Département

The départements (or departments) are administrative units of France, roughly analogous to British counties and now grouped into 22 metropolitan and four overseas régionss. They are subdivided into 342 arrondissements. Départements are also found in Côte d'Ivoire.

Table of contents
1 Administrative role
2 History
3 Map and list of départements
4 Former départements

Administrative role

Each département is administered by a Conseil Général elected for six years, and by a préfet appointed by the French government and assisted by one or more sous-préfets based in district centres outside the departmental capital. An administrative reform in 1982 transferred some of the préfet's powers to the president of the Conseil Général.

The capital city of a département bears the title of préfecture. Départements are divided into one to five arrondissements. The capital city of an arrondissement is called the sous-préfecture. The civil servant in charge is the sous-préfet.

The départements sub-divide into communes, governed by municipal councils. France (as of 1999) had 36,779 communes.

Most of the départements have an area of around 4,000-8,000 km² and a population between 250,000 and a million. The largest in terms of area is Gironde (10,000 km²) and the smallest the city of Paris (105 km² excluding the suburbs, now organised in adjacent départements). The most populous is Nord (2,550,000) and the least populous Lozère (74,000).

See also: List of French départements by population

The départements are numbered: their two-digit numbers appear in postal codes and on car number-plates. Note that there is no number 20, but 2A and 2B instead. Note also that the two-digit code "98" is used by Monaco. Together with the ISO 3166-1 country code FR the numbers form the ISO 3166-2 country subdivision codes for the metropolitain departments. The overseas departments get two letters for the ISO 3166-2 code.

History

Départements were created on January 15, 1790 by the Constituent Assembly to replace the country's former provinces with a more rational structure. They were also designed to deliberately break up France's historical regions in an attempt to erase cultural differences and build a more homogeneous nation. Most départements are named after the area's principal river(s) or other physical features.

The number of départements rose from an initial 83 to 130 by 1810 with the territorial gains of the Republic and of the Empire (see Provinces of the Netherlands for the annexed Dutch departements), but they were reduced again to 86 with Napoleon I's defeat in 1814-1815. Three more were added with the acquisition of Nice and Savoy in 1860. The numbering was estabished on the alphabetical order of those 89 départements.

Three départements in Alsace-Lorraine which had been ceded to Germany in 1871 - (Haut-Rhin, Bas-Rhin, and Moselle) - re-joined France in 1919.

Reorganisations of the Paris region (1968) and the division of Corsica (1975) have added a further seven départements, raising the total to one hundred - including the four overseas départements d'outre-mer (DOM) of Guyane (French Guiana) in South America, Guadeloupe and Martinique in the Caribbean Sea, and Réunion in the Indian Ocean.

Map and list of départements

French régions and départements

Number Département Préfecture
01AinBourg-en-Bresse
02AisneLaon
03AllierMoulins
04Alpes-de-Haute-ProvenceDigne
05Hautes-AlpesGap
06Alpes-MaritimesNice
07ArdèchePrivas
08ArdennesCharleville-Mézières
09AriègeFoix
10AubeTroyes
11AudeCarcassonne
12AveyronRodez
13Bouches-du-RhôneMarseille
14CalvadosCaen
15CantalAurillac
16CharenteAngoulême
17Charente-MaritimeLa Rochelle
18CherBourges
19CorrèzeTulle
2ACorse-du-SudAjaccio
2BHaute-CorseBastia
21Côte-d'OrDijon
22Côtes-d'ArmorSaint-Brieuc
23CreuseGuéret
24DordognePérigueux
25DoubsBesançon
26DrômeValence
27EureEvreux
28Eure-et-LoirChartres
29FinistèreQuimper
30GardNîmes
31Haute-GaronneToulouse
32GersAuch
33GirondeBordeaux
34HéraultMontpellier
35Ille-et-VilaineRennes
36IndreChâteauroux
37Indre-et-LoireTours
38IsèreGrenoble
39JuraLons-le-Saunier
40LandesMont-de-Marsan
41Loir-et-CherBlois
42LoireSaint-Etienne
43Haute-LoireLe Puy
44Loire-AtlantiqueNantes
45LoiretOrléans
46LotCahors
47Lot-et-GaronneAgen
48LozèreMende
49Maine-et-LoireAngers
50MancheSaint-Lô
51MarneChâlons-en-Champagne
52Haute-MarneChaumont
53MayenneLaval
54Meurthe-et-MoselleNancy
55MeuseBar-le-Duc
56MorbihanVannes
57MoselleMetz
58NièvreNevers
59NordLille
60OiseBeauvais
61OrneAlençon
62Pas-de-CalaisArras
63Puy-de-DômeClermont-Ferrand
64Pyrénées-AtlantiquesPau
65Hautes-PyrénéesTarbes
66Pyrénées-OrientalesPerpignan
67Bas-RhinStrasbourg
68Haut-RhinColmar
69RhôneLyon
70Haute-SaôneVesoul
71Saône-et-LoireMâcon
72SartheLe Mans
73SavoieChambéry
74Haute-SavoieAnnecy
75ParisParis
76Seine-MaritimeRouen
77Seine-et-MarneMelun
78YvelinesVersailles
79Deux-SèvresNiort
80SommeAmiens
81TarnAlbi
82Tarn-et-GaronneMontauban
83VarToulon
84VaucluseAvignon
85VendéeLa Roche-sur-Yon
86ViennePoitiers
87Haute-VienneLimoges
88VosgesEpinal
89YonneAuxerre
90Territoire-de-BelfortBelfort
91EssonneEvry
92Hauts-de-SeineNanterre
93Seine-Saint-DenisBobigny
94Val-de-MarneCréteil
95Val-d'OisePontoise
971Guadeloupe 1Basse-Terre
972Martinique 1Fort-de-France
973Guyane 1Cayenne
974La Réunion 1Saint-Denis
The following are not départments
(see notes):
986Wallis and Futuna 2Mata-Utu
987French Polynesia2Papeete
975Saint Pierre and Miquelon3Saint Pierre
976Mayotte3Mamoutzou
988New Caledonia 3Nouméa

Notes:

  1. The overseas departments are former colonies outside France that now enjoy a status similar to European or metropolitan France. They are part of France and of the EU. Each of them constitutes a région at the same time.
  2. Beyond these there are also three "overseas territories" (French: territoires d'outre-mer, or TOM) that are part of France but not of the EU. They are: French Polynesia, Wallis and Futuna and the French Southern and Antarctic Territories.
  3. Furthermore there are three separate special status territories (French: collectivités territorialles), also part of France but not of the EU: Saint Pierre and Miquelon, Mayotte and New Caledonia. New Caledonia used to be a TOM.

Finally, France maintains control over a number of small islands in the Indian Ocean and the Pacific.

Former départements

(incomplete list) See also: Administrative divisions of France

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