The new 2010 division into urban areas: 95% of the population lives in the sphere of influence of towns and cities
Sixty-one million people, or 95% of the French population, live in a sphere of urban influence. They mostly consist of people residing in urban areas (aires), characterized by intensive exchanges between places of residence and places of work. The areas are composed of a cluster (pôle)-defined as a town concentrating at least 1,500 jobs-and, generally, an urban ring. Urban areas provide a structure for French territory and encompass one-half of all municipalities (communes): 85% of the population lives in them. Sixty percent of the population, or 37.8 million inhabitants, resides directly in the clusters of large urban areas. These large clusters form the core of the urban territory, with more than 800 inhabitants per square km., eight times the national average. Outside the urban areas, 11,000 municipalities are multipolarized, i.e., under the influence of several areas with no single one prevailing. Ten percent of the population lives there. In a sign of the many interactions between town and country, three-quarters of rural municipalities lie within the sphere of influence of towns and cities, and are home to 20% of the French population. Outside the sphere of urban influence, 5% of the population lives in 7,400 rural municipalities or small towns.