The History of The French Foreign Legion

The French Foreign Legion has always been a somewhat enigmatic organisation. The history starts in 1831, the legion’s early years saw it become a refuge for men of dubious backgrounds, an organisation where no questions were asked. Although part of the French military, the Foreign legion is the only unit who does not swear allegiance to France, but rather to the legion itself.

History of The Legion

History french foreign legion

French Foreign Legion. Photo credit: wikipedia

The legion has had some controversies over the years and it’s believed that many escaping Nazi SS soldiers ended up in the Legion post World War II. This even more controversial once you consider that after good service in the legion many foreign nationals are awarded French Citizenship.

French Nationals

Culture of French Guyana

Culture of French Guyana. Photo credit: World Culture Encyclopedia

You may be surprised to know that the legion is also open to French nationals and in fact French nationals make up almost a quarter of all recruits. Only French Nationals are permitted to be officers within the unit. These days, the French Foreign Legion has become a modern and elite fighting unit and as a result not just anyone can join the Legion anymore. Along with intensive fitness and stamina testing all requites are also required to pass straight Interpol tests.

Hideway ‘Regina’

French Guyana.

French Guyana. Photo credit: shutterstock

Deep in the jungles of French Guyana is the a French Foreign Legion’s South American hideaway called “Regina”. The centre was created in 1987 as a jungle training centre for the 3rd Foreign Infantry Regiment. In this remote location new recruits are put through gruelling initiation courses, many of them being broken in the process and falling out of the programme. The jungle’s intense conditions are the perfect location to test the soldier’s resolve and stamina. Typical training drills include hacking and wading through the jungle without sleep or shelter, whilst packed with heavy gear. Notorious other drills include carrying a team member, tied to a long wooden pole through sinking mud – making it a struggle for team members to not only move forward but do so whilst trying to ensure that their teammate doesn’t drown.

The facility is also used as for Jungle Warfare training courses and survival training courses for both the wider French Military and the even the British SAS.

Are you interested in the history of French Guyana? Chimu Adventures can take you there, we are the Latin America Experts! For more information visit our Guyana and Suriname page or Central America page for a range of exciting travel options to this region.

Author: Chad Carey