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About France

Officially the French Republic (French: République française, is a state in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France extends from the Mediterranean Sea to the English Channel and the North Sea, and from the Rhine to the Atlantic Ocean. It is often referred to as l’Hexagone (“The Hexagon”) because of the geometric shape of its territory. It is bordered (clockwise starting from the northeast) by Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, Switzerland, Italy and Monaco; with Spain and Andorra to the south. France is linked to the United Kingdom by the Channel Tunnel, which passes underneath the English Channel. In addition to these borders on the European continent France has land borders with Suriname and Brazil through French Guiana, as well as with The Netherlands through the Collectivity of Saint Martin. It is the largest west-European country and possesses second-largest Exclusive Economic Zone in the world, covering 11,035,000 km2 (4,260,000 mi2), just behind the one of the United States (11,351,000 km2 / 4,383,000 mi2).

France has been a major power for several centuries with strong cultural, economic, military and political influence in Europe and in the world. During the 17th and 18th centuries, France colonised great parts of North America; during the 19th and early 20th centuries, France built the second largest empire of the time, including large portions of North, West and Central Africa, Southeast Asia, and many Pacific islands.

France is a unitary semi-presidential republic with its main ideals expressed in the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen. The French Republic is defined as indivisible, secular, democratic and social by its constitution.

The name “France” itself comes from Latin Francia, which literally means “land of the Franks,” or “country of the Franks”. There are various theories as to the origin of the name of the Franks. One is that it is derived from the Proto-Germanic word frankon which translates as javelin or lance as the throwing axe of the Franks was known as a francisca.[25] Another proposed etymology is that in an ancient Germanic language, Frank means free as opposed to slave. This usage still survives in the name of the national currency prior to the adoption of the euro, the franc.

The monarchy ruled France until the French Revolution. It did not fall immediately after the storming of the Bastille on 14 July 1789, but endured until the creation of the First Republic in September 1792. Louis XVI and his wife, Marie Antoinette, were executed (in 1793), along with thousands of other French citizens during the Reign of Terror. Guerrilla wars and counterrevolutions, like the War in the Vendée or the Chouannerie, cost more than 100,000 lives before it was crushed in 1796.

Geography of France : While Metropolitan France is located in Western Europe, France also has a number of territories in North America, the Caribbean, South America, the southern Indian Ocean, the Pacific Ocean, and Antarctica.[53] These territories have varying forms of government ranging from overseas department to overseas collectivity. France’s overseas departments and collectivities share land borders with Brazil, and Suriname (bordering French Guiana), and the Netherlands Antilles (bordering Saint-Martin).

Metropolitan France covers 547,030 square kilometres (211,209 sq mi),[10] having the largest area among European Union members.[22] France possesses a wide variety of landscapes, from coastal plains in the north and west to mountain ranges of the Alps in the south-east, the Massif Central in the south-central and Pyrenees in the south-west. At 4,810.45 metres (15,782 ft)[54] above sea level, the highest point in Western Europe, Mont Blanc, is situated in the Alps on the border between France and Italy. Metropolitan France also has extensive river systems such as the Seine, the Loire, the Garonne, and the Rhône, which divides the Massif Central from the Alps and flows into the Mediterranean Sea at the Camargue. Corsica lies off the Mediterranean coast.

Metropolitan France is situated between 41° and 51° North, on the western edge of Europe, and thus lies within the northern temperate zone

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, 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.With an estimated population of 65.4 million people (as of 1 Jan. 2010),  France is the 20th most populous country in the world.

Catholicism is the largest religion in France, which is a secular country, and freedom of religion is a constitutional right. The French government does not keep statistics on religious adherence, nor on ethnicity or on political affiliation.

Culture of France : 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 much recognized and admired in the world for its very rich cultural tradition.

France features cities of high cultural interest (Paris being the foremost, but also Toulouse, Strasbourg, Bordeaux, Lyon…), 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”). France also attracts many religious pilgrims to Lourdes, a town in the Hautes-Pyrénées that hosts a few million visitors a year, or pilgrims on their way to St. James. Angles-sur-l’Anglin is one of “The most beautiful villages of France”. France, and especially Paris, have some of the world’s largest and reknown museums, including the Louvre, which is the most visited art museum in the world, but also the Musée d’Orsay, mostly devoted to impressionism, and Beaubourg, dedicated to 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. The historical theme park Puy du Fou in Vendée is the second most visited park of France. Other popular theme parks are the Futuroscope of Poitiers and the Parc Astérix.
With more than 10 millions tourists a year, the French Riviera (or Côte d’Azur), in south-eastern France, is the second leading tourist destination in the country, after the Parisian region.  The successive political regimes have always promoted artistic creation, and the creation of the Ministry of Culture in 1959 helped preserve the cultural heritage of the country and make it available to public. The Ministry of Culture has been very active since its creation, granting subsidies to artists, promoting French culture in the world, supporting festivals and cultural events, protecting historical monuments. The French government also succeeded in maintaining a cultural exception to defend audiovisual products made in the country.

France is the country that receive 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 museums welcoming more than 50 million people annually.[295] The most important cultural sites are run by the government, for instance through the public agency Centre des monuments nationaux, which have around hundred national historical monuments at charge. 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.

In January 2010, the International Living ranked France as “best country to live in”, ahead of 193 other countries surveyed, for the fifth year running, according to a survey taking in account 9 criteria of quality of life: Cost of Living, Culture and Leisure, Economy, Environment, Freedom, Health, Infrastructure, Safety and Risk and Climate.

Popular sports played in France include football, judo and tennis. France has hosted events such as the 1938 and 1998 FIFA World Cups, and hosted the 2007 Rugby Union World Cup. Stade de France in Paris is the largest stadium in France and was the venue for the 1998 FIFA World Cup final, and hosted the 2007 Rugby World Cup final in October 2007. France also hosts the annual Tour de France, the most famous road bicycle race in the world. France is also famous for its 24 Hours of Le Mans sports car endurance race held in the Sarthe department. Several major tennis tournaments take place in France, including the Paris Masters and the French Open, one of the four Grand Slam tournaments.

In January 2010, the International Living ranked France as “best country to live in”, ahead of 193 other countries surveyed, for the fifth year running, according to a survey taking in account 9 criteria of quality of life: Cost of Living, Culture and Leisure, Economy, Environment, Freedom, Health, Infrastructure, Safety and Risk and Climate.

Source: Wikipedia

France features cities of high cultural interest (Paris being the foremost, but also Toulouse, Strasbourg, Bordeaux, Lyon…), 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”). France also attracts many religious pilgrims to Lourdes, a town in the Hautes-Pyrénées that hosts a few million visitors a year, or pilgrims on their way to St. James.

France, and especially Paris, have some of the world’s largest and reknown museums, including the Louvre, which is the most visited art museum in the world, but also the Musée d’Orsay, mostly devoted to impressionism, and Beaubourg, dedicated to 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.[185] The historical theme park Puy du Fou in Vendée is the second most visited park of France.[186] Other popular theme parks are the Futuroscope of Poitiers and the Parc Astérix.

With more than 10 millions tourists a year, the French Riviera (or Côte d’Azur), in south-eastern France, is the second leading tourist destination in the country, after the Parisian region.

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