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Geography of France

Learn Information about the Western European Country of France

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France Flag

The France flag has vertical bands of blue (hoist side), white, and red; known as the "Le drapeau tricolore" (French Tricolor); the design and/or colors are similar the flags of Belgium, Chad, Ireland, Cote d'Ivoire, Luxembourg, and Netherlands.

Source: CIA World Factbook, 2007
Updated May 19, 2014

Population: 65,312,249 (July 2011 estimate)
Capital: Paris
Area of Metropolitan France: 212,935 square miles (551,500 sq km)
Coastline: 2,129 miles (3,427 km)
Highest Point: Mont Blanc at 15,771 feet (4,807 m)
Lowest Point: Rhone River delta at -6.5 feet (-2 m)

France, officially called the Republic of France, is a country located in Western Europe. The country also has several overseas territories and islands around the world but the mainland of France is called Metropolitan France. It stretches north to south from the Mediterranean Sea to the North Sea and the English Channel and from the Rhine River to the Atlantic Ocean. France is known as being a world power and it has been an economic and cultural center of Europe for hundreds of years.

History of France

France has a long history and according to the U.S. Department of State, it was one of the earliest countries to develop an organized nation-state. As a result by the mid-1600's, France was one of the most powerful countries in Europe. By the 18th century though France began having financial problems due to the elaborate spending of King Louis XIV and his successors. These and social problems eventually led to the French Revolution that lasted from 1789 to 1794. Following the revolution, France shifted its government between "absolute rule or constitutional monarchy four times" during the Empire of Napoleon, the reigns of King Louis XVII and then Louis-Philippe and finally the Second Empire of Napoleon III (U.S. Department of State).

In 1870 France was involved in the Franco-Prussian War which established the country's Third Republic that lasted until 1940. France was hit hard during World War I and in 1920 it established the Maginot Line of border defenses to protect itself from the rising power of Germany. Despite these defenses however France was occupied by Germany early during World War II. In 1940 it was divided into two sections - one that was directly controlled by Germany and another that was controlled by France (known as the Vichy Government). By 1942 though all of France was occupied by the Axis Powers. In 1944 the Allied Powers liberated France.

Following WWII a new constitution established France's Fourth Republic and a parliament was set up. On May 13, 1958 this government collapsed due to France's involvement in a war with Algeria. As a result General Charles de Gaulle became the head of government to prevent civil war and the Fifth Republic was established. In 1965 France held an election and de Gaulle was elected as President but in 1969 he resigned after several governmental proposals were rejected.

Since de Gaulle's resignation, France has had five different leaders and its recent presidents have developed strong ties to the European Union. The country was also one of the EU's six founding nations. In 2005 France underwent three weeks of civil unrest as its minority groups began a series of violent protests. In 2007 Nicolas Sarkozy was elected president and he began a series of economic and social reforms.

Government of France

Today France is considered a republic with an executive, legislative and judicial branch of government. Its executive branch is made up of a chief of state (the president) and a head of government (the prime minister). France's legislative branch consists of a bicameral Parliament made up of the Senate and the National Assembly. The judicial branch of France's government is its Supreme Court of Appeals, the Constitutional Council and the Council of State. France is divided into 27 regions for local administration.

Economics and Land Use in France

According to the CIA World Factbook, France has a large economy that is currently transitioning from one with government ownership to a more privatized one. The main industries in France are machinery, chemicals, automobiles, metallurgy, aircraft, electronics, textiles and food processing. Tourism also represents a large part of its economy as the country gets about 75 million foreign visitors each year. Agriculture is also practiced in some areas of France and the main products of that industry are wheat, cereals, sugar beets, potatoes, wine grapes, beef, dairy products and fish.

Geography and Climate of France

Metropolitan France is the part of France that is located in Western Europe to the southeast of the United Kingdom along the Mediterranean Sea, the Bay of Biscay and the English Channel. The country also has several overseas territories which include French Guiana in South America and the islands of Guadeloupe and Martinique in the Caribbean Sea, Mayotte in the Southern Indian Ocean and Reunion in Southern Africa. Metropolitan France has a varied topography that consists of flat plains and/or low rolling hills in the north and west, while the rest of the country is mountainous with the Pyrenees in the south and the Alps in the east. The highest point in France is Mont Blanc at 15,771 feet (4,807 m).

The climate of Metropolitan France varies with ones location but most of the country cool winters and mild summers, while the Mediterranean region has mild winters and hot summers. Paris, the capital and largest city of France, has an average January low temperature of 36˚F (2.5˚C) and an average July high of 77˚F (25˚C).

To learn more about France, visit the Geography and Maps page on France on this website.

References

Central Intelligence Agency. (10 May 2011). CIA - The World Factbook - France. Retrieved from: https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/fr.html

Infoplease.com. (n.d.). France: History, Geography, Government, and Culture- Infoplease.com. Retrieved from: http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0107517.html

United States Department of State. (18 August 2010). France. Retrieved from: http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/3842.htm

Wikipedia.com. (13 May 2011). France - Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/France

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