Population of France 1700-2020

During the eighteenth century, it is estimated that France's population grew by roughly fifty percent, from 19.7 million in 1700, to 29 million by 1800. In France itself, the 1700s are remembered for the end of King Louis XIV's reign in 1715, the Age of Enlightenment, and the French Revolution. During this century, the scientific and ideological advances made in France and across Europe challenged the leadership structures of the time, and questioned the relationship between monarchial, religious and political institutions and their subjects. France was arguably the most powerful nation in the world in these early years, with the second largest population in Europe (after Russia); however, this century was defined by a number of costly, large-scale conflicts across Europe and in the new North American theater, which saw the loss of most overseas territories (particularly in North America) and almost bankrupted the French crown. A combination of regressive taxation, food shortages and enlightenment ideologies ultimately culminated in the French Revolution in 1789, which brought an end to the Ancien Régime, and set in motion a period of self-actualization.

War and peace

After a volatile and tumultuous decade, in which tens of thousands were executed by the state (most infamously: guillotined), relative stability was restored within France as Napoleon Bonaparte seized power in 1799, and the policies of the revolution became enforced. Beyond France's borders, the country was involved in a series of large scale wars for two almost decades, and the First French Empire eventually covered half of Europe by 1812. In 1815, Napoleon was defeated outright, the empire was dissolved, and the monarchy was restored to France; nonetheless, a large number of revolutionary and Napoleonic reforms remained in effect afterwards, and the ideas had a long-term impact across the globe. France experienced a century of comparative peace in the aftermath of the Napoleonic Wars; there were some notable uprisings and conflicts, and the monarchy was abolished yet again, but nothing on the scale of what had preceded or what was to follow. A new overseas colonial empire was also established in the late 1800s, particularly across Africa and Southeast Asia. Through most of the eighteenth and nineteenth century, France had the second largest population in Europe (after Russia), however political instability and the economic prioritization of Paris meant that the entire country did not urbanize or industrialize at the same rate as the other European powers. Because of this, Germany and Britain entered the twentieth century with larger populations, and other regions, such as Austria or Belgium, had overtaken France in terms of industrialization; the German annexation of Alsace-Lorraine in the Franco-Prussian War was also a major contributor to this.

World Wars and contemporary France

Coming into the 1900s, France had a population of approximately forty million people (officially 38 million* due to to territorial changes), and there was relatively little growth in the first half of the century. France was comparatively unprepared for a large scale war, however it became one of the most active theaters of the First World War when Germany invaded via Belgium in 1914, with the ability to mobilize over eight million men. By the war's end in 1918, France had lost almost 1.4 million in the conflict, and approximately 300,000 in the Spanish Flu pandemic that followed. Germany invaded France again during the Second World War, and occupied the country from 1940, until the Allied counter-invasion liberated the country during the summer of 1944. France lost around 600,000 people in the course of the war, over half of which were civilians. Following the war's end, the country experienced a baby boom, and the population grew by approximately twenty million people in the next fifty years (compared to just one million in the previous fifty years). Since the 1950s, France's economy quickly grew to be one of the strongest in the world, despite losing the vast majority of its overseas colonial empire by the 1970s. A wave of migration, especially from these former colonies, has greatly contributed to the growth and diversity of France's population today, which stands at over 65 million people in 2020.

Population of France from 1700 to 2020

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Release date

July 2020



Survey time period

1700 to 2020

Supplementary notes

*Data from 1800 onwards is the estimated population in the region of France, using its present-day boundaries. As France's borders (particularly along the north east and east) changed regularly before the mid-1900s, the official estimates differ. Some estimates for France's contemporary populations are as follows (in thousands):
1700: 19,699
1762: 21,769
1784: 24,800
1801: 27,349
1806: 29,107
1821: 30,462
1831: 32,569
1836: 33,541
1841: 34,230
1846: 35,402
1851: 35,783
1856: 36,013
1861: 37,386
1866: 38,067
1872: 36,103
1876: 36,906
1881: 37,406
1886: 37,930
1891: 38,133
1896: 38,269
1901: 38,451
1906: 38,845
1911: 39,192
1921: 38,798
1926: 40,228
1931: 41,225
1936: 41,183
1946: 39,848
1954: 42,781
1962: 46,500
1968: 49,655
1975: 52,599

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