France Edition: Nobody Lives Here
This is not a “map by nik”, but one by twitter user @matamix. And it is a fine companion piece to my United States version that I thought I’d share.
Based on population data from INSEE, it shows the parts of Metropolitan France where people don’t live. Like the U.S. map, terrain plays a big role in determining where people settle. For instance, the roughness of Alps (southeast) and the Pyrenees (southwest) Mountains, prevents habitation. On the southern Atlantic coast, forestation acts as an impediment to human living in Aquitaine.
The vast expanse of “uninhabited” land in the northeast (Burgundy, Champagne-Ardenne) is a bit of a mystery. Much of it is arable land and likely covered in agriculture, especially on the side near Paris. But Brittany and Pays-de-la-Loire are also prime agricultural land. So why do we see such different settlement patterns between the regions?
Perhaps someone more familiar with the geography of France can clue me in. I’d appreciate it.
Update: jedo52 explained to me that the regions did not share agricultural practices historically. Brittany and the northwest are traditionally covered in a bocage landscape where housing is dispersed in many hamlets. In the east however, farm fields are more open with housing more concentrated into villages.
Finally, the numbers. France checks in at about 32% unoccupied compared to 47% in the U.S. Considering the higher population density in France, it’s not surprising that the country is “less empty” of humanity.
In any event, @matamix’s map is a great contribution to the discussion of where people aren’t.