France 1920 (TNE)

Metropolitan France

By the Constitution of 1935 France is a unitary and decentralized state. France is divided in regions (Metropolitan and Overseas), departments (Metropolitan and Overseas), arrondissements, cantons and communes.

The regions (Régions) are territorial collectives that do not have legislative autonomy, tough they have limited administrative and statutory powers. Each region has an elected Regional Council and a Regional Prefect (Préfet de région) named by the President of the French Republic.

The regions are subdivided in departments. The Prefect is the State's representative in a department and its chief executive and in charge of the Prefecture. The Prefects are appointed by a decree of the President of the Republic in the Council of Ministers, following the proposal of the Prime Minister and the Minister of the Interior. They serve at the Government's discretion and can be replaced at any meeting of the Council. All departments have an elected General council (conseil général).

The overseas regions and departmes are empowered to make their own laws, except in certain areas (such as defense, international relations, trade and currency, and judicial and administrative law).

The arrondissements, a subdivision of a province are in charge of a subprefect and subprefecture.

The role of the canton is, essentially, to provide a framework for departmental elections. Each canton elects a person to represent it at the general council for the department, which is the principal administrative division of the French Republic.

The basic unit of local government is the commune that is administered by an elected Mayor (maire) and Municipal Council. The cities of Paris, Lyon and Marseilles are subdivide in municipal arrondissement in charge of local administration. The Council General of the three cities has functions of a department and commune and its members are elected directly by the municipal arrondissement. The General Council elects the Mayor, with the exception of Paris were a Delegate General and a Prefect of Police (Préfet de police) are named by the President of the Republic.

Regions of France

Region Capital Number of departments Area (km²) Notes
Alsace Strasbourg 2 8,280
Aquitaine Bordeaux 5 41,309
Auvergne Clermont-Ferrand 4 26,013
Bourgogne Dijon 4 31,582
Bretagne Rennes 4 27,208
Centre Orléans 6 39,151
Champagne-Ardenne Châlons-en-Champagne 4 25,606
Corse (Corsica) Ajaccio 1 8,680
Franche-Comté Besançon 4 16,202
Région parisienne (Île-de-France) Paris 3 12,011
Languedoc-Roussillon Montpellier 5 27,376
Limousin Limoges 3 16,942
Lorraine Metz 4 23,547
Midi-Pyrénées Toulouse 8 45,348
Nord-Pas-de-Calais Lille 2 12,414
Normandie Rouen 5 29,906
Pays de la Loire Nantes 5 32,082
Picardie Amiens 3 19,399
Poitou-Charentes Poitiers 4 25,810
Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur Marseille 6 31,400
Rhône-Alpes Lyon 8 43,698
Algérie (Algeria) Alger 3 399,991 Overseas region and departments
Antilles Fort-de-France 2 2,884 Overseas region and departments. Includes Martinique, Guadeloupe, Saint-Martin, and Saint-Barthélemy
Guyane (French Guiana) Cayenne 1 86,504 Overseas region and department
Saint-Pierre-et-Miquelon Saint-Pierre 1 242 Overseas region and department
La Réunion Saint-Denis 1 2,512 Overseas region and department

For the political and economical association of France with its noneuropean territories in Africa, Asia and Oceania see French Union.

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