Facts about France
The French Republic or France (French République Française), is a country located in western Europe, bordered by Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Monaco, Andorra, and Spain. It is a founding member of the European Union
The French Republic or France (French République Française), is a country located in western Europe, bordered by Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Monaco, Andorra, and Spain. It is a founding member of the European Union.
National motto: Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité
(Liberty, Equality, Brotherhood)
547,030 km² ¹
- % water
- Total (2003)
UTC +1 (CET) (DST +2)
(1) Data for European (metropolitan) France
(2) Prior to 1999: French franc
More statistics about France which are obviously continually changing... but these will give you a good idea of interesting facts about France
36 000 towns and villages,
964 356 km (599,240 miles) of roads
31 940 km (19,847 miles) of railway.
3120 km (= 1939 miles) (including inlets and bays);
1600 km (995 miles) as the crow flies.
4 sea fronts (the North Sea, the Channel, the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean) with
5500 km (3,418 miles) of coastline
The largest beach in Europe at La Baule (Loire-Atlantique department).
(12 km - 7.5 miles):
Sand dune: Dune de Pilat - 150 m (492 feet) (the Gironde département of Aquitaine)
The highest mountain in Western Europe: Mont Blanc, ascending to 4807 meters (15,771 feet), in the Savoy Alps
Inhabited village (2200 m - 7218 feet) Saint-Véran (Hautes-Alpes)
Skiable area of 1,950 km2 equipped with 4200 ski lifts and 13000 km (8,078 miles) of downhill ski pistes.
6000 species of plant life (200 specific to France)
365 different sorts of cheese - one for every day of the year
About 450 AOC wines!
15 million hectares of forest.
France has 35,000 boulangeries (bakeries). Buy a baguette, a ficelle, a flûte, a boule, an épi or a longuet and enjoy!
3.7 million tons of bread consumed every year,
25 million cars,
750 000 associations,
16 million dogs and cats owned by 51% of households,
36 673 mayors,
600 000 farmers,
780 000 shopkeepers, 1000 hypermarkets, 7000 supermarkets,
816 000 craftsmen.
The borders of modern France closely match those of the ancient territory of Gaul, inhabited by the Gauls, a Celtic people.
Gaul was conquered by the Romans in the first century BC, and the Gauls eventually adopted Romance speech and culture. Christianity also took root in the second and third centuries AD.
Gaul's eastern frontiers along the Rhine were overrun by Germanic tribes in the fourth century AD, principally the Franks, from which the ancient name of "Francie" derived, modern name "France" derives from the name of the feudal domain of the Capetian Kings of France, around Paris (now Île-de-France).
Although the French monarchy is often dated to the 5th century, France's continuous existence as a separate entity begins with the 9th-century division of Charlemagne's Frankish empire into an eastern and a western part.
The eastern part can be regarded the beginnings of what is now Germany, the western part that of France.
Charlemagne's descendants ruled France until 987, when Hugh Capet, Duke of France and Count of Paris, was crowned King of France.
His descendants, starting with the Capetian dynasty, ruled France until 1792, when the French Revolution established a Republic, in a period of increasingly radical change that began in 1789.
Napoleon Bonaparte seized control of the republic in 1799, making himself Emperor.
His armies engaged in several wars across Europe, conquered many countries and established new kingdoms with Napoleon's family members at the helm.
Following his defeat in 1815, monarchial rule was restored to France, which was then legislatively abolished and followed by a Second Republic.
The second republic ended when the late Emperor's nephew, Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte was elected President and proclaimed a Second Empire.
Less ambitious than his uncle, the second Napoleon was also ultimately unseated, and republican rule returned for a third time.
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.
Since 1958, it has constructed a presidential democracy (known as the Fifth Republic) that has not succumbed to the instabilities experienced in earlier more parliamentary regimes.
In recent decades, France's reconciliation and cooperation with Germany have proved central to the economic integration of Europe, including the introduction of the Euro in January 1999.
Today, 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 political, defense and security apparatus.
It is also one of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council.
The constitution of the Fifth Republic was approved by public referendum on September 28, 1958. It greatly strengthened the authority of the executive in relation to Parliament.
Under the constitution, the president is elected directly for a 5-year (originally 7-year) term.
Presidential arbitration assures regular functioning of the public powers and the continuity of the state. The president names the prime minister, presides over the cabinet, commands the armed forces, and concludes treaties.
The National Assembly (Assemblée Nationale) is the principal legislative body. Its deputies are directly elected to 5-year terms, and all seats are voted on in each election. Senators are chosen by an electoral college for 9-year terms, and one-third of the Senate is renewed every 3 years.
The Senate's legislative powers are limited; the National Assembly has the last word in the event of a disagreement between the two houses. The government has a strong influence in shaping the agenda of Parliament.
The official language is French, with several regional languages (including Basque, Breton, Catalan, Corsican, Dutch (Flemish), German (Alsatian), Occitan and Oïl languages), but the French government and school system discouraged the use of any of them until recently.
The regional languages are now taught at some schools, though French remains the only official language in use by the government, local or national.
Administrative divisions of France, List of regions in France
France has 26 regions (French: région), which are further subdivided into 100 départements. The departments are numbered (mainly alphabetically) and this number is used in e.g. postal codes and vehicle number plates.
Départements d'outre mer (DOM)
(Overseas departments), each of them being a département and a region at the same time:
973 French Guiana
Collectivités territoriales (Territorial Collectivities):
975 Saint-Pierre and Miquelon
Pays et Territoires d'outre-mer (PTOM) (Overseas Countries and Territories):
986 Wallis and Futuna
987 French Polynesia
988 New Caledonia (pays d'outre mer from 1998)
French Southern and Antarctic Territories (including France's Antarctic claim)
The departments are further subdivided into 342 arrondissements.
The overseas departments are former colonies outside France that now enjoy a status similar to European or metropolitan France.
They are considered to be a part of France (and the EU) rather than dependent territories, and each of them is a region at the same time.
The overseas territories and countries form part of the French Republic, but do not form part of the Republic's European territory or the EU fiscal area.
They continue to use the French Pacific Franc as their currency, which was unaffected by the French franc's replacement by the Euro in 2002.
The territorial collectivities have an intermediate status between overseas department and overseas territory.
France also maintains control over a number of other small islands in the Indian Ocean and the Pacific, including Bassas da India, Clipperton Island, Europa Island, Glorioso Islands, Juan de Nova Island, Tromelin Island.
France has a temperate climate, and is made up of four broad climatic zones:
- the humid seaboard zone west of the line Bayonne-Lille with cool summers;
- a semi-continental zone with cold winters and hot summers in Alsace-Lorraine, along the rhodanian corridor and in the mountainous massifs (Alps, Pyrénées, Massif Central);
- an intermediate zone with cold winters and hot summers in the North, the Paris region and the central region;
- a Mediterranean zone with mild winters and very hot summers in the south of France.
As decided upon by the European Parliament, daylight savings time in the European Union
- begins on the last Sunday of March at 2:00.am
- ends on the last Sunday of October at 3:00.am
France possesses a large variety of landscapes, ranging from coastal plains in the north and west, where France borders the North Sea and the Atlantic Ocean, to the mountain ranges in the south (the Pyrenees) and the southeast (the Alps), of which the latter contains the highest point of Europe, the Mont Blanc at 4810 m.
In between are found other elevated regions such as the Massif Central or the Vosges mountains and extensive river basins such as those of the Loire River, the Rhone River, the Garonne and Seine.
France's economy combines extensive private enterprise with substantial, but declining, government intervention.
Large tracts of fertile land, the application of modern technology, and subsidies have combined to make France the leading agricultural producer in Western Europe.
Even after the loss of Algeria in the sixties, the French economy remains one of the most important and influential economies in the world.
France also has a leading aerospace industry and is the only European power, after Russia, to have its own national space center.
The government retains considerable influence over key segments of infrastructure sectors, with majority ownership of railway, electricity, aircraft, and telecommunication firms.
It has been gradually relaxing its control over these sectors since the early 1990s. The government is slowly selling off holdings in France Telecom, Air France, as well as the insurance, banking, and defense industries.
France joined 10 other EU members to launch the euro on January 1, 1999, with euro coins and banknotes completely replacing the French franc in early 2002.
From the end of WWII the government is making enormous efforts to integrate their economy more and more with Germany to form what is today called the Franco German locomotive that pushes the rest of the European Union to become the most powerful economy in the world of all time.
Following from the 1789 Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, France guarantees freedom of religion as a constitutional right.
A 1905 law instituted the separation of Church and State and prohibited the government from recognizing, salarying or subsidizing any religion.
In the preceding situation, established 1801-1808 of the Concordat, the State used to support the Roman Catholic Church, the Lutheran Church, the Calvinist Church and the Jewish religion and provided for public religious educations in those religions (for historical reasons, this situation is still current in Alsace-Moselle).
The French government does not keep statistics as to religion.
The 2003 CIA World Factbook lists the religion of France as:
It is unclear where these numbers come from.
However, in a recent poll 41% said that the existence of God was "excluded" or "unlikely". 33% declared that "atheist" described them rather or very well, and 51% for "Christian".
When questioned about their religion, 62% answered Roman Catholic, 6% Muslim, 2% Protestant, 1% Jewish, 2% "other religions" (except for Orthodox or Buddhist, which were negligible), 26% "no religion" and 1% declined to answer.
The discrepancy between the number of "atheists" (41%) and the number of with "no religion" (26%) may be attributed to people who feel culturally close to a religion, follow its moral values and traditions, but hardly believe in God.
In France, there is a strong gap between civilian life and religion. Religion is considered as private as possible. French people in general are opposed to clerical power and its influence in policy.
Islamic fundamentalism is considered as a real threat for the cohesion of the french society where communitarism is not accepted.
This had already occurred in the past with Catholics before the French Revolution in 1789.
The culture of France is noted for its cosmopolitan, civilised approach to life, combined with great concern for style, fashion and appearances.
French people are sometimes perceived as taking a great pride in the national identity and positive achievements of France, although many French people would argue that all nations tend to do that.
French people address each other with formality, calling each other Madame, Mademoiselle or Monsieur in a way which may seem formulaic to outsiders, but signifies a respect for the individual which permeates the French way of life.
The French value family life, the art of cooking good food and enjoyment of theatrical and musical arts.
Description of the flag: Main Article, Many pictures of the French flag
Three equal vertical bands of blue (hoist side), white, and red; known as the drapeau tricolore (Tricolor Flag); the design and colors are similar to a number of other flags, including those of Belgium, Chad, Ireland, Côte d'Ivoire, and Luxembourg; the official flag for all French dependent areas
The foundation of France may be dated to 486 (unified by Clovis I).
The national holiday is the Fête Nationale (National Day), celebrating the Taking of the Bastille, July 14 (1789), often referred to as Bastille Day in English.
The capital and most populous city, Paris, is home to the Eiffel Tower, a tower of girdered puddled iron constructed in 1889.
The Palace of Versailles is the number one tourist destination in France followed by the great châteaux of the Loire Valley.
Principal cities include:
Aix-en-Provence, Ajaccio, Albi, Amiens, Angers, Angouleme, Avignon, Bastia, Belfort, Besançon, Bordeaux, Brest, Caen, Calais, Cannes, Carcassonne, Charleville-Mézières, Clermont-Ferrand, Colmar, Dijon, Dunkerque, Evreux, Grenoble, La Rochelle, Le Havre, Le Mans, Lille, Limoges, Lyon, Marseille, Metz, Montpellier, Mulhouse, Nancy, Nantes, Nice, Nîmes, Orléans, Paris, Perpignan, Poitiers, Quimper, Reims, Rennes, Roubaix, Rouen, Saint-Étienne, Saint-Nazaire, Strasbourg, Tarbes, Toulon, Toulouse, Tourcoing, Tours and Valence.
Total GDP in US dollars, 2002: 5th (out of 185)
Total value of foreign trade (imports and exports) in US dollars, 2002: 4th (out of 185)
Human Development Index, 2001: 17th (out of 175)
world-wide press freedom index
Rank 11 out of 139 countries