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France today is administratively divided into 26 régions (four of them overseas), each governed by an elected Conseil Régional (regional council). The régions are subdivided into 100 départements, each governed by an elected Conseil Général (general council). Each département is divided into arrondissements, which are subdivided into cantons, each of which is represented by one member in the Conseil Général. The smallest administrative unit is the commune (community), governed by a Maire (mayor), and a Conseil Municipal.
Alsace, the smallest of France's metropolitan régions, today comprises the two départements of Bas-Rhin and Haut-Rhin. The département of the Territoire de Belfort, historically part of Alsace, is today part of the région of Franche-Comté. These three départements contain 1,004 communes, each of which has a separate entry on this site. The 1990 population of these three départements was 1,758,469. The largest city is Strasbourg, with a 1990 population of 255,937. The smallest may be Lamadeleine-Val-des-Anges, in the Territoire de Belfort, which in 1990 had only 29 inhabitants. As populations have shifted over the years many places which had long existed as independent communes have been absorbed by or merged with others. There are also places which were never legally considered independent, referred to as hameaux, lieux-dits or écarts (annexe is the term used for a community which has been absorbed or annexed by another). These places will all be included in the index, but information on them will be found in the entry for the present-day commune in which they are located.
The information contained below is taken from Bottin des communes 1997 (Paris: Société du Bottin Administratif, 1996).