After decades of wrangling French lawmakers finally voted just before Christmas to slash the number of regions in metropolitan France from 22 to 13.
While the new map, aimed at curbing bureaucracy, only takes effect next year, the statistics agency has given a sneak peek of what the changes will mean.
In short, the upshot will be great regional equality in terms of population numbers.
“None of the mainland regions will consist of fewer than two million inhabitants,” the agency said.
Regional mergers will also bring different parts of France closer to parity in age distribution, said Insee, taking the fusion of Auvergne with Rhône-Alpes as an example of an ageing population joining forces with a younger cohort.
The population of France was 65.8 million on January 1st 2014, including 1.9 million people in France’s overseas departments.
Mayotte, the Indian Ocean island that became a French department in 2011, was not included in the figures but had a population in 2012 of 200,000.
Half of all French inhabitants now live in urban areas with a population of more than 10,000, Insee said. Ile-de-France, the Paris region, is by far the most densely populated area with 987 inhabitants per square kilometre.