FRANCE

Date of establishment: September 22, 1792

Brief history:

5th Century – Germanic tribes invade Gaul

843 – Treaty of Verdun, division of the Carolingian Empire among the sons of Louis the Pious

987 – Hugh Capet becomes the king

1337 – Start of the Hundred Years’ War with England

1789 – Outbreak of the French Revolution

1792 – French Republic declared

1804 – Napoleon Bonaparte crowned Emperor of France

1815 – Battle of Waterloo, end of Napoleon’s rule

1871 – Establishment of the Third Republic after France’s defeat in the Franco-Prussian War

1914 – Outbreak of World War I

1940 – France occupied by Germany during World War II

1944 – Allies liberate France

1958 – Constitutional crisis, Charles de Gaulle becomes President of the Fifth Republic

1968 – Protests and strikes in May 1968

1981 – François Mitterrand becomes President, the first socialist president in French history

1992 – Maastricht Treaty, formation of the European Union

2002 – Introduction of the euro as the official currency in most EU countries, including France

2015 – Terrorist attack on the Charlie Hebdo magazine headquarters

 

International abbreviation: F

 

Currency: Euro (EUR)

The euro has been legal tender in France since 2002. Prior to the euro, the French franc had been used since 1360.

 

Internet domain: .fr

 

Dialing code: +33

 

Time zone: +1 GMT

 

Geography:

France has a diverse landscape, including beautiful coastlines, fertile agricultural land, and mountainous areas.

The relief of France is varied and includes plains, mountains, and plateaus. Major mountain ranges include the Pyrenees in the south, the Alps in the east, and the Vosges and Jura in the northeast.

France has many rivers, including the Loire, Seine, Garonne, and Rhine, which are important for transportation and agriculture.

The country also has many lakes, including Geneva and Annecy, which are popular tourist destinations.

France shares borders with Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Andorra, Monaco, and Spain.

 

Highest peak: Mont Blanc, 4 810 meters (15 781 feet) above sea level

Located on the border of France and Italy, specifically in the Alps, Mont Blanc is a popular tourist attraction.

Mont Blanc can be climbed on foot via hiking trails, but due to the difficulty of the route and the risk of avalanches, it requires experience and proper equipment. It is also possible to hire a mountain guide. For skiing enthusiasts, there are many ski slopes available, including those on the Italian side.

Mont Blanc is in the Mont Blanc National Park, which was established in 1967 and covers an area of 495 000 hectares. The park is a popular destination for tourists who want to enjoy the beautiful countryside, hiking, mountain biking, or winter sports.

 

Climate: temperate and subtropical

The climate in France varies by region, but generally, most of the country has an oceanic climate with mild winters and wet summers.

The western coastal region, including Brittany and Normandy, has an oceanic climate. It has a mild and humid climate, with moderate winters and summers. Precipitation is evenly distributed throughout the year but with a slight increase in winter. Temperatures range from 5°C (41°F) in winter to 20°C (68°F) in summer.

Inland areas, including Paris and central France, have a transitional climate between oceanic and continental. Winters are cold, with temperatures around 0°C (32°F), and summers are warm, with average temperatures around 25°C (77°F). Precipitation is evenly distributed throughout the year.

In southeastern France the climate is typically Mediterranean. Winters are mild and humid, with temperatures around 10°C (50°F), while summers are hot and dry, with average temperatures around 30°C (86°F). Precipitation is concentrated in autumn and spring.

In the mountains, such as the Alps and the Pyrenees, the climate is alpine or mountainous. It is cooler at higher altitudes, and precipitation is abundant.

 

Fauna and flora:

Animals that can be found in the natural areas of France include the wild boar, red deer, roe deer, European fox, European otter, wildcat, brown bear, marten, weasel, chamois, mouflon, and many species of birds such as eagles, hawks, falcons, kites, and owls.

The flora of France also varies significantly depending on the region. The country is known for its vineyards, including famous regions like Bordeaux and Champagne, and it also has extensive forests, including oak, beech, and pine forests. In the Vanoise National Park there are alpine meadows with many species of flowers, such as starflowers, bellflowers, gentians, and alpine violets.

 

Agriculture:

The main crops in agriculture are cereals such as wheat, corn, and barley. France is also one of the largest producers and exporters of wine in the world, especially in regions like Bordeaux, Burgundy, Champagne, and Rhône. Another important crop is hops for beer production.

Dairy products are also a significant part of French agriculture. France is known for its cheeses, such as Brie, Camembert, Roquefort, and Comté. Many farmers also specialize in livestock farming and milk production.

Agriculture in France also includes poultry, pork, beef, and other livestock for meat production. France is known for its high-quality beef and delicious specialties like foie gras.

Fruits and vegetables are also an important part of French agriculture. A wide range of crops is grown, including apples, pears, apricots, peaches, tomatoes, lettuce, and potatoes.

 

Natural resource extraction:

France has relatively limited natural resources, but it still mines a variety of raw materials. Some of the most important extracted resources include:

Coal: France was once a major coal producer in Europe, but coal mining has significantly declined in recent years and is now limited.

Iron ore: Iron ore mining was an important industry in the past, but today it is limited to a few smaller mines.

Natural gas: France has gas reserves and extraction takes place mainly in the southwest of the country.

Bauxite: France is a significant producer of bauxite, which is used in aluminum production.

Potash salts: Potash salts are mined in the country and used as fertilizers.

Limestone: Limestone is an important raw material for construction and lime production, and France has large reserves of this mineral.

In addition to these resources, gold, silver, lead, tin, and antimony are also mined in the country. However, compared to other countries, raw materials extraction in France is relatively small, and the country relies on imports for many resources like oil, natural gas, and precious metals.

 

Industry:

Industry is dominated by sectors such as the automotive industry, aerospace, food processing, pharmaceuticals, and luxury goods. France also has strong engineering and chemicals industries and is one of the largest producers of nuclear energy in the world.

The automotive industry is one of the largest industrial sectors in the country, with companies like Peugeot, Renault, and Citroen being among the world’s largest car manufacturers. The aerospace industry is also significant, with companies like Airbus, Dassault Aviation, and Safran specializing in the production of airplanes, satellites, and spacecraft.

France is a major producer of electricity from nuclear power and it accounts for most of the electricity generated in the country.

The food processing industry produces a wide range of food products, including cheeses, wines, confectionery, coffee, and chocolate. France is also known for its luxury goods, including fashion brands like Chanel, Louis Vuitton, and Dior, which are renowned worldwide.

In addition, France has a well-developed tourism industry, with visitors from around the world coming to enjoy the country’s beauty, culture, and gastronomy.

 

Services and other areas of the economy: telecommunications, banking and insurance, services, science and research, transportation, tourism, gastronomy, information technology, fashion, and luxury goods.

 

Natural and historical attractions:

The most popular tourist destinations include Paris, which is known for its landmarks such as the Eiffel Tower, Louvre, Notre-Dame Cathedral, and Champs-Elysées. Other popular destinations are the French coastlines of the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean, where tourists can visit famous resorts such as Cannes, Saint-Tropez, Nice, Biarritz, or La Baule.

France also has many historical and cultural landmarks, such as Versailles, Mont-Saint-Michel, Chambord Castle, and Arles. Additionally, the country has a thriving hiking network, such as the GR20 in Corsica, and cycling routes like the Loire Valley Cycling Route.

France is also renowned for its gastronomic specialties, including cheeses, wines, pastries, cakes, and other delicacies. French cuisine is one of the most famous cuisines in the world, and in Paris and other cities, there are numerous restaurants and cafes offering these delights.

 

 

Form of government: Semi-presidential republic

France is a semi-presidential republic with a constitution that was last amended in 2008. The French president is the head of state and has extensive powers in foreign policy, defense, and national security. France has a bicameral parliament consisting of the senate and the national assembly, and parliament has significant powers in legislation and financial control.

Power relations within the French political system are also divided among various levels of government, including regions, departments, and municipalities. France is divided into 18 regions, 101 departments, and 35 000 municipalities.

France’s legal system is based on civil law principles, with an independent judiciary ensuring the application of laws and protecting individual rights.

Within the European Union, France is a founder member and plays a significant role in European politics and integration. France is also a member of the G8, the United Nations and NATO, and participates in numerous other international organizations and agreements.

 

Capital City: Paris

Paris is the capital of France and one of the most significant cultural and tourist centers in the world. The city is located on the Seine and is known for its iconic landmarks such as the Eiffel Tower, Notre-Dame Cathedral, and Louvre Museum. The city is a hub of French culture, with many museums, galleries, and theaters, and offers a wide range of cultural events and festivals. It is also renowned for its gastronomy, with many excellent restaurants and cafes where you can taste traditional French cuisine. Paris is a major business and economic center, with many prominent corporations and financial institutions located in the city center. The population is estimated at 2 100 000.

 

Area: 551 500 km2 (212 936 square miles)

 

Population: 64 627 000 (2022 estimate)

France has a relatively high population density, with approximately 119 people per square kilometer. The majority of the population is concentrated in urbanized areas, primarily in Paris and other major cities.

France has many minority groups, including Arabs, Berbers, Asians, and Afro-Caribbeans, who have immigrated from former colonies and other countries. These minorities make up approximately 10% of the total population of France.

The dominant religion in the country is Roman Catholicism, practiced by about 60% of the population. However, in recent years, there has been an increase in the number of people identifying with other religions, including Islam and Protestantism, or having no religious affiliation.

 

UNESCO World Heritage Sites: 49

 

  1. Mont-Saint-Michel and its Bay: An island with an abbey and church, a popular tourist attraction.
  2. Paris, Banks of the Seine: The Seine River offers stunning views of landmarks like the Eiffel Tower and Notre-Dame.
  3. Chartres Cathedral: A medieval Gothic cathedral, an important example of Gothic architecture.
  4. Le Havre, the City Rebuilt by Auguste Perret: A city known for modern urbanism, rebuilt after World War II.
  5. Basilica of St. Sernin, Toulouse: A Romanesque basilica known for its vaulted passageways and crypt.
  6. Cathedral of Notre-Dame, Reims: A Gothic cathedral, traditionally the site of French kings’ coronations.
  7. Louvre Museum: The world’s largest museum, housing art collections from around the world.
  8. Avignon, Historic Centre: A city with a historic center known for its Papal Palace and Saint-Bénezet Bridge.
  9. Chartres Cathedral: A medieval Gothic cathedral, an important example of Gothic architecture.
  10. Saint-Emilion, Jurisdiction of Saint-Emilion: A wine-growing area known for its wines and the historic town of Saint-Emilion.
  11. Canal du Midi: A historic canal in southern France, surrounded by beautiful landscapes.
  12. Palace and Park of Versailles: A grand palace and park, a former residence of French kings.
  13. Paris, Le Marais: A historic district with narrow streets and beautiful buildings.
  14. Jesuit Centre, Paris: A Christian center with historical buildings like Saint-Ignace Church.
  15. Roman Monuments, Nîmes: A city with Roman amphitheaters and other ancient monuments.
  16. Cathedral of Notre-Dame, Amiens: A Gothic cathedral, an important example of French Gothic architecture.
  17. Abbey of Fontenay: A 12th-century abbey, a significant example of Cistercian architecture.
  18. Basilica of Sainte-Thérèse, Lisieux: A modern basilica dedicated to Saint Thérèse of Lisieux.
  19. Saint-Michel d’Aiguilhe Chapel and Saint-Michel Rock: A small church perched atop a rocky pinnacle.
  20. Cathedral of Notre-Dame, Laon: A Gothic cathedral known for its tall towers and large windows.
  21. Provins, Town of Medieval Fairs: A medieval town with historic ramparts, towers, and other sites.
  22. Arles, Roman and Romanesque Monuments: A city with Roman and Romanesque monuments like an arena and ancient theater.
  23. Palace of the Popes, Avignon: A Gothic palace that served as the residence of popes.
  24. Cathedral of Saint-Pierre, Beauvais: A Gothic cathedral known for its highest Gothic vault in the world.
  25. Roman Theatre of Orange: A well-preserved ancient Roman theater.
  26. Cathedral of Saint-Gatien, Tours: A Gothic cathedral, an important example of French Gothic architecture.
  27. Guadeloupe National Park: A park in the Caribbean known for its natural beauty and unique ecosystems.
  28. Roman Theatre of Orange: A well-preserved ancient Roman theater.
  29. Port de la Lune, Bordeaux: The historic center of Bordeaux and its port.
  30. Charterhouse of Champmol, Dijon: A 15th-century Carthusian monastery with historical significance.
  31. Lyon, Historic Site of Lyon: The historic center of Lyon with landmarks like Saint-Jean Cathedral.
  32. Basilica of Sainte-Marie-Madeleine, Saint-Maximin-la-Sainte-Baume: A Romanesque basilica with a long history.
  33. Paris, Notre-Dame: A Gothic cathedral in Paris heavily damaged by fire in 2019.
  34. Paris, Sorbonne University: A historic university founded in the 13th century.
  35. Provins, Town of Medieval Fairs: A medieval town with historic ramparts, towers, and other sites.
  36. Pont du Gard: An ancient Roman aqueduct.
  37. Mont Perdu: A mountain in the Pyrenees known for its rocky peaks and alpine landscapes.
  38. Salins-les-Bains, Saltworks of Salins-les-Bains: A valley with glacial lakes and glaciers.
  39. Roman Monuments, Nîmes: Roman monuments including an ancient theater, arena, and Maison Carrée.
  40. Vézelay, Church and Hill: A Romanesque basilica, an important pilgrimage site in the Middle Ages.
  41. Strasbourg, Grande île: The historic center of Strasbourg with landmarks including Notre-Dame Cathedral.
  42. Port-Royal-des-Champs, Royal Abbey: A 17th-century royal abbey with historical significance.
  43. Canal du Midi, Toulouse: A canal offering magnificent views of the French countryside.
  44. Arles, Roman and Romanesque Monuments: The city of Arles with Roman and Romanesque monuments.
  45. Peace Monuments in the Alps: Monuments and memorials commemorating the victims of World War I.
  46. Le Corbusier’s Architectural Works: Buildings designed by Le Corbusier, known for modern architecture.
  47. Taputapuātea: A cultural and religious center in Raiatea, considered significant in Polynesia.
  48. Nice, Historic Centre: The historic center of Nice with landmarks like Sainte-Réparate Cathedral.
  49. Chauvet Cave: A cave in Ardèche with the oldest known prehistoric paintings in Europe, dating back 36 000 years.

 

National parks: 11

 

  1. Calanques National Park
  2. Cévennes National Park
  3. Écrins National Park
  4. Guadeloupe National Park
  5. Guyana National Park
  6. Mercantour National Park
  7. Port-Cros National Park
  8. Pyrenees National Park
  9. Réunion National Park
  10. Vanoise National Park
  11. Forest National Park