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 large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (norm), convention rather than any strict criteria, up to seven regions are commonly regarded as continents. Ordered from largest ...
. It comprises mainland France and
, as well as nearby islands situated in the
Atlantic Ocean
Atlantic Ocean
, the
English Channel The English Channel,, "The Sleeve"; nrf, la Maunche, "The Sleeve" ( Cotentinais) or (Jèrriais), (Guernésiais), "The Channel"; br, Mor Breizh, "Sea of Brittany"; cy, Môr Udd, "Lord's Sea"; kw, Mor Bretannek, "British Sea"; nl, Het Kan ...

English Channel
(french: la Manche) and the
Mediterranean Sea The Mediterranean Sea is a sea connected to the Atlantic Ocean, surrounded by the Mediterranean Basin and almost completely enclosed by land: on the north by Western and Southern Europe and Anatolia, on the south by North Africa, and on the ...
. In contrast, overseas France is the collective name for all the French-administered territories outside
Europe Europe is a continent A continent is one of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (norm), convention rather than any strict criteria, up to seven regions are commonly regarded as continents. Ordered from largest ...
. Metropolitan and overseas France together form the French Republic. Metropolitan France accounts for 82.0% of the land territory, 3.3% of the exclusive economic zone (EEZ), and 95.9% of the population of the French Republic. In overseas France, a person from metropolitan France is often called a ''métro'', short for ''métropolitain''.


The term "metropolitan France" dates from the country's colonial period (from the 16th to the 20th centuries), when France was referred to as ''la Métropole'' (literally "the Metropolis"), as distinguished from its colonies and protectorates, known as ''les colonies'' or ''l'Empire''. Similar terms existed to describe other European colonial powers (e.g. "metropolitan Britain", "España metropolitana"). This application of the words "metropolis" and "metropolitan" came from
Ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language used in ancient Greece and the classical antiquity, ancient world from around 1500 BC to 300 BC. It is often roughly divided into the following periods: Mycenaean Greek (), Dark Ages () ...
metropolis in the background A metropolis () is a large city or conurbation which is a significant economic, political, and cultural center for a country or region, and an important hub for regional or international connections, commerce, and communicat ...

" (from μήτηρ ''mētēr'' "mother" and πόλις ''pólis'' "city, town"), which was the name for a city-state that created colonies across the Mediterranean (e.g.
Marseille Marseille ( , also spelled in English as ''Marseilles''; , ; oc, Marselha ) is the Prefectures in France, prefecture of the Departments of France, department of Bouches-du-Rhône and Regions of France, region of Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur in ...
was a colony of the city-state of Phocaea; therefore Phocaea was the "metropolis" of Marseille). By extension "metropolis" and "metropolitan" came to mean "motherland", a nation or country as opposed to its colonies overseas. Today, some people in Overseas France object to the use of the term ''la France métropolitaine'' due to its colonial history. They prefer to call it "the European territory of France" (le territoire européen de la France), as the Treaties of the European Union do. Likewise, they oppose treating overseas France and metropolitan France as separate entities. For example, INSEE used to calculate its statistics (demography, economy, etc.) for metropolitan France only, and to analyze separate statistics for the overseas departments and territories. People in the overseas departments have opposed this separate treatment, arguing that the then four overseas departments were fully part of France. As a result, since the end of the 1990s INSEE has included the four overseas departments in its figures for France (such as total population or GDP). The fifth overseas department, Mayotte, has been included in the figures for France since the mid-2010s too. INSEE refers to metropolitan France and the five overseas departments as ''la France entière'' ("the whole of France"). "The whole of France" includes the five overseas departments, but does not include the other overseas collectivities and territories that have more autonomy than the departments. Other branches of the French administration may have different definitions of what ''la France entière'' is. For example, in contrast to INSEE, when the Ministry of the Interior releases election results, they use the term ''la France entière'' to refer to the entire French Republic, including all of overseas France, and not just the five overseas departments. Note that since INSEE now calculates statistics for ''la France entière'', this practice has spread to international institutions. For instance, the French GDP published by the World Bank includes metropolitan France and the five overseas departments. The World Bank refers to this total as "France"; it does not use the phrase "the whole of France", as INSEE does.


Metropolitan France covers a land area of , while Overseas France covers a land area of ,Land area of the 4 old overseas departments

, Mayotte, the overseas collectivities, and New Caledonia
page 21
, the French Southern and Antarctic Lands and the Scattered Islands

, and Clipperton

for a total of in the French Republic (excluding Adélie Land in Antarctica where sovereignty is suspended since the signing of the Antarctic Treaty System, Antarctic Treaty in 1959). Thus, metropolitan France accounts for 82.0% of the French Republic's land territory. At sea, the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of metropolitan France covers , while the EEZ of Overseas France covers , for a total of in the French Republic (excluding Adélie Land). Thus, metropolitan France accounts for 3.3% of the French Republic's EEZ. According to INSEE, 65,250,000 people lived in metropolitan France as of January 2021, while 2,785,000 lived in overseas France, for a total of 68,035,000 inhabitants in the French Republic.Population of Metropolitan France

The population of all five overseas departments totaled 2,172,00

in January 2021. The population of the overseas collectivities amounted to 613,000 inhabitants (Saint-Pierre and Miquelo



French Polynesi

Wallis et Futun

New Caledoni

. The total population of the overseas departments and territories of France is estimated at 2,785,000.
Thus, metropolitan France accounts for 95.9% of the French Republic's population. In the second round of the 2017 French presidential election, 35,467,327 French people cast a ballot (meaning a Voter turnout, turnout of 74.56%). 33,883,463 of these (95.53% of the total voters) cast their ballots in metropolitan France (turnout: 76.26%), 1,003,910 (2.83% of the total voters) cast their ballots in overseas France (turnout: 53.59%), and 579,954 (1.64% of the total voters) cast their ballots in foreign countries (French people living abroad; turnout: 45.84%). The National Assembly of France, French National Assembly is made up of 577 deputies, 539 of whom (93.4% of the total) are elected in metropolitan France, 27 (4.7% of the total) in overseas France, and 11 (1.9% of the total) by French citizens living in foreign countries.

Mainland France

Mainland France (French: ''la France continentale''), or just "the mainland" (French: ''le continent''), does not include the French Saint Pierre and Miquelon, islands in the Atlantic Ocean, List of islands of France#Atlantic coast, English Channel or List of islands of France#Mediterranean coast, Mediterranean Sea, the largest of which is Corsica. In Corsica, people from the mainland part of metropolitan France are referred to as ''les continentaux''. A casual synonym for the mainland part of metropolitan France is ''l'Hexagone'' ("the Hexagon"), for its approximate shape, and the adjective ''hexagonal'' may be a casual synonym of French (usually understood as metropolitan only, except in topics related to the foreign affairs and national politics of France as a whole). The image of France as a hexagon first appeared in French geography texts of the 1850s.Peter Sahlins, "Natural Frontiers Revisited: France's Boundaries since the Seventeenth Century", ''The American Historical Review'', Vol. 95, No. 5 (Dec., 1990), p. 1451

See also

* French colonial empire * Mainland * Wildlife of Metropolitan France



{{Authority control Geography of France, M01 Geography of Western Europe Geography of Southwestern Europe Metropolitan or continental parts of states, France Regions of France, . Subdivisions of France, . Ecoregions of Metropolitan France, . Southwestern Europe Western Europe