Metropolitan France is in Europe. However, France is a Trans-Continental country. It has Overseas Regions (which are an integral part of France) in three other continents – North America, South America and Africa.
France also has a number of additional Overseas Collectives and Overseas Territories spread across the world – four in North America, three in Oceania, and one in Antarctica. These do not have quite the same status as France ‘proper’ but have been included for completeness.
In this article we explain where Metropolitan France, its Overseas Regions, Collectives and Territories are located around the world. At the end of the article you will find a list of each part of France and its continent.
Ask most people ‘What continent is France in’ and you’ll get a slightly puzzled look followed by the answer ‘Europe, of course.’
But really its only Metropolitan France that is in Europe.
Almost all of the population of France (64.6 million people in 2016) is located in the European (Metropolitan) part of France. That’s 96% of the total population.
Metropolitan France also makes up 82% of the total amount of French territory worldwide.
Paris, the capital city, and the 20 largest cities in France are all in Metropolitan France.
France Overseas Regions by Continent
France has five Overseas Regions. They are French Guiana (South America), Guadeloupe and Martinique (North America), Mayotte and Réunion (Africa). Together they are home to 2.1 million people and 18% of French territory.
Each of these five regions is considered an integral part of France. The French constitution and laws apply and each region has exactly the same powers as a region in Metropolitan France. Each region also elects representatives to serve in the French Parliament (National Assembly) and French Senate.
France’s five overseas regions also elect a Member of the European Parliament (MEP), and have the Euro as their currency. They, along with one other French Overseas Community (Saint-Martin – see below), two Portuguese autonomous regions and one Spanish autonomous region, are classified by the EU as Outermost Regions. They are considered to be an integral part of the European Union.
Saint-Denis, in Reunion, is the 21st largest city in France, with a population of 142,244 people.
France Overseas Collectives and Territories by Continent
France also has a number of Overseas Collectives and Territories.
They are different to Overseas Regions in that they are not considered to be an integral part of France. They have different levels of autonomy and local government. You can see a full list in the table below.
French Polynesia, in the South Pacific Ocean (Oceania) has perhaps the most autonomy. It has its own President and Assembly, and has been designated an Overseas country inside the French Republic. However, France still retains a great deal of administrative control. It has strong links to France, in that it can vote in French elections and elect MPs, but it also has a strong independence movement.
New Caledonia, also in the South Pacific (Oceania) also has a great deal of autonomy, alongside representation in the French Parliament and Senate. It held an independence referendum in 1987, which was rejected. A further referendum on independence is expected to take place in 2018.
Saint Pierre and Miquelon is unusual in that it is the only French territory to the north of Metropolitan France. A group of islands with a population of just 6,080 people, it is located just off the coast of Newfoundland, Canada.
France also controls Clipperton Island, a small uninhabited island to the west of Mexico in North America, and the French Southern and Antarctic Lands, a collection of uninhabited islands off the north coast of Antarctica plus a slice of mainland Antarctica known as Adélie Land.
Metropolitan France and Overseas France by Continent
Here is a table listing each part of France, its location, its continent and its population.
|Guadeloupe||North America||Overseas Region||403,355|
|Martinique||North America||Overseas Region||394,173|
|French Polynesia||Oceania||Overseas Collective||268,270|
|New Caledonia||Oceania||Special Collectivity||258,958|
|French Guiana||South America||Overseas Region||229,040|
|Saint Martin||North America||Overseas Collective||36,979|
|Wallis and Futuna||Oceania||Overseas Collective||13,135|
|Saint Barthélemy||North America||Overseas Collective||8,938|
|Saint Pierre and Miquelon||North America||Overseas Collective||6,081|
|French Southern & Antarctic Lands||Antarctica||Overseas Territory||none|
|Clipperton Island||North America||State Private Property||none|