Since the end of the Second World War, millions of immigrants have arrived
on French shores.1 Although such an influx of foreigners has not been
unusual in French history,2 the origin of the postwar migrants was of a different
character than that of previous eras. Prior to World War II, the vast majority
of immigrants to France came from within Europe. Since 1945, however, an
important percentage of migrants have come from non-European sources.
Whether from former colonies in North Africa, Southeast Asia, or sub-Saharan
Africa, from overseas departments and territories, or from countries such as
Turkey or Sri Lanka, recent immigration has created a new ethnic and cultural
pluralism in France. At the end of the 1990s, the visibly nonwhite population
of France totals approximately five percent of all French residents.3 With millions
of ethnic-minority citizens and denizens, the new France wears a substantially
different face from that of the prewar era.