What is France?

France (or the French Republic) is a country located in Western Europe, is sovereign and a member of the European Union.

It has a total area, between islands and the mainland, of 643,801 km2. Its capital is Paris, one of the most touristic cities in the world, crossed by the Seine River.

France
The capital of France is Paris, one of the most touristic cities in the world.

The mainland of France is bounded to:

  • The south by the Mediterranean Sea, Italy, and Monaco.
  • To the south-west by the Cantabrian Sea, Andorra, and Spain.
  • To the west by the Atlantic Ocean.
  • The north by the English Channel, the North Sea, Belgium and the United Kingdom (with which it is linked by an underground tunnel that crosses the English Channel). 
  • The east by Luxembourg, Switzerland, and Germany.

Characteristics of France

Geographical characteristics

France is the largest country in Western Europe, with an area of 643,801 km2.

As for its relief, 33.33% of its territory is flat. It also has important mountain ranges such as the Pyrenees and the Alps (higher altitudes) and the Vosges and Ardennes (on the border with Germany).

The Massif Central is located towards the south-eastern part of the country, while the Jura extends to the north of the Alps, with altitudes of less than 800 meters above sea level.

Climate and rainfall

France also has different climates. To the south you can see a Mediterranean climate, to the west the climate is oceanic, to the central side and east is continental (with temperatures of 24°C on average that can reach 40°C in summer), and to the north the climate is mild (with temperatures of 16°C).

The climate in France is unstable because of the air currents that are present throughout the country.

In terms of rainfall, the mountainous area has the least amount of rainfall, while in the continental area, rainfall is shown in the form of showers, mainly in summer.

Flora

In the south of France, you can see mulberry trees, vines, olive trees, and laurel trees.
The flora of France is very varied thanks to its different climates, reliefs, and soils. In the area of the central massif, you can find plant species such as Beech and Chestnut. The subalpine area, you can see dwarf pines and juniper.

In the northern part of the country you can see forests of oaks, poplars, willows, and birches and to the south, you can find mulberry trees, vines, olive trees, and laurel herbs.

Fauna

As for its fauna, it is also abundant and varied: in the Pyrenees and Alps area, there are many brown bears, alpine hares, marmot and chamois; and in the forest area there are wild boars, deer, ferrets, and martens.

Economic resources and currency

France is the second largest wine producer in the world, after Italy.

France is considered the fifth largest economy in the world and the second largest in Europe after Germany.

For this country, international trade is of great importance: it is the fifth largest exporter and the sixth largest importer in the world. Despite this, its unemployment rate is high compared to other developed countries.

The primary products produced by France are wheat, potatoes, dairy products, pork, poultry and fruits such as apples, grapes, pears, peaches, and melons.

Among its economic resources, winemaking stands out, an activity that positions France as the second largest producer in the world, behind Italy.

As a member of the European Union, its currency is the euro (formerly the French franc).

Religion

France allows religious freedom and is considered a secular state. Today, 51% of the population professes the Catholic religion, 31% are atheists, 6% are Muslims and 1.5% are Jews.

Population and language

Its total population is close to 64.3 million inhabitants, almost all of whom live on the European continent, and a minority (only 2.1 million) live in overseas territories.

The population of France is concentrated mainly in Paris, where 75% of the total population of the country lives. Other places in France with a large population are the cities of Marseille and Lyon.

The majority of the population of France comes from Celtic peoples, although since the 19th century they have received a large number of immigrants from Belgium, Switzerland, Germany, Italy, Poland, and Greece, among others. One out of every four inhabitants is a foreigner.

The official language is French, which comes from Latin along with Spanish and Italian.

Educational system

Since the middle of the 19th century, France has had an education system known as the”French Republican, secular and public school”, which is compulsory for all children between the ages of 6 and 16.

Although schooling is free, there are also private institutions. The education system is divided into:

  1. First grade. This includes primary schooling for children aged 6 to 11.
  2. Second grade. It includes secondary education between the ages of 12 and 16.
  3. Higher education. France has 83 public universities.

Health system

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), France has some of the best health systems in the world. This system provides the French with:

  1. Coverage of 100% of the population
  2. Health insurance
  3. Pharmaceutical expenses
  4. Freedom of choice of doctor and hospital

Form of government

  • France has a semi-presidential democratic government.
  • France has a form of government known as a blended republic.

The country is under the command of a president, elected by universal suffrage for a five-year term.

It is the president who appoints the members of the government. It also has a Parliament made up of deputies and senators who, together with the president, make up the executive branch.

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