government; however, regions have gained importance since the 2000s, with some department-level services merged into region-level services. The departments were created in 1790 as a rational replacement of
Ancien Régime The '' Storming of the Bastille'' on 14 July 1789, later taken to mark the end of the ''Ancien Régime''; watercolour by Jean-Pierre Houël The Ancien Régime (; ; literally "old rule"), also known as the Old Regime, was the political and soc ...
provinces A province is almost always an administrative division Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). , country subdivision, administrative region, subnational entity, first-level subdivision, as well as many similar terms, are gene ...

provinces
with a view to strengthen national unity; the title "department" is used to mean a part of a larger whole. Almost all of them were named after physical geographical features (rivers, mountains, or coasts), rather than after historical or cultural territories, which could have their own loyalties. The division of France into departments was a project particularly identified with the French revolutionary leader the
Abbé Sieyès upFrench abbé of the 18th century ''Abbé'' (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Lat ...
, although it had already been frequently discussed and written about by many politicians and thinkers. The earliest known suggestion of it is from 1665 in the writings of d'Argenson. They have inspired similar divisions in many countries, some of them former French colonies. The 1822 territorial division of Spain (reverted due to the 1823 French intervention ending the
trienio liberal The ''Trienio Liberal'' (, "Liberal Triennium") is a period of three years in the modern history of Spain between 1820 and 1823, when a liberal government ruled Spain after a military uprising in January 1820 by the lieutenant-colonel Rafael de ...
) and the 1833 territorial division of Spain, which forms the basis of the present day
Provinces of Spain Spain and its autonomous communities of Spain, 17 autonomous communities are subdivided into lists of Spanish provinces, 50 provinces ( es, provincias, ; grammatical number, sing. ''provincia'').In other languages of Spain: * Basque language, Ba ...

Provinces of Spain
with minor modifications is also based on the French model of departments of roughly equal size. Most French departments are assigned a two-digit number, the "Official Geographical Code", allocated by the (). Overseas departments have a three-digit number. The number is used, for example, in the
postal code A postal code (also known locally in various English-speaking countries throughout the world as a postcode, post code, PIN or ZIP Code) is a series of letters or digits or both, sometimes including spaces or punctuation, included in a postal a ...
, and was until recently used for all
vehicle registration plates A vehicle (from la, vehiculum) is a machine that transports people or cargo. Vehicles include wagons, bicycles, motor vehicles (motorcycles, cars, trucks, buses), railed vehicles (trains, trams), watercraft (ships, boats), amphibious vehicles ...
. Residents commonly use the numbers to refer to their own department or a neighbouring one, for example, inhabitants of
Loiret Loiret (; ) is a department in the Centre-Val de Loire Centre-Val de Loire (, , ,In isolation, ''Centre'' is pronounced . ) or Centre Region (french: Région Centre, ), as it was known until 2015, is one of the 18 administrative regions of ...

Loiret
may refer to their department as "the 45". More distant departments are generally referred to by their names, as few people know the numbers of all the departments. In 2014, President
François Hollande François Gérard Georges Nicolas Hollande (; born 12 August 1954) is a French politician who served as president of France from 2012 to 2017. He previously was First Secretary of the French Socialist Party, First Secretary of the Socialist Part ...

François Hollande
proposed to abolish departmental councils by 2020, which would have maintained the departments as administrative divisions, and to transfer their powers to other levels of governance. This reform project has since been scrapped.


History

The first French territorial departments were proposed in 1665 by Marc-René d'Argenson to serve as administrative areas purely for the '' Ponts et Chaussées'' (Bridges and Highways) infrastructure administration. Before the
French Revolution The French Revolution ( ) refers to the period that began with the Estates General of 1789 and ended in coup of 18 Brumaire, November 1799 with the formation of the French Consulate. Many of its ideas are considered fundamental principles ...

French Revolution
, France gained territory gradually through the annexation of a mosaic of independent entities. By the close of the
Ancien Régime The '' Storming of the Bastille'' on 14 July 1789, later taken to mark the end of the ''Ancien Régime''; watercolour by Jean-Pierre Houël The Ancien Régime (; ; literally "old rule"), also known as the Old Regime, was the political and soc ...
, it was organised into
provinces A province is almost always an administrative division Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). , country subdivision, administrative region, subnational entity, first-level subdivision, as well as many similar terms, are gene ...

provinces
. During the period of the Revolution, these were dissolved, partly in order to weaken old loyalties. The National Constituent Assembly decided to create a more uniform division into departments (''département'') and
districts A district is a type of administrative division Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). , country subdivision, administrative region, subnational entity, first-level subdivision, as well as many similar terms, are generic na ...

districts
in late 1789. The process began on 4 August 1789 with the elimination of provincial privileges, and a 22 December 1789 decree (with
letters patent upLetters patent transferring a predecessor of the Nancy Nancy may refer to: Places France * Nancy, France, a city in the northeastern French department of Meurthe-et-Moselle and formerly the capital of the duchy of Lorraine ** Arrondiss ...
in January 1790) provided for the termination of the provincial governments. The modern department system, as all-purpose units of the government, was decreed on 26 February 1790 (with letters patent on 4 March 1790) by the National Constituent Assembly. Their boundaries served two purposes: * Boundaries were chosen to break up France's historical regions in an attempt to erase cultural differences and build a more homogeneous nation. * Boundaries were set so that every settlement in the country was within a day's ride of the capital of a department. This was a security measure, intended to keep the entire national territory under close control. The old nomenclature was carefully avoided in naming the new departments. Most were named after an area's principal river or other physical features. Even Paris was in the department of
Seine ) , mouth_location = Le Havre Le Havre (, ; nrf, Lé Hâvre) is an urban French Communes of France, commune and city in the Seine-Maritime Departments of France, department in the Normandy (administrative region), Normandy region of nor ...
.
Savoy Savoy (; frp, Savouè ; french: Savoie is a cultural-historical region in the Western Alps it, Alpi occidentaligerman: Westalpen , photo=Mont Blanc from Punta Helbronner, 2010 July.JPG , photo_caption=Mont Blanc, the highest summit of the Wes ...

Savoy
, during its temporary occupation, became the department of
Mont-Blanc Mont Blanc (french: Mont Blanc ; it, Monte Bianco , both meaning "white mountain") is the highest mountain in the Alps and Western Europe, rising above sea level. It is the second-highest and List of European ultra-prominent peaks, second-most ...
. The provinces continued to exist administratively until 21 September 1791. The number of departments, initially 83, had been increased to 130 by 1809 with the territorial gains of the Republic and of the
First French Empire The First French Empire, officially the French Empire, also known as the Napoleonic Empire, was the empire An empire is a "political unit" made up of several territories and peoples, "usually created by conquest, and divided between a domi ...
. Following
Napoleon Napoléon Bonaparte (15 August 1769 – 5 May 1821) was a French military and political leader. He rose to prominence during the French Revolution The French Revolution ( ) refers to the period that began with the Estates General o ...

Napoleon
's defeats in 1814–1815, the
Congress of Vienna The Congress of Vienna (, ) of 1814–1815 was an international diplomatic conference to reconstitute the European political order after the downfall of the French Emperor Napoleon I Napoléon Bonaparte (15 August 1769 – 5 May 1821) wa ...

Congress of Vienna
returned France to its pre-war size and the number of departments was reduced to 86 (three of the original departments having been split). In 1860, France acquired the
County of Nice The County of Nice (french: Comté de Nice / Pays Niçois, it, Contea di Nizza/Paese Nizzardo, Niçard oc, Contèa de Niça/País Niçard) is a historical region of France located around the southeastern city of Nice Nice ( , ; Niçard: ...

County of Nice
and
Savoy Savoy (; frp, Savouè ; french: Savoie is a cultural-historical region in the Western Alps it, Alpi occidentaligerman: Westalpen , photo=Mont Blanc from Punta Helbronner, 2010 July.JPG , photo_caption=Mont Blanc, the highest summit of the Wes ...

Savoy
, which led to the creation of three new departments. Two were added from the new Savoyard territory, while the department of
Alpes-Maritimes Alpes-Maritimes (; oc, Aups Maritims; it, Alpi Marittime, "Maritime Alps") is a department of France located in the extreme southeast corner of the country, on the border with Italy and on the Mediterranean coast. Part of the Provence-Alpes- ...
was created from Nice and a portion of the
Var Var or VAR may refer to: Places * Var (department), a department of France * Var (river) The Var (; oc, Var, it, Varo, la, Varus) is a river located in the southeast of France. It is long. Its drainage basin is . The 89 departments were given numbers based on the alphabetical order of their names. The department of
Bas-Rhin Bas-Rhin (; Alsatian language, Alsatian: ''Unterelsàss'', ' or '; traditional german: links=no, Niederrhein; en, Lower Rhine) is a Departments of France, department in Alsace which is a part of the Grand Est super-region of France. The name mea ...
and parts of
MeurtheMeurthe may refer to: * Meurthe (department), a former subdivision of France * Meurthe (river), a river in eastern France {{geodis ...
,
Moselle The Moselle ( , ; german: Mosel ; lb, Musel ) is a river that rises in the Vosges mountains and flows from western Germany through Luxembourg and north-eastern France. It is a bank (geography), left bank tributary of the Rhine, which it j ...
,
Vosges The Vosges ( , ; german: Vogesen ; gsw, Vogese) are a range of low mountains in Eastern France France (), officially the French Republic (french: link=no, République française), is a country primarily located in Western Europe, consis ...
and
Haut-Rhin Haut-Rhin (, ; Alsatian: ''Owerelsàss'' or ';. german: Oberelsass, ) is a department in the Grand Est Grand Est (; gsw-als, Grossa Oschta; Moselle Franconian/ lb, Grouss Osten; Rhine Franconian: ''Groß Oschte''; german: Großer Osten ...
were ceded to the
German Empire The German Empire or the Imperial State of Germany,, officially '.Herbert Tuttle Herbert Tuttle (1846–1894) was an American historian. Biography Herbert Tuttle was born in Bennington, Vermont Bennington is a New England town, town ...
in 1871, following France's defeat in the
Franco-Prussian War The Franco-Prussian War or Franco-German War,, german: Deutsch-Französischer Krieg often referred to in France as the War of 1870, was a conflict between the Second French Empire The Second French Empire (; officially the French Empire, ...
. A small part of Haut-Rhin however remained French and became known as the
Territoire de Belfort The Territoire de Belfort () is a departments of France, department in the Bourgogne-Franche-Comté regions of France, region, eastern France. Administration Its departmental code is 90, and its prefectures in France, prefecture (capital) is Be ...
; the remaining parts of Meurthe and Moselle were merged into a new
Meurthe-et-Moselle Meurthe-et-Moselle () is a department Department may refer to: * Departmentalization, division of a larger organization into parts with specific responsibility Government and military *Department (country subdivision), a geographical and admin ...
department. When France regained the ceded departments after
World War I World War I or the First World War, often abbreviated as WWI or WW1, was a global war originating in Europe that lasted from 28 July 1914 to 11 November 1918. Contemporaneously known as the Great War or "The war to end war, the war ...

World War I
, the Territoire de Belfort was not re-integrated into Haut-Rhin. In 1922, it became France's 90th department. Likewise, the Lorraine departments were not changed back to their original boundaries, and a new Moselle department was created in the regained territory, with slightly different boundaries from the pre-war department of the same name. The re-organisation of Île-de-France in 1968 and the division of
Corsica Corsica (, Upper , Southern , ; french: link=no, Corse ; lij, link=no, Còrsega) is an island in the Mediterranean Sea and one of the Regions of France, 18 regions of France. It is the fourth-largest island in the Mediterranean and lies southea ...

Corsica
in 1975 added six more departments, raising the total in Metropolitan France to 96. By 2011, when the
overseas collectivity The France, French overseas collectivities ('':fr:collectivité d'outre-mer, collectivité d'outre-mer'' or ''COM''), are first-order administrative divisions of France, like the regions of France, French regions, but have a semi-autonomous statu ...
of
Mayotte Mayotte (french: Mayotte, ; Shimaore language, Shimaore: ''Maore'', ; mg, Maiôty) is an overseas department and region, overseas department/region and single territorial collectivity of France officially named the Department of Mayotte (French ...

Mayotte
became a department, joining the earlier overseas departments of the Republic (all created in 1946) –
French Guiana French Guiana ( or ; french: link=no, Guyane ) is an overseas departments and regions of France, overseas department/region and single territorial collectivity of France on the northern Atlantic Ocean, Atlantic coast of South America in the Gui ...

French Guiana
,
Guadeloupe Guadeloupe (; ; gcf, label=Antillean Creole, Gwadloup, ) is an archipelago and Overseas departments and regions of France, overseas department and region of France in the Caribbean. It consists of six inhabited islands—Basse-Terre Island, Bas ...
,
Martinique Martinique ( , ; gcf, label=Martinican Creole Antillean Creole (Antillean French Creole, Kreyol, Kwéyòl, Patois) is a French-based creole languages, French-based creole, which is primarily spoken in the Lesser Antilles. Its grammar and v ...

Martinique
and
Réunion Réunion (french: La Réunion, ; previously ''Île Bourbon''; rcf, label=Réunion Creole, Reunionese Creole, La Rénion) is an island in the Indian Ocean that is an overseas departments and regions of France, overseas department and region of ...

Réunion
– the total number of departments in the French Republic had become 101. In 2015, the Urban Community of Lyon was split from
Rhône The Rhône ( , ; german: Rhone ; wae, Rotten ; it, Rodano ; frp, Rôno ; oc, Ròse ) is one of the major rivers of Europe and has twice the average discharge of the Loire The Loire (, also ; ; oc, Léger; la, Liger) is the longest r ...
to form the Métropole de Lyon, a ''sui generis'' entity, with the powers of both an intercommunality and those of a department on its territory, formally classified as a "territorial collectivity with particular status" (french: collectivité territoriale à statut particulier) and as such not belonging to any department. As of 2019,
Corse-du-Sud Corse-du-Sud (; co, link=no, Corsica suttana , or ; en, Southern Corsica) is (as of 2019) an administrative department of France France (), officially the French Republic (french: link=no, République française), is a country prim ...
and
Haute-Corse Haute-Corse (; co, Corsica suprana , or ; en, Upper Corsica) is (as of 2019) an administrative Departments of France, department of France, consisting of the northern part of the island of Corsica. The corresponding departmental territorial c ...
are still administrative departments, although they no longer have the status of departmental " territorial collectivities": region and department functions have been managed by a "
single territorial collectivity A single territorial collectivity (french: collectivité territoriale ''unique'') is a chartered subdivision of France France (), officially the French Republic (french: link=no, République française), is a country primarily located in ...
" since 2018. Despite the intention to avoid the old nomenclature, often the names of pre-1790 provinces remained in use. For example, the name of
Berry A berry is a small, pulpy, and often edible fruit In botany, a fruit is the seed-bearing structure in flowering plants (also known as angiosperms) formed from the ovary after flowering. Fruits are the means by which angiosperms dissem ...

Berry
, though no longer having an official status, remains up to the present in widespread use in daily life.


General characteristics


Government and administration

The departmental seat of government is known as the
prefecture A prefecture (from the Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of t ...
(''préfecture'') or ''chef-lieu de département'' and is generally a town of some importance roughly at the geographical centre of the department. This was determined according to the time taken to travel on horseback from the periphery of the department. The goal was for the prefecture to be accessible on horseback from any town in the department within 24 hours. The prefecture is not necessarily the largest city in the department: for instance, in
Saône-et-Loire Saône-et-Loire (; Arpitan: ''Sona-et-Lêre'') is a department Department may refer to: * Departmentalization, division of a larger organization into parts with specific responsibility Government and military *Department (country subdivision), ...
department the capital is
Mâcon Mâcon (), historically anglicised Linguistic anglicisation (or anglicization, occasionally anglification, anglifying, or Englishing) is the practice of modifying foreign words, names, and phrases to make them easier to spell, pronounce, or un ...
, but the largest city is
Chalon-sur-Saône Chalon-sur-Saône () is a commune A commune is an intentional community of people sharing living spaces, interests, values, beliefs, and often property Property (''latin: Res Privata'') in the Abstract and concrete, abstract is what bel ...

Chalon-sur-Saône
. Departments may be divided into
arrondissements An arrondissement (, , ) is any of various administrative division Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). , country subdivision, administrative region, subnational entity, first-level subdivision, as well as many similar terms ...
. The capital of an arrondissement is called a
subprefecture A subprefecture is an administrative division Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). , country subdivision, administrative region, subnational entity, first-level subdivision, as well as many similar terms, are generic names f ...
(''sous-préfecture'') or ''chef-lieu d'arrondissement''. Each department is administered by a departmental council (''conseil départemental''), an assembly elected for six years by
universal suffrage Universal suffrage (also called universal franchise, general suffrage, and common suffrage of the common man) gives the right to vote Suffrage, political franchise, or simply franchise, is the right to vote in public, political elections (al ...
, with the
President of the Departmental Council In France France (), officially the French Republic (french: link=no, République française), is a country primarily located in Western Europe, consisting of metropolitan France and Overseas France, several overseas regions and territories ...
as executive of the department. Before 1982, the chief executive of the department was the
prefect Prefect (from the Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Ro ...
(''préfet''), who represents the
Government of France The Government of France (French French (french: français(e), link=no) may refer to: * Something of, from, or related to France France (), officially the French Republic (french: link=no, République française), is a country primari ...
in each department and is appointed by the
President of the French Republic The president of France, officially the president of the French Republic (french: Président de la République française), is the head of state A head of state (or chief of state) is the public persona who officially embodies a state ( ...
. The prefect is assisted by one or more sub-prefects (''sous-préfet'') based in the subprefectures of the department. Since 1982, the prefect retains only the powers that are not delegated to the department councils. In practice, their role has been largely limited to preventing local policy from conflicting with national policy. The departments are further divided into
communes A commune is an intentional community of people sharing living spaces, interests, values, beliefs, and often property, possessions, and resources in common. In some communes, the people also share common Employment, work, income, or assets. ...

communes
, governed by municipal councils. As of 2013, there were 36,681 communes in France. In the
overseas territories A territory is an administrative division Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). , country subdivision, administrative region, subnational entity, first-level subdivision, as well as many similar terms, are generic names f ...
, some communes play a role at departmental level.
Paris Paris () is the Capital city, capital and List of communes in France with over 20,000 inhabitants, most populous city of France, with an estimated population of 2,175,601 residents as of 2018, in an area of more than . Since the 17th century, ...

Paris
, the country's capital city, is a commune as well as a department. In continental France (
metropolitan France Metropolitan France (french: France métropolitaine or ''la Métropole''), also known as European France, is the area of the French Republic which is geographically in Europe Europe is a continent A continent is one of several lar ...

metropolitan France
, excluding
Corsica Corsica (, Upper , Southern , ; french: link=no, Corse ; lij, link=no, Còrsega) is an island in the Mediterranean Sea and one of the Regions of France, 18 regions of France. It is the fourth-largest island in the Mediterranean and lies southea ...

Corsica
), the
median In statistics and probability theory, the median is the value separating the higher half from the lower half of a Sample (statistics), data sample, a statistical population, population, or a probability distribution. For a data set, it may be tho ...

median
land area of a department is , which is two-and-a-half times the median land area of the
ceremonial counties of England The counties and areas for the purposes of the lieutenancies, also referred to as the lieutenancy areas of England and informally known as ceremonial counties, are areas of England England is a Countries of the United Kingdom, country th ...

ceremonial counties of England
and the
preserved counties of Wales The preserved counties of Wales are the current areas used in Wales Wales ( cy, Cymru ) is a country that is Countries of the United Kingdom, part of the United Kingdom. It is bordered by England to the Wales–England border, east, the Iris ...
and slightly more than three-and-half times the median land area of a county of the United States. At the 2001 census, the median population of a department in continental France was 511,000 inhabitants, which is 21 times the median population of a United States county, but less than two-thirds of the median population of a ceremonial county of England and Wales. Most of the departments have an area of between 4,000 and 8,000 km2 (1500 to 3000 sq. mi.), and a population between 320,000 and 1 million. The largest in area is
Gironde Gironde ( US usually, , ; oc, Gironda, ) is a largest department Department may refer to: * Departmentalization, division of a larger organization into parts with specific responsibility Government and military *Department (country subdivis ...

Gironde
(10,000 km2; 4000 sq. mi.), while the smallest is the city of Paris (105 km2; 40 sq. mi.). The most populous is
Nord Nord, a word meaning "north" in several European languages, may refer to: Acronyms * National Organization for Rare Disorders, an American nonprofit organization * New Orleans Recreation Department, New Orleans, Louisiana, US Film and televisio ...
(2,550,000) and the least populous is
Lozère Lozère (; oc, Losera ) is a landlocked department Department may refer to: * Departmentalization, division of a larger organization into parts with specific responsibility Government and military *Department (country subdivision), a geographic ...

Lozère
(74,000).


Numbering

The departments are numbered: their two-digit numbers appear in
postal code A postal code (also known locally in various English-speaking countries throughout the world as a postcode, post code, PIN or ZIP Code) is a series of letters or digits or both, sometimes including spaces or punctuation, included in a postal a ...
s, in INSEE codes (including "social security numbers") and on vehicle number plates. Initially, the numbers corresponded to the alphabetical order of the names of the departments, but several changed their names, so the correspondence became less exact. Alphanumeric codes 2A and 2B were used for
Corsica Corsica (, Upper , Southern , ; french: link=no, Corse ; lij, link=no, Còrsega) is an island in the Mediterranean Sea and one of the Regions of France, 18 regions of France. It is the fourth-largest island in the Mediterranean and lies southea ...

Corsica
while it was split but it has since reverted to 20. The two-digit code "98" is used by
Monaco Monaco (; ), officially the Principality of Monaco (french: Principauté de Monaco; Monégasque dialect, Monégasque Ligurian: ''Prinçipatu de Mu̍negu''), is a Sovereign state, sovereign city-state and European microstates, microstate on the ...

Monaco
. Together with the
ISO 3166-1 alpha-2 ISO 3166-1 alpha-2 codes are two-letter country codes defined in ISO 3166-1, part of the ISO 3166 standardization, standard published by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), to represent country, countries, dependent territory ...
country code FR, the numbers form the
ISO 3166-2 ISO 3166-2 is part of the ISO 3166 ISO 3166 is a standard Standard may refer to: Flags * Colours, standards and guidons * Standard (flag), a type of flag used for personal identification Norm, convention or requirement * Standard (metrolog ...
country subdivision codes for the metropolitan departments. The overseas departments get three digits.


Relation to national government

Originally, the relationship between the departments and the central government was left somewhat ambiguous. While citizens in each department elected their own officials, the local governments were subordinated to the central government, becoming instruments of national integration. By 1793, however, the revolutionary government had turned the departments into transmission belts for policies enacted in Paris. With few exceptions, the departments had this role until the early 1960s.


Party political preferences

These maps cannot be used as a useful resource of voter preferences, because Departmental Councils are elected on a two-round system, which drastically limits the chances of fringe parties, if they are not supported on one of the two rounds by a moderate party. After the 1992 election, the left had a majority in only 21 of the 100 departments; after the 2011 election, the left dominated 61 of the 100 departments. (Mayotte only became a department after the election.) File:Cantonales_1998(dom).png, Party affiliation of the General Council Presidents of the various departments in the cantonal elections of 1998. File:Cantonales 2001.svg, Party affiliation of the General Council Presidents of the various departments in the elections of 2001. File:Cantonales 2004.svg, Party affiliation of the General Council Presidents of the various departments in the elections of 2004. File:Conseils généraux 2008.svg, Party affiliation of the General Council Presidents of the various departments in the elections of 2008. File:Conseils généraux 2011.png, Party affiliation of the General Council Presidents of the various departments in the elections of 2011. File:Presidents of French departments current.svg, Party affiliation of the General Council Presidents of the various departments in the elections of 2015. Key to the parties: * Divers Centre = Independents of the centre or Democratic Movement (Mouvement démocrate) * Divers Droite (DVD) = Independent conservatives * Divers Gauche (DVG) = Independent left-wing politicians * MPF =
Movement for France The Movement for France (french: Mouvement pour la France, MPF; ) was a Conservatism, conservative, Soft Euroscepticism, soft Eurosceptic and Gaullist List of political parties in France, French political party, founded on 20 November 1994, with a ...
(Mouvement pour la France) (right) * Nouveau Centre =
New Centre The Centrists (french: Les Centristes, LC), formerly known as New Centre (''Nouveau Centre'', NC) and European Social Liberal Party (''Parti Social Libéral Européen'', PSLE), is a centre-right Centre-right politics (British English Briti ...
(centre or centre-right) * PCF =
French Communist Party The French Communist Party (french: Parti communiste français, ''PCF'' ; ) is a communist party in List of political parties in France, France. The PCF is a member of the Party of the European Left, and its Member of the European Parliament, ME ...
(Parti communiste français) * PRG =
Radical Party of the Left The Radical Party of the Left (french: Parti radical de gauche, PRG) is a social-liberal political party in France. A party in the Radical tradition, since 1972 the PRG was a close ally of the major party of the centre-left Centre-left po ...
(Parti radical de gauche) * PS =
Socialist Party Socialist Party is the name of many different political parties A political party is an organization that coordinates candidates to compete in a particular country's elections. It is common for the members of a party to hold similar ideas abo ...
(Parti socialiste) * UDF =
Union for French Democracy The Union for French Democracy (french: Union pour la démocratie française, UDF) was a centre-right political party in France. It was founded in 1978 as an electoral alliance to support President Valéry Giscard d'Estaing in order to counterb ...

Union for French Democracy
(Union pour la démocratie française) succeeded by Democratic Movement * UMP =
Union for a Popular Movement The Union for a Popular Movement (french: link=no, Union pour un mouvement populaire ; UMP ) was a centre-right List of political parties in France, political party in France that was one of the two major party, major contemporary political partie ...
(Union pour un mouvement populaire)


Future

The removal of one or more levels of local government has been discussed for some years; in particular, the option of removing the departmental level. Frédéric Lefebvre, spokesman for the UMP, said in December 2008 that the fusion of the departments with the regions was a matter to be dealt with soon. This was soon refuted by
Édouard Balladur Édouard Balladur (; born 2 May 1929) is a French politician who served as Prime Minister of France under François Mitterrand from 29 March 1993 to 10 May 1995. He unsuccessfully ran for president in the 1995 French presidential election, coming ...
and , members of the committee for the reform of local authorities, known as the Balladur Committee. In January 2008, the Attali Commission recommended that the departmental level of government should be eliminated within ten years.Report of the ''Attali Commission''
"Decision 260", p. 197
Nevertheless, the Balladur Committee has not retained this proposition and does not advocate the disappearance of the departments, but simply "favors the voluntary grouping of departments", which it suggests also for the regions, with the aim of reducing the number of regions to 15. This committee advocates, on the contrary, the suppression of the cantons.


Maps and tables


Current departments

Each department has a coat of arms and a flag with which it is commonly associated, though not all are officially recognised or used.


Former departments


Former departments of the current territory of France


Departments of Algeria (Départements d'Algérie)

Unlike the rest of , French Algeria, Algeria was divided into overseas departments from 1848 until its independence in 1962. These departments were supposed to be "assimilated" or "integrated" to France sometime in the future.


Departments in former French colonies


Departments of the Napoleonic Empire in Europe

There are a number of former departments in territories conquered by France during the
French Revolution The French Revolution ( ) refers to the period that began with the Estates General of 1789 and ended in coup of 18 Brumaire, November 1799 with the formation of the French Consulate. Many of its ideas are considered fundamental principles ...

French Revolution
and First French Empire, Napoleonic Empire that are now not part of France: Notes for Table 7: # Where a Napoleonic department was composed of parts from more than one country, the nation-state containing the prefecture is listed. Please expand this table to list all countries containing significant parts of the department. # Territories that were a part of Southern Netherlands, Austrian Netherlands were also a part of Holy Roman Empire. # The Bishopric of Basel was a German Prince-Bishopric, not to be confused with the adjacent Old Swiss Confederacy, Swiss Basel (canton), Canton of Basel. # The territories of the Republic of Venice were lost to France, becoming the Septinsular Republic, a nominal vassal of the Ottoman Empire, from 1800 to 1807. After reverting to France at the Treaty of Tilsit, these territories then became a Great Britain, British protectorate, as the United States of the Ionian Islands # Maastricht was a condominium (international law), condominium of the Dutch Republic and the Prince-Bishopric of Liège. # On 6 June 1805, as a result of the annexation of the Ligurian Republic (the puppet state, puppet successor state to the Republic of Genoa), Tanaro (department), Tanaro was abolished and its territory divided between the departments of Marengo (department), Marengo, Montenotte Department, Montenotte and Stura. # Before becoming the department of Apennins, the Republic of Genoa was converted to a puppet state, puppet successor state, the Ligurian Republic. # Before becoming the department of Arno (department), Arno, the Grand Duchy of Tuscany was converted to a puppet state, puppet successor state, the Kingdom of Etruria. # Rome (department), Rome was known as the ' until 1810. # Before becoming the departments of Bouches-du-Rhin, Bouches-de-l'Escaut, Bouches-de-la-Meuse, Bouches-de-l'Yssel, Ems-Occidental, Frise (department), Frise, Yssel-Supérieur and Zuyderzée, these territories of the Dutch Republic were converted to a puppet state, puppet successor state, the Batavian Republic (1795–1806), then those territories that had not already been annexed (all except the first two departments here), along with the Kingdom of Prussia, Prussian East Frisia, County of East Frisia, were converted to another puppet state, the Kingdom of Holland. # Before becoming the department of Simplon (department), Simplon, the Valais, République des Sept Dizains was converted to a revolutionary République du Valais (16 March 1798) which was swiftly incorporated (1 May 1798) into the puppet state, puppet Helvetic Republic until 1802 when it became the independent Rhodanic Republic. # In the months before Lippe (department), Lippe was formed, the ''arrondissements'' of Rees, Germany, Rees and Münster were part of Yssel-Supérieur, the ''arrondissement'' of Steinfurt was part of Bouches-de-l'Yssel and the ''arrondissement'' of Neuenhaus was part of Ems-Occidental.


See also

* ISO 3166-2:FR * List of French departments by population, List of French departments by population, area and population density * Overseas departments and regions of France


References

{{Authority control Departments of France, Administrative divisions in Europe, France 2 France geography-related lists Lists of subdivisions of France, Departments Second-level administrative divisions by country, Departments, France Subdivisions of France