The current legal concept of region was adopted in 1982, and in 2016 what had been 27 regions was reduced to 18.
=== Regions from 1982 to 2016 ===
May 2011, 1982, 2015
Between 1982 and 2015, there were 22 regions in Metropolitan France. Before 2011, there were four overseas regions (French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Martinique, and Réunion); in 2011 Mayotte became the fifth.
Although these territories have had these political powers since 1982, when France's decentralisation policy dictated that they be given elected regional councils along with other regional powers, the designation overseas regions dates only to the 2003 constitutional change; indeed, the new wording of the constitution aims to give no precedence to either appellation overseas department or overseas region, although the second is still virtually unused by French media.
2 March 1982
The term région was officially created by the Law of Decentralisation (2 March 1982), which also gave regions their legal status.
Martinique in the Antilles (Caribbean, Central America)Saint Pierre and Miquelon (off Canada, in North America), once an overseas department, was demoted to a territorial collectivity in 1985.
Regions of France in years
Number of regions controlled by each coalition since 1986.
16 March 1986
The first direct elections for regional representatives took place on 16 March 1986.
In March 2004, the French central government unveiled a controversial plan to transfer regulation of certain categories of non-teaching school staff to the regional authorities.
1 January 2016, 2014
In 2014, the French parliament passed a law reducing the number of metropolitan regions from 22 to 13 effective 1 January 2016.
The legislation defining the new regions also allowed the Centre region to officially change its name to "Centre-Val de Loire" with effect from January 2015.
Regions of France in decades
In 2016, the number of regions was reduced from 27 to 18 through mergers.
1 July 2016, 30 September 2016
The law gave interim names for most of the new regions by combining the names of the former regions, e.g. the region composed of Aquitaine, Poitou-Charentes and Limousin was temporarily called Aquitaine-Limousin-Poitou-Charentes. However, the combined region of Upper and Lower Normandy is simply called "Normandy" (Normandie). Permanent names were proposed by the new regional councils by 1 July 2016 and new names confirmed by the Conseil d'État by 30 September 2016.
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