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France Country Guide

Explore France in Europe

France with the capital city Paris is located in Europe (Western Europe, bordering the Bay of Biscay and English Channel). It covers some 547,031 square kilometres (slightly less than the size of Texas) with 64,094,000 citizens.

Map of the area of  in

The landscape offers mostly flat plains or gently rolling hills in north and west and the remainder being mountainous, especially Pyrenees in south, Alps in east. The average density of population is approximately 117 per km². The notable climate conditions in France can be described as generally cool winters and mild summers, but mild winters and hot summers along the Mediterranean with occasional strong, cold, dry, north-to-northwesterly wind known as mistral. Potential threats by nature are flooding or avalanches, midwinter windstorms, drought or forest fires in south near the Mediterranean.

To reach someone in France dial +33 prior to a number. There are 36,441,000 installed telephones. And there are 60,950,000 registered mobile phones. The cellular networks commonly support frequencies of 900, 1800 MHz and 3G. Websites registered in this country end with the top level domain ".fr". If you want to bring electric equipment on your trip (e.g. laptop power supply), note the local power outlet of 230V - 50Hz.

About the flag and history of France

Three equal vertical bands of blue (hoist side), white, and red; known as the "Le drapeau tricolore" (French Tricolor), the origin of the flag dates to 1790 and the French Revolution when the "ancient French color" of white was combined with the blue and red colors of the Parisian militia; the official flag for all French dependent areas
note: the design and/or colors are similar to a number of other flags, including those of Belgium, Chad, Cote d'Ivoire, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, and Netherlands.

France today is one of the most modern countries in the world and is a leader among European nations. It plays an influential global role as a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, NATO, the G-8, the G-20, the EU and other multilateral organizations. France rejoined NATO's integrated military command structure in 2009, reversing de Gaulle''s 1966 decision to take French forces out of NATO. Since 1958, it has constructed a hybrid presidential-parliamentary governing system resistant to the instabilities experienced in earlier, more purely parliamentary administrations. In recent decades, its reconciliation and cooperation with Germany have proved central to the economic integration of Europe, including the introduction of a common currency, the euro, in January 1999. In the early 21st century, five French overseas entities - French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Martinique, Mayotte, and Reunion - became French regions and were made part of France proper.


Geography Quick-Facts

Summary Continent: Europe
Neighbours: Switzerland, Germany, Belgium, Luxembourg, Italy, Andorra, Monaco, Spain
Capital: Paris
Size 547,030 square kilometers (km² or sqkm) or 211,209 square miles (mi² or sqmi)
slightly less than the size of Texas
Population 64,094,000
Currency Name: Euro, Currency Code: EUR
Country Top Level Domain (cTLD) .fr
Telephone Country Prefix +33
Mobile Phone Connections 60,950,000
Landline Phone Connections 36,441,000

Country Position in World Rankings

Information about single country attributes and how these compare against the rest of the world. The information below is compiled with data from 2013. As such, it may differ a bit to the Information above in the text (which is from 2010).

Geography

Value name Value World Rank
Area 643,801 (sq km) 43

People and Society

Value name Value World Rank
Population 65,951,611 21
Population growth rate 0.47 (%) 152
Birth rate 12.60 (births/1,000 population) 157
Death rate 8.96 (deaths/1,000 population) 68
Net migration rate 1.10 (migrant(s)/1,000 population) 54
Maternal mortality rate 8.00 (deaths/100,000 live births) 157
Infant mortality rate 3.34 (deaths/1,000 live births) 215
Life expectancy at birth 81.56 (years) 15
Total fertility rate 2.08 (children born/woman) 117
Health expenditures 11.90 (% of GDP) 8
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate 0.40 (%) 74
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS 150,000 33
HIV/AIDS - deaths 1,700 56
Obesity - adult prevalence rate 18.20 (%) 108
Education expenditures 5.90 (% of GDP) 40
Unemployment, youth ages 15-24 22.1 (%) 50

Economy

Value name Value World Rank
GDP (purchasing power parity) 2,291,000,000,000 10
GDP - per capita (PPP) 36,100 40
Labor force 29,620,000 21
Unemployment rate 10.30 (%) 112
Distribution of family income - Gini index 33 101
Investment (gross fixed) 19.90 (% of GDP) 99
Taxes and other revenues 51.4 (% of GDP) 15
Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-) -4.50 (% of GDP) 149
Public debt 89.90 (% of GDP) 17
Inflation rate (consumer prices) 1.30 (%) 20
Central bank discount rate 1.75 (%) 116
Commercial bank prime lending rate 3.43 (%) 173
Stock of narrow money 928,500,000,000 7
Stock of broad money 2,571,000,000,000 7
Stock of domestic credit 3,484,000,000,000 7
Market value of publicly traded shares 1,926,000,000,000 8
Industrial production growth rate 2.40 (%) 107
Current account balance -58,700,000,000 188
Exports 567,500,000,000 6
Imports 658,900,000,000 6
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold 171,900,000,000 17
Debt - external 5,165,000,000,000 5
Stock of direct foreign investment - at home 1,110,000,000,000 6
Stock of direct foreign investment - abroad 1,702,000,000,000 3

Energy

Value name Value World Rank
Electricity - production 539,000,000,000 (kWh) 10
Electricity - consumption 451,400,000,000 (kWh) 11
Electricity - exports 66,600,000,000 (kWh) 3
Electricity - imports 37,100,000,000 (kWh) 6
Electricity - installed generating capacity 119100000 (kW) 10
Electricity - from fossil fuels 20.5 (% of total installed capacity) 190
Electricity - from nuclear fuels 53.0 (% of total installed capacity) 1
Electricity - from hydroelectric plants 17.6 (% of total installed capacity) 99
Electricity - from other renewable sources 5.3 (% of total installed capacity) 35
Crude oil - production 49,530 (bbl/day) 60
Crude oil - imports 1,428,000 (bbl/day) 9
Crude oil - proved reserves 90010000 (bbl) 74
Refined petroleum products - production 1,694,000 (bbl/day) 15
Refined petroleum products - consumption 1,792,000 (bbl/day) 14
Refined petroleum products - exports 487,200 (bbl/day) 15
Refined petroleum products - imports 778,400 (bbl/day) 8
Natural gas - production 587,000,000 (cu m) 70
Natural gas - consumption 41,520,000,000 (cu m) 25
Natural gas - exports 5,378,000,000 (cu m) 30
Natural gas - imports 47,040,000,000 (cu m) 8
Natural gas - proved reserves 5,522,000,000 (cu m) 92
Carbon dioxide emissions from consumption of energy 395,200,000 (Mt) 19

Communications

Value name Value World Rank
Telephones - main lines in use 39,883,000 7
Telephones - mobile cellular 59,840,000 21
Internet hosts 17,266,000 7
Internet users 45,262,000 8

Transportation

Value name Value World Rank
Airports 473 17
Railways 29,640 (km) 9
Roadways 951,200 (km) 8
Waterways 8,501 (km) 16
Merchant marine 162 36

Military

Value name Value World Rank
Military expenditures 2.60 (% of GDP) 51

Data based on CIA facts book 2010 & 2013, wikipedia, national statistical offices and their census releases

List of current world heritage sites

Name Since
Abbey Church of Saint-Savin sur Gartempe
Known as the 'Romanesque Sistine Chapel', the Abbey-Church of Saint-Savin contains many beautiful 11th- and 12th-century murals which are still in a remarkable state of preservation. ...
1983
Amiens Cathedral
Amiens Cathedral, in the heart of Picardy, is one of the largest 'classic' Gothic churches of the 13th century. It is notable for the coherence of its plan, the beauty of its three-tier interior elevation and the particularly fine display of sculptur ...
1981
Arles, Roman and Romanesque Monuments
Arles is a good example of the adaptation of an ancient city to medieval European civilization. It has some impressive Roman monuments, of which the earliest – the arena, the Roman theatre and the cryptoporticus (subterranean galleries) – date ba ...
1981
Bordeaux, Port of the Moon
The Port of the Moon, port city of Bordeaux in south-west France, is inscribed as an inhabited historic city, an outstanding urban and architectural ensemble, created in the age of the Enlightenment, whose values continued up to the first half of the ...
2007
Bourges Cathedral
The Cathedral of St Etienne of Bourges, built between the late 12th and late 13th centuries, is one of the great masterpieces of Gothic art and is admired for its proportions and the unity of its design. The tympanum, sculptures and stained-glass win ...
1992
Canal du Midi
This 360-km network of navigable waterways linking the Mediterranean and the Atlantic through 328 structures (locks, aqueducts, bridges, tunnels, etc.) is one of the most remarkable feats of civil engineering in modern times. Built between 1667 and 1 ...
1996
Cathedral of Notre-Dame, Former Abbey of Saint-Rémi and Palace of Tau, Reims
The outstanding handling of new architectural techniques in the 13th century, and the harmonious marriage of sculptural decoration with architecture, has made Notre-Dame in Reims one of the masterpieces of Gothic art. The former abbey still has its b ...
1991
Chartres Cathedral
Partly built starting in 1145, and then reconstructed over a 26-year period after the fire of 1194, Chartres Cathedral marks the high point of French Gothic art. The vast nave, in pure ogival style, the porches adorned with fine sculptures from the m ...
1979
Cistercian Abbey of Fontenay
This stark Burgundian monastery was founded by St Bernard in 1119. With its church, cloister, refectory, sleeping quarters, bakery and ironworks, it is an excellent illustration of the ideal of self-sufficiency as practised by the earliest communitie ...
1981
Decorated Cave of Pont d’Arc, known as Grotte Chauvet-Pont d’Arc, Ardèche
Located in a limestone plateau of the Ardèche River in southern France, the property contains the earliest-known and best-preserved figurative drawings in the world, dating back as early as the Aurignacian period (30,000–32,000 BP), making it an ...
2014
Episcopal City of Albi
On the banks of the Tarn river in south-west France, the old city of Albi reflects the culmination of a medieval architectural and urban ensemble. Today the Old Bridge (Pont-Vieux), the Saint-Salvi quarter and its church are testimony to its initial ...
2010
Fortifications of Vauban
Fortifications of Vauban consists of 12 groups of fortified buildings and sites along the western, northern and eastern borders of France. They represent the finest examples of the work of Sébastien Le Prestre de Vauban (1633-1707), a military engin ...
2008
From the Great Saltworks of Salins-les-Bains to the Royal Saltworks of Arc-et-Senans, the Production of Open-pan Salt
The Royal Saltworks of Arc-et-Senans, near Besançon, was built by Claude Nicolas Ledoux. Its construction, begun in 1775 during the reign of Louis XVI, was the first major achievement of industrial architecture, reflecting the ideal of progress of t ...
1982
Gulf of Porto: Calanche of Piana, Gulf of Girolata, Scandola Reserve
The nature reserve, which is part of the Regional Natural Park of Corsica, occupies the Scandola peninsula, an impressive, porphyritic rock mass. The vegetation is an outstanding example of scrubland. Seagulls, cormorants and sea eagles can be found ...
1983
Historic Centre of Avignon: Papal Palace, Episcopal Ensemble and Avignon Bridge
In the 14th century, this city in the South of France was the seat of the papacy. The Palais des Papes, an austere-looking fortress lavishly decorated by Simone Martini and Matteo Giovanetti, dominates the city, the surrounding ramparts and the remai ...
1995
Historic Fortified City of Carcassonne
Since the pre-Roman period, a fortified settlement has existed on the hill where Carcassonne now stands. In its present form it is an outstanding example of a medieval fortified town, with its massive defences encircling the castle and the surroundin ...
1997
Historic Site of Lyons
The long history of Lyons, which was founded by the Romans in the 1st century B.C. as the capital of the Three Gauls and has continued to play a major role in Europe's political, cultural and economic development ever since, is vividly illustrated by ...
1998
Jurisdiction of Saint-Emilion
Viticulture was introduced to this fertile region of Aquitaine by the Romans, and intensified in the Middle Ages. The Saint-Emilion area benefited from its location on the pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostela and many churches, monasteries and ...
1999
Lagoons of New Caledonia: Reef Diversity and Associated Ecosystems
This serial site comprises six marine clusters that represent the main diversity of coral reefs and associated ecosystems in the French Pacific Ocean archipelago of New Caledonia and one of the three most extensive reef systems in the world. These La ...
2008
Le Havre, the City Rebuilt by Auguste Perret
The city of Le Havre, on the English Channel in Normandy, was severely bombed during the Second World War. The destroyed area was rebuilt according to the plan of a team headed by Auguste Perret, from 1945 to 1964. The site forms the administrative, ...
2005
Mont-Saint-Michel and its Bay
Perched on a rocky islet in the midst of vast sandbanks exposed to powerful tides between Normandy and Brittany stand the 'Wonder of the West', a Gothic-style Benedictine abbey dedicated to the archangel St Michael, and the village that grew up in th ...
1979
Nord-Pas de Calais Mining Basin
Remarkable as a landscape shaped over three centuries of coal extraction from the 1700s to the 1900s, the site consists of 109 separate components over 120,000 ha. It features mining pits (the oldest of which dates from 1850) and lift infrastructure ...
2012
Palace and Park of Fontainebleau
Used by the kings of France from the 12th century, the medieval royal hunting lodge of Fontainebleau, standing at the heart of a vast forest in the Ile-de-France, was transformed, enlarged and embellished in the 16th century by François I, who wante ...
1981
Palace and Park of Versailles
The Palace of Versailles was the principal residence of the French kings from the time of Louis XIV to Louis XVI. Embellished by several generations of architects, sculptors, decorators and landscape architects, it provided Europe with a model of the ...
1979
Paris, Banks of the Seine
From the Louvre to the Eiffel Tower, from the Place de la Concorde to the Grand and Petit Palais, the evolution of Paris and its history can be seen from the River Seine. The Cathedral of Notre-Dame and the Sainte Chapelle are architectural masterpie ...
1991
Pitons, cirques and remparts of Reunion Island
The Pitons, cirques and remparts of Reunion Island site coincides with the core zone of La Réunion National Park. The property covers more than 100,000 ha or 40 % of La Réunion, an island comprising two adjoining volcanic massifs located in the sou ...
2010
Place Stanislas, Place de la Carrière and Place d'Alliance in Nancy
Nancy, the temporary residence of a king without a kingdom – Stanislas Leszczynski, later to become Duke of Lorraine – is paradoxically the oldest and most typical example of a modern capital where an enlightened monarch proved to be sensitive to ...
1983
Pont du Gard (Roman Aqueduct)
...
1985
Prehistoric Sites and Decorated Caves of the Vézère Valley
The Vézère valley contains 147 prehistoric sites dating from the Palaeolithic and 25 decorated caves. It is particularly interesting from an ethnological and anthropological, as well as an aesthetic point of view because of its cave paintings, espe ...
1979
Provins, Town of Medieval Fairs
The fortified medieval town of Provins is situated in the former territory of the powerful Counts of Champagne. It bears witness to early developments in the organization of international trading fairs and the wool industry. The urban structure of Pr ...
2001
Pyrénées - Mont Perdu
This outstanding mountain landscape, which spans the contemporary national borders of France and Spain, is centred around the peak of Mount Perdu, a calcareous massif that rises to 3,352 m. The site, with a total area of 30,639 ha, includes two of Eu ...
1997
Roman Theatre and its Surroundings and the "Triumphal Arch" of Orange
Situated in the Rhone valley, the ancient theatre of Orange, with its 103-m-long facade, is one of the best preserved of all the great Roman theatres. Built between A.D. 10 and 25, the Roman arch is one of the most beautiful and interesting surviving ...
1981
Routes of Santiago de Compostela in France
Santiago de Compostela was the supreme goal for countless thousands of pious pilgrims who converged there from all over Europe throughout the Middle Ages. To reach Spain pilgrims had to pass through France, and the group of important historical monum ...
1998
Strasbourg – Grande île
Surrounded by two arms of the River Ill, the Grande Ile (Big Island) is the historic centre of the Alsatian capital. It has an outstanding complex of monuments within a fairly small area. The cathedral, the four ancient churches and the Palais Rohan ...
1988
The Causses and the Cévennes, Mediterranean agro-pastoral Cultural Landscape
This 302,319 ha property, in the southern part of central France, is a mountain landscape interspersed by deep valleys that is representative of the relationship between agro-pastoral systems and their biophysical environment, notably through draille ...
2011
The Loire Valley between Sully-sur-Loire and Chalonnes
The Loire Valley is an outstanding cultural landscape of great beauty, containing historic towns and villages, great architectural monuments (the châteaux), and cultivated lands formed by many centuries of interaction between their population and th ...
2000
Vézelay, Church and Hill
Shortly after its foundation in the 9th century, the Benedictine abbey of Vézelay acquired the relics of St Mary Magdalene and since then it has been an important place of pilgrimage. St Bernard preached the Second Crusade there in 1146 and Richard ...
1979