MAP: The parts of France with more cows, sheep or pigs than people

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Data journalist and map aficionado Jules Grandin – some of you may recognise him from TMC’s Quotidien show – published a thread of maps on Twitter showing the départements with more farm animals than residents.

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“It may seem irrelevant, but it tells us two things: a certain rurality and a form of geographical specialisation of breeding in France,” he told Huffington Post.

It also explains why farming and farmers are so important to politicians – especially in an election year.

ANALYSIS Is France self-sufficient for food?

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One of the maps – based on figures from 2019 – shows that there are more cattle than inhabitants in départements in the centre of France (Nièvre, Allier, Creuse, Corrèze) and the north-west (Manche, Orne , Mayenne) and in the northeast (Meuse, Marne). 

According to figures on which the maps are based, there were nearly 744,000 cattle in Manche, which was home to 492,627 people in 2019.

The north-west of the country – Finistère, Côtes-d’Armor, Morbihan, Ille-et-Villaine and Mayenne – is very definitely pig country, the maps prove – unsurprisingly. Pig-farming is big business in Brittany where there were, in 2019, more than twice the number of pigs to people. 

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Insee figures showed that Finistère counted 2,735,000 pigs, and a human population of 905,238.

For sheep, Lot, Aveyron, Lozère, Hautes-Alpes and Alpes-de-Haute-Provence have more sheep than inhabitants. 

Meanwhile, goats are severely under-represented in France. In no départment do they outnumber humans, according to the figures…

France is about 2.3 times bigger than the United Kingdom, but its population, 67.8 million according to national statistics body Insee, is broadly the same as the UK. While France obviously has areas of high population density such as Paris and Marseille, there’s also a lot of relatively empty space, especially in the centre.

But not as empty as the US state of Texas, which is slightly larger than France but has less than half the number of people at 29 million.

And the figures on which the maps were put together – they’re available here.

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