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Departments of France

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Departments of France
Départements français  (French)
  • Also known as:
  • Departamant gall  (Breton)
  • Dèpartament francês  (Arpitan)
  • Departament francés  (Occitan)
France maximale.svg
Found inRegions
Number101 (as of January 1, 2021)
Possible types

In the administrative divisions of France, the department (French: département, pronounced [depaʁtəmɑ̃]) is one of the three levels of government under the national level ("territorial collectivities"), between the administrative regions and the communes. Ninety-six departments are in metropolitan France, and five are overseas departments, which are also classified as overseas regions. Departments are further subdivided into 334 arrondissements, themselves divided into cantons; the last two have no autonomy, and are used for the organisation of police, fire departments, and sometimes, elections.

Each department is administered by an elected body called a departmental council (conseil départemental [sing.], conseils départementaux [plur.]). From 1800 to April 2015, these were called general councils (conseil général [sing.] conseils généraux [plur.]).[1] 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 (collège) 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 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 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, although it had already been frequently discussed and written about by many politicians and thinkers. The earliest known suggestion of it is from 1764 in the writings of d'Argenson.[citation needed] They have inspired similar divisions in many countries, some of them former French colonies.

Most French departments are assigned a two-digit number, the "Official Geographical Code", allocated by the Institut national de la statistique et des études économiques (Insée). Overseas departments have a three-digit number. The number is used, for example, in the postal code, and was until recently used for all vehicle registration plates. Residents commonly use the numbers to refer to their own department or a neighbouring one, for example, inhabitants 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 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 abandoned.


Geometrical proposition rejected
Geometrical proposition rejected
French provinces before 1790 (color) and today's departments (black borders)
French provinces before 1790 (color) and today's departments (black borders)

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.[2]

Before the French Revolution, France gained territory gradually through the annexation of a mosaic of 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. The National Constituent Assembly decided to create a more uniform divison into departments (département) and districts in late 1789.[3] The process began on 4 August 1789 with the elimination of provincial priveleges, and a 22 December 1789 decree (with letters patent in January 1790) provided for the termination of the provincial governments.[3]

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.[3] 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.
Departments at the maximum extent of the First French Empire (1812)
Departments at the maximum extent of the First French Empire (1812)

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. Savoy, during its temporary occupation, became the department of Mont-Blanc.[4] The provinces continued to exist administratively until 21 September 1791.[3]

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.[5] Following Napoleon's defeats in 1814–1815, the 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 and Savoy, which led to the creation of three new departments. Two were added from the new Savoyard territory, while the department of Alpes-Maritimes was created from Nice and a portion of the Var department. The 89 departments were given numbers based on the alphabetical order of their names.

The department of Bas-Rhin and parts of Meurthe, Moselle, Vosges and Haut-Rhin were ceded to the German Empire in 1871, following France's defeat in the Franco-Prussian War. A small part of Haut-Rhin however remained French and became known as the Territoire de Belfort; the remaining parts of Meurthe and Moselle were merged into a new Meurthe-et-Moselle department. When France regained the ceded departments after 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 in 1975 added six more departments, raising the total in Metropolitan France to 96. By 2011, when the overseas collectivity of Mayotte became a department, joining the earlier overseas departments of the Republic (all created in 1946) – French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Martinique and Réunion – the total number of departments in the French Republic had become 101. In 2015, the Urban Community of Lyon was split from Rhône 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 and Haute-Corse 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" 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, though no longer having an official status, remains up to the present in widespread use in daily life.

General characteristics

Government and administration

Administrative divisions of France
Administrative divisions of France

The departmental seat of government is known as the prefecture (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 department the capital is Mâcon, but the largest city is Chalon-sur-Saône. Departments may be divided into arrondissements. The capital of an arrondissement is called a subprefecture (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, with the President of the Departmental Council as executive of the department. Before 1982, the chief executive of the department was the prefect (préfet), who represents the Government of France in each department and is appointed by the President of the French Republic. 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, his role has been largely limited to preventing local policy from conflicting with national policy.

The departments are further divided into communes, governed by municipal councils. As of 2013, there were 36,681 communes in France. In the overseas territories, some communes play a role at departmental level. Paris, the country's capital city, is a commune as well as a department.

Population density in the departments (2007). The broken lines mark the approximate boundaries of the empty diagonal. The solid line is the Le Havre-Marseille line, to the east of which lives 60% of the French population.
Population density in the departments (2007). The broken lines mark the approximate boundaries of the empty diagonal. The solid line is the Le Havre-Marseille line, to the east of which lives 60% of the French population.

In continental France (metropolitan France, excluding Corsica), the median land area of a department is 5,965 km2 (2,303 sq mi), which is two-and-a-half times the median land area of the ceremonial counties of England and the preserved counties of Wales 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 (10,000 km2; 4000 sq. mi.), while the smallest is the city of Paris (105 km2; 40 sq. mi.). The most populous is Nord (2,550,000) and the least populous is Lozère (74,000).


The departments are numbered: their two-digit numbers appear in postal codes, 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 while it was split but it has since reverted to 20. The two-digit code "98" is used by Monaco. Together with the ISO 3166-1 alpha-2 country code FR, the numbers form the ISO 3166-2 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.)

Key to the parties:


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 and Gérard Longuet, members of the committee for the reform of local authorities, known as the Balladur Committee.[6]

In January 2008, the Attali Commission recommended that the departmental level of government should be eliminated within ten years.[7]

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.[8] This committee advocates, on the contrary, the suppression of the cantons.[8]

Maps and tables

Current departments

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

INSEE code Arms 1 Department Capital Region Named after
Coat of arms of department 01
Ain Bourg-en-Bresse  Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes Ain (river)
Coat of arms of department 02
Aisne Laon  Hauts-de-France Aisne (river)
Coat of arms of department 03
Allier Moulins  Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes Allier (river)
Coat of arms of department 04
Alpes-de-Haute-Provence 2 Digne-les-Bains  Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur Alps mountains and Provence region
Coat of arms of department 05
Hautes-Alpes Gap  Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur Alps mountains
Coat of arms of department 06
Alpes-Maritimes Nice  Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur Alps mountains
Coat of arms of department 07
Ardèche Privas  Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes Ardèche (river)
Coat of arms of department 08
Ardennes Charleville-Mézières  Grand Est Ardennes Forest
Coat of arms of department 09
Ariège Foix  Occitanie Ariège (river)
Coat of arms of department 10
Aube Troyes  Grand Est Aube (river)
Coat of arms of department 11
Aude Carcassonne  Occitanie Aude (river)
Coat of arms of department 12
Aveyron Rodez  Occitanie Aveyron (river)
Coat of arms of department 13
Bouches-du-Rhône Marseille  Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur Rhône (river)
Coat of arms of department 14
Calvados Caen  Normandy Latin calva dorsa ("bare backs"), referring to two offshore rocks
Coat of arms of department 15
Cantal Aurillac  Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes Mounts of Cantal
Coat of arms of department 16
Charente Angoulême  Nouvelle-Aquitaine Charente (river)
Coat of arms of department 17
Charente-Maritime 3 La Rochelle  Nouvelle-Aquitaine Charente (river)
Coat of arms of department 18
Cher Bourges  Centre-Val de Loire Cher (river)
Coat of arms of department 19
Corrèze Tulle  Nouvelle-Aquitaine Corrèze (river)
Coat of arms of Corsica
Corse-du-Sud 19 Ajaccio  Corsica Island of Corsica
Coat of arms of Corsica
Haute-Corse 19 Bastia  Corsica Island of Corsica
Coat of arms of department 21
Côte-d'Or Dijon  Bourgogne-Franche-Comté Color of Burgundy Vineyards during Autumn.
Coat of arms of department 22
Côtes-d'Armor 4 Saint-Brieuc Brittany Brittany coasts of Armorica
Coat of arms of department 23
Creuse Guéret  Nouvelle-Aquitaine Creuse (river)
Coat of arms of department 24
Dordogne Périgueux  Nouvelle-Aquitaine Dordogne (river)
Coat of arms of department 25
Doubs Besançon  Bourgogne-Franche-Comté Doubs (river)
Coat of arms of department 26
Drôme Valence  Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes Drôme (river)
Coat of arms of department 27
Eure Évreux  Normandy Eure (river)
Coat of arms of department 28
Eure-et-Loir Chartres  Centre-Val de Loire Eure and Loir rivers
Coat of arms of department 29
Finistère Quimper Brittany Brittany Finis Terrae (end of earth)
Coat of arms of department 30
Gard Nîmes  Occitanie Gardon (river)
Coat of arms of department 31
Haute-Garonne Toulouse  Occitanie Garonne (river)
Coat of arms of department 32
Gers Auch  Occitanie Gers (river)
Coat of arms of department 33
Gironde 5 Bordeaux  Nouvelle-Aquitaine Gironde estuary
Coat of arms of department 34
Hérault Montpellier  Occitanie Hérault (river)
Coat of arms of department 35
Ille-et-Vilaine Rennes Brittany Brittany Ille and Vilaine rivers
Coat of arms of department 36
Indre Châteauroux  Centre-Val de Loire Indre (river)
Coat of arms of department 37
Indre-et-Loire Tours  Centre-Val de Loire Indre and Loire rivers
Coat of arms of department 38
Isère Grenoble  Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes Isère (river)
Coat of arms of department 39
Jura Lons-le-Saunier  Bourgogne-Franche-Comté Jura Mountains
Coat of arms of department 40
Landes Mont-de-Marsan  Nouvelle-Aquitaine Landes forest
Coat of arms of department 41
Loir-et-Cher Blois  Centre-Val de Loire Loir and Cher rivers
Coat of arms of department 42
Loire Saint-Étienne  Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes Loire (river)
Coat of arms of department 43
Haute-Loire Le Puy-en-Velay  Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes Loire (river)
Coat of arms of department 44
Loire-Atlantique 6 Nantes  Pays de la Loire Loire (river) and Atlantic Ocean
Coat of arms of department 45
Loiret Orléans  Centre-Val de Loire Loiret (river)
Coat of arms of department 46
Lot Cahors  Occitanie Lot (river)
Coat of arms of department 47
Lot-et-Garonne Agen  Nouvelle-Aquitaine Lot and Garonne rivers
Coat of arms of department 48
Lozère Mende  Occitanie Mont Lozère
Coat of arms of department 49
Maine-et-Loire 7 Angers  Pays de la Loire Maine and Loire rivers
Coat of arms of department 50
Manche Saint-Lô  Normandy English Channel
Coat of arms of department 51
Marne Châlons-en-Champagne  Grand Est Marne (river)
Coat of arms of department 52
Haute-Marne Chaumont  Grand Est Marne (river)
Coat of arms of department 53
Mayenne Laval  Pays de la Loire Mayenne (river)
Coat of arms of department 54
Meurthe-et-Moselle Nancy  Grand Est Meurthe and Moselle rivers
Coat of arms of department 55
Meuse Bar-le-Duc  Grand Est Meuse (river)
Coat of arms of department 56
Morbihan Vannes Brittany Brittany Gulf of Morbihan
Coat of arms of department 57
Moselle Metz  Grand Est Moselle (river)
Coat of arms of department 58
Nièvre Nevers  Bourgogne-Franche-Comté Nièvre (river)
Coat of arms of department 59
Nord Lille  Hauts-de-France North
Coat of arms of department 60
Oise Beauvais  Hauts-de-France Oise (river)
Coat of arms of department 61
Orne Alençon  Normandy Orne (river)
Coat of arms of department 62
Pas-de-Calais Arras  Hauts-de-France Strait of Dover
Coat of arms of department 63
Puy-de-Dôme Clermont-Ferrand  Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes Puy de Dôme volcano
Coat of arms of department 64
Pyrénées-Atlantiques 8 Pau  Nouvelle-Aquitaine Pyrenees and Atlantic Ocean
Coat of arms of department 65
Hautes-Pyrénées Tarbes  Occitanie Pyrenees
Coat of arms of department 66
Pyrénées-Orientales Perpignan  Occitanie Pyrenees
Coat of arms of department 67
Bas-Rhin Strasbourg  Grand Est Rhine (river)
Coat of arms of department 68
Haut-Rhin Colmar  Grand Est Rhine (river)
Coat of arms of department 69
Rhône Lyon (provisional)  Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes Rhône (river)
Coat of arms of Lyon
Lyon Metropolis 18 Lyon  Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes commune of Lyon
Coat of arms of department 70
Haute-Saône Vesoul  Bourgogne-Franche-Comté Saône (river)
Coat of arms of department 71
Saône-et-Loire Mâcon  Bourgogne-Franche-Comté Saône and Loire rivers
Coat of arms of department 72
Sarthe Le Mans  Pays de la Loire Sarthe (river)
Coat of arms of department 73
Savoie Chambéry  Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region of Savoy
Coat of arms of department 74
Haute-Savoie Annecy  Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region of Savoy
Coat of arms of department 75
Paris 9 Paris  Île-de-France commune of Paris
Coat of arms of department 76
Seine-Maritime 10 Rouen  Normandy Seine (river)
Coat of arms of department 77
Seine-et-Marne Melun  Île-de-France Seine and Marne rivers
Coat of arms of department 78
Yvelines 11 Versailles  Île-de-France Forest of Yvelines
Coat of arms of department 79
Deux-Sèvres Niort  Nouvelle-Aquitaine Sèvre Nantaise and Sèvre Niortaise rivers
Coat of arms of department 80
Somme Amiens  Hauts-de-France Somme (river)
Coat of arms of department 81
Tarn Albi  Occitanie Tarn (river)
Coat of arms of department 82
Tarn-et-Garonne Montauban  Occitanie Tarn and Garonne rivers
Coat of arms of department 83
Var Toulon  Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur Var (river)
Coat of arms of department 84
Vaucluse Avignon  Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur Fontaine de Vaucluse spring
Coat of arms of department 85
Vendée La Roche-sur-Yon  Pays de la Loire Vendée (river)
Coat of arms of department 86
Vienne Poitiers  Nouvelle-Aquitaine Vienne (river)
Coat of arms of department 87
Haute-Vienne Limoges  Nouvelle-Aquitaine Vienne (river)
Coat of arms of department 88
Vosges Épinal  Grand Est Vosges Mountains
Coat of arms of department 89
Yonne Auxerre  Bourgogne-Franche-Comté Yonne (river)
Coat of arms of department 90
Territoire de Belfort Belfort  Bourgogne-Franche-Comté commune of Belfort
Coat of arms of department 91
Essonne 12 Évry  Île-de-France Essonne (river)
Coat of arms of department 92
Hauts-de-Seine 13 Nanterre  Île-de-France Seine (river)
Coat of arms of department 93
Seine-Saint-Denis 14 Bobigny  Île-de-France Seine (river)
Coat of arms of department 94
Val-de-Marne Créteil  Île-de-France Marne (river)
Coat of arms of department 95
Val-d'Oise Pontoise 15  Île-de-France Oise (river)
Coat of arms of Guadeloupe
Guadeloupe 16 Basse-Terre  Guadeloupe Island of Guadeloupe
Coat of arms of Martinique
Martinique 16 Fort-de-France  Martinique Island of Martinique
Coat of arms of Guyane
Guyane 16 Cayenne  French Guiana The Guianas
Coat of arms of Réunion
La Réunion 16 Saint-Denis  Réunion Island of Réunion
Coat of arms of Mayotte
Mayotte 17 Mamoudzou  Mayotte Island of Mayotte
Regions and departments of metropolitan France; the numbers are those of the first column (except for Corsica, which shows the division of the island until 2018).
Regions and departments of metropolitan France; the numbers are those of the first column (except for Corsica, which shows the division of the island until 2018).
The departments in the immediate vicinity of Paris; the numbers are those of the first column
The departments in the immediate vicinity of Paris; the numbers are those of the first column

Former departments

Former departments of the current territory of France

Department Prefecture Dates in existence
Rhône-et-Loire Lyon 1790–1793 Split into Rhône and Loire on 12 August 1793.
Corsica Bastia 1790–1793 Split into Golo and Liamone.
Golo Bastia 1793–1811 Reunited with Liamone into Corsica.
Liamone Ajaccio 1793–1811 Reunited with Golo into Corsica.
Mont-Blanc Chambéry 1792–1815 Formed from part of the Duchy of Savoy, a territory of the Kingdom of Piedmont-Sardinia and was restored to Piedmont-Sardinia after Napoleon's defeat. The department corresponds approximately with the present French departments Savoie and Haute-Savoie.
Léman Geneva 1798–1814 Formed when the Republic of Geneva was annexed into the First French Empire. Geneva was added to territory taken from several other departments to create Léman. The department corresponds with the present Swiss canton and parts of the present French departments Ain and Haute-Savoie.
Meurthe Nancy 1790–1871 Meurthe ceased to exist following the annexation of Alsace-Lorraine by the German Empire in 1871 and was not recreated after the province was restored to France by the Treaty of Versailles.
Seine Paris 1790–1967 On 1 January 1968, Seine was divided into four new departments: Paris, Hauts-de-Seine, Seine-Saint-Denis, and Val-de-Marne (the last incorporating a small amount of territory from Seine-et-Oise as well). Was department number 75.
Seine-et-Oise Versailles 1790–1967 On 1 January 1968, Seine-et-Oise was divided into four new departments: Yvelines, Val-d'Oise, Essonne, Val-de-Marne (the last largely comprising territory from Seine). Was department number 78.
Corsica Ajaccio 1811–1975 On 15 September 1975, Corsica was divided in two, to form Corse-du-Sud and Haute-Corse. Was department number 20.
Saint Pierre and Miquelon Saint-Pierre 1976–1985 Saint-Pierre-et-Miquelon was an overseas department from 1976 until it was converted to an overseas collectivity on 11 June 1985. INSEE code 975.

Departments of Algeria (Départements d'Algérie)

The three Algerian departments in 1848
The three Algerian departments in 1848
Departments of French Algeria from 1957 to 1962
Departments of French Algeria from 1957 to 1962

Unlike the rest of French-controlled Africa, 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.

Before 1957
No. Department Prefecture Dates of existence
91 Alger Algiers (1848–1957)
92 Oran Oran (1848–1957)
93 Constantine Constantine (1848–1957)
Bône Annaba (1955–1957)
No. Department Prefecture Dates of existence
8A Oasis Ouargla (1957–1962)
8B Saoura Béchar (1957–1962)
9A Alger Algiers (1957–1962)
9B Batna Batna (1957–1962)
9C Bône Annaba (1955–1962)
9D Constantine Constantine (1957–1962)
9E Médéa Médéa (1957–1962)
9F Mostaganem Mostaganem (1957–1962)
9G Oran Oran (1957–1962)
9H Orléansville Chlef (1957–1962)
9J Sétif Sétif (1957–1962)
9K Tiaret Tiaret (1957–1962)
9L Tizi Ouzou Tizi Ouzou (1957–1962)
9M Tlemcen Tlemcen (1957–1962)
9N Aumale Sour_El-Ghozlane (1958–1959)
9P Bougie Béjaïa (1958–1962)
9R Saïda Saïda (1958–1962)

Departments in former French colonies

Department Modern-day location Dates in existence
Département du Sud Hispaniola (Haiti and the Dominican Republic) 1795–1800
Département de l'Inganne (Mostly in the Dominican Republic with eastern part of Haiti) 1795–1800
Département du Nord 1795–1800
Département de l'Ouest 1795–1800
Département de Samana (In the Dominican Republic) 1795–1800
Sainte-Lucie Saint Lucia, Tobago 1795–1800
Île de France Mauritius, Rodrigues, Seychelles 1795–1800
Indes-Orientales Pondichéry, Karikal, Yanaon, Mahé and Chandernagore 1795–1800

Departments of the Napoleonic Empire in Europe

There are a number of former departments in territories conquered by France during the French Revolution and Napoleonic Empire that are now not part of France:

Department Prefecture
(French name)
(English name)
Current location1 Contemporary location2 Dates in existence
Mont-Terrible Porrentruy Switzerland
France (Doubs)
Holy Roman Empire:
Prince-Bishopric of Basel3
Dyle Bruxelles Brussels Belgium Austrian Netherlands:
Duchy of Brabant
County of Hainaut
Escaut Gand Ghent Belgium
Austrian Netherlands:
County of Flanders

Dutch Republic:

Zeelandic Flanders (Flanders of the States)
Forêts Luxembourg Luxembourg
Austrian Netherlands:
Duchy of Bouillon
Duchy of Luxembourg
Jemmape Mons Belgium Austrian Netherlands:
County of Hainaut
Lordship of Tournai
County of Namur

Holy Roman Empire:

Prince-Bishopric of Liège
Lys Bruges Austrian Netherlands:
County of Flanders
Meuse-Inférieure Maëstricht Maastricht Belgium
Austrian Netherlands:
Austrian Upper Guelders
Duchy of Limburg

Dutch Republic:

Dutch Upper Guelders
Limburg of the States

Holy Roman Empire:

Prince-Bishopric of Liège:
County of Horne
County of Loon
Imperial Abbey of Thorn
Deux-Nèthes Anvers Antwerp Austrian Netherlands:
Duchy of Brabant

Dutch Republic:

Brabant of the States (after 1810)
Ourthe Liège Belgium
Austrian Netherlands:
Duchy of Brabant
Duchy of Limburg
Duchy of Luxembourg
County of Namur

Holy Roman Empire:

Prince-Bishopric of Liège
Imperial Abbey of Stavelot-Malmedy
Sambre-et-Meuse Namur Belgium Austrian Netherlands:
Duchy of Brabant
Duchy of Luxembourg

Holy Roman Empire:

Prince-Bishopric of Liège
Corcyre Corfou Corfu Greece Republic of Venice4 1797–1799
Ithaque Argostoli 1797–1798
Mer-Égée Zante Zakynthos 1797–1798
Mont-Tonnerre Mayence Mainz Germany Holy Roman Empire:
Archbishopric of Mainz

Electorate of the Palatinate

Bishopric of Speyer
Rhin-et-Moselle Coblence Koblenz Holy Roman Empire:
Archbishopric of Cologne

Electorate of the Palatinate

Archbishopric of Trier
Roer Aix-la-Chapelle Aachen Germany
Holy Roman Empire:
Free Imperial City of Aachen
Archbishopric of Cologne
Electorate of the Palatinate:
Grand Duchy of Berg
Duchy of Jülich

Kingdom of Prussia:

Prussian Guelders

Imperial Free City of Wesel (after 1805)

Sarre Trèves Trier Belgium
Holy Roman Empire:
Electorate of the Palatinate:
County of Veldenz
Duchy of Zweibrücken
Archbishopric of Trier
Doire Ivrée Ivrea Italy Kingdom of Piedmont-Sardinia:
Duchy of Savoy
Marengo Alexandrie Alessandria 1802–1814
Turin 1802–1814
Sésia Verceil Vercelli 1802–1814
Stura Coni Cuneo 1802–1814
Tanaro6 Asti 1802–1805
Apennins Chiavari Republic of Genoa7 1805–1814
Gênes Gênes Genoa 1805–1814
Montenotte Savone Savona 1805–1814
Arno Florence Grand Duchy of Tuscany8 1808–1814
Méditerranée Livourne Livorno 1808–1814
Ombrone Sienne Siena 1808–1814
Taro Parme Parma Holy Roman Empire:
Duchy of Parma & Piacenza
Rome9 Rome Papal States 1809–1814
Trasimène Spolète Spoleto 1809–1814
Bouches-du-Rhin Bois-le-Duc 's-Hertogenbosch Netherlands Dutch Republic:10
Batavian Brabant (Brabant of the States)
Dutch Guelders
Bouches-de-l'Escaut Middelbourg Middelburg Dutch Republic:10
County of Zeeland
Simplon Sion Switzerland République des Sept-Dizains11 1810–1814
Bouches-de-la-Meuse La Haye The Hague Netherlands Dutch Republic:10
County of Holland
Bouches-de-l'Yssel Zwolle Dutch Republic:10
Ems-Occidental Groningue Groningen Netherlands
Dutch Republic:10
Dutch Upper Guelders
Ems-Oriental Aurich Germany Holy Roman Empire:
Kingdom of Prussia:
County of East Frisia10
Frise Leuwarden Leeuwarden Netherlands Dutch Republic:10
Yssel-Supérieur Arnhem Dutch Republic:10
Dutch Upper Guelders
Zuyderzée Amsterdam Dutch Republic:10
County of Holland
Lordship of Utrecht
Bouches-de-l'Elbe Hambourg Hamburg Germany Holy Roman Empire:
Free Hanseatic City of Hamburg
Electorate of Hanover
Free Hanseatic City of Lübeck
Bouches-du-Weser Brême Bremen Holy Roman Empire:
Free Hanseatic City of Bremen
Electorate of Hanover
Duchy of Oldenburg
Ems-Supérieur Osnabrück Holy Roman Empire:
Electorate of Hanover
Bishopric of Osnabrück
Kingdom of Prussia:
Town and County of Lingen
Principality of Minden
County of Ravensberg
Lippe12 Munster Münster Holy Roman Empire:
Bishopric of Münster
Electorate of the Palatinate:
Grand Duchy of Berg
Bouches-de-l'Èbre Lérida Lleida Spain Kingdom of Spain:
Montserrat Barcelone Barcelona 1812–1813
Sègre Puigcerda Puigcerdà 1812–1813
Ter Gérone Girona 1812–1813
Bouches-de-l'Èbre-Montserrat Barcelone Barcelona Previously the departments of Bouches-de-l'Èbre and Montserrat 1813–1814
Sègre-Ter Gérone Girona Previously the departments of Sègre and Ter 1813–1814

Notes for Table 7:

  1. 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.
  2. Territories that were a part of Austrian Netherlands were also a part of Holy Roman Empire.
  3. The Bishopric of Basel was a German Prince-Bishopric, not to be confused with the adjacent Swiss Canton of Basel.
  4. 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 British protectorate, as the United States of the Ionian Islands
  5. Maastricht was a condominium of the Dutch Republic and the Prince-Bishopric of Liège.
  6. On 6 June 1805, as a result of the annexation of the Ligurian Republic (the puppet successor state to the Republic of Genoa), Tanaro was abolished and its territory divided between the departments of Marengo, Montenotte and Stura.
  7. Before becoming the department of Apennins, the Republic of Genoa was converted to a puppet successor state, the Ligurian Republic.
  8. Before becoming the department of Arno, the Grand Duchy of Tuscany was converted to a puppet successor state, the Kingdom of Etruria.
  9. Rome was known as the department du Tibre until 1810.
  10. Before becoming the departments of Bouches-du-Rhin, Bouches-de-l'Escaut, Bouches-de-la-Meuse, Bouches-de-l'Yssel, Ems-Occidental, Frise, Yssel-Supérieur and Zuyderzée, these territories of the Dutch Republic were converted to a 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 Prussian County of East Frisia, were converted to another puppet state, the Kingdom of Holland.
  11. Before becoming the department of Simplon, the 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 Helvetic Republic until 1802 when it became the independent Rhodanic Republic.
  12. In the months before Lippe was formed, the arrondissements of 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


  1. ^ Ministère de l'intérieur, Les élections départementales : comprendre ce qui change (in French), retrieved 30 July 2015
  2. ^ Masson, Jean-Louis (1984). Provinces, départements, régions: L'organisation administrative de la France d'hier à demain. Google Livres (French Google Books site). Éditions Fernand Lanore. ISBN 9782851570031. Retrieved 15 July 2017.
  3. ^ a b c d Legay, Marie-Laure (2003). "La fin du pouvoir provincial (4 août 1789-21 septembre 1791)". Annales historiques de la Révolution française (332): 25–53. doi:10.4000/ahrf.821. ISSN 0003-4436.
  4. ^ "Le nom des départements". 11 December 1999 – via Le Monde.
  5. ^ See Provinces of the Netherlands for the annexed Dutch departments.
  6. ^ "La fusion département-région n'est pas à l'ordre du jour". L'Express. Retrieved 21 July 2011.
  7. ^ Report of the Attali Commission[permanent dead link] "Decision 260", p. 197 (in French)
  8. ^ a b "Les 20 propositions du Comité (20 propositions of the Committee)" (in French). Committee for the reform of local authorities. Archived from the original on 21 July 2011. Retrieved 11 November 2009.
This page was last edited on 15 April 2021, at 16:51
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