France Travel Information

Mother Earth Travel > Country Index > France > Map Economy History

Cities
Albi
Aix-en-Provence
Amboise
Arbois
Biarritz
Bordeaux
Cannes
Cognac
 
La Rochelle
Lille
Lyon
Marseille
Meribel
Montpellier
Nantes
Nice
Paris
Saint-Genix-Sur-Guiers
Sarlat
Strasbourg
Toulouse
Tours
WWF France The World Wide Fund For Nature in France.
Parc national de la Vanoise Vanoise is France's first national park.
Regional Nature Parks

Facts About France

Background: Although ultimately a victor in World Wars I and II, France suffered extensive losses in its empire, wealth, manpower, and rank as a dominant nation-state. Nevertheless, France today is one of the most modern countries in the world and is a leader among European nations. Since 1958, it has constructed a presidential democracy resistant to the instabilities experienced in earlier parliamentary democracies. In recent years, its reconciliation and cooperation with Germany have proved central to the economic integration of Europe, including the advent of the euro in January 1999. Presently, France is at the forefront of European states seeking to exploit the momentum of monetary union to advance the creation of a more unified and capable European defense and security apparatus.
Government type: republic
Capital: Paris
Currency: 1 French franc (F) = 100 centimes; euro (EUR)

Geography of France

Location: Western Europe, bordering the Bay of Biscay and English Channel, between Belgium and Spain, southeast of the UK; bordering the Mediterranean Sea, between Italy and Spain.
Geographic coordinates: 46 00 N, 2 00 E
Area:
total: 547,030 sq km
land: 545,630 sq km
water: 1,400 sq km
note: includes only metropolitan France, but excludes the overseas administrative divisions
Land boundaries:
total: 2,889 km
border countries: Andorra 56.6 km, Belgium 620 km, Germany 451 km, Italy 488 km, Luxembourg 73 km, Monaco 4.4 km, Spain 623 km, Switzerland 573 km
Coastline: 3,427 km
Maritime claims:
contiguous zone: 24 nm
continental shelf: 200-m depth or to the depth of exploitation
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm (does not apply to the Mediterranean)
territorial sea: 12 nm
Climate: generally cool winters and mild summers, but mild winters and hot summers along the Mediterranean
Terrain: mostly flat plains or gently rolling hills in north and west; remainder is mountainous, especially Pyrenees in south, Alps in east
Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Rhone River delta -2 m
highest point: Mont Blanc 4,807 m
Natural resources: coal, iron ore, bauxite, fish, timber, zinc, potash
Land use:
arable land: 33%
permanent crops: 2%
permanent pastures: 20%
forests and woodland: 27%
other: 18% (1993 est.)
Irrigated land: 16,300 sq km (1995 est.)
Natural hazards: flooding; avalanches
Environment - current issues: some forest damage from acid rain (major forest damage occurred as a result of severe December 1999 windstorm); air pollution from industrial and vehicle emissions; water pollution from urban wastes, agricultural runoff.
Environment - international agreements:
party to:  Air Pollution, Air Pollution-Nitrogen Oxides, Air Pollution-Sulphur 85, Air Pollution-Sulphur 94, Air Pollution-Volatile Organic Compounds, Antarctic-Environmental Protocol, Antarctic-Marine Living Resources, Antarctic Seals, Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Marine Life Conservation, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands, Whaling
signed, but not ratified:  Air Pollution-Persistent Organic Pollutants, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol
Geography - note: largest West European nation

People of France

Since prehistoric times, France has been a crossroads of trade, travel, and invasion. Three basic European ethnic stocks--Celtic, Latin, and Teutonic (Frankish)--have blended over the centuries to make up its present population. France's birth rate was among the highest in Europe from 1945 until the late 1960s. Since then, its birth rate has fallen but remains higher than that of most other west European countries. Traditionally, France has had a high level of immigration. About 90% of the people are Roman Catholic, less than 2% are Protestant, and about 1% are Jewish. More than 1 million Muslims immigrated in the 1960s and early 1970s from North Africa, especially Algeria. At the end of 1994, there were about 5 million persons of Muslim descent living in France.

Education is free, beginning at age 2, and mandatory between ages 6 and 16. The public education system is highly centralized. Private education is primarily Roman Catholic. Higher education in France began with the founding of the University of Paris in 1150. It now consists of 69 universities and special schools, such as the Grandes Ecoles, technical colleges, and vocational training institutions.

The French language derives from the vernacular Latin spoken by the Romans in Gaul, although it includes many Celtic and Germanic words. French has been an international language for centuries and is a common second language throughout the world. It is one of five official languages at the United Nations. In Africa, Asia, the Pacific, and the West Indies, French has been a unifying factor, particularly in those countries where it serves as the only common language among a variety of indigenous languages and dialects.

Population: 60,656,178 (July 2005 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years:  18.68% 
15-64 years:  65.19%
65 years and over:  16.13%
Population growth rate: 0.37% 
Birth rate: 12.1 births/1,000 population 
Death rate: 9.09 deaths/1,000 population 
Net migration rate: 0.64 migrant(s)/1,000 population 
Infant mortality rate: 4.46 deaths/1,000 live births 
Life expectancy at birth:
total population:  78.9 years
male:  75.01 years
female:  83.01 years 
Total fertility rate: 1.75 children born/woman 
Nationality:
noun: Frenchman(men), Frenchwoman(women)
adjective: French
Ethnic groups: Celtic and Latin with Teutonic, Slavic, North African, Indochinese, Basque minorities
Religions: Roman Catholic 90%, Protestant 2%, Jewish 1%, Muslim (North African workers) 3%, unaffiliated 4%
Languages: French 100%, rapidly declining regional dialects and languages (Provencal, Breton, Alsatian, Corsican, Catalan, Basque, Flemish)
Literacy:
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 99%
male: 99%
female: 99% (1980 est.)

SOURCES: The World Factbook, U.S. Department of State

Mother Earth Travel > Country Index > France > Map Economy History