Where the French are.

(Edit: Some people commented that the visualisation below is not the one that should have been used to represent the total population -even if the data are correct. They were definitely right and a better representation of those data can now be found here.)

INSEE, the French national statistics institute, has recently released the latest results for the 2011 French population census along with results from previous years. (Download the data).

We were interested to see where the majority of the population was located and if this has evolved over time.

In the last 50 years, the French population went from 42 million to 63 million inhabitants. Overall, we note that industrial regions have a more important share of the population. We also observe an increase in population in all departments but a few rural ones which likely suffered from the agriculture crisis.

Among the more industrial departments, the “Nord” is historically and by far, the most populated one. It is probably because of its strong industrial past with all of the textile industry. Interestingly, its population keeps on growing, despite the industrial crisis in this area. This growth is probably driven by the attraction of the Lille-Roubaix-Tourcoing agglomeration.

The Nord is followed in terms of population by Paris, then Bouches-du-Rhônes Aix, Marseille and Rhônes.

The most impacted rural departments are found in the center of France (Allier, Creuse, Nièvre) most likely due to the agricultural crisis, as well as some in the North (Ardennes, Meuse) which probably suffer fomr the industrial crisis (end of mining) in this area.

Another point we were interested in was the number of cities by population size. We were wondering if the number of villages was shrinking as the population in cities increased. We have crunched the numbers but haven’t come up with anything really conclusive. We don’t clearly see any collapse in the number of small villages or a an increase in the number of big cities.

Nevertheless, with the increase of the population we observe a similar increase in the number of middle-sized cities.

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