French Overseas Territories: A Blueprint of Powerful Strategy

French Overseas Territories: A Blueprint of Powerful Strategy
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The French Overseas Territories commonly referred to as Dom Tom, encompass 13 territories situated beyond mainland Europe that are under the administration of France. These territories primarily represent reminders of the former French colonial empire, which decided to maintain their connection with the French state through diverse legal statuses following the process of decolonization. In its prime in 1929, France boasted one of the world's largest empires, covering approximately 8.7% of the Earth's landmass and having connections with a total of 72 different countries. However, as time passed, the French empire significantly diminished in size.

But, like other European colonial powers, it didn't completely go away. Today, you can still see parts of the French Empire in islands and territories all over the world. There's no way to overlook France's power and influence in these crucial matters. Even though their dominance isn't frequently highlighted in the media, France stands as one of the world's superpowers. In this article, we have focused on France's overseas territories and their global strategic position.

French Overseas Territories: A Blueprint of Powerful Strategy
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Historical Context:

French colonization was basically focused by the objective to expand its overseas territories, laying the foundation for a spreading colonial empire. In the 17th century, French explorers set sail for North America, the Caribbean, and India, explosion of France's overseas expansion. However, the aftermath of the Seven Years' War in the mid-18th century produced a shock, causing France to surrender many territories, particularly in North America, to Britain and Spain.

Despite these setbacks in 1800, France regained control of the territory known as Louisiana, which was previously part of its colonial holdings and was referred to as "New France" during the period of French colonization. However, by that time, the French government, led by Napoleon Bonaparte, had decided to sell this vast territory to the United States due to various reasons.

The sale of Louisiana to the United States took place in 1803, and it is famously known as the Louisiana Purchase. The United States, under President Thomas Jefferson, acquired this vast territory for the sum of $15 million, effectively doubling the size of the country. This acquisition was significant because it opened up vast new lands for American settlement and expansion, leading to westward migration and the growth of the United States into a continental nation. It also marked the end of French colonial ambitions in North America.

The true recovery of French colonialism came after 1850 when the focus shifted primarily to Africa, Indochina, and the South Pacific, signaling a renewed commitment to territorial expansion. These colonies became vital players in global trade, furnishing raw materials and fueling the French economy through the purchase of manufactured goods.

French Overseas Territories: A Blueprint of Powerful Strategy
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Territories beyond Europe:

Overseas France includes 13 administered territories ruled by France outside of Europe. Despite gaining independence, they maintain various ties to France in different ways. While often referred to as "Overseas France" faithfully, it lacks official status. These territories include five overseas regions, subject to the same rules as mainland France, and five overseas collectivities with more autonomy. New Caledonia holds a unique status with greater independence. Besides, there are some territories where that nobody lives in.

All of these Territories together cover an area of about 120,000 square kilometers, which is about 18% of all of France. They also have a huge area of ocean around them, which is about 96% of France's ocean area. Around 2.8 million people lived in Overseas France in January 2023, mostly French citizens within the European Union, granting those voting rights in both French and European elections. These French Overseas Territories have essential and vital strategic geopolitical significance and economic interests in service of France. Let's explore more thoroughly the continuing reminders of France's former colonial territories.

North American Region:

Saint Pierre and Miquelon: Saint Pierre and Miquelon is a group of islands in the Atlantic Ocean, close to Canada's Newfoundland and Labrador. It used to be a part of New France. People who live there are French citizens, and they choose someone to represent them in France's government.

These islands cover an area of 242 square kilometers and had about 6,008 people living there in March 2016. The islands are near Newfoundland and are quite far from the nearest city in France, Brest, which is about 3,819 kilometers away. There's also a small Canadian island called Green Island not too far from Saint Pierre. Saint Pierre and Miquelon have historically been crucial as one of the world's richest fishing centers.

Middle America/Caribbean Region:

Saint Martin: It used to be part of the French Overseas Department of Guadeloupe, but in 2007, it became separate and gained special status within France. Many tourists began visiting here in the late 1900s, and now, Saint-Martin is a significant and popular vacation destination in the Caribbean.

Saint Barthélemy:  Saint-Barthélemy, often referred to as Saint Bart's, is an island in the Lesser Antilles situated in the eastern Caribbean Sea. Since 2007, it has been an overseas collectivity of France. Previously, it was a municipality and, along with Saint-Martin, was part of the administrative district of the French overseas department of Guadeloupe.

The economy of Saint Barthelemy relies on high-end tourism and duty-free luxury trade, catering mainly to visitors from North America. The luxurious hotels and villas accommodate 70,000 visitors annually, with an additional 130,000 arriving by boat.

Guadeloupe: Guadeloupe, which is both an overseas department and overseas region of France, is made up of a cluster of islands in the Lesser Antilles chain. It can be found in the eastern Caribbean Sea.

Guadeloupe's economy relies on farming, with bananas and sugar-rum being the main crops. Bananas are the biggest product they sell to other countries. In 2018, Guadeloupe made about $860 million from tourism, which is about 3 percent of all the money that people spend on tourism in the Caribbean.

French Overseas Territories: A Blueprint of Powerful Strategy
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South America Region:

French Guiana: French Guiana is situated on the northern Atlantic coast of South America. Its development thrives due to its outstanding strategic location, a well-trained and competitive workforce, and abundant natural resources. It has a low rate of deforestation and as a result, it becomes one of the most diverse regions globally, with over 75 percent of its land covered by forests.

Indian Ocean:

Réunion: Réunion, as a French overseas department, is also considered one of the farthest regions of the European Union. The people from Réunion are French citizens, and the main language is French, although Creole is the language most commonly spoken on the island. The population is around 874,000 as of 2022. It makes it easier to reach the economic markets in the Indian Ocean area, Asia, the Middle East, Africa, and Europe.



Pacific Ocean:

New Caledonia: New Caledonia is a French overseas collectivity with substantial self-governance as outlined in the 1998 Nouméa Accord. It includes dozens of islands in the South Pacific. New Caledonia is resource-rich and is said to hold approximately 10% of the world's nickel reserve, according to the Australian Trade and Investment. It's famous for its beaches lined with palm trees and a lagoon teeming with marine life, which, at 24,000 square kilometers, ranks among the largest in the world.

French Polynesia: It's situated in the heart of the South Pacific Ocean, roughly 6,000 kilometers to the east of Australia and 7,500 kilometers to the west of Chile. Tahiti, the primary island of French Polynesia, became a French protectorate in 1842, and France assumed control over all of French Polynesia in 1880.

French Overseas Territories: A Blueprint of Powerful Strategy
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French Polynesia has a per capita GDP of about $22,000, one of the highest in the Pacific region. The largest and most populated island in French Polynesia, Tahiti, is famous worldwide for its stunning natural landscapes, picturesque beaches, and vibrant culture.

Wallis and Futuna: Wallis and Futuna, formally known as the Territory of the Wallis and Futuna Islands, is a French island collectivity in the South Pacific. It is located between Tuvalu to the northwest, Fiji to the southwest, Tonga to the southeast, Samoa to the east, and Tokelau to the northeast. Wallis and Futuna provide France with a strategic presence in the South Pacific, access to marine resources, economic contributions, and a continuation of French culture and sovereignty in this part of the world.

Clipperton Island: Clipperton Island is part of "Overseas France" and Located 1,120 kilometers southwest of Mexico, and is held as state private property under the direct authority of the French government. Despite being uninhabited, Clipperton Island provides opportunities for scientific research, particularly in the fields of marine biology, ecology, and climate change. It can serve as a research station for French scientists and international collaborations.

Mozambique Channel in the Indian Ocean:

Mayotte: Mayotte is a collection of islands in the Indian Ocean, located between Madagascar and the coastline of Mozambique. Despite its geographical location, Mayotte holds a unique political status as both a department and region of France. However, its rich cultural heritage is closely intertwined with the traditions of the nearby Comoros islands.

French Overseas Territories: A Blueprint of Powerful Strategy
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Juan de Nova Island: Juan de Nova Island, located in the Indian Ocean within the Mozambique Channel, is a remote French possession under the French Southern and Antarctic Lands (TAAF). It's strategically valuable for France in the region, housing a military garrison. Although uninhabited, it serves as a military base, contributing to France's maritime security interests.

Moreover, the island and its surrounding waters are ecologically significant, home to diverse marine life, including coral reefs and seabird colonies. France has designated it as a nature reserve to protect its unique biodiversity.

Europa Island: Europa Island is a small, uninhabited island located in the Mozambique Channel of the Indian Ocean. It lies approximately midway between Madagascar and the eastern coast of Africa. As an overseas possession of France, it falls under the jurisdiction of the French Southern and Antarctic Lands.

Europa Island holds importance for France primarily due to its strategic location in the Mozambique Channel, contributing to French maritime security interests in the region.

Bassas da India: Bassas da India is a submerged atoll located in the Indian Ocean, situated about halfway between Madagascar and the eastern coast of Mozambique. France officially acquired possession of the island in 1897.Despite its lack of permanent inhabitants, the island is included within the administrative region of the Scattered Islands of the French Southern and Antarctic Lands. But it holds importance for France primarily due to its strategic location.

French Overseas Territories: A Blueprint of Powerful Strategy
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Antarctic: French Southern and Antarctic Lands

The French Southern and Antarctic Lands (TAAF) are a group of remote islands and territories located in the southern Indian Ocean and the southernmost part of the Antarctic region. France's presence in this area holds significant geopolitical importance as it establishes a strategic foothold in the Southern Ocean. This presence allows France to assert its influence in the vast maritime expanse, which is becoming increasingly relevant due to its resource-rich potential, environmental significance, and growing geopolitical competition.

Conclusion:

France stands as one of the most influential nations in both Europe and the wider world. The French people have managed to uphold their status through their education, proficiency, and unity. Furthermore, France is showcasing its impact on global governance for several reasons, encompassing diplomacy, military prowess, nuclear capabilities, cultural influence, colonial heritage, economic might, humanitarian support, and engagement in international collaborations. French Overseas Territories represent a remarkable blend of cultures, natural beauty, and strategic significance. These territories are not merely distant lands but an integral part of France's past, present, and future.

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