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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.

  • République Française France has no national coat of arms but it does have a national emblem : Marianne 

National motto: Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité
(Liberty, Equality, Brotherhood) 

  • Official language French 

  • Capital Paris 
  • Largest City Paris 
  • President Jacques Chirac 
  • Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin 
Ranked 20th 
- Total
547,030 km² ¹
- % water
Ranked 47th
- Total (2003)
60,180,529 ¹
- Density
Time zone 
UTC +1 (CET) (DST +2) 
National anthem
La Marseillaise 
Internet TLD
Calling Code

(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): 

The highest:

  • 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. 

Other stats:

  • 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. 

History Main article: History of France  

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.


Politics Main article: Politics of France  

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.


Demographics Main article: Demographics of France  

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.


67 Bas-Rhin
8 Haut-Rhin 


24 Dordogne 
33 Gironde 
40 Landes 
47 Lot-et-Garonne 
64 Pyrénées-Atlantiques


03 Allier 
15 Cantal 
43 Haute-Loire 
63 Puy-de-Dôme


14 Calvados 
50 Manche 
61 Orne 

Bourgogne (Burgundy) 

21 Côte-d'Or 
58 Nièvre 
71 Saône-et-Loire 
89 Yonne 

Bretagne (Brittany) 

22 Côtes-d'Armor 
29 Finistère 
35 Ille-et-Vilaine 
56 Morbihan 


18 Cher 
28 Eure-et-Loir 
36 Indre 
37 Indre-et-Loire 
41 Loir-et-Cher 
45 Loiret 


08 Ardennes 
10 Aube 
51 Marne 
52 Haute-Marne 

Corse (Corsica) 

2A Corse-du-Sud 
2B Haute-Corse 


25 Doubs 
39 Jura 
70 Haute-Saône 
90 Territoire-de-Belfort 


27 Eure 
76 Seine-Maritime 


75 Paris 
77 Seine-et-Marne 
78 Yvelines 
91 Essonne 
92 Hauts-de-Seine 
93 Seine-Saint-Denis 
94 Val-de-Marne 
95 Val-d'Oise 


11 Aude 
30 Gard 
34 Hérault 
48 Lozère 
66 Pyrénées-Orientales 


19 Corrèze 
23 Creuse 
87 Haute-Vienne 


54 Meurthe-et-Moselle 
55 Meuse 
57 Moselle 
88 Vosges 


09 Ariège 
12 Aveyron 
31 Haute-Garonne 
32 Gers 
46 Lot 
65 Hautes-Pyrénées 
81 Tarn 
82 Tarn-et-Garonne 


59 Nord 
62 Pas-de-Calais 


44 Loire-Atlantique 
49 Maine-et-Loire 
53 Mayenne 
72 Sarthe 
85 Vendée 


02 Aisne 
60 Oise 
80 Somme 


16 Charente 
17 Charente-Maritime 
79 Deux-Sèvres 

86 Vienne 

Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur 

04 Alpes-de-Haute-Provence 
05 Hautes-Alpes 
06 Alpes-Maritimes 
13 Bouches-du-Rhône 
83 Var 
84 Vaucluse 


01 Ain 
07 Ardèche 
26 Drôme 
38 Isère 
42 Loire 
69 Rhône 
73 Savoie 
74 Haute-Savoie 

Départements d'outre mer (DOM)
(Overseas departments), each of them being a département and a region at the same time: 

971 Guadeloupe 
972 Martinique 
973 French Guiana 
974 Réunion 

Collectivités territoriales (Territorial Collectivities): 

975 Saint-Pierre and Miquelon 
976 Mayotte 

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.

Daylight Savings Time:

As decided upon by the European Parliament, daylight savings time in the European Union 

  • begins on the last Sunday of March at 
  • ends on the last Sunday of October at

Geography Main article: Geography of France

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.

Economy Main article: Economy of France

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: 

  • Roman Catholic 83-88%,

  • Protestant 2%,
  • Jewish 1%, 
  • Muslim (North African workers) 5-10%, unaffiliated 4%

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.


Culture Main article: Culture of France  

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.

Miscellaneous topics  

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.

International rankings  

  • 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 


External links  



Date English Name Local Name Remarks
January 1 New Year's Day Jour de l'An  
January 6 Epiphany Fête des Rois (not a public holiday)
February 2 Candlemas La Chandeleur (not a public holiday)
- Easter Pâques Sunday, date varies
- Easter Monday Lundi de Pâques Monday after Easter 
May 1 Labour Day Fête du Travail  
May 8 V-E Day Victoire 1945 End of WWII
- Ascension Day Ascension Thursday, 40 days after Easter
- Pentecost Pentecôte Seventh Sunday after Easter
July 14 Bastille Day Fête Nationale National Day
August 15 Assumption Assomption  
November 1 All Saints Day Toussaint  
November 11 Veterans Day
Armistice Day
Remembrance Day
Armistice 1918 End of WWI
December 25 Christmas Day Noël  

The government is considering the suppression of Pentecost as a public holiday.    

Credits : This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "France".


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