France and its territories2015 Edition
This book of “Insee References” collection, France and its territories, offers a selection of key figures about regions, on their actual delimitations and on the next delimitations that will become effective on 1st January 2016.
A new approach to low and high density areas
Rural areas were long assimilated with agricultural areas and were simply defined as not urban. With the development of cities, links between rural areas and cities have increased, both in terms of employment and access to trade and services. It is now more a lifestyle that defines rural areas as they can be located on the outskirts of cities. To reflect these changes, INSEE now offers a more continuous grid, based on the extent of population density of areas, according to a more "morphological" approach. It results from the work of the European Commission and was made possible by the availability of data at a very detailed local level, that of "squares". This new analytical framework, combined with data on the characteristics of inhabitants, their activity, access to employment or services and facilities, can allow for very rich approaches to very sparsely populated areas. It is thus possible to measure the distance and isolation and describe these very diverse areas. The vast majority of municipalities (90%) are sparsely populated in France, a country where the density almost everywhere is quite low. These municipalities only contain 35% of the population. A third of municipalities have lower densities (very sparsely populated municipalities) and contain only 4% of the population. Three quarters of municipalities in very sparsely populated areas can be considered isolated because they are far from city areas. Three quarters of very low density municipalities are located more than 10 minutes by car from daily services.