France lies on the western edge of the continent of Europe and it is the second-largest country on the continent. France is bounded on the North by the North Sea and Belgium, it shares borders with Luxembourg, Germany, on the East with Switzerland, Italy Monaco, on the South West with Andorra, and Spain. Due to its overseas departments, France shares land borders with Brazil and Suriname (bordering French Guiana), and the Netherlands Antilles (bordering Saint-Martin).
France is linked to the United Kingdom by the Channel Tunnel, which passes underneath the English Channel. Being one of the world’s top economic powers, France has been one of the top host countries of foreign investment for years. Every year, around 630 foreign investment projects are launched in France. Some 20,000 international companies have already chosen for France as their business destination.
In this Country Profile
:: Background of France ::
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 hybrid presidential-parliamentary governing system resistant to the instabilities experienced in earlier more purely parliamentary administrations. In recent years, its reconciliation and cooperation with Germany have proved central to the economic integration of Europe, including the introduction of a common exchange currency, the euro, in January 1999. At present, France is at the forefront of efforts to develop the EU’s military capabilities to supplement progress toward an EU foreign policy.
:: Geography of France ::
metropolitan France: 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.
French Guiana: Northern South America, bordering the North Atlantic Ocean, between Brazil and Suriname.
Guadeloupe: Caribbean, islands between the Caribbean Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean, southeast of Puerto Rico.
Martinique: Caribbean, island between the Caribbean Sea and North Atlantic Ocean, north of Trinidad and Tobago.
Reunion: Southern Africa, island in the Indian Ocean, east of Madagascar.
metropolitan France: 46 00 N, 2 00 E
French Guiana: 4 00 N, 53 00 W
Guadeloupe: 16 15 N, 61 35 W
Martinique: 14 40 N, 61 00 W
Reunion: 21 06 S, 55 36 E
total: 643,427 sq km; 547,030 sq km (metropolitan France)
land: 640,053 sq km; 545,630 sq km (metropolitan France)
water: 3,374 sq km; 1,400 sq km (metropolitan France)
note: the first numbers include the overseas regions of French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Martinique, and Reunion
Area – comparative: slightly less than the size of Texas
metropolitan France – 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
French Guiana – total: 1,183 km
border countries: Brazil 673 km, Suriname 510 km
territorial sea: 12 nm
contiguous zone: 24 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm (does not apply to the Mediterranean)
continental shelf: 200-m depth or to the depth of exploitation
metropolitan France: generally cool winters and mild summers, but mild winters and hot summers along the Mediterranean; occasional strong, cold, dry, north-to-northwesterly wind known as mistral.
French Guiana: tropical; hot, humid; little seasonal temperature variation
Guadeloupe and Martinique: subtropical tempered by trade winds; moderately high humidity; rainy season (June to October); vulnerable to devastating cyclones (hurricanes) every eight years on average.
Reunion: tropical, but temperature moderates with elevation; cool and dry (May to November), hot and rainy. (November to April)
metropolitan France: mostly flat plains or gently rolling hills in north and west; remainder is mountainous, especially Pyrenees in south, Alps in east.
French Guiana: low-lying coastal plains rising to hills and small mountains.
Guadeloupe: Basse-Terre is volcanic in origin with interior mountains; Grande-Terre is low limestone formation; most of the seven other islands are volcanic in origin.
Martinique: mountainous with indented coastline; dormant volcano.
Reunion: mostly rugged and mountainous; fertile lowlands along coast.
lowest point: Rhone River delta -2 m
highest point: Mont Blanc 4,807 m
metropolitan France: coal, iron ore, bauxite, zinc, uranium, antimony, arsenic, potash, feldspar, fluorspar, gypsum, timber, fish.
French Guiana: gold deposits, petroleum, kaolin, niobium, tantalum, clay.
arable land: 33.46%
permanent crops: 2.03%
note: French Guiana – arable land 0.13%, permanent crops 0.04%, other 99.83% (90% forest, 10% other); Guadeloupe – arable land 11.70%, permanent crops 2.92%, other 85.38%; Martinique – arable land 9.09%, permanent crops 10.0%, other 80.91%; Reunion – arable land 13.94%, permanent crops 1.59%, other 84.47% (2005)
metropolitan France: flooding; avalanches; midwinter windstorms; drought; forest fires in south near the Mediterranean.
overseas departments: hurricanes (cyclones), flooding, volcanic activity (Guadeloupe, Martinique, Reunion)
Environment – current issues: some forest damage from acid rain; 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-Persistent Organic Pollutants, Air Pollution-Sulfur 85, Air Pollution-Sulfur 94, Air Pollution-Volatile Organic Compounds, Antarctic-Environmental Protocol, Antarctic-Marine Living Resources, Antarctic Seals, Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, 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: none of the selected agreements.
:: People of France ::
note: 62,150,775 in metropolitan France (July 2008 est.)
0-14 years: 18.6% (male 6,091,571/female 5,803,127)
15-64 years: 65.2% (male 20,884,919/female 20,849,988)
65 years and over: 16.3% (male 4,335,996/female 6,092,189) (2008 est.)
total: 39.2 years
male: 37.7 years
female: 40.7 years (2008 est.)
Population growth rate: 0.574% (2008 est.)
Birth rate: 12.73 births/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Death rate: 8.48 deaths/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Net migration rate : 1.48 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2008 est.)
at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.71 male(s)/female
total population: 0.96 male(s)/female (2008 est.)
Infant mortality rate:
total: 3.36 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 3.69 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 3.02 deaths/1,000 live births (2008 est.)
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 80.87 years
male: 77.68 years
female: 84.23 years (2008 est.)
Total fertility rate: 1.98 children born/woman (2008 est.)
HIV/AIDS – adult prévalence rate: 0.4% (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS – people living with HIV/AIDS: 120,000 (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS – deaths: fewer than 1,000 (2003 est.)
Nationality: noun: Frenchman(men), Frenchwoman(women) adjective: French
Ethnic groups: Celtic and Latin with Teutonic, Slavic, North African, Indochinese, Basque minorities. Overseas departments: black, white, mulatto, East Indian, Chinese, Amerindian.
Religions: Roman Catholic 83%-88%, Protestant 2%, Jewish 1%, Muslim 5%-10%, unaffiliated 4%. Overseas departments: Roman Catholic, Protestant, Hindu, Muslim, Buddhist, pagan.
Languages: French 100%, rapidly declining regional dialects and languages (Provencal, Breton, Alsatian, Corsican, Catalan, Basque, Flemish). Overseas departments: French, Creole patois.
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 99%
female: 99% (2003 est.)