The world's most visited country
A country of Western Europe, France lies between the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean (a total of 2,100 miles of coastline). It borders Belgium (400 miles of borderline), Luxembourg (40 miles), Germany (300 miles), Switzerland (350 miles), Italy (300 miles), Monaco (30 miles), Spain (390 miles) and Andorra (35 miles).
Land area: 544,000 sq km. France also includes 4 overseas départements (DOM):
- Guadeloupe (area: 1,700 sq km)
- Guyana (area: 90,000 sq km)
- Martinique (area: 1,100 sq km)
- and Reunion (area: 2,500 sq km)
France's population is over 61 million. The French capital is Paris.
France's climate is temperate. Average temperatures are half-way between polar cold and tropical heat. Rainfall / snowfall are average and usually equally spread over the year. Some unpredictable extremes do occur.
Major French rivers are the Loire (700 miles) the Seine (500 miles), the Rhone and the Garonne.
France has ca 2,000 miles of coastline of varied shape and size. Sandy beaches and rocky cliffs can be found both on the Mediterranean and Atlantic coasts.
The total population of France is ca 61 million. The country is overall not as densely populated as the rest of Europe, with only 108 inhabitants per square kilometer. France is the largest West European nation.
The borders of nowadays France define the ancient territory of Gaul. Gaul had been conquered by the Romans in the 1st century BC, and the Gauls eventually adopted Latin language and culture. Christianity also settled in the 2nd and 3rd centuries AD. Gaul's eastern boarder along the Rhine was overrun by Germanic tribes in the 4th century AD, principally the Franks, from which the ancient name of Francie derived. The modern name France derives from the name of the feudal domain of the Capetian Kings of France around Paris. The foundation of France is traditionally dated 496 (baptism of Clovis I). In reality, however, the legal founding of France is 843, date of the Treaty of Verdun, which divided the Frankish Empire and created the kingdom of Francia Occidentalis (Western Frankland), from which France is descended.
Charlemagne's descendants ruled France until 987, when Hugh Capet, Duke of France and Count of Paris, was crowned King of France. His descendants (which formed the Capetian, Valois and Bourbon dynasties) ruled France until 1792, when the French Revolution eventuated into a Republic.
Napoleon Bonaparte seized power in 1799, making himself First Consul. His armies ran several wars across Europe, conquered many countries and established new kingdoms. After his defeat in 1815, the French monarchy was re-established, which was then legislatively abolished and followed by a 2nd Republic in 1848. The 2nd Republic ended when the late Emperor's nephew, Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte was elected President and proclaimed a 2nd Empire in 1852. Less ambitious than his uncle, the second Napoleon was also ultimately removed, and the rule of the République returned again in the 3rd Republic (1870).
Despite having been victorious after the First and Second World Wars, France had extensive losses in its wealth, comparative economic status, working population and status. After World War 2, the 4th Republic was established. In 1958, it devised a semi-presidential democracy (known as the 5th Republic).
More recently, France's reconciliation and cooperation with Germany have contributed to the political and economic integration of Europe, leading to the introduction of the Euro in January 1999.
The truth remains that France is the most visited country in the World, and for a good reason: its human heritage, allied with its relaxed, yet refined pace, make it an ideal place to discover, relax, wander, tour or simply enjoy.
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