French Republic

République française
Flag National emblem
Liberté, égalité, fraternité
(Liberty, Equality, Fraternity)
Anthem: La Marseillaise

Location of  Metropolitan France  (dark green)

– in Europe  (green & dark grey)
– in the Legend]

Territory of the French Republic in the world1
(and largest city)
48°51.4′N 2°21.05′E / 48.8567°N 2.35083°E / 48.8567; 2.35083
Official languages French[note 1]
Demonym French
Government constitutional republic
 -  President François Hollande
 -  Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault
Legislature Parliament
 -  Upper house Senate
 -  Lower house National Assembly
 -  Francia 486 (Unification by Clovis
 -  West Francia 843 (Treaty of Verdun
 -  French First Republic 1792 (National Convention
 -  Current constitution 4 October 1958 (5th Republic
 -  Total[note 2] 674,843 km2 (41st)
260,558 sq mi 
 -  Metropolitan France
  IGN[note 3] 551,695 km2 (47th)
213,010 sq mi
  Cadastre[note 4] 543,965 km2 (47th)
210,026  sq mi
  (2012 estimate)
 -  Total[note 2] 65,350,00019th)
 -  Metropolitan France 63,460,00022nd)
 -  Density[note 5] 116/km2 (89th)
301/sq mi
GDP (PPP) 2012 estimate
 -  Total $2.253 trillion9th)
 -  Per capita $35,52024th)
GDP (nominal) 2012 estimate
 -  Total $2.580 trillion5th)
 -  Per capita $40,69020th)
Gini (2008) 28.9[4] 
HDI (2011) Increase 0.88420th)
Currency Euro,[note 7]
  (    XPF)
Time zone CET[note 8] (UTC+1)
 -  Summer (DST) CESTUTC+2)
Drives on the right
ISO 3166 code FR
Internet TLD .fr[note 10]
Calling code 33[note 11]
1. Excluding Adélie Land in Antarctica, where sovereignty is suspended.

France (English Listeni/ˈfræns/ FRANSS or /ˈfrɑːns/ FRAHNSS; French: [fʁɑ̃s] ( listen)), officially the French Republic (French: République française French pronunciation: ​[ʁepyblik fʁɑ̃sɛz]), is a unitary semi-presidential republic located mostly in Western Europe,[note 12] with several overseas regions and territories. Metropolitan France extends from the Mediterranean Sea to the English Channel and the North Sea, and from the Rhine to the Atlantic Ocean. From its shape, it is often referred to in French as l’Hexagone (“The Hexagon“).

France is the largest country in Western Europe and the third-largest in Europe as a whole. It possesses the second-largest exclusive economic zone in the world. France has been a major power with strong cultural, economic, military, and political influence in Europe and around the world.[6] France has its main ideals expressed in the 18th-century Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen. From the 17th to the early 20th century, France built the second-largest colonial empire of the time, ruling large portions of first North America and India and then Northwest and Central Africa; Madagascar; Indochina and southeast China; and many Caribbean and Pacific Islands.

France is a [12]

France has the world’s Corruption Perceptions Index.



The name “France” comes from the slave.



One of the paintings of Dordogne, approximately 18,000 BC).

The oldest traces of human life in what is now France date from approximately 1,800,000 years ago.Dordogne, approximately 18,000 BC).

At the end of the Morbihan, approximately 3,300 BC).


In 600 BC, [23]

Gallic tribes before the Southern Gaul was already under Roman control (yellow) in 59 BC.

The concept of ransomed Rome.

The Gallic invasion left Rome weakened and encouraged several subdued Italian tribes to rebel. One by one, over the course of the next 50 years, these tribes were defeated and brought back under Roman dominion. The Gauls continued to harass the region until 345 BC, when they entered into a formal peace treaty with Rome. But the Romans and the Gauls would maintain an adversarial relationship for the next several centuries and the Gauls would remain a threat in Italia.

Around 125 BC, the south of Gaul was conquered by the Romans, who called this region Provincia Romana (“Roman Province”), which over time evolved into the name [25]

Gaul was divided by syncretism.

Around the 3rd century AD, Roman Gaul underwent a serious crisis with its “Battle of Châlons in 274, which saw Gaul reincorporated in the Roman Empire.

Nevertheless, the situation improved in the first half of the 4th century, which was a period of revival and prosperity for Roman Gaul.[31]


Frankish expansion from the early Charlemagne’s Empire (843/870).

At the end of the Antiquity period, ancient Gaul was divided into several Germanic kingdoms (Early Francia (North), Alamannia (North-East), Burgundia (East), Septimania (South), Visigothic Aquitania (South East)) and a remaining Gallo-Roman territory, known as the Kingdom of Syagrius (West). Simultaneously, Celtic Britons, fleeing the Anglo-Saxon invasion of Britannia, settled the western part of Armorica (far West of Gaul). As a result, the Armorican peninsula was renamed Brittany, Celtic culture was revived and independent petty kingdoms arose in this region.

The pagan Franks, from whom the ancient name of “Francie” was derived, originally settled the northern part of Gaul, but under Clovis I conquered most of the other kingdoms in northern and central Gaul. In 498, Clovis I was the first Germanic conqueror after the fall of the Roman Empire to convert to Catholic Christianity, rather than Arianism; thus France was given the title “Eldest daughter of the Church” (French: La fille aînée de l’Église) by the papacy,[32] and the French kings would be called “the Most Christian Kings of France” (Rex Christianissimus).

With Clovis’ conversion to Catholicism in 498, the divine right.

The Franks embraced the Christian Gallo-Roman heritage and ancient Gaul was eventually renamed Francia (“Land of the Franks”). The Germanic Franks adopted Romanic languages, except in northern Gaul where Roman settlements were less dense and where Germanic languages emerged. Clovis made Paris his capital and established the Merovingian dynasty, but his kingdom would not survive his death. The Franks treated land purely as a private possession and divided it among their heirs, so four kingdoms emerged from Clovis’s: Paris, Orléans, Soissons, and Rheims. The last Merovingian kings, sometimes referred as Rois fainéants (“lazy kings”), effectively lost power to their mayors of the palace. One mayor of the palace, Charles Martel, defeated a Muslim invasion force from Hispania at the Battle of Tours (732) and earned respect and power within the Frankish kingdoms. His son, Pepin the Short, eventually seized the crown of Francia from the weakened Merovingians and founded the Carolingian dynasty. Pepin’s son, Charlemagne, reunited the Frankish kingdoms and built a vast empire across Western and Central Europe.

Proclaimed Holy Roman Emperor by Pope Leo III and thus establishing in earnest the French government’s longtime historical association with the Roman Catholic Church,[33] Charlemagne tried to revive the Western Roman Empire and its cultural grandeur, from his Palace of Aachen. The efficient administration of this immense empire was ensured by high-level civil servants, carrying the, then non-hereditary, titles of counts (in charge of a County), marquis (in charge of a March), dukes (military commanders), etc.

French territorial evolution from 985 to 1947.

Charlemagne’s son, Louis I (emperor 814–840), kept the empire united; however, this Carolingian Empire would not survive his death. In 843, under the Treaty of Verdun, the empire was divided between Louis’ three sons, with East Francia going to Louis the German, Middle Francia to Lothair I, and West Francia to Charles the Bald. Western Francia approximated the area occupied by, and was the precursor, to modern France.[34]

During the course of the 9th and 10th centuries, continually threatened by Normandy) and the equal of (as king of England) to the king of France.

Kingdom of France

The Carolingian dynasty ruled France until 987, when [37]

Hundred Years’ War which paved the way for the final victory.

The Albigensian Crusade was launched in 1209 to eliminate the heretical Cathars in the south-western area of modern-day France. In the end, the Cathars were exterminated and the autonomous County of Toulouse was annexed into the kingdom of France.[38] Later Kings expanded their territory to cover over half of modern continental France, including most of the North, Centre and West of France. Meanwhile, the royal authority became more and more assertive, centred around a hierarchically conceived society distinguishing nobility, clergy, and commoners.


However, Philip’s seat on the throne was contested by Edward III of England and in 1337, on the eve of the first wave of the English Kings remained extensive for decades.

With charismatic leaders, such as [43]

The Edict of Nantes (1598).

The French Renaissance saw a long set of wars, known as the Great Italian Wars, between the Kingdom of France and the powerful Holy Roman Empire. It also saw the first standardization of the French language, which would become the official language of France and the language of Europe’s aristocracy. French explorers, such as Jacques Cartier or Samuel de Champlain, claimed lands in the Americas for France, paving the way for the expansion of the First French colonial empire.

The rise of Protestantism in Europe led France to a civil war known as the French Wars of Religion, where, in the most notorious incident, thousands of Huguenots were murdered in the St. Bartholomew’s Day massacre of 1572.[44] The Wars of Religion were ended by Henry IV‘s Edict of Nantes, which granted some freedom of religion to the Huguenots. Henry IV was later murdered by a Catholic fanatic and Huguenot rebellions persisted until the 18th century.

Under rise of royal power in France.

absolute monarch of France and made France the leading European power.

The monarchy reached its peak during the 17th century and the reign of Louis XIV. By turning powerful feudal lords into courtiers at the Palace of Versailles, Louis XIV’s personal power became unchallenged. Remembered for his numerous wars, he made France the leading European power of the time. At this time, France possessed the largest population in Europe (see Demographics of France) and had tremendous influence over European politics, economy, and culture. French became the most-used language in diplomacy, science, literature and international affairs, and remained so until the 20th century.[45] In addition, France obtained many overseas possessions in the Americas, Africa and Asia. Louis XIV also revoked the Edict of Nantes, forcing thousands of Huguenots to exile.

Under [47]

American Revolution and the financial crisis which followed France’s involvement in the war were two of the many contributing factors to the French Revolution.

Much of the authority, undermined the power of and support for the monarchy and helped pave the way for the French Revolution.

Republics and Empires

After the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, France established fundamental rights for French citizens and all men without exception. The Declaration affirms “the natural and imprescriptible rights of man” to “liberty, property, security and resistance to oppression”. It called for the destruction of aristocratic privileges (such as exemptions from taxation) and proclaimed freedom and equal rights for all men, as well as access to public office based on talent rather than birth. The monarchy was restricted, and all citizens were to have the right to take part in the legislative process. Freedom of speech and press were declared, and arbitrary arrests outlawed. The Declaration also asserted the principles of popular sovereignty, in contrast to the divine right of kings that characterized the French monarchy, and social equality among citizens, eliminating the privileges of the nobility and clergy.

vast Empire across Europe. He helped to spread the French revolutionary ideals and his legal reforms had a major influence worldwide.

While Louis XVI, as a abolition of the monarchy and the establishment of a republic became an ever increasing possibility.

As European Republic was proclaimed on 22 September 1792.

Louis XVI (and later his wife Marie Antoinette) was convicted of treason and guillotined in 1793. Facing increasing pressures from European monarchies, internal guerrilla wars and counterrevolutions (like the War in the Vendée or the Chouannerie), the young Republic fell into the Reign of Terror. Between 1793 and 1794, 16,000 to 40,000 persons were executed. In Western France, the civil war between the Bleus (the “Blues”, supporters of the Revolution) and the Blancs (the “Whites”, supporters of the Monarchy) last from 1793 to 1796 and cost around 450,000 lives (200,000 Patriotes and 250,000 Vendéens).[50] Both foreign armies and French counterrevolutionnaries were crushed and the French Republic survived. Furthermore, the French Republic extended greatly its boundaries and established “Sister Republics” in the surrounding countries. As the threat of a foreign invasion receded and that France became mostly pacified, the Thermidorian Reaction put an end to the Terror and to Robespierre‘s dictature. The abolition of slavery and the male universal suffrage, enacted during this radical phase of the revolution, were cancelled by subsequent governments.

Animated map of the growth and decline of the French colonial empire.

After a [51]

After his brief return from exile, Napoleon was finally defeated in 1815 at the Battle of Waterloo, the monarchy was re-established (1815–1830), with new constitutional limitations. The discredited Bourbon dynasty was overthrown by the civil uprising of 1830, which established the constitutional July Monarchy, which lasted until 1848, when the French Second Republic was proclaimed, in the wake of the 1848 European revolutions. The abolition of slavery and the male universal suffrage, both briefly enacted during the French Revolution were finally re-enacted in 1848. In 1852, the president of the French Republic Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte, Napoleon I’s nephew, was proclaimed emperor of the second Empire, as Napoleon III. He multiplied French interventions abroad, especially in Crimea, in Mexico and Italy, which resulted in the annexation of Savoy and Nice. Napoleon III was eventually unseated following defeat in the Franco-Prussian war of 1870 and his regime was replaced by the Third Republic.

France had sovereignty reached 12,898,000 square kilometres (4,980,000 sq mi) in the 1920s and 1930s, which is 8.6% of the world’s land area.

Charles de Gaulle took an active part in all major events of the 20th century : a hero of World War I, leader of the Free French during World War II, he then became President, where he facilitated the decolonization, maintained France as a major power and overcame the May 1968 revolt.

France was a member of the Axis powers and French sovereignty was restored.

The French overseas departments and territories.

In the wake of a May 1968 revolt, although a political failure for the protesters, had an enormous social impact. In France, it is considered to be the watershed moment when a conservative moral ideal (religion, patriotism, respect for authority) shifted towards a more liberal moral ideal.

France has been at the forefront of the European Union member states seeking to exploit the momentum of monetary union to create a more unified and capable European Union political, defence, and security apparatus.[56]


A relief map of Metropolitan France, showing cities with over 100,000 inhabitants.

Metropolitan France is situated mostly between latitudes 41° and 51° N (Dunkirk is just north of 51°), and longitudes 6° W and 10° E, on the western edge of Europe, and thus lies within the northern temperate zone

From southwest to northeast, France shares borders with Spain, Andorra, Monaco, Italy, Switzerland, Germany, Luxembourg, and Belgium. France also borders Suriname to its west and Brazil to its east and south, by way of the overseas region of French Guiana, which is considered an integral part of the republic[57] (like Alaska and Hawaii are to the United States, or Kaliningrad is to Russia). Corsica and the French mainland form Metropolitan France; Guadeloupe, Martinique, Réunion, and Mayotte form, with French Guiana, the overseas regions. These two integral groupings, along with several overseas collectivities and one territory, comprise the French Republic. The collectivity of Saint Martin borders Sint Maarten, a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands; however, since, Saint Martin is significantly autonomous of the French government, this is not considered an international border.

The European territory of France covers 547,030 square kilometres (211,209 sq mi),Pyrenees in the south-west.

At 4,810.45 metres (15,782 ft)[59] above sea level, the highest point in Western Europe, Mont Blanc, is situated in the Alps on the border between France and Italy. France also has extensive river systems such as the Seine, the Loire, the Garonne, and the Rhone, which divides the Massif Central from the Alps and flows into the Mediterranean Sea at the Camargue. Corsica lies off the Mediterranean coast.

The Exclusive Economic Zone of France extends over 11,000,000 km2 (4,200,000 sq mi) of ocean across the world.[60]

France’s total land area, with its overseas departments and territories (excluding Adélie Land), is 674,843 km2 (260,558 sq mi), 0.45% of the total land area on Earth. However, France possesses the second-largest Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) in the world,[61] covering 11,035,000 km2 (4,260,637 sq mi), approximately 8% of the total surface of all the EEZs of the world, just behind the United States (11,351,000 km2/4,382,646 sq mi) and ahead of Australia (8,232,000 km2/3,178,393 sq mi).{{According to a different calculation cited by the Pew Research Center, the EEZ of France would be 10,084,201 km2 (3,893,532 sq mi), still behind the United States (12,174,629 km2/4,700,651 sq mi), and still ahead of Australia (8,980,568 km2/3,467,417 sq mi) and Russia (7,566,673 km2/2,921,509 sq mi). The north and northwest have a temperate climate, while a combination of maritime influences, latitude and altitude produce a varied climate in the rest of Metropolitan France.[62]

In the south-east a alpine, with the number of days with temperatures below freezing over 150 per year and snow cover lasting for up to six months.

Landscapes and climates of France
The plains of the Beauce  
Verdon Gorge in Provence.  
Semi-arid climate in Corsica.  


National (pink) natural parks in France. Indicated in green and purple colour respectively.

France was one of the first countries to create a Ministry of the Environment, in 1971.[67]

Like all European Union members, France agreed to cut carbon emissions by at least 20% of 1990 levels by the year 2020,[71] of the Chinese carbon emissions by 2020.

In 2009, the French carbon dioxide emissions per capita level is lower than the Chinese one.[72]

France was even set to impose a [75]

In 2010, a study at Yale and [77]

Forests account for 28% of the land area of France.[84]

Administrative divisions

France is divided into 27 administrative regions.[58] 22 are in metropolitan France (21 are on the continental part of metropolitan France; one is the territorial collectivity of Corsica), and five are overseas regions. The regions are further subdivided into 101 departments[85] which are numbered (mainly alphabetically). This number is used in postal codes and vehicle number plates amongst others.

The 101 departments are subdivided into 341 arrondissements which are, in turn, subdivided into 4,051 cantons. These cantons are then divided into 36,697 communes, which are municipalities with an elected municipal council. There also exist 2,588 intercommunal entities grouping 33,414 of the 36,697 communes (i.e. 91.1% of all the communes). Three communes, Paris, Lyon and Marseille are also subdivided into 45 municipal arrondissements.

The regions, departments and communes are all known as Fourth Republic in 1946.

Metropolitan regions

The 22 departments of metropolitan France includes Corsica (Corse, lower right). Paris area is expanded (inset at left)

Region Departments Capital
Blason région fr Alsace.svg Alsace Haut-Rhin Strasbourg
Blason de l'Aquitaine et de la Guyenne.svg Aquitaine Pyrénées-Atlantiques Bordeaux
Blason de l'Auvergne.svg Auvergne Puy-de-Dôme Clermont-Ferrand
COA fr BRE.svg Brittany Morbihan Rennes
Blason fr Bourgogne.svg Burgundy Yonne Dijon
Blason Centre.svg Centre Loir-et-Cher Orléans
Arms of the French Region of Champagne-Ardenne.svg Champagne-Ardenne Marne Châlons-en-Champagne
Coat of Arms of Corsica.svg Corsica Haute-Corse Ajaccio
Blason fr Franche-Comté.svg Franche-Comté Territoire de Belfort Besançon
France moderne.svg Île-de-France Essonne, Hauts-de-Seine, Paris, Seine-et-Marne, Seine-Saint-Denis, Val-de-Marne, Val-d’Oise, Yvelines Paris
Arms of the French Region of Languedoc-Roussillon.svg Languedoc-Roussillon Pyrénées-Orientales Montpellier
Blason région fr Limousin.svg Limousin Haute-Vienne Limoges
Blason Lorraine.svg Lorraine Vosges Metz
Arms of William the Conqueror (1066-1087).svg Lower Normandy Orne Caen
Blason Languedoc.svg Midi-Pyrénées Tarn-et-Garonne Toulouse
Blason Nord-Pas-De-Calais.svg Nord-Pas-de-Calais Pas-de-Calais Lille
Blason région fr Pays-de-la-Loire.svg Pays de la Loire Vendée Nantes
Blason région fr Picardie.svg Picardy Somme Amiens
Blason région fr Poitou-Charentes.svg Poitou-Charentes Vienne Poitiers
Blason région fr Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur.svg Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur Vaucluse Marseille
Rhone-Alpes.JPG Rhône-Alpes Savoie Lyon
Blason region fr Normandie.svg Upper Normandy Seine-Maritime Rouen

Overseas regions

Among the 101 departments of France, five (Réunion) are in overseas regions (ROMs) that are also simultaneously overseas departments (DOMs) and are an integral part of France (and the European Union) and thus enjoy a status similar to metropolitan departments.

Name Constitutional status Capital
 French Guiana Overseas region (régions d’outre-mer) and simultaneously overseas department (département d’outre-mer or DOM) Cayenne
 Guadeloupe Overseas region (régions d’outre-mer) and simultaneously overseas department (département d’outre-mer or DOM) Basse-Terre
 Martinique Overseas region (régions d’outre-mer) and simultaneously overseas department (département d’outre-mer or DOM) Fort-de-France
 Mayotte Overseas region (régions d’outre-mer) and simultaneously overseas department (département d’outre-mer or DOM) Mamoudzou
 Réunion Overseas region (régions d’outre-mer) and simultaneously overseas department (département d’outre-mer or DOM) Saint-Denis

Overseas territories and collectivities

In addition to the 27 regions and 101 departments, the French Republic also has five Clipperton Island).

The lands making up the French Republic, shown at the same geographic scale.

Overseas collectivities and territories form part of the French Republic, but do not form part of the European Union or its fiscal area (with the exception of St. Bartelemy, which seceded from Guadeloupe in 2007). The Pacific Collectivities (COMs) of French Polynesia, Wallis and Fortuna, and New Caledonia continue to use the [87]

Name Constitutional status Capital
 Clipperton Island State private property under the direct authority of the French government Uninhabited
 French Polynesia Designated as an overseas land (pays d’outre-mer or POM), the status is the same as an overseas collectivity. Papeete
 French Southern and Antarctic Lands overseas territory (territoire d’outre-mer or TOM) Port-aux-Français
 New Caledonia Sui generis collectivity Nouméa
 Saint Barthélemy Overseas collectivity (collectivité d’outre-mer or COM) Gustavia
 Saint Martin Overseas collectivity (collectivité d’outre-mer or COM) Marigot
 Saint Pierre and Miquelon Overseas collectivity (collectivité d’outre-mer or COM). Still referred to as a collectivité territoriale. Saint-Pierre
 Wallis and Futuna Overseas collectivity (collectivité d’outre-mer or COM). Still referred to as a territoire. Mata-Utu



Logo of the French Republic

The French Republic is a unitary semi-presidential republic with strong democratic traditions.[88] The constitution of the Fifth Republic was approved by referendum on 28 September 1958.[89] It greatly strengthened the authority of the executive in relation to parliament. The executive branch itself has two leaders: the President of the Republic, currently François Hollande, who is head of state and is elected directly by universal adult suffrage for a 5-year term (formerly 7 years),[90] and the Government, led by the president-appointed Prime Minister, currently Jean-Marc Ayrault.

The French parliament is a bicameral legislature comprising a National Assembly (Assemblée Nationale) and a Senate.[91] The National Assembly deputies represent local constituencies and are directly elected for 5-year terms.[92] The Assembly has the power to dismiss the cabinet, and thus the majority in the Assembly determines the choice of government. Senators are chosen by an electoral college for 6-year terms (originally 9-year terms), and one half of the seats are submitted to election every 3 years starting in September 2008.[93]

The Senate’s legislative powers are limited; in the event of disagreement between the two chambers, the National Assembly has the final say.[94] The government has a strong influence in shaping the agenda of Parliament.

French politics are characterised by two politically opposed groupings: one left-wing, centred around the French Socialist Party, and the other right-wing, centred previously around the Rassemblement pour la République (RPR) and now its successor the Union for a Popular Movement (UMP).[95] The executive branch is currently composed mostly of the Socialist Party.

In April and May 2012, France held a presidential election in which the winner François Hollande had opposed austerity measures, promising to eliminate France’s budget deficit by 2017 by canceling recently enacted tax cuts and exemptions for the wealthy, raising the top tax bracket rate to 75% on incomes over a million euros, restoring the retirement age to 60 with a full pension for those who have worked 42 years, restoring 60,000 jobs recently cut from public education, regulating rent increases; and building additional public housing for the poor. In June, Hollande’s Socialist Party won a supermajority in legislative elections capable of amending the French Constitution and enabling the immediate enactment of the promised reforms. French government bond interest rates fell 30% to record lows,[96] less than 50 basis points above German government bond rates.[97]


France uses a civil legal system;[58] that is, law arises primarily from written statutes; judges are not to make law, but merely to interpret it (though the amount of judicial interpretation in certain areas makes it equivalent to case law). Basic principles of the rule of law were laid in the Napoleonic Code (which was, in turn, largely based on the royal law codified under Louis XIV). In agreement with the principles of the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen law should only prohibit actions detrimental to society. As Guy Canivet, first president of the Court of Cassation, wrote about the management of prisons: :Freedom is the rule, and its restriction is the exception; any restriction of Freedom must be provided for by Law and must follow the principles of necessity and proportionality. That is, Law should lay out prohibitions only if they are needed, and if the inconveniences caused by this restriction do not exceed the inconveniences that the prohibition is supposed to remedy.

The basic principles that the French Republic must respect are found in the 1789 Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen

French law is divided into two principal areas: constitutional law. However, in practical terms, French law comprises three principal areas of law: civil law, criminal law and administrative law.

France does not recognize disturbing public order (trouble à l’ordre public) have been used to repress public expressions of homosexuality or street prostitution.

Criminal laws can only address the future and not the past (criminal ex post facto laws are prohibited) ; and to be applicable, laws must be officially published in the Journal Officiel de la République Française.

France is tolerant of the LGBT community. Since 1999, civil unions for homosexual couples are permitted, although same-sex marriage is illegal in France. Laws sentencing racism, sexism or antisemitism are old and important, for instance, laws prohibiting discriminatory speech in the press are as old as 1881.[98]

In 2010, [100]

Foreign relations

France is a member of the United Nations and serves as one of the permanent members of the UN Security Council with veto rights.[112]

Postwar French foreign policy has been largely shaped by membership of the European Union, of which it was a [114]

Since 1904, France has maintained an “military level.

Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy and United States President Barack Obama, before NATO summit, in Strasbourg, on 3 April 2009

France is a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), but under President de Gaulle, it excluded itself from the joint military command to avoid American domination of its foreign and security policies.[115] However, as a result of Nicolas Sarkozy’s (much criticised in France by the leftists and by a part of the right)[116][117] pro-American politics, France rejoined the NATO joint military command on 4 April 2009. In the early 1990s, the country drew considerable criticism from other nations for its underground nuclear tests in French Polynesia.[118] France vigorously opposed the 2003 invasion of Iraq,[119][120] straining bilateral relations with the US[121][122] and the UK.[123] France retains strong political and economic influence in its former African colonies (Françafrique)[124] and has supplied economic aid and troops for peace-keeping missions in Côte d’Ivoire and Chad.[125]

France has the second largest network of diplomatic missions in the world, second only to the USA.[126]

Development aid

In 2009, France is the second largest (in absolute numbers) donor of [129]


Examples of France’s military. Clockwise from top left: Nuclear aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle; A pair of Bastille Day Military Parade.

The French Armed Forces (Armées françaises) are the military and paramilitary forces of France, under the president as supreme commander. They consist of the French Army (Armée de Terre), French Navy (Marine Nationale), the French Air Force (Armée de l’Air) and the auxiliary paramilitary force, the National Gendarmerie (Gendarmerie nationale) and are among the largest armed forces in the world. While administratively a part of the French armed forces, and therefore under the purview of the Ministry of Defence, the Gendarmerie is operationally attached to the Ministry of the Interior. The gendarmerie is a military police force which serves for the most part as a rural and general purpose police force. It encompasses the counter terrorist units of the Parachute Intervention Squadron of the National Gendarmerie (Escadron Parachutiste d’Intervention de la Gendarmerie Nationale) and the National Gendarmerie Intervention Group (Groupe d’Intervention de la Gendarmerie Nationale). One of the French intelligence units, the Directorate-General for External Security (Direction Générale de la Sécurité Extérieure) reports to the Ministry of Defence. The other, the Central Directorate of Interior Intelligence (Direction Centrale du Renseignement Intérieur), reports directly to the Ministry of the Interior. There has been no national conscription since 1997.[130]

France is a [13]

French nuclear deterrence, (formerly known as “Force de Frappe”), relies on complete independence. The current French nuclear force consists of four Triomphant class submarines equipped with submarine-launched ballistic missiles. In addition to the submarine fleet, it is estimated that France has about 60 ASMP medium-range air-to-ground missiles with nuclear warheads,[132] of which around 50 are deployed by the Air Force using the Mirage 2000N long-range nuclear strike aircraft, while around 10 are deployed by the French Navy’s Super Étendard Modernisé (SEM) attack aircraft which operate from the nuclear powered aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle. The new Rafale F3 aircraft will gradually replace all Mirage 2000N and SEM in the nuclear strike role with the improved ASMP-A missile with a nuclear warhead.

France has major military industries with one of the largest [136] with most of its arsenal’s designs available for the export market with the notable exception of nuclear-powered devices.

The military parade held in Paris each 14 July for France’s national day is the oldest and largest regular military parade in Europe.[137]


The first completed Airbus A380 at the “A380 Reveal” event in Toulouse on 18 January 2005. Airbus is a symbol of the globalisation of the French and European economy.

A member of the [139]

France derives 79% of its electricity from nuclear power, the highest percentage in the world.[140]

France has a [143]

France is part of a monetary union, the EU single market.

The government is slowly corporatising the state sector and selling off holdings in France Télécom, Air France, as well as the insurance, banking, and defence industries.[143] France has an important aerospace industry led by the European consortium Airbus, and has its own national spaceport, the Centre Spatial Guyanais.

According to the [147]

France’s public debt, from 1978 to 2009

Financial services, banking and the insurance sector are an important part of France’s economy.The Paris stock exchange market (London Stock Exchange.

French companies have maintained key positions in the Insurance and Banking industries: Société Générale group was ranked the world’s eight largest in 2008–2009.

France is the smallest emitter of Enercoop) are having difficulties taking off the ground.


France has historically been an important producer of agricultural products.[156]

Wheat, poultry, dairy, beef, and pork, as well as an internationally recognized processed foods are the primary French agricultural exports. [158]

Agriculture is thus an important sector of France’s economy : 3.5% of the active population is employed in agriculture,[155]

Labour market

The French GDP per capita is similar to the GDP per capita of other comparable European countries such as Germany and the United Kingdom.[162]

La Défense, just outside Paris, is the largest business district in Europe.[163]

This gap is due to the very low employment rates at both age extremes: the employment rate of people aged 55–64 was 38.3% in 2007, compared to 46.6% in the [170]

The unemployment rate decreased from 9% in 2006 to 7% in 2008 but remains one of the highest in Europe.Liberal economists have stressed repeatedly over the years that the main issue of the French economy is an issue of structural reforms, in order to increase the size of the working population in the overall population, reduce the taxes’ level and the administrative burden.



The Palace of Versailles is one of the most popular tourist destinations in France.

With 79.5 million foreign tourists in 2011,[12] France is ranked as the first tourist destination in the world, ahead of the United States (62.3 million in 2011) and China (57.6 million in 2011). This 79.5 million figure excludes people staying less than 24 hours in France, such as Northern Europeans crossing France on their way to Spain or Italy during the summer.

The Mont Saint-Michel is one of the most visited sites of France

France has 37 sites inscribed in UNESCO’s World Heritage List and features cities of high cultural interest (Paris being the foremost, but also Toulouse, Strasbourg, Bordeaux, Lyon, and others), beaches and seaside resorts, ski resorts, and rural regions that many enjoy for their beauty and tranquillity (green tourism). Small and picturesque French villages of quality heritage (such as Collonges-la-Rouge or Locronan) are promoted through the association Les Plus Beaux Villages de France (litt. “The Most Beautiful Villages of France”). The “Remarkable Gardens” label is a list of the over two hundred gardens classified by the French Ministry of Culture. This label is intended to protect and promote remarkable gardens and parks. France also attracts many religious pilgrims on their way to St. James, or to Lourdes, a town in the Hautes-Pyrénées that hosts a few million visitors a year.

France, and especially Paris, have some of the world’s largest and renowned museums, including the Contemporary art.

Disneyland Paris is France’s and indeed Europe’s most popular theme park, with 15,405,000 combined visitors to the resort’s Disneyland Park and Walt Disney Studios Park in 2009.[177] The historical theme park Puy du Fou in Vendée is the second most visited park of France.[178] Other popular theme parks are the Futuroscope of Poitiers and the Parc Astérix.

With more than 10 millions tourists a year, the [181]

An other major destination are the Châteaux of the Loire Valley, this World Heritage Site is noteworthy for the quality of its architectural heritage, in its historic towns such as Amboise, Angers, Blois, Chinon, Nantes, Orléans, Saumur, and Tours, but in particular for its castles (châteaux), such as the Châteaux d’Amboise, de Chambord, d’Ussé, de Villandry and Chenonceau, which illustrate to an exceptional degree the ideals of the French Renaissance.

The most popular tourist sites include: (according to a 2003 ranking[182] visitors per year): Eiffel Tower (6.2 million), Louvre Museum (5.7 million), Palace of Versailles (2.8 million), Musée d’Orsay (2.1 million), Arc de Triomphe (1.2 million), Centre Pompidou (1.2 million), Mont Saint-Michel (1 million), Château de Chambord (711,000), Sainte-Chapelle (683,000), Château du Haut-Kœnigsbourg (549,000), Puy de Dôme (500,000), Musée Picasso (441,000), Carcassonne (362,000).


A TGV Sud-Est, which can reach a maximum speed of 300 km/h (186.41 mph).

The railway network of France, which as of 2008 stretches 29,473 kilometres (18,314 mi)underground services and tramway services complementing bus services.

There are approximately 1,027,183 kilometres (638,262 mi) of serviceable roadway in France, ranking it the most extensive network of the European continent.Pont de Normandie.

There are 475 airports in France.[58] Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport located in the vicinity of Paris is the largest and busiest airport in the country, handling the vast majority of popular and commercial traffic and connecting Paris with virtually all major cities across the world. Air France is the national carrier airline, although numerous private airline companies provide domestic and international travel services. There are ten major ports in France, the largest of which is in Marseille,[191] which also is the largest bordering the Mediterranean Sea.[192][193] 12,261 kilometres (7,619 mi) of waterways traverse France including the Canal du Midi which connects the Mediterranean Sea to the Atlantic Ocean through the Garonne river.[58]


Population density in the French Republic at the 1999 census.

With an estimated population of 65.8 million people (as of 1 January 2011),21st most populous country in the world.

As of 2004, Institut Montaigne estimated that there were 51 million (85%) White people, 6 million (10%) of North African people, 2 million (3.5%) of Black people and 1 million (1.5%) people of Asian origin in Metropolitan France.[195]

In 2003, France’s natural population growth (excluding immigration) was responsible for almost all natural population growth in the European Union. The natural growth (excess of births over deaths) rose to 302,432 in 2006,[198]

As of 2008, the French national institute of statistics [201]

In 2004, a total of 140,033 people immigrated to France. Of them, 90,250 were from Africa and 13,710 from Europe.[203]

Although it is illegal for the French state to collect data on ethnicity and ancestry, a law with its origins in the [215]

France accepts about 200,000 legal immigrants each year.Eastern European migration.

The largest cities in France, in terms of metropolitan area population, are Paris (11,836,970), Lyon (1,757,180), Marseille (1,618,369), Lille (1,163,934), Toulouse (1,118,472), Bordeaux (1,009,313), Nice (999,678), Nantes (768,305) and Strasbourg (641,853).

A perennial political issue concerns Creuse fell by 24%.


France’s legacy: a map of the Francophone world

  native language
  administrative language
  secondary or non-official language
  francophone minorities

According to Article 2 of the Constitution, the official language of France is French,[218] a Romance language derived from Latin. Since 1635, the Académie française is France’s official authority on the usage, vocabulary, and grammar of the French language, although its recommendations carry no legal power.

The French government does not regulate the choice of language in publications by individuals but the use of French is required by law in commercial and workplace communications. In addition to mandating the use of French in the territory of the Republic, the French government tries to promote French in the European Union and globally through institutions such as overseas territories.

From the 17th century to the mid-20th century, French served as the pre-eminent international language of diplomacy and international affairs as well as a [221]

As a result of France’s extensive colonial ambitions between the 17th and 20th centuries, French was introduced to America, Africa, Polynesia, South-East Asia, and the Caribbean. French is the second most studied foreign language in the world after English,[222] and is a lingua franca in some regions, notably in Africa. The legacy of French as a living language outside Europe is mixed: it is nearly extinct in some former French colonies (Southeast Asia), while creoles, and pidgins based on French have emerged in the French departments in the West Indies and the South Pacific (French Polynesia). On the other hand, many former French colonies have adopted French as an official language, and the total number of French speakers is increasing, especially in Africa.

It is estimated that between 300 millionsecond language.


Notre-Dame de Reims is the Roman Catholic cathedral where the kings of France were crowned until 1825.[225]

France is a secular country, and freedom of religion is a constitutional right. French religious policy is based on the concept of laïcité, a strict separation of Church and State under which public life is kept completely secular. France was historically regarded as the “eldest daughter” of the Roman Catholic Church. The French Revolution saw a radical shift in the status of the Church with the launch of a brutal de-Christianization campaign. After the back and forth of Catholic royal and secular republican governments over the 19th century, laïcité was established with the Jules Ferry laws of the 1880s and the 1905 law on the Separation of the Churches and the State.[226] The French government does not keep statistics on religious adherence, nor on ethnicity or on political affiliation. However, some unofficial survey estimates exist.

Roman Catholicism has been the predominant religion in France for more than a millennium, though it is not as actively practiced today as it once was. A survey by the Catholic newspaper [228]

According to a January 2007 poll by the Catholic World News,[233]

According to the 2005 [235]

Estimates of the number of [update].

Since 1905 the French government has followed the principle of laïcité, in which it is prohibited from recognising any specific right to a religious community (except for legacy statutes like that of military chaplains and the local law in Alsace-Moselle). Instead, it merely recognises religious organisations, according to formal legal criteria that do not address religious doctrine. Conversely, religious organizations should refrain from intervening in policy-making. Religions founded in France include Raelism.[238]

Certain bodies of beliefs such as [240]


The Pitié-Salpêtrière Hospital, a teaching hospital in Paris, one of Europe’s largest hospitals.[241]

The [143]

Even if the [255]


The University of Strasbourg, the largest university in France.

In 1802, [258]).

Nowadays, the schooling system in France is centralized, and is composed of three stages, primary education, secondary education, and higher education. The Programme for International Student Assessment, coordinated by the OECD, currently ranks France’s education as the 25th best in the world, being neither significantly higher nor lower than the OECD average.[259] Primary and secondary education are predominantly public, run by the Ministry of National Education.

[260] nevertheless they have produced many if not most of France’s high-ranking civil servants, CEO, or politicians.


France has been a center of cultural creation for centuries. Many French artists have been among the most renowned of their time, and France is still recognized in the world for its rich cultural tradition.

The successive political regimes have always promoted artistic creation, and the creation of the cultural exception to defend audiovisual products made in the country.

France receives the highest number of tourists per year, largely thanks to the numerous cultural establishments and historical buildings implanted all over the territory. It counts 1,200 Centre des monuments nationaux, which is responsible for approximately 85 national historical monuments.

The 43,180 buildings protected as historical monuments include mainly residences (many castles, or châteaux in French) and religious buildings (cathedrals, basilicas, churches, etc.), but also statutes, memorials and gardens. The UNESCO inscribed 37 sites in France on the World Heritage List.[262]


The origins of French art were very much influenced by French Academy in Rome to have direct relations with Italian artists.

Musée Rodin, Paris.

French artists developed the Naturalism.

In the second part of the 19th century, France’s influence over painting became even more important, with the development of new styles of painting like Wassily Kandinsky.

Many museums in France are entirely or partly devoted to sculptures and painting works. A huge collection of old masterpieces created before or during the 18th century are displayed in the state-owned [268]

Modern works are presented in the [269]

Outside Paris, all the large cities have a Museum of Fine Arts with a section dedicated to European and French painting. Some of the finest collections are in Grenoble.


Sainte Chapelle represents the French impact on religious architecture.

Technically speaking, there is no standard type of “French” architecture, although that has not always been true. Palais des Papes in Avignon.

During the Middle Ages, fortified castles were built by feudal nobles to mark their powers against their rivals. When King Philip II took Rouen from King John, for example, he demolished the ducal castle to build a bigger one. Fortified cities were also common; most French castles did not survive the passage of time. This is why Richard the Lionheart’s Château Gaillard was demolished, as well as the Château de Lusignan. Some French castles that survived are Chinon, Château d’Angers, the massive Château de Vincennes and the so-called Cathar castles.

The world’s most visited paid monument,[273] the Eiffel Tower is an icon of both Paris and France.

Before the appearance of this architecture, France had been using Romanesque architecture like most of Western Europe (with the exception of the Iberian Peninsula, which now consists of Spain and Portugal, which used Mooresque architecture). Some of the greatest examples of Romanesque churches in France are the Saint Sernin Basilica in Toulouse (largest romanesque church in Europe[274]) and the remains of the Cluniac Abbey (largely destroyed during the Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars).

The end of the Hundred Years’ War marked an important stage in the evolution of French architecture. It was the time of the French Renaissance and several artists from Italy and Spain were invited to the French court; many residential palaces, inspired by the Italians, were built, but mainly in the Loire Valley. Such residential castles were the Château de Chambord, the Château de Chenonceau, or the Château d’Amboise. Following the renaissance and the end of the Middle Ages, Baroque Architecture replaced the traditional Gothic style. However, in France, baroque architecture found a greater success in the secular domain than in a religious one.[275]

In the secular domain, the Palace of Versailles has many baroque features. Jules Hardouin Mansart, who designed the extensions to Versailles, was one of the most influential French architect of the baroque era; he is famous for his dome at Les Invalides.[276] Some of the most impressive provincial baroque architecture is found in places that were not yet French such as the Place Stanislas in Nancy. On the military architectural side, Vauban designed some of the most efficient fortresses in Europe and became an influential military architect; as a result, imitations of his works can be found all over Europe, the Americas, Russia and Turkey.[277][278]

After the Revolution, the Republicans favoured Neoclassicism although neoclassicism was introduced in France prior to the revolution with such building as the Parisian Pantheon or the Capitole de Toulouse. Built during the French Empire the Arc de Triomphe and Sainte Marie-Madeleine represent this trend the best.[279]

Under Garabit viaduct, and remains one of the most influential bridge designers of his time, although he is best remembered for the iconic Eiffel Tower.

In the 20th century, Paul Andreu.


French literary figures. Clockwise from top left: Jean-Paul Sartre.

The earliest French literature dates from the Occitan.

Much mediaeval French poetry and literature were inspired by the legends of the Reynard (‘the Fox’) and is another example of early French writing.

An important 16th century writer was François Rabelais, whose novel Gargantua and Pantagruel has remained famous and appreciated until now. Michel de Montaigne was the other major figure of the French literature during that century. His most famous work, Essais, created the literary genre of the essay.[284] French poetry during that century was embodied by Pierre de Ronsard and Joachim du Bellay. Both writers founded the La Pléiade literary movement.

During the 17th century, [286]


French literature and poetry flourished even more in the 18th and 19th centuries. Denis Diderot‘s best-known works are Jacques the Fatalist and Rameau’s Nephew. He is however best known for being the main redactor of the Encyclopédie, whose aim was to sum up all the knowledge of his century (in fields such as arts, sciences, languages, philosophy) and to present them to the people, in order to fight ignorance and obscurantism. During that same century, Charles Perrault was a prolific writer of famous children’s fairy tales including Puss in Boots, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty and Bluebeard. At the start of the 19th century, symbolist poetry was an important movement in French literature, with poets such as Charles Baudelaire, Paul Verlaine and Stéphane Mallarmé.[289]

The 19th century saw the writings of many renowned French authors. Victor Hugo is sometimes seen as “the greatest French writer of all times”The Hunchback of Notre Dame has remained immensely popular.

Other major authors of that century include The Charterhouse of Parma), whose works are amongst the most well known in France and the world.

The [294]


René Descartes, founder of modern philosophy.

Modern philosophy began in France in the 16th century with the philosophy of René Descartes, Blaise Pascal, and Nicolas Malebranche. Descartes revitalised Western philosophy that had been on the decline after the Greek and Roman eras.[295] His Meditations on First Philosophy changed the primary object of philosophical thought and raised some of the most fundamental problems for foreigners such as Spinoza, Leibniz, Hume, Berkeley, and Kant.

During the 18th century, French philosophers produced one of the most important works of the Voltaire came to embody the Enlightenment with his criticisms of Church dogma and French institutions and his defence of civil liberties such as the right to a free trial and freedom of religion.

In the early 20th century, French existentialism.


Ariane 4 launched from Kourou, French Guiana (1988)

France has been since the Middle Ages a major focus of knowledge and discoveries. The University of Paris, founded in the mid-12th century, is still one of the most important universities of the Western world.[296]

In the 17th century, René Descartes defined a method for the acquisition of scientific knowledge, while Blaise Pascal became famous for his work on probability and fluid mechanics. They were both key figures of the Scientific revolution which erupted in Europe during this period. The Academy of Sciences was founded by Louis XIV to encourage and protect the spirit of French scientific research. It was at the forefront of scientific developments in Europe in the 17th and 18th centuries. It is one of the earliest academies of sciences.

The Age of Enlightenment was marked by the work of biologist Buffon and chemist Lavoisier, who discovered the role of oxygen in combustion, while Diderot and D’Alembert published the Encyclopédie which aimed to give access to “useful knowledge” to the people, a knowledge that they can apply to their everyday life.[297]

With the names inscribed on the Eiffel Tower.

Famous French scientists of the 20th century include the mathematician and physicist HIV AIDS.

As of 2012, [299]


Serge Gainsbourg one of the world’s most influential popular musicians.[300]

Although the musical creation in France dates back to the Middle Ages, it knew its golden age in the 17th century thanks to Louis XIV, who employed several musicians and composers in the royal court. The most renowned composers of this period include Jean-Philippe Rameau reached some prestige, and today he is still one of the most renowned French composers.

French classical music knew a revival in the 19th and 20th century, at the end of the romantic movement, at first with opera composers [305]

French music then followed the rapid emergence of pop and rock music at the middle of the 20th century. Although English-speaking creations achieved popularity in the country, [307] have reached worldwide popularity.

Other French artists with international careers have been popular in several countries, for example female singers [309]

Among current musical events and institutions in France, many are dedicated to classical music and operas. The most prestigious institutions are the state-owned Paris National Opera (with its two sites Palais Garnier and Opéra Bastille), the Opéra National de Lyon, the Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris, the Théâtre du Capitole in Toulouse and the Grand Théâtre de Bordeaux. As for music festivals, there are several events organized, the most popular being the Eurockéennes and Rock en Seine. The Fête de la Musique, imitated by many foreign cities, was first launched by the French government in 1982.[310][311] Major music halls and venues in France include Le Zénith sites present in many cities and other places in Paris (Paris Olympia, Théâtre Mogador, Élysée Montmartre, etc.).


France has historical and strong links with [318]

Although the French film market is dominated by Hollywood, it is however the Western country (out of the United States) where the share of the American films in the total film revenues is the smallest, at 50.1%, to compare with 77.3% of Germany and 69.4% of Japan.[319]

France was for centuries, and not so long ago, the cultural center of the world.[321]

Moreover, this decision was confirmed in a voting in the UNESCO in 2005, and the principle of “cultural exception” won an overwhelming victory: 198 countries voted for it, only 2 countries, the U.S and Israel, voted against it.[322]


Fashion has been an important industry and cultural export of France since the 17th century, and modern “haute couture” originated in Paris in the 1860s. Today, Paris, along with London, Milan, and New York City, is considered one of the world’s fashion capitals, and the city is home or headquarters to many of the premier fashion houses. The expression Haute couture is, in France, a legally protected name, guaranteeing certain quality standards.

The association of France with fashion and style (French: la mode) dates largely to the reign of Louis XIV[323] when the luxury goods industries in France came increasingly under royal control and the French royal court became, arguably, the arbiter of taste and style in Europe. But France renewed its dominance of the high fashion (French: couture or haute couture) industry in the years 1860–1960 through the establishing of the great couturier houses such as Chanel, Dior, and Givenchy.

In the 1960s, the elitist “Haute couture” came under criticism from France’s LVMH.


Compared to other developed countries, the French do not spend much time reading newspapers, due to the popularity of broadcast media. Best-selling daily national newspapers in France are [328]

The most influential news magazine are left-wing [332]

In 1974, after years of centralized monopoly on radio and television, the governmental agency Télévision Numérique Terrestre introduced digital television all over the territory, allowing the creation of other channels.

The four existing national channels are now owned by state-owned consortium France Inter are the least listened to.


According to a 2010 BBC poll based on 29,977 responses in 28 countries, France is globally seen as a positive influence in the world’s affairs: 49% have a positive view of the country’s influence, whereas 19% have a negative view.[337]

According to two Pew Research Center polls in 2006 and 2011 based on around 14 000 responses in 15 countries, French were found to have the highest level of religious tolerance (when asked about their opinion about Muslims, Christians and Jews) and to be the country where the highest proportion of the population defines its identity primarily in term of nationality and not of religion.[338]

In January 2010, the [340]

France has historical strong ties with Human Rights.[341] Since the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen of 1789, France is often nicknamed as “the country of Human Rights”.[342] Furthermore, in 1948, a Frenchman, René Cassin, was one of the main redactors of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which was adopted by the UN members in Paris.[341]

National symbols strongly reflect the heritage of the Revolution. The four official symbols of the Republic, as stated by the [345]

As for the national anthem La Marseillaise, it was written in 1792 as a war song for the French Army.[346][347] The official motto of the French Republic, “Liberté, égalité, fraternité” (Liberty, equality, brotherhood) also appeared during the French Revolution.[348] Marianne, unofficial symbol, is an allegorical figure of liberty and of the Republic and also appeared at the time of the Revolution.[349]

A common and traditional symbol of the French people is the Gallic rooster. Its origins date back to Antiquity, since the Latin word Gallus meant both “rooster” and “inhabitant of Gaul”. Then this figure gradually became the most widely shared representation of the French, used by French monarchs, then by the Revolution and under the successive republican regimes as representation of the national identity, used for some stamps and coins.[350] Although it is not an official symbol of the Republic, it is the most common image to symbolize France in the collective imagination and abroad.


Foie gras with mustard seeds and green onions in duck jus. Foie gras belongs to the protected gastronomical heritage of France.[351]

French cuisine is renowned for being one of the finest in the world.[359]

Moreover, each region of France has iconic traditional specialities : [362]

French cuisine is also regarded as a key element of the [364]


The Tour de France is the oldest and most prestigious of Grands Tours, and also the world’s most famous cycling race.[365]

The 24 Hours of Le Mans is the world’s oldest active sports car race in endurance racing,[366]

Popular sports played in France include Grand Slam tournaments.

France has a close association with the Modern Olympic Games; it was a French aristocrat, Baron [375]

Both the strong domestic tournament the French rugby team has won sixteen Six Nations Championships, including eight grand slams; and have reached the semi-finals and final of the Rugby World Cup.

Rugby league in France is a sport that is most popular in the south with cities such as Perpignan and Toulouse having a strong presence in the game. The Catalans Dragons currently play in Super League which is the top tier rugby league competition in Europe. The Elite One Championship is the professional competition for rugby league clubs in France.

In the last decades, France has produced a high number of world-elite basketball players, most notably 1948.


  1. ^ French is an official language throughout the French Republic. For information about the official and unofficial regional languages also spoken see Languages of France.
  2. ^ Antarctic Treaty in 1959.
  3. ^ French National Geographic Institute data, which includes bodies of water.
  4. ^ French Land Register data, which exclude lakes, ponds and glaciers larger than 1 km² (0.386 sq mi or 247 acres) as well as the estuaries of rivers.
  5. ^ Metropolitan France only. The population density for the whole territory of the French Republic (including overseas departments and territories) is 96.837/km2 (250.808/sq mi).
  6. ^ Whole of the French Republic except the overseas territories in the Pacific Ocean.
  7. ^ French overseas territories in the Pacific Ocean only.
  8. ^ CET applies to Metropolitan France only. Time Zones across the French Republic span from UTC-10 (PF) to UTC+12 (WF).
  9. ^ CEST applies to Metropolitan France only. Not all overseas territories observe Daylight Saving Time.
  10. ^ In addition to .fr, several other Internet TLDs are used in French overseas départements and territories: .re, .mq, .gp, .tf, .nc, .pf, .wf, .pm, .gf and .yt. France also uses .eu, shared with other members of the European Union. The .cat domain is used in Catalan-speaking territories.
  11. ^ The overseas regions and collectivities form part of the French telephone numbering plan, but have their own country calling codes: Guadeloupe +590; Martinique +596; French Guiana +594, Réunion and Mayotte +262; Saint Pierre and Miquelon +508. The overseas territories are not part of the French telephone numbering plan; their country calling codes are: New Caledonia +687, French Polynesia +689; Wallis and Futuna +681
  12. ^ French Guiana is located in South America; Guadeloupe and Martinique are in the Caribbean; and Réunion and Mayotte are in the Indian Ocean, off the coast of Africa. All five are considered integral parts of the republic.


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  2. ^ Retrieved 20 January 2011.
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  7. ^ Overcoming barriers: Human mobility and development. Human Development Report 2009. the United Nations Development Programme. New York. ISBN 978-0-230-23904-3
  8. ^ Field listing – GDP (official exchange rate), CIA World Factbook
  9. ^ Credit Suisse 2010’s Global Wealth Report “In euro and USD terms, the total wealth of French households is very sizeable. Although it has just 1.1% of the world’s adults, France ranks fourth among nations in aggregate household wealth – behind China and just ahead of Germany. Europe as a whole accounts for 35% of the individuals in the global top 1%, but France itself contributes a quarter of the European contingent.”
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  33. ^ “France”. Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs. Retrieved 14 December 2011. See drop-down essay on “Religion and Politics until the French Revolution”
  34. ^ “Treaty of Verdun”. 27 February 2008. Retrieved 17 July 2011.
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  37. ^ “Crusader Conquest: The Christian Kingdom of Jerusalem”. Retrieved 22 June 2012.
  38. ^ “Massacre of the Pure”. Time (New York). 28 April 1961.,9171,897752-2,00.html.
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  369. ^ “History of the World Cup Final Draw” (PDF). Retrieved 22 July 2011.
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External links

  • FranceGuide – Official website of the French Government Tourist Office

This article uses material from the Wikipedia article France, which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.