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Discovering France

France is the largest country in Western Europe (almost one fifth of the total area of the European Union), with a vast maritime zone (exclusive economic zone extending over 11 million sq. km).

Capitale    Major Cities
Paris  Bordeaux, Lille, Lyon, Marseille, Nice, Nantes, Strasbourg, Toulon, Toulouse
Language Political System
Français  Républic
President Flag
François Hollande Three vertical stripes: blue, white, red
National Anthem National Motto
The Marseillaise Liberty, Equality, Fraternity
Area Population
260,711 mi²,
209,970 mi² of which are covered by Metropolitan Francee
 65,350,000 inhabitants in 2012
Currency GDP
  • 1,907.2 billion Euros (5th in the world)
  • €30,451.4 / capita

France is the most expansive country in the European Union and benefits from a wide variety of landscapes. Located on Europe’s western side, the metropolitan territory has over 3,400 miles of coastline stretching from the North Sea and along the Channel to the Atlantic Ocean in the west, and along the Mediterranean in the south. Several islands line the coasts, the largest of which is Corsica located in the Mediterranean.

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In the 1st century BC, Julius Caesar occupied a large part of the current territory, which at the time was called Gaul and mostly inhabited by peoples of Celtic origin. It was the Franks who gave their name to this country which they conquered in the 5th century. By pushing out the Romans and constituting a kingdom, Clovis put an end to the Gallo-Roman era. However, it wasn’t until the 9th century following a treaty that divided Charlemagne’s empire that France was born.

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Population and society
Political Organisation

The constitution of the 5th Republic, proclaimed on 4 October 1958, stipulates that “France is an indivisible, secular, democratic and social republic.” The President of the Republic is elected for a 5 year term by direct universal suffrage.

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Territorial Organisation

Metropolitan France is composed of territorial collectivities whose members are elected by direct universal suffrage: the communes, the departments and the regions.

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Cultural Heritage

France’s cultural heritage is the fruit of a long history and French passion for the arts. Some 750 pieces of property are classified on the UNESCO World Heritage List. The architectural heritage is particularly important, whether it be religious, civilian, military or industrial.

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The 5th largest economic power, France’s economy currently revolves around services which employ more than 70% of the active population. .

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A large network of road and rail transport covers the country.

The motorway network (more than 60,000 miles) crosses France from north to south and east to west.
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Source from Consulate General of France in Hong Kong and Macau