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At the beginning of the 20th century, France's population was low compared to its neighbours and to its previous history. However, the country's population sharply increased with the baby boom following World War II. During the Trente Glorieuses (1945–1974), the country's reconstruction and steady economic growth led to the labor-immigration of the 1960s, when many employers found manpower in villages located in Southern Europe and in the Maghreb (or North Africa). French law facilitated the immigration of thousands of colons, ethnic or national French from former colonies of North and West Africa, India and Indochina, to mainland France. 1.6 million European pieds noirs migrated from Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco. In the 1970s, over 30,000 French colons left Cambodia during the Khmer Rouge regime as the Pol Pot government confiscated their farms and land properties. However, after the 1973 energy crisis, laws limiting immigration were passed. In addition, the country's birth rate dropped significantly during this time.
Since the 1980s, France has continued being a country of mass immigration. Meanwhile, the national birth rate, after continuing to drop for a time, began to rebound in the 1990s and currently the country's fertility rate is close to the replacement level. In recent years, immigrants have accounted for one quarter of the population growth – a lower proportion than in most other European countries. According to an INSEE 2006 study, "The natural increase is close to 300,000 persons, a level that has not been reached in more than thirty years. Net migration is estimated at 93,600 persons, slightly more than in 2005."
In 2008, the French national institute of statistics INSEE estimated that 11.8 million foreign-born immigrants and their direct descendants (second generation) lived in France representing 19% of the country's population. About 5.5 million are of European origin and 4 million of Maghrebi origin. Among the 802,000 newborns in metropolitan France in 2010, 27.3% had at least one foreign-born parent and about one quarter (23.9%) had at least one parent born outside of EU27.
Source:  Figures are for metropolitan France only.
France was historically the largest nation of Europe. During the Middle Ages more than one quarter of Europe’s population was French; during the 17th century it was still one fifth.
Starting around 1800, the historical evolution of the population in France has been extremely atypical in the Western World. Unlike the rest of Europe, France did not experience a strong population growth in the 19th century and first half of the 20th century. The birth rate in France diminished much earlier than in the rest of Europe. Consequently, population growth was quite slow in the 19th century, and the nadir was reached in the first half of the 20th century when France, surrounded by the rapidly growing populations of Germany and the United Kingdom, experienced virtually zero growth. This, and the bloody losses in France's population due to the First World War, may explain the sudden collapse of France in 1940 during the Second World War.[original research?] France was often perceived as a country facing irrecoverable decline. At the time, racist theories were quite popular, and the dramatic demographic decline of France was often attributed (particularly in Nazi Germany, and also in some conservative circles in England and elsewhere) to the genetic characteristics of the "French race", a race destined to fail in the face of the Germanic and Anglo-Saxon "races". In addition, the slow growth of France's population in the 19th century was reflected in the country's very low emigration rate. While millions of people from all other parts of Europe moved to the Americas, few French did so. Most people in the United States of French extraction are descended from immigrants from French Canada, whose population was rapidly growing at this time.
Between 1815 and 2000, if the population of France had grown at the same rate as the population of Germany during the same time period, France's population would be 110 million today—and this does not take into account the fact that a large chunk of Germany's population growth was siphoned off by emigration to the Americas, and suffered much larger military and civilian losses during the World Wars than France did. If France's population had grown at the same rate as England and Wales (whose rate was also siphoned off by emigration to the Americas, Australia and New Zealand), France's population could be anywhere up to 150 million today. And if one starts the comparison at the time of King Louis XIV (the Sun King), then France would in fact have the same population as the United States. While France had been very powerful in Europe at the time of Louis XIV or Napoleon, the demographic decline the country experienced after 1800 resulted in it losing this advantage.
After 1945 however, France suddenly underwent a demographic recovery. In the 1930s the French government, alarmed by the decline of France's population, had passed laws to boost the birth rate, giving state benefits to families with children. Nonetheless, no one can quite satisfactorily explain this sudden and unexpected recovery in the demography of France, which was often portrayed as a "miracle" inside France. This demographic recovery was again atypical in the Western World, in the sense that although the rest of the Western World experienced a baby boom immediately after the war, the baby boom in France was much stronger, and above all it lasted longer than in most other countries of the Western World (the United States being one of the few exceptions). In the 1950s and 1960s France enjoyed a population growth of 1% a year, which is the highest growth in the history of France, not matched in the best periods of the 18th or 19th centuries.
Since 1975, France's population growth rate has significantly diminished, but it still remains slightly faster than that of the rest of Europe, and much faster than it was at the end of the 19th century and during the first half of the 20th century. In the first decade of the third millennium, population growth in France is the fastest of Europe, matched only by Ireland and the Netherlands. However, it is slower than that of the United States, largely because of the higher net migration rate of the USA.
The following list shows the past, present, and future weight of France's population in Europe and in the world:
(historical populations are counted in the 2011 borders)
|Average population (x 1000)||Live births||Deaths||Natural change||Crude birth rate (per 1000)||Crude death rate (per 1000)||Natural change (per 1000)||Total fertility rate||Infant mortality rate (per 1,000 live births)|
|1901||40 710||917 075||825 315||91 760||22.5||20.3||2.3||3,02|
|1902||40 810||904 434||801 379||103 055||22.2||19.6||2.5||2,94|
|1903||40 910||884 498||794 566||89 932||21.6||19.4||2.2||2,81|
|1904||41 000||877 091||802 536||74 555||21.4||19.6||1.8||2,74|
|1905||41 050||865 604||812 338||53 266||21.1||19.8||1.3||2,70|
|1906||41 100||864 745||820 051||44 694||21.0||20.0||1.1||2,69|
|1907||41 100||829 632||830 871||-1 239||20.2||20.2||0.0||2,57|
|1908||41 190||848 982||784 415||64 567||20.6||19.0||1.6||2,62|
|1909||41 240||824 739||792 798||31 941||20.0||19.2||0.8||2,54|
|1910||41 350||828 140||737 877||90 263||20.0||17.8||2.2||2,56|
|1911||41 420||793 506||813 653||-20 147||19.2||19.6||-0.5||2,40|
|1912||41 530||801 642||726 848||74 794||19.3||17.5||1.8||2,41|
|1913||41 620||795 851||736 937||58 914||19.1||17.7||1.4||2,37|
|1914||41 630||757 931||774 931||-17 000||18.2||18.6||-0.4||2,29|
|1915||40 620||482 968||747 968||-265 000||11.9||18.4||-6.5||1,50|
|1916||40 020||384 676||697 676||-313 000||9.6||17.4||-7.8||1,21|
|1917||39 420||412 744||712 744||-300 000||10.5||18.1||-7.6||1,32|
|1918||38 670||472 816||867 816||-395 000||12.2||22.4||-10.2||1,52|
|1919||38 600||506 960||739 901||-232 941||13.1||19.2||-6.0||1,55|
|1920||38 900||838 137||675 676||162 461||21.5||17.4||4.2||2,66|
|1921||39 140||816 555||697 904||118 651||20.9||17.8||3.0||2,58|
|1922||39 310||764 373||692 322||72 051||19.4||17.6||1.8||2,40|
|1923||39 750||765 888||670 326||95 562||19.3||16.9||2.4||2,38|
|1924||40 170||757 873||683 296||74 577||18.9||17.0||1.9||2,34|
|1925||40 460||774 455||712 211||62 244||19.1||17.6||1.5||2,38|
|1926||40 710||771 690||716 966||54 724||19.0||17.6||1.3||2,36|
|1927||40 770||748 102||679 809||68 293||18.3||16.7||1.7||2,28|
|1928||40 880||753 570||678 269||75 301||18.4||16.6||1.8||2,29|
|1929||41 020||734 140||742 732||-8 592||17.9||18.1||-0.2||2,22|
|1930||41 340||754 020||652 953||101 067||18.2||15.8||2.4||2,30|
|1931||41 550||737 611||682 816||54 795||17.8||16.4||1.3||2,26|
|1932||41 510||726 299||663 705||62 594||17.5||16.0||1.5||2,25|
|1933||41 520||682 394||664 133||18 261||16.4||16.0||0.4||2,13|
|1934||41 570||681 518||637 713||43 805||16.4||15.3||1.1||2,15|
|1935||41 550||643 870||661 722||-17 852||15.5||15.9||-0.4||2,05|
|1936||41 500||634 344||645 844||-11 500||15.3||15.6||-0.3||2,06|
|1937||41 530||621 453||632 896||-11 443||15.0||15.2||-0.3||2,08|
|1938||41 560||615 582||650 832||-35 250||14.8||15.7||-0.8||2,11|
|1939||41 510||615 599||645 677||-30 078||14.8||15.6||-0.7||2,15|
|1940||40 690||561 281||740 281||-179 000||13.8||18.2||-4.4||1,98|
|1941||39 420||522 261||675 261||-153 000||13.2||17.1||-3.9||1,82|
|1942||39 220||575 261||656 261||-81 000||14.7||16.7||-2.1||2,01|
|1943||38 860||615 780||626 780||-11 000||15.8||16.1||-0.3||2,19|
|1944||38 770||629 878||666 878||-37 000||16.2||17.2||-1.0||2,24|
|1945||39 660||645 899||643 899||2 000||16.3||16.2||0.1||2,30|
|1946||40 287||843 904||545 880||298 024||20.9||13.5||7.4||2,97|
|1947||40 679||870 472||538 157||332 315||21.4||13.2||8.2||3,02|
|1948||41 112||870 836||513 210||357 626||21.2||12.5||8.7||3,00|
|1949||41 480||872 661||573 598||299 063||21.0||13.8||7.2||3,00|
|1950||41 829||862 310||534 480||327 830||20.6||12.8||7.8||2,93|
|1951||42 156||826 722||565 829||260 893||19.6||13.4||6.2||2,79|
|1952||42 460||822 204||524 831||297 373||19.4||12.4||7.0||2,76|
|1953||42 752||804 696||556 983||247 713||18.8||13.0||5.8||2,69|
|1954||43 057||810 754||518 892||291 862||18.8||12.1||6.8||2,70|
|1955||43 428||805 917||526 322||279 595||18.6||12.1||6.4||2,66|
|1956||43 843||806 916||545 700||261 216||18.4||12.4||6.0||2,66|
|1957||44 311||816 467||532 107||284 360||18.4||12.0||6.4||2,68|
|1958||44 789||812 215||500 596||311 619||18.1||11.2||7.0||2,67|
|1959||45 240||829 249||509 114||320 135||18.3||11.3||7.1||2,74|
|1960||45 684||819 819||520 960||298 859||17.9||11.4||6.5||2,73|
|1961||46 163||838 633||500 289||338 344||18.2||10.8||7.3||2,81|
|1962||46 998||832 353||541 147||291 206||17.7||11.5||6.2||2,83|
|1963||47 816||868 876||557 852||311 024||18.2||11.7||6.5||2,88|
|1964||48 310||877 804||520 033||357 771||18.2||10.8||7.4||2,90|
|1965||48 758||865 688||543 696||321 992||17.8||11.2||6.6||2,84|
|1966||49 164||863 527||528 782||334 745||17.6||10.8||6.8||2,78|
|1967||49 548||840 568||543 033||297 535||17.0||11.0||6.0||2,64|
|1968||49 915||835 796||553 441||282 355||16.7||11.1||5.7||2,57|
|1969||50 318||842 245||573 335||268 910||16.7||11.4||5.3||2,53|
|1970||50 772||850 381||542 277||308 104||16.7||10.7||6.1||2,54|
|1971||51 251||881 284||554 151||327 133||17.2||10.8||6.4||2,59|
|1972||51 701||877 506||549 900||327 606||17.0||10.6||6.3||2,42|
|1973||52 118||857 186||558 782||298 404||16.4||10.7||5.7||2,32|
|1974||52 460||801 218||552 551||248 667||15.3||10.5||4.7||2,13|
|1975||52 699||745 065||560 353||184 712||14.1||10.6||3.5||1,93|
|1976||52 909||720 395||557 114||163 281||13.6||10.5||3.1||1,83|
|1977||53 145||744 744||536 221||208 523||14.0||10.1||3.9||1,86|
|1978||53 376||737 062||546 916||190 146||13.8||10.2||3.6||1,82|
|1979||53 606||757 354||541 805||215 549||14.1||10.1||4.0||1,86|
|1980||53 880||800 376||547 107||253 269||14.9||10.2||4.7||1,95|
|1981||54 182||805 483||554 823||250 660||14.9||10.2||4.6||1,95|
|1982||54 492||797 223||543 104||254 119||14.6||10.0||4.7||1,91|
|1983||54 772||748 525||559 655||188 870||13.7||10.2||3.4||1,79|
|1984||55 026||759 939||542 490||217 449||13.8||9.9||4.0||1,81|
|1985||55 284||768 431||552 496||215 935||13.9||10.0||3.9||1,82|
|1986||55 577||778 468||546 926||231 542||14.0||9.8||4.2||1,84|
|1987||55 824||767 828||527 466||240 362||13.8||9.4||4.3||1,80|
|1988||56 118||771 268||524 600||246 668||13.7||9.3||4.4||1,79|
|1989||56 423||765 473||529 283||236 190||13.6||9.4||4.2||1,79|
|1990||56 709||762 407||526 201||236 206||13.4||9.3||4.2||1,75|
|1991||56 976||759 056||524 685||234 371||13.3||9.2||4.1||1,77|
|1992||57 240||743 658||521 530||222 128||13.0||9.1||3.9||1,73|
|1993||57 467||711 610||532 263||179 347||12.4||9.3||3.1||1,66|
|1994||57 659||710 993||519 965||191 028||12.3||9.0||3.3||1,65||6.0|
|1995||57 844||729 609||531 618||197 991||12.6||9.2||3.4||1,71||5.0|
|1996||58 026||734 338||535 775||198 563||12.7||9.2||3.4||1,73||4.9|
|1997||58 207||726 768||530 319||196 449||12.5||9.1||3.4||1,70||4.9|
|1998||58 398||738 080||534 005||204 075||12.6||9.1||3.5||1,78||4.8|
|1999||58 661||744 791||537 661||207 130||12.7||9.2||3.5||1,81||4.4|
|2000||59 049||774 782||530 864||243 918||13.1||9.0||4.1||1,89||4.5|
|2001||59 477||770 945||531 073||239 872||13.0||8.9||4.0||1,90||4.6|
|2002||59 894||761 630||535 144||226 486||12.7||8.9||3.8||1,86||4.2|
|2003||60 304||761 464||552 339||209 125||12.6||9.2||3.5||1,89||4.2|
|2004||60 735||767 816||509 429||258 387||12.6||8.4||4.3||1,92||4.0|
|2005||61 182||774 355||527 533||246 822||12.7||8.6||4.0||1,94||3.8|
|2006||61 586||796 896||516 416||280 480||12.9||8.4||4.6||2,00||3.8|
|2007||61 939||818 705||521 016||264 969||12.7||8.4||4.3||1,98||3.8|
|2008||62 278||828 404||533 000||263 044||12.8||8.6||4.2||2,02||3.8|
|2009||62 621||824 641||538 116||255 304||12.7||8.6||4.1||1,99||3.9|
|2010||62 965||832 800||540 469||261 755||12.6||8.5||4.1||2,03||3.6|
|2011 (p)||63 294||827 000||544 000||253 000||12.6||8.6||4.0||2,01||3.5|
France has a high fertility rate by European standards; this rate has increased after reaching a historic low in the early 1990s.
The table below gives the average number of children according to the place of birth of women. An immigrant woman is a woman who was born outside of France and who did not have French citizenship at birth.
|Average number of children in France
|Average number of children in country of origin
(1990–1999) and (2010)
|All women living in metropolitan France||1.74|
|Women born in Metropolitan France||1.70|
|Women born in overseas France||1.86|
|Immigrant women (country of birth)|
|Asia (Mostly China)||1.77||2.85|
|The Americas and Oceania||2.00||2.54|
In 2010, 27.3% of newborn in metropolitan France had at least one foreign-born parent and 23.9% had at least one parent born outside of Europe (parents born in overseas territories are considered as born in France).
The table below gives the number of children born in metropolitan France according to the place of birth of both parents.
|Birth country of parents||1998||1999||2000||2001||2002||2003||2004||2005||2006||2007||2008||2009||2010||% 2010|
|Both parents born in France||566 447||576 537||601 268||595 286||580 999||575 985||574 687||575 659||590 163||579 515||585 427||578 052||583 600||72.7%|
|One parent born in France, other foreign-born||101 511||98 687||101 498||102 013||103 930||106 677||110 258||114 090||119 159||119 587||121 845||125 058||129 025||16.1%|
|Father born in EU27, mother born in France||13 194||12 858||13 060||12 447||11 732||11 442||10 811||10 667||10 455||10 188||9 975||9 526||9 549||1.2%|
|Father not born in EU27, mother born in France||44 891||43 807||45 612||46 459||47 695||49 790||52 244||54 176||56 886||56 626||57 955||60 362||62 478||7.8%|
|Father born in France, Mother born in Eu27||13 020||12 647||12 411||11 881||11 439||11 119||10 930||10 827||10 794||10 575||10 562||10 585||10 418||1.3%|
|Father born in France, Mother not born in Eu27||30 406||29 375||30 415||31 226||33 064||34 326||36 273||38 420||41 024||42 198||43 353||44 585||46 580||5.8%|
|Both parents foreign-born||70 122||69 567||72 016||73 646||76 701||78 802||82 871||84 606||87 574||86 883||88 772||90 310||89 599||11.2%|
|Both parents born in Eu27||6 681||6 157||5 780||5 524||5 159||5 369||5 426||5 372||5 778||5 891||6 276||6 442||6 694||0.8%|
|Both parents not born in Eu27||60 281||60 636||63 299||65 406||68 788||70 552||74 537||76 348||78 700||78 020||79 405||80 641||79 698||9.9%|
|Father born in EU27, Mother not born in Eu27||1 188||1 047||1 116||1 035||1 038||1 075||1 150||1 100||1 256||1 190||1 226||1 268||1 258||0.2%|
|Father not born in EU27, Mother born in Eu27||1 972||1 727||1 821||1 681||1 716||1 806||1 758||1 786||1 840||1 782||1 865||1 959||1 949||0.2%|
|Total of newborns||738 080||744 791||774 782||770 945||761 630||761 464||767 816||774 355||796 896||785 985||796 044||793 420||802 224||100%|
The modern ethnic French are the descendants of Celts, Iberians, Ligurians, Italic tribes (including Romans) and Greeks in southern France, later mixed with large group of Germanic peoples arriving at the end of the Roman Empire such as the Franks the Burgundians, Alamanni and Goths, very small portions of Moors and Saracens in the south, and Scandinavians, Vikings who became, by mixing with the local population, the Normans and settled mostly in Normandy in the 9th century.
Due to a law dating from 1872, the French Republic prohibits performing census by making distinction between its citizens regarding their race or their beliefs. 
Some organizations, such as the Representative Council of Black Associations (French: Conseil représentatif des associations noires de France, CRAN), have argued in favour of the introduction of data collection on minority groups but this has been resisted by other organizations and ruling politicians, often on the grounds that collecting such statistics goes against France's secular principles and harks back to Vichy-era identity documents. During the 2007 presidential election, however, Nicolas Sarkozy was polled on the issue and stated that he favoured the collection of data on ethnicity. Part of a parliamentary bill which would have permitted the collection of data for the purpose of measuring discrimination was rejected by the Conseil Constitutionnel in November 2007.
However, that law does not concern surveys and polls, which are free to ask those questions if they wish. The law also allows for an exception for public institutions such as the INED or the INSEE whose job it is to collect data on demographics, social trends and other related subjects, on condition that the collection of such data has been authorized by the National Commission for Computer-stocked data and Freedom (CNIL) and the National Council of Statistical Information (CNIS).
Of European ethnic groups not indigenous to France, the most numerous are people of Italian family origin and it is estimated that about 5 million citizens (8% of the population) are at least partly of Italian origin if their parentage is retraced over three generations. This is due to waves of Italian immigration, notably during the late 19th century and early 20th century. Other large European groups of non-native origin are Spaniards, Portuguese, Polish, and Greeks. Also, due to more recent immigration, between five and six million people of Maghrebi origin and approximately 200,000 Turks inhabit France. An influx of North African Jews immigrated to France in the 1950s and after the Algerian War due to the decline of the French empire. Subsequent waves of immigration followed the Six-Day War, when some Moroccan and Tunisian Jews settled in France. Hence, by 1968, North African Jews were about 500,000 and the majority in France. As these new immigrants were already culturally French they needed little time to adjust to French society. Black people come from both the French overseas territories (French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Martinique, Réunion, and former colony Haiti) and Sub-Saharan Africa (especially Cote d'Ivoire, Mali, and Senegal). France has the largest black population in Europe.
Solis, a marketing company, recently estimated the numbers for ethnic minorities (immigrants and 2nd generation) in France in 2009 as 3.26 million Maghrebis (5.23%), 1.83 million Black people (2.94%, 1.08 million Sub-Saharan Africans and 757,000 French from French West Indies) and 250,000 Turkish (0.71%) .
In the 20th century, France experienced a high rate of immigration from other countries. The immigration rate was particularly high during the 1920s and 1930s. France was the European country which suffered the most from World War I, with respect to the size of its population, losing 1.4 million young men out of a total population of 40 million. France was also at the time the European country with the lowest fertility rate, which meant that the country had a very hard time recovering from the heavy losses of the war. France had to open its doors to immigration, which was the only way to prevent population decline between the two world wars.
At the time France was the only European country to permit mass immigration. The other major European powers, such as the UK or Germany, still had high fertility rates, so immigration was seen as unnecessary while it was also undesirable to the vast majority of their populations. Armenians immigrated to France after the Armenian Genocide of 1915. The majority of immigrants in the 1920s and 1930s came from southern Europe: Greeks, Italians, Yugoslavs, Portuguese and Spaniards, but also Eastern Europeans: Poles, Russians, Hungarians and Czechoslovaks; and Belgians (nationality, but composed of both French and Fleming-Dutch elements) and the first wave of colonial French subjects from Africa and Asia. By the end of the Spanish Civil War, some half-million Spanish Republican refugees had crossed the border into France. At this time, Judaism was the second most populous religion in France, as it had been for centuries. However, this would soon change.
Local populations often opposed immigrant manpower, leading to occasional outbursts of violence. The most violent of these, was a pogrom against Italian workers who worked in the salt evaporation ponds of Peccais, erupted in Aigues-Mortes in 1893, killing at least nine and injuring hundreds on the Italian side.
After World War II, the French fertility rate rebounded considerably, as noted above, but economic growth in France was so high that new immigrants had to be brought into the country. This time the majority of immigrants were Portuguese as well as Arabs and Berbers from North Africa. The first wave arrived in the 1950s, but the major arrivals happened in the 1960s and 1970s. More than one million people from the Maghreb immigrated in the 1960s and early 1970s from North Africa, especially Algeria (following the end of French rule there). One million European pieds noirs also migrated from Algeria in 1962 and the following years, due to the chaotic independence of Algeria. This is a focal point of the current turbulent relationship of France and over three million French of Algerian descent, a small percentage of whom are third-or fourth-generation French.
Between 1956 and 1967, about 235.000 Sephardic North African Jews from Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco also immigrated to France due to the decline of the French empire and following the Six-Day War. Hence, by 1968, Sephardic North African Jews were the majority of the Jews in France. As these new immigrants were already culturally French they needed little time to adjust to French society.
In the late 1970s, due to the end of high economic growth in France, immigration policies were considerably tightened, starting with the Pasqua laws passed in 1986 and 1993. New immigrants were allowed only through the family reunion schemes (wives and children moving to France to live with their husband or father already living in France), or as asylum seekers. Illegal immigration thus developed as immigration policy became more rigid. In 2006, The French Ministry of the Interior estimated clandestine immigrants in France amounted to anywhere between 200.000 and 400.000, also expecting between 80.000 and 100.000 people to enter the country illegally each year.
The Pasqua laws are a significant landmark in the shift in France’s immigration policy through the course of the 20th century. They are a sign of the securitization aspect of immigration, giving more power to the police, allowing them to perform random identity checks and deport immigrants without legal papers. The rise in anti-immigration sentiments was reinforced by a series of terrorist bombs in Paris in 1986 which were linked to Muslim immigrants in France.
Tightening immigration laws such as these, as well as notions of "zero immigration", reflected national views that arose within the discussion around immigrant family reunification and national identity. Institut français des relations internationales (IFRI) immigration expert, Mr. Christophe Bertossi, states that "stigmatized as both a challenge to social cohesion and a “burden” for the French economy, family immigration is increasingly restricted and constructed as a racial issue. The “immigration choisie” policy strives consequently to select migrants according to their profile, skills and–though still indirectly–origins.
Nonetheless, immigration rates in the 1980s and 1990s were much lower than in the 1960s and 1970s, especially compared to other European countries. The regions of emigrations also widened, with new immigrants now coming from sub-saharan Africa and Asia. And in the 1970s, a small but well publicized wave of Chilean and Argentine political refugees (see Chilean coup of 1973) found asylum in France.
Ethnic Vietnamese started to become a visible segment of society after the massive influx of refugees after the end of the Vietnam War in 1975. The expulsions of ethnic Chinese from Vietnam in the 1970s led to a wave of immigration and the settlement of the high-rise neighbourhood near the Porte d'Italie, where the Chinatown of Paris is located. Located in the 13th arrondissement, the area contains many ethnic Chinese inhabitants.
The large-scale immigration from Islamic countries has sparked controversy in France. Nevertherless, according to Justin Vaïsse, in spite of obstacles and spectacular failures like the riots in November 2005, in Parisian suburbs, where many immigrants live secluded from society with very few capabilities to live in better conditions, the integration of Muslim immigrants is happening as part of a background evolution and recent studies confirmed the results of their assimilation, showing that "North Africans seem to be characterized by a high degree of cultural integration reflected in a relatively high propensity to exogamy" with rates ranging from 20% to 50%. According to Emmanuel Todd the relatively high exogamy among French Algerians can be explained by the colonial link between France and Algeria. One illustration of this growing resentment and job insecurity can be drawn from related events, such as the 2005 riots, which ensued in former President Chirac declaring a state of emergency. Massive demonstrations to express frustration over unemployment took place in March 2009. The importance of integration was brought to the forefront of the political agenda in President Sarkozy’s 2007 presidential campaign. Upon being elected, he symbolically created the French Ministry of Immigration, Integration, National Identity and Codevelopment. Integration is one of the pillars of its political aims.
As of 2008, the French national institute of statistics INSEE estimated that 11.8 million foreign-born immigrants and their direct descendants (born in France) lived in France representing 19% of the country's population. More than 5,5 million are of European origin and about 4 million of Maghrebi origin (20% of Algerian origin and 15% of Moroccan or Tunisian origin). Immigrants aged 18–50 count for 2.7 millions (10% of population aged 18–50) and 5 millions for all ages (8% of population). 2nd Generation aged 18–50 make up 3.1 millions (12% of 18–50) and 6.5 millions for all ages (11% of population)
The region with the largest proportion of immigrants is the Île-de-France (Greater Paris), where 40% of immigrants live. Other important regions are Rhône-Alpes (Lyon) and Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur (Marseille). The most important individual countries of origin as of 2007 were Algeria (702,000), Morocco (645,000), Portugal (576,000), Italy (323,000), Spain (262,000) and Turkey (234,000). However, immigration from Asia (especially China), as well as from sub-Saharan Africa (Senegal, Mali) is gaining in importance.
42% of the immigrants are from Africa (30% from Maghreb and 12% from Sub-Saharan Africa), 38% from Europe (mainly from Portugal, Italy and Spain), 14% from Asia and 5% from America and Oceania. Outside of Europe and North Africa, the highest rate of immigration is from Vietnam, Cambodia and Senegal.
Censuses of population by ethnic origin is banned in France, these figures are only estimates.
|Immigrants by country of origin (2007)||%||N|
|Africa||42.3||2 223 617|
|Sub-Saharan Africa||12.3||644 049|
|Europe||38.4||2 018 102|
|European Union||34.3||1 802 532|
|Other EU countries||9.5||496 807|
|Other European countries||4.1||215 570|
|Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam||3.1||162 063|
|Other Asian countries||6.5||339 260|
|America, Oceania||5.2||275 114|
|Total||100||5 252 696|
|All nationalities (including 72,000 Europeans)||211,055|
According to Michèle Tribalat, researcher at INED, there were, in 1999, approximately 14 million persons of foreign ancestry (about a quarter of the population), defined as either immigrants or people with at least one immigrant parent or grandparent. Half of them were of European ancestry (including 5.2 million from South Europe (Italy, Spain, Portugal and former Yugoslavia)). The rest were from Maghreb (3 million), Sub-saharan Africa (680,000), Turkey (320,000) and other parts of the world (2.5 million) . Immigrants from the Maghreb are commonly referred to as beur, a verlan slang term derived from the word arabe (French for Arab).
According to the distinguished French historian of immigration Gérard Noiriel, one third of the population currently living in France is of "foreign" descent.
In 2004, a total of 140,033 people immigrated to France. Of them, 90,250 were from Africa and 13,710 from Europe. In 2005, immigration level fell slightly to 135,890. The European Union allows free movement between the member states. While the UK (along with Ireland and Sweden, and non-EU members Norway and Switzerland) did not impose restrictions, France put in place controls to curb Eastern European migration.
As at January 1, 2006, INSEE estimates that the number of foreigners living in metropolitan France amounted to 3.5 million people. Two out of five foreigners are from Portugal, Algeria or Morocco. Thus EU nationals immigrating to France comprise 1.2 million people while 1.1 million people are from the three Maghreb countries of Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia. It is interesting to note that immigrants are concentrated in Île-de-France, Rhone-Alpes, Provence and Côte d’Azur regions, accounting for 60% of the total immigrant population. Furthermore, there appears to be a lower rate of immigrants arriving from the EU since 1975 as opposed to an increase in African immigrants.
In the first decade of the 21st century, the net migration rate was estimated to be 0.66 migrants per 1,000 population a year. This is a very low rate of immigration compared to other European countries, the USA or Canada. Since the beginning of the 1990s, France has been attempting to curb immigration, first with the Pasqua laws, followed by both right-wing and socialist-issued laws. This trend is also demonstrated in anti-immigrant sentiments among the public. For example, the Pew Research Center in Washington, D.C. conducted a public opinion poll in February 2004 among French nationals. This poll measured the extent of support for restricting immigration among French nationals, by age cohort. 24% of individuals ages 18–29 favored restricting immigration, 33% of individuals ages 30–49 were in favor and 53% of individuals ages 50–64 and 65 and over were in favor as well.
The immigration rate is currently lower than in other European countries such as United Kingdom and Spain; however, some say it is doubtful that the policies in themselves account for such a change. Again, as in the 1920s and 1930s, France stands in contrast with the rest of Europe. Back in the 1920s and 1930s, when European countries had a high fertility rate, France had a low fertility rate and had to open its doors to immigration to avoid population decline. Today, it is the rest of Europe that has very low fertility rates, and countries like Germany or Spain avoid population decline only through immigration. In France, however, fertility rate is still fairly high for European standards, in fact the highest in Europe after Ireland (the E.U.) and Albania (perhaps higher than Ireland's), and so most population growth is due to natural increase, unlike in the other European countries.
This difference in immigration trends is also because the labor market in France is currently less dynamic than in other countries such as the UK, Ireland or Spain. One reason for this could be France’s relatively high unemployment, which the country has struggled to reduce for the past two decades. There is also a parallel dynamic between immigration and unemployment. Immigrants tend to be subjected to higher rates of unemployment: In 2008, the immigrant unemployment rate in France was a startling 13%, twice as high as for the national population (6%). One can further analyze this trend in relation to education. In the Ministry’s 2010 report on professional inclusion for immigrants, 19.6% of immigrants without any education were unemployed, while 16.1% of immigrants who had graduated high school were unemployed. Immigrants with an undergraduate degree or higher had only 11.4% unemployment.
For example, according to the UK Office for National Statistics, in the three years between July 2001 and July 2004 the population of the UK increased by 721,500 inhabitants, of which 242,800 (34%) was due to natural increase, and 478,500 (66%) to immigration. According to the INSEE, in the three years between January 2001 and January 2004 the population of Metropolitan France increased by 1,057,000 inhabitants, of which 678,000 (64%) was due to natural increase, and 379,500 (36%) to immigration.
The latest 2008 demographic statistics have been released, and France's birth and fertility rates have continued to rise. The fertility rate increased to 2.01 in 2010 and for the first time surpasses the fertility rate of the United States.
According to a recent genetic study in 2008, 28.45% of all newborns in mainland France in 2007 had at least one parent of immigrant origin. The Paris metropolitan district (Île-de-France) is the region that accounts for the largest number with nearly 56% of all newborns in this area in 2007 having at least one parent of immigrant origin. The second largest number is in Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur at nearly 42% and the lowest number is in Brittany at 4.40%.
|Region||% of newborns with at least one parent
of immigrant origin (2007)
|Pays de la Loire/Poitou-Charentes||11.20|
French of Maghrebi origin in France form the largest ethnic group after French of European origin.
According to Michel Tribalat, a researcher at INED, there were 3.5 million people of Maghrebi origin (with at least one grandparent from Algeria, Morocco or Tunisia) living in France in 2005 corresponding to 5.8% of the total French metropolitan population (60.7 millions in 2005). Maghrebis have settled mainly in the industrial regions in France, especially in the Paris region. Many famous French people like Edith Piaf, Isabelle Adjani, Arnaud Montebourg, Alain Bashung, Dany Boon and many others have Maghrebi ancestry.
Below is a table of population of Maghrebi origin in France, numbers are in thousands:
|Country||1999||2005||% 1999/2005||% French population (60.7 millions in 2005)|
|Born in France||1,003||1,186|
|Born in France||482||576|
|Born in France||215||236|
|Immigrants||1 299||1 526||2.5%|
|Born in France||1 700||1 998||3.3%|
In 2005, the percentage of young people under 18 of maghrebi origin (at least one immigrant parent) was about 7% in Metropolitan France, 12% in Greater Paris and above 20% in French département of Seine-Saint-Denis.
According to other sources between 5 and 6 million people of Maghrebin origin live in France corresponding to about 7–9% of the total French metropolitan population.
As mentioned above, the French Ministry of Immigration, Integration, National Identity and Codevelopment was created immediately following the appointment of Nicolas Sarkozy as President of France in 2007. Immigration in France has been a relevant political dimension in France’s agenda in recent years. President Sarkozy’s agenda has sharpened the focus placed on integration of immigrants living in France as well as their acquisition of national identity. The current state of immigration policy in France is fourfold. Its pillars of immigration policy are to regulate migratory flows in and out of France, facilitate immigrants’ integration and promote French identity, honor the French tradition’s principle of welcoming political asylum and promote solidarity within the immigrant population (principle of co-development). In its 2010 Budget report, the Ministry of Immigration declared it would fund €600 million for its immigration policy objectives, a figure representing 60 million more than in 2009 (otherwise an 11.5% increase from 2009 figures).
In July 2006, President Sarkozy put into effect a law on immigration based upon the notion of “chosen immigration”, which allows immigration into France to a restricted field of employment sectors, notably the hotel and restaurant industries, construction and seasonal employment. The following summer of 2007, President Sarkozy amended the law to also require the acquisition of the French language as a pre-condition. According to Mr. Christophe Bertossi, immigration expert in France’s Institut français des relations internationales (IFRI), “there is a dominant trend in the French policy to stem family migration, notably conditioned after the 2007 law by a minimum level of French language tested and by the demonstration that he/she endorses the main French constitutional principles”. It is also important to note that France, along with other EU countries, have still not signed their agreement to the United Nations Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families of 1990. This Convention is a treaty to protect migrant workers’ rights, in recognition of their human rights.
Alternative policies have been discussed in formulating immigration policy, such as a quota system. At the beginning of 2008, as the government was rethinking its orientation on immigration policy with the creation of the new Ministry, the idea of a quota system was introduced as a possible alternative. In early 2008, a proposal was made to Parliament to decide each year how many immigrants to accept, based on skill and origin. However, this quota policy contradicts the French Constitution. A Commission was formed in February 2008 to study how the Constitution could be changed to allow for a quota system. The main difficulty is the origin principle of establishing a quota “constituting a breach in the universalistic ideology of the French Republic”.
On January 18, 2008, the government published a list of 150 job titles that were encountering difficult supply of labor. Immigrants living in France today are reported to primarily cover the following sectors: agriculture, service to persons in need (childcare, the elderly), construction, education, health and services to businesses. Thus the government is seeking to match immigrants with the economic makeup of France. The current administration could also seek to integrate migrants and their families through education and training, making them more competitive in the job market.
Therefore the outlook towards immigrants in France is shifting as unemployment continues to dominate the political agenda, along with political incentives to strengthen French national identity. Recent incidents, such as the 2005 civil unrest in France and French Romani repatriation have shed light on France’s immigration policies and how these are viewed globally, especially in congruence or discontinuity with the EU. A longitudinal study has been conducted since March 2010 to provide qualitative research regarding the integration of new immigrants. This report is being finalized at the end of December 2010 and will be most relevant to provide insight into further immigration policy analysis for the French government.
French is the only official language of France, and is constitutionally required to be overwhelmingly the language of government and administration. There is a rising cultural awareness of the regional languages of France, which enjoy no official status. These regional languages include the Langue d'oïl, Langue d'oc, Romance languages other than French, Breton and Germanic languages. Immigrant groups from former French colonies and elsewhere have also brought their own languages.
France has not collected religious or ethnic data in its censuses since the beginning of the Third Republic, but the country's predominant faith has been Roman Catholicism since the early Middle Ages. Church attendance is fairly low, however, and the proportion of the population that is not religious has grown over the past century. A 2004 IFOP survey tallied that 44% of the French people did not believe in God; contrast with 20% in 1947. A study by the CSA Institute conducted in 2003 with a sample of 18,000 people found that 27% considered themselves atheists, and 65.3% Roman Catholic, while 12.7% (8,065,000 people) belonged to some other religion.
There are an estimated 5 million Muslims, one million Protestants, 600,000 Buddhists, 491,000 Jews, and 150,000 Orthodox Christians as of 2000 figures. The last figure does not appear to include high numbers of Apostolic Armenians present in the Paris and Marseille conurbations. The US State Department's International Religious Freedom Report 2004 . estimated the French Hindu population at 181,312.
These studies did not ask the respondents if they were practicing or how often they did practice if they were active in the laity.
According to a poll conducted in 2001 for French Catholic magazine La Croix, numbers are: Roman Catholic 69% (only 10% being listed as regular churchgoers), Agnostic or Atheist 22%, Protestant (Calvinist, Lutheran, Anglican and Evangelical) 2%, others are 7%.
The following demographic statistics are from the CIA World Factbook, unless otherwise indicated.
France has been influenced by the different human migrations that occurred throughout Europe over time. Prehistoric and Neolithic population movements could have influenced the genetic diversity of this country. A recent study in 2009 analysed 555 French individuals from 7 different regions in mainland France and found the following Y-DNA Haplogroups. The five main haplogroups are R1 (63.41%), E (11.41%), I (8.88%), J (7.97%) and G (5.16%). R1b (particularly R1b1b2) was found to be the most dominant Y chromosomal lineage in France, covering about 60% of the Y chromosomal lineages. The high frequency of this haplogroup is typical in all West European populations. Haplogroups I and G are also characteristic markers for many different West European populations. Haplogroups J and E1b1b (M35, M78, M81 and M34) consist of lineages with differential distribution within Middle East, North Africa and Europe. Only adults with French surnames were analyzed by the study.
According to a 2008 study by Dutch geneticist Manfred Kayser, French people based on a sample from Lyon, showed genetic similarities to all Europeans especially the Swiss, Germans, Austrians, Italians, and Spaniards.
|7 Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur||45||2.22||0||2.22||8.89||2.22||0||6.67||8.89||0||6.67||0||0||4.44||0||55.55||2.22|
According to a genetic study in 2000 based on HLA, French from Marseille "are more or less isolated from the other western European populations. They are in an intermediate position between the North Africans (Algerians from Algiers and Oran; Tunisians) and the western Europeans populations (France, Spain, and Portugal)". According to the authors "these results cannot be attributed to recent events because of the knowledge of the grandparents’ origin" in the sample. This study reveals "that the southern French population from Marseilles is related genetically to the southwestern Europeans and North Africans, who are geographically close" and that "a substantial gene flow has thus probably been present among the populations of these neighboring areas".
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