Name of the stateless nation: Breizh
State or states this nation belongs to: French Republic
1. Physical and human environment
Area 34,023 km2
No available data
Lower than 200 m
Higher than 2,000 m
Biogeographical regions (1) (% of total surface)
Land use (2) (3) (% of total surface)
Forests, wetlands and open spaces 25.71%
Agricultural land 61.86%
Urban and artificial areas 12.42%
Modern Breton nationalism attaches great importance to the Celtic roots of Brittany. Celtic populations occupied much of Western Europe, including Brittany, from 1000 BC to 800 BC. After the Roman conquest (1st century BC), Brittany underwent partial Romanization and Christianization.
As the Roman Empire melted down, new Celtic settlers from Britain reached Brittany during the 4th and 5th centuries AD. Their language took eventually roots in Brittany, and later evolved into present-day Breton.
Those new settlers, and their descendants, established several pricipalities in Brittany. These were merged into a single Duchy of Brittany by Nominoe (9th century AD); his son Erispoe successfully prevented the Franks from annexing Brittany into their kingdom.
During the Middle Ages, Brittany kept its independence although it underwent influence from France and England. During the 14th century, the establishment of the Estates of Brittany (medieval Parliament) is witnessed in documents.
Even if Brittany maintained economic and political links with England during most of the 15th century, in 1491 Charles VIII of France invaded Brittany; a process of annexation started, culminating in a 1532 vote by the Estates of Brittany to merge with France. This marked the political and legal end of Brittany's independence.
The Duchy continued to exist within the Kingdom of France until 1789, when the French revolutionaries put an end to it. Brittany was divided into the current five departments of Finistère, Morbihan, Côtes-d'Armor (then Côtes-du-Nord), Ille-et-Vilaine, and Loire-Atlantique (then Loire-Inférieure).
Breton nationalism started to develop in the 19th century; the first political groups and parties were established between 1890 and 1910 amid a growing vindication of Breton culture and language, which was banned in schools at that time and had started to decline as the French Republic imposed the use of French.
German-allied Vichy regime in 1941 organized France into administrative regions; the department of Loire-Atlantique was separated from the other four Breton departments. This separation was kept in 1956, when the four-department administrative region of Brittany was officially established, without Loire-Atlantique. The call for the reunification of the Region of Brittany with the Loire-Atlantique has remained a constant of Breton nationalism since then. Breton political parties have also been asking for devolution of legislative and executive powers to Breton institutions since the 1960s.
1: European Environmental Agency.
2: Data only for administrative Brittany without Loire-Atlantique.
3: Agreste Bretagne (2011).
Capital city Naoned (historical capital of Brittany; currently capital city of Loire-Atlantique). Roazhon (current capital city of the region of Brittany)
Name of President / Prime Minister / Other Jean-Yves Le Drian (President of the Regional Council of Brittany), Jacques Auxiette (President of the General Council of Pays de la Loire)
Political status as part of the State 80% of the Breton territory (departments of Finisterre, Morbihan, Côtes-d'Armor and Ille-et-Vilaine) make up the Region of Brittany; the remaining 20% is included in the Region of Pays de la Loire under the name of department of Loire-Atlantique
Competences attributed / recognized by the State: Shared, non-legislative powers over economic and land use planning, education, heritage, development of ports and airfields, environment, management of European projects.(1)
Political institutions are placed under the umbrella of the Region of Brittany, and they include two assemblies:
Regional Council of Brittany (unicameral, 83 members)
Economic, Social and Cultural Council of Brittany
Indirect representation through the representatives of the French Association of Regions in the French delegation in the Committee of Regions of the European Union.(2)
Member of the Conference of Peripheral Maritime Regions of Europe.(3)
Territorial and local organization (counties, provinces, districts, municipal bodies, etc.)
Brittany is officially divided into 5 departments (4 in the Region of Brittany and 1 in the Region of Pays de la Loire), which are responsible for the provision of a range of public services. The departments are further divided into arrondissements, cantons and municipalities.
Main Political Parties
Political parties having (or having had in the past) representatives at the national level
Unvaniezh Demokratel Breizh / Union Democratique Bretonne (UDB, Breton Democratic Party): Pro-autonomy, centre-left
Nationwide political parties having (or having had in the past) representatives at the local level
Strollad Breizh / Parti Breton (PB, Breton Party): Pro-independence, centre-left to centre-right.
Breizh War Raok / Mouvement Bretagne Progrès (MBP, Movement Brittany Progress): Pro-autonomy, centre-left
Breizhistance: Pro-independence, left.
Nationalist organisations in civil society
Kevre Breizh: umbrella organization for cultural associations of Brittany. It currently (2015) has a membership of 28 civil society groups, including some prominent ones such as Diwan (federation of Breton-medium private schools), Div Yezh (parents' association for Breton-French bilingual teaching in public schools) and Ar Redadeg (group that organizes a pro-Breton language relay race every two years).
Bretagne Réunie and 44=Breizh: organizations advancing the right of Brittany to reunification (i.e. the department of Loire-Atlantique rejoining the Region of Brittany).
Ai'ta: civil society group promoting the social use and an official status for the Breton language.
Les Bonnets rouges / Ar bonedoù ruz: civil society organization advancing the rights of Breton citizens and firms under the motto “to live, to decide and to work in Brittany”. It drove two of the largest-ever pro-Breton demonstrations in 2013 and 2014. The group calls for Breton reunification, further rights for Breton speakers, and the devolution of powers to Breton institutions.
Ligue Bretonne des Droits de l'Homme: organization for the defense of human rights in Brittany and the rights of the Breton people and other stateless nations
1: Vie publique – République française (2015).
2: Committee of Regions (2013).
3: Conference of Peripheral Maritime Regions of Europe (2011).
Total population 4,582,0631 (3,259,659 inhabitants in the Region of Brittany and 1,322,404 inhabitants in the department of Loire-Atlantique) (2)
Density 135 inh/km2
Age structure (1):
Région de Bretagne:
75 and older 10.2%
Department of Loire-Atlantique:
75 and older 8.4%
In the capital city 6.28% (Naoned)
In other major cities3
An Oriant 1.25%
Annual growth 0.7‰ (Region of Brittany) (4)
1‰ (Department of Loire)(4)
Net migration rate No available data
Men: 77.3 years (Region of Brittany) (5), 78.6 years (Department of Loire-Atlantique) (6)
Women: 84.4 years (Region of Brittany) (5), 85.1 years (Department of Loire-Atlantique) (6)
1: Institut national de la statistique et des études économiques (2013).
2: Institut national de la statistique et des études économiques (2014).
3: Institut national de la statistique et des études économiques (2011).
4: Institut national de la statistique et des études économiques (2006-2013).
5: Institut national de la statistique et des études économiques (2012-2013).
6: Institut national de la statistique et des études économiques (2012).
Language areas (whether vernacular or not)
Breton (mostly in the western half of Brittany)
Gallo (langue d'oil variety, mostly in the eastern half of Brittany)
French (throughout Brittany)
Number and percentage of speakers of each vernacular language over the total population (1)
Breton: 206,000 (4.5%) (1)
Gallo: 40,710 speakers (0.89%) (2)
Official languages and languages recognized by the authorities
In the territory of the nation
French is the only official language.
Vernacular languages of the nation which are official in or recognized by the State
Breton and Gallo have limited recognition.
National vernacular languages official or recognized outside the State (by other States and/or by international organizations)
Neither Breton nor Gallo have any kind of recognition outside France.
Use of vernacular languages
In public administration: French remains by far the main language of public administration in Brittany. Nevertheless, the Region of Brittany adopted its own linguistic policy in 2004, which is aimed at ensuring some role for Breton and Gallo in public life and transmission of both languages to the younger generations (3).
In justice: French is the only language to be used in courts (4).
In school: 15,338 pupils receive Breton-French bilingual or Breton immersive teaching (2013-2014 school year). Out of them, 43.4% are enrolled in public schools, 32.4% in Catholic private schools, and 24.2% in private-associative Diwan schools (3).
In place names (toponymy): Bilingualism (French-Breton) sometimes occurs in road signs and city place names in Brittany.
In cultural production (books, movies).
95 to 100 books are published in Breton every year (5).
34 books have been published in Gallo in the period 2006-2013 (6).
In the media and the internet: French public broadcasters France Télévision and Radio France include some Breton-language programs in their scheduling (6).
Speakers of other languages:
No data available.
1: Office publique de la langue bretonne (2006).
2: Enquête EHF-INED (1999).
3: Région Bretagne.
4: L'amenagement linguistique dans le monde (Université Laval, Quebec, 2014).
5: Office publique de la langue bretonne (2010).
6: Office publique de la langue bretonne (2013).
5. Transport infrastructure (1)
There are 12 airports in Brittany (Brest, Dinarzh, Ankiniz, Ar Baol-Skoubleg, Lannuon, An Oriant, Montroulez, Naoned, Kemper, Roazhon, Sant-Brieg, Sant-Nazer). All are open to international traffic (Ankiniz, Lannuon and An Oriant under demand) except for Ar Baol-Skoubleg and Sant-Nazer, which are not (1).
1,304 km of national roads (1,074 km in Region de Bretagne, 230 in Loire-Atlantique), 22,177 km of departmental roads (17,497 km in Region de Bretagne and 4,680 km in Loire-Atlantique) and 65,092 km of local roads (52,468 km in Region de Bretagne and 12,624 km in Loire-Atlantique) (2).
50 km (in Région de Bretagne) (2).
91 km (in Loire-Atlantique) (2).
1,487 km (1,148 km in Region de Bretagne and 339 km in Loire-Atlantique) (2).
High speed railways
529 km (409 km in Region de Bretagne and 120 km in Loire-Atlantique) (3).
Density of transport infrastructure
Roads and motorways
2,607 km / 1000 km2
1,936 km / 100,000 inhabitants
44 km / 1000 km2
32 km / 100,000 inhabitants
Trans-border connections (Number of trans-border connections for each kind of transport infrastructure / kilometres of border line)
Road: 220 / 550 km = 1 every 2.5 km
Rail: 5 / 550 km = 1 every 110 km
Trading ports (more than 1 million tons per year)
Brittany has a total of 3 trading ports (Naoned-Sant-Nazer, Brest and An Oriant) that have a volume of more than 1 million tonnes per year2.
1: Union des aéroports français.
2: Institut national de la statistique et des études économiques (2013).
3: Association Bretonne de Plaisance Fluviale and Région Bretagne (2013).
6. Education and culture
Educational attainment of the adult population (%; aged 16 and over) (1):
Région de Bretagne:
No attainment at all 13.8%
Lower secondary 6.7%
Upper secondary 43.8%
Department of Loire-Atlantique:
No attainment at all 12.4%
Lower secondary 5.3%
Upper secondary 44.6%
Culture (expenditure per person / year):
No available data
No available data
1: Institut national de la statistique et des études économiques (2011).
7. Armed and police forces in its territory (Number of troops and police officers)
20,155 service people in Région de Bretagne, including army, navy and air force (1)
State police: No available data
National police: Brittany and Loire-Atlantique have no police of their own
Local police 971 police officers (Ile-et-Vilaine 243, Morbihan 164, Côtes d'Armor 105, Finistère 115, Loire-Atlantique 344) (2012) (2)
1: Anuaire statistique de la défense (2012).
2: Ministère de l’Intérieur (2012).
Currency Euro (EUR)
GDP (in million €) 83,407 (1)
Annual growth GDP 1.9% (2)
GDP per capita (€) 25,666 (1)
Composition of GDP (1):
Inflation rate No available data
Unemployment rate 8.5% (Région de Bretagne) 8.3 (Loire-Atlantique) (3)
Energy balance (thousands of TOE) and energy import coverage rate No available data
Energy production (thousands of TOE) No available data
Energy consumption (thousands of TOE) (4) 7,105
Natural gas 15.8%
Petroleum products 51.7%
Nuclear / other 8.2%
Imports (mill €) No available data
Exports (mill €) No available data
Trade balance (+ mill €) and import coverage rate (%) No available data
1: Institut national de la statistique et des études économiques (2012).
2: Institut national de la statistique et des études économiques (2011-2012).
3: Institut national de la statistique et des études économiques (2013).
4: Institut national de la statistique et des études économiques (2009).
9. National symbols
Coat of arms