What are the key facts about France?

1880 French advertising poster (image by trialsanderrors - PD)

1880 French advertising poster (image by trialsanderrors - PD, flag by SKopp - PD)

France is a modern European nation in continental Europe. It lies to the south of the United Kingdom across the English Channel.

To the southwest it borders with Spain and Andorra. To the northeast and east it borders with Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, Switzerland, Italy and Monaco. It has two separate coastlines: the Mediterranean to the south, and the Bay of Biscay and English Channel to the north.

The French Republic also includes some overseas regions (just as the United States includes Hawaii and Alaska). These are French Guiana (in South America), Réunion (an island in the Indian Ocean), Martinique (a Caribbean island) and Guadeloupe (a Caribbean archipelago).

The national anthem of France is La Marseillaise.

How big is France?

France has an area of 643,427 square kilometers (248,429 square miles) including an enclosed water area of 1400 square kilometers, which is between Somalia and Afghanistan in size.

“Metropolitan France” (the European mainland regions plus the island of Corsica) has an area of 547,030 square kilometers (211,209 square miles), a little bigger than Spain.

The coastline of metropolitan France is 3427 kilometers, and the overseas regions have a combined coastline of 1241 kilometers. Metropolitan France has land borders totalling 2889 kilometers. French Guiana has a land border of 1183 kilometers, with Brazil and Suriname.

The highest point is Mont Blanc at 4808 meters.

What is the population of France?

In July 2009 the population of France was estimated at 64,057,792 including the overseas areas – and growing at 0.549% per year. 18.6% of those are under 15, and 16.4% are over 65. The median age is 39.4 years. There are around 1.04 females for every male.

What is the climate of France?

Most of France has mild summers and cool winters, with the mountainous areas being very cold in winter. The mediterranean coastal area is substantially warmer. Strong winds are experienced over much of the country, particularly towards the south. Paris lies in the driest part, but can be prone to sudden heavy downpours.

French Guiana is tropical and hot, as is Reunion except in the higher areas. Guadeloupe and Martinique are subtropical and hurricane-prone.

What currency is used in France?

France uses a Euro of one hundred cents, even in the overseas regions. Prior to adopting the Euro it used a Franc of one hundred centimes.

What is the political structure of France?

The chief of state is the President, who appoints the Prime Minister and a cabinet normally chosen by the Prime Minister.

The lower house, the National Assembly, comprises members elected from local electorates on a first-past-the-post system. The upper house, the Senate, comprises members elected indirectly by an electoral college.

The capital of France is Paris.

What are the constituent parts of France?

“Metropolitan France” includes the European mainland plus Corsica. There are 22 metropolitan regions:

  • Alsace
  • Aquitaine
  • Auvergne
  • Basse-Normandie (Lower Normandy)
  • Bourgogne (Burgundy)
  • Bretagne (Brittany)
  • Centre
  • Champagne-Ardene
  • Corse (Corsica)
  • Franche-Comte
  • Haute-Normandie (Upper Normandy)
  • Ile-de-France (which includes the city of Paris)
  • Languedoc-Roussillon
  • Limousin
  • Lorraine
  • Midi-Pyrenees
  • Nord-Pas-de-Calais
  • Pays de la Loire
  • Picardie
  • Poitou-Charentes
  • Provence-Alpes-Cote d’Azur
  • Rhone-Alpes

“Overseas regions of France” are:

  • French Guiana
  • Guadeloupe
  • Martinique
  • Reunion

New Caledonia is a semi-independent country.

France also has several dependencies:

  • Clipperton Island
  • French Polynesia
  • French Southern and Antarctic Lands
  • Mayotte
  • St Barthelemy
  • St Martin
  • Wallis and Futuna

What powers the French economy?

3.8% of the labor force work in agriculture, producing wheat, cereals, sugar beet, potatoes, wine, beef, dairy products and fish.

20.3% of the labor force work in industry: machinery, chemicals, cars, metallurgy, aircraft, electronics, textiles and food processing.

71.8% of the labor force work in services.

What does France export and import?

Major exports are machinery and transportation equipment, aircraft, plastics, chemicals, pharmaceutical products, iron, steel and beverages—primarily to Germany, Spain, Italy, the UK, Belgium, the United States and the Netherlands.

Major imports are machinery and equipment, vehicles, crude oil, aircraft, plastics and chemicals—primarily from Germany, Belgium, Italy, Spain, Netherlands, the UK, the US and China.

What sports and recreations are popular in France?

Sports include football (soccer), rugby union, rugby league, basketball, handball, tennis and cycling.

Recreational opportunities include sailing, swimming, hiking, cycling, tennis and boules.

What are the tourism and travel highlights of France?

For many people a major attraction of France is the wonderful food, both the urban food of Paris with its cafe culture, and the specialties of the regions.

France is a diverse country and the traveller may seek the Mediterranean or Atlantic beaches, the mountains, the wineries, the distinctive villages, the rivers and canals, or the Roman and pre-Roman history.

Visitors to Paris will be immersed in culture and history, together with a range of eclectic attractions such as the Eiffel Tower, the Catacombs, and the sewers.


CIA World Factbook (2009)

Wikipedia – France (2009)

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