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France is the largest country in Western Europe with a surface of 551,500 square
kilometers. It has about 60 million inhabitants including the overseas departments and
territories. In French, metropolitan France is sometimes referred to as the Hexagon
because of its six-sided shape. Starting from the Middle-Ages, it took over a thousand
years and the stubborn determination of its kings and then of the Republic to unify her.
France has the great privilege to be open on 4 seas:-North Sea
-Channel (La Manche)
-Atlantic (Ocean atlantique)
Mediterranean (Mer mediterranee)
From its geographic position, it enjoys three different types of climate. Oceanic, (in the
west), Mediterranean, (in the south), and continental,(in the centre end east).
The main mountain ranges to be found in France are:-

• The Alps with the highest peak of occidental Europe at

4807m., the Mont Blanc. It separates France from Italy and
• The Pyrenees, forming a natural frontier with Spain.
• The Massif Central, in central France, made of dead
• The Vosges and the Jura, in north eastern France.
France has to offer a great diversity of landscapes from the plains to the mountains, from
the very picturesque sea shores to the great fertile valleys, (the Loire and the Rhone
Valleys).The population is living in small cities or villages with obviously big cities like
Paris, with a population of 12 million, Lyon with 1, 5 million, Marseille with 1, 5
million, Toulouse with 1 million.

Administrative organization:

The French Republic is made of –

• The Metropole (divided into 22 regions and 96
• 4 overseas departments,
(Guadeloupe,Martinique,Guyane,La Reunion.
• 4 overseas territories, (French Polynesia,New-
Caledonia,Wallis et Futuna,antartic lands).

France is the fourth world economic power. Its areas of strength are transport,
telecommunications, agro-industry, pharmaceuticals but also banking sector, insurance,
tourism with 75 million tourists a year, luxury industry (fashion, perfumes). France is the
fourth goods exporter in the world, but the first producer and exporter of agricultural
products in Europe. In 2000, GDP was of 1404, 8 billion euros with a 1, 6% inflation
The most performing industrial sectors in France are: Construction with Bouygues, GTM.
Agro-industry with Danone, Nestle-france, Besnier, Seita., chemicals with Air Liquide,
Atofina, Hutchinson, Pharmaceuticals with Sanofi, Aventis-Servier, Auto industry with
Peugeot, Citroen and Renault., Fashion and luxury industry with Chanel, L’Oreal, Dior,
Hermes-Vuitton., Telecommunications with Alcatel, Cegetel, France-telecom, Thomson,
Aeronautics with Airbus consortium, Dassault, industries of steel ,glass, aluminium with
Usinor, Pechiney, Saint-Gobain, Michelin.
In the banking sector the main French banks are: Credit Agricole, Societe Generale and
Banque Nationale de Paris. As far as the insurance companies are concerned the main
ones are AXA, AGF, and CNP.

Facts and figures about the French language

There are about 113 million francophone (who speak French fluently and use it on a
regular basis.
There are 61 million ‘occasional” francophone-who live in a francophone country but do
not speak French regularly.
There are 100-110 million students of all ages-do not live in a francophone country, but
have learned/are learning French .French is the second most commonly-taught second
language in the world.
Where is French spoken?
French is the official language of France and its overseas territories as well as Benin,
Burkina Faso, Central African Republic, Congo, Ivory Coast, Gabon, Guinea,
Luxembourg, Mali, Monaco, Niger, Senegal, Togo, The Canadian province of Quebec
,and some Swiss districts.
French is the co-official language in Belgium, Burundi, Cameroon, Chad, Comoros
islands, Djibouti, Equatorial Guinea, Haiti, Madagascar, Rwanda, Seychelles, and
French is also spoken in former French colonies like in Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria
,Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, Lebanon (former protectorate),Guinea-Bissau Mauritania,
Mauritius, Pondicherry (India),Syria, and can be found also in Louisiana in the States.
French is one of the official working languages in international organizations like
The United Nations, UNESCO, Interpol, NATO, OECD, WHO, WTO, European Union.
French has lost its hegemony on the world scene but keeps a very important role in the
education of young students all over the world because of France place in the Arts,
Science and politics.

Facts about the French society

Roman Catholicism is by far the largest religion in France, nominally professed by about
80% of the population, although an estimated 5% are churchgoers. With growing
immigration from Asia and Africa, especially from the former French colonies in Africa,
France has a large Muslim population, estimated at 3 to 5 million. There are smaller
numbers of Protestants and Jews. Separation of church and state was made final by law in
1905.The educational level in France is high with 23% of the budget spent on it. Among
the universities, the largest are those of Paris, Lyons, Aix-Marseilles, Bordeaux,
Montpellier, Nancy etc…
Since the Revolution of 1789, France has had an extremely uniform and centralized
administration. The country is governed under the 1958 Constitution which established
the fifth French Republic and reflected the views of Charles de GAULLE. It provides for
a strong President, directly elected for a five-year term. A Premier and a Cabinet
appointed by the President are responsible to the National Assembly but they are
subordinate to the President. Parliament consists of the National Assembly and the
Senate. Deputies of the Assembly are elected for a five-year term. Senators have a 9-year
mandate. . The main political parties in France include the Union for a popular
movement, (UMP), the Socialist Party (PS), National Front,(FN), Union for French
Democracy,( UDF), the Communist party, (PC) and the Green party,(Les Verts).
France is divided in regions, departments, districts, cantons and communes. Greater
autonomy has been given to the regions and departments through constitutional
amendments in 2003.
“Liberte, Egalite, Fraternite” is the motto of France, and the “Marseillaise”, the national
anthem. French people love politics, and they believe, like Pericles, that “ A citizen who
is not involved in politics is not a quiet citizen, he is a useless citizen.” They are strongly
attached to the “modele social francais” .For them it means a strong, free or moderately
priced “services publics”, such as health, education, transport, compulsory insurance
system, family allowances,compensation for unemployed people, and a minimum income
for all. Strikes and demonstrations are a strong French traditions to defend their rights.To
pay for all these advantages, France has one of the highest level of taxes in
Europe:income tax, local taxes, wealth tax..etc..