Departments of France

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(incl. overseas regions)

(incl. overseas departments)

Urban communities
Agglomeration communities
Commune communities
Syndicates of New Agglomeration

Associated communes
Municipal arrondissements

Overseas collectivities
Sui generis collectivity
Overseas country
Overseas territory
Clipperton Island

The departments of France (French: département, pronounced: [depaʁtəmɑ̃]) and many of its former colonies are administrative divisions. The 100 French departments are grouped into 22 metropolitan and four overseas regions, all of which have identical legal status as integral parts of France. The departments are subdivided into 342 arrondissements, which in turn, are divided into cantons. Each canton consists of a small number of communes. In the overseas territories, some of the communes play a role at departmental level.

Contents

History


The first French "departments", in the sense of territory, were proposed in 1665 by Marc-René d'Argenson, and served as administrative areas purely for the Ponts et Chaussées ("Bridges and Highways", the infrastructure administration).

Before the French Revolution, France accumulated territory gradually through the annexation of a mosaic of more or less independent entities. By the close of the Ancien Régime it was organised into provinces. During the period of the Revolution, these were dissolved, partly in order to weaken old loyalties.

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