Geography of France/France in the World

Geography of France
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France is primarily located in Western Europe, but also in South America, Africa, the Indian Ocean, Oceania, the Caribbean Sea, and North America.

The lands of the French Republic. New Caledonia is in the upper right-hand corner, and the large territory in the lower left-hand corner is French Guyana. Note that many of the smaller islands are not shown, and neither is France's claim to Antartica, Adélie Land.

Political Borders of France

France's Exclusive Economic Zone

France borders Andorra, Belgium, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, Monaco, Spain, and Switzerland in Europe, Brazil and Suriname in South America, and Saint-Martin borders Sint Maarten, a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, on the island of Saint Martin in the Caribbean.

Much of France located outside of Europe is located on islands, so France has fewer borders outside of Europe than would be expected. The exceptions are, of course, the borders with Suriname, Brazil, and Sint Maarten.

France's Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ, similar to territorial waters{{note|See [[wikipedia:Exclusive economic zone#Definition}}) borders the EEZ's of many more countries, including Canada's and the United Kingdom's (see image).

France in Europe


Much of France is located in Europe. This part is usually referred to as Metropolitan France or Mainland France (Mainland France sometimes refers only to European France without Corsica), though the latter term is incorrect because French Guiana is also "mainland", as it is in the South American mainland.

Mainland European France

Location of "Metropolitan France" (dark green) in Europe (green and dark gray) and the European Union (green)

Mainland France in Europe is bordered by the English channel in the east, Belgium and Luxembourg in the north, Germany and the Alps in the east, the Pyrenees mountains in the southwest, and the Mediterranean sea in the southeast.



The other part of Metropolitan France, the part not located on the European mainland (aside from various islands off the French coast), is the large island of Corsica, located in the Mediterranean sea southeast of the southern French coast. Corsica is actually closer to the Italian mainland than it is to the rest of Metropolitan France. Corsica is directly north of the Italian island of Sardinia.

Corsica is not actually a region of France, it has its own special status in the Republic. More on that in the chapter about Corsica.

France in North America and the Caribbean


The overseas regions Guadeloupe and Martinique are located in the Caribbean, as are the collectivities Saint Martin and Saint Barthélemy. France also has one collectivity in North America not located in the Caribbean: Saint Pierre and Miquelon, comprised of two islands off of the Canadian coast.

Regions and Departments


Two regions of France are located in the Caribbean:

  • Martinique is in the Lesser Antilles, south of Dominica and the north of Saint Lucia.
  • Guadeloupe is farther north then Martinique, but also in the Lesser Antilles, and is larger and composed of more islands. It is north of Dominica and south of both Antigua and Barbuda and Montserrat, the latter being a dependency of the United Kingdom.[note 1]
Location of Martinique
Location of Guadeloupe, Saint Martin, and Saint Barthélémy



There are three French collectivities in North America:

  • Saint Martin[note 2] is located on the island of the same name which it shares with Sint Maarten, a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.[note 3] Saint Martin is on the northern side of the island. The island is located in the Lesser Antilles, but much farther north then Guadeloupe or Martinique, south of the British Overseas Territory of Anguilla.
  • Saint Barthélemy is southeast of Saint Martin, and slightly smaller. It is north of Saint Kitts and Nevis.
  • Saint Pierre and Miquelon (French: Saint-Pierre-et-Miquelon) is located much farther north, just of the coast of Newfoundland in Canada. Saint Pierre and Miquelon are very small islands, and are a remnant from the French colony of Québec, before it was lost to the British.

The locations of Saint Pierre and Miquelon can be seen in the image below.


France in Africa and the Indian Ocean


Two French regions (both islands) are located in the Indian ocean, both usually considered to be in Africa. In addition, a large number of uninhabited^ French island territories are located in the Indian ocean. These territories are part of the only French territory (the rest of what may seem to be territories being not territories but collectivities. The differences will be explored later in this book).[note 4]

Regions and Departments

  • Réunion
  • Mayotte



France in Antarctica


France in the Pacific Ocean


Collectivities and other entities

Location of Wallis and Futuna

One collectivity, one sui generis collectivity [note 5], one "overseas country", and one overseas possession^ are located in the Pacific Ocean:

  • The collectivity of Wallis and Futuna is located in Polynesia between Tuvalu and the Fiji archipelago. It is directly east of Australia and Northeast of New Zealand. The collectivity is made up of three islands along with an assortment of islets. The islands are in two groups: the Wallis Islands, composed of Wallis Island and several islets, and the Hoorn Islands, composed of Futuna Island, Alofi Island, and multiple small islets.
  • New Caledonia

French Polynesia

The Tuamotu Archipelago is the largest chain of islands in the world.[citation needed]

French Polynesia is a large French collectivity, nominally an overseas country, in Polynesia, in the South Pacific Ocean. It is composed of many islands spread over six archipelagos:

  • The Society Islands
  • The Marquesas Islands
  • The Tuamotu Archipelago
  • The Gambier Islands
  • The Austral Islands
  • The Bass Islands

France in South America


Regions and Departments


One region (and department) of France is located in South America:

  • French Guiana is the only part of France outside of Europe that is located on the mainland as opposed to on an island. It is the smallest territory on mainland South America, and borders Suriname to the west and Brazil to the south and east, with the Caribbean sea as its north border. The border with Suriname is disputed.


  1. Referring, of course, to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Montserrat is one of the British Overseas Territories, and not actually part of the United Kingdom.
  2. Sometimes referred to by its official title, the Collectivity of Saint Martin (French: Collectivité de Saint-Martin), to distinguish it from the island it shares with Sint Maarten, which is also called Saint Martin
  3. The Kingdom of the Netherlands is comprised of the Netherlands, Aruba, Bonaire, and Sint Maarten, all of which have equal status in the kingdom, despite the Netherlands having over 99% of the population.
  4. Clipperton Island in the Pacific has aspects of a territory, but is not officially considered to be one.
  5. sui generis is a phrase meaning, in this context, "unique in status". For a more complete definition see the Wiktionary entry for sui generis.