Background: Although France eventually emerged victorious from World Wars I and II, its power, population and finances suffered greatly. Nevertheless, today France is one of the most developed countries in the world and a leader among European powers. Since 1958, there has been a presidential republic in the country, which is more stable in situations of political crises than the former parliamentary republic. In recent years, agreement and cooperation with Germany has become the engine of European economic integration, which led to the creation of the euro zone in January 1999. Today, France is at the forefront of European countries that, following the introduction of a single currency, are striving to create a single viable mechanism for ensuring the defense and security of Europe.
Location: Western Europe, coast of the Bay of Biscay and the English Channel between Belgium and Spain, southeast of the UK; Mediterranean coast between Spain and Italy.
Geographical coordinates: 46° 00′ N. latitude, 2° 00′ E
Reference map: Europe.
Area: total: 547,030 km2; land surface area: 545,630 km2; water surface area: 1,400 km2; note: includes only France, excluding its overseas territories.
Comparative area: slightly less than twice the area of the state of Colorado.
Land borders: total: 2,889 km; with neighboring states: with Andorra 56.6 km, with Belgium 620 km, with Germany 451 km, with Italy 488 km, with Luxembourg 73 km, with Monaco 4.4 km, with Spain 623 km, with Switzerland 573 km.
Coastline: 3,427 km.
Maritime claims: neutral waters: 24 nautical miles; continental shelf: to a depth of 200 m or to the depth of field development; exclusive economic zone: 200 nautical miles (does not apply to the Mediterranean Sea); territorial waters: 12 nautical miles.
Climate: Generally cool winters and mild summers, however along the Mediterranean, winters are mild and summers are hot.
Relief: mostly flat plains and gentle hills in the north and northeast, the rest of the country is mountainous, the Pyrenees in the south and the Alps in the east.
Maximum and minimum heights: lowest point: Rhone delta -2 m; highest point: Mont Blanc 4,807 m.
Natural resources: coal, iron ore, bauxite, zinc, potash, timber, fish.
Land use: arable land: 33%; cultivated land: 2%; pastures: 20%; forests and plantations: 27%; others: 18% (1993 est.).
Irrigated land: 16,300 km2 (1995 est.).
Natural hazards: floods, avalanches.
Current environmental issues: some damage is caused to forests by acid rain (a hurricane in December 1999 caused a lot of damage to forests); air pollution from industrial and transport emissions; water pollution from sewage and agricultural runoff.
International agreements on environmental protection: member: Air Pollution, Air Pollution – Nitrogen Oxides, Air Pollution – Sulfur 1985, Air Pollution – Sulfur 1994, Air Pollution – Volatile Organic Compounds, Antarctica – Environmental Protection Protocol, Conservation of Marine Life in Antarctica, Antarctic Seals, Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate change, Desertification, Endangered species, Hazardous waste, Law of the sea, Marine pollution, Marine life conservation, Ozone layer protection, Ship pollution, Tropical timber 1983, Tropical timber 1994, Wetlands, Whaling; signed but not ratified: Air Pollution – Persistent Organic Pollutants, Kyoto Protocol.
Note to the section “Geography”: the largest Western European power in terms of territory.
Population: 59,551,227 (July 2001 est.).
Age structure: under 14: 18.68% (male 5,698,604; female 5,426,838); 15 to 64 years old: 65.19% (male 19,424,018; female 19,399,588); over 65: 16.13% (male 3,900,579; female 5,701,600) (2001 est.).
Population growth: 0.37% (2001 est.).
Birth rate: 12.1 newborns / 1000 people. (2001 est.).
Mortality: 9.09 deaths / 1000 people. (2001 est.).
Migration: 0.64 people /1000 people (2001 est.).
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.06 male/female; under 15: 1.05 male/female; from 15 to 64 years old: 1 male/female; over 65: 0.68 male/female; for the general population: 0.95 male/female (2001 est.);
Child mortality: 4.46 deaths/1000 births (2001 est.).
Life expectancy: for the general population: 78.9 years; men: 75.01 years; women: 83.01 years (2001 est.).
Total fertility rate: 1.75 children/wives. (2001 est.).
Proportion of adults infected with HIV: 0.44% (1999 est.).
Number of people infected with HIV: 130,000 (1999 est.).
AIDS deaths: 2,000 (1999 est.).
Nationality: noun: French; adjective: French.
Ethnic groups: Celto-Romans, as well as Germanic, Slavic, North African, Indochinese, Basque minorities.
Believers: Catholic 90%, Protestant 2%, Jewish 1%, Muslim (North African workers) 1%, non-denominational 6%.
Language(s): 100% French, rapidly disappearing regional dialects and languages (Provencal, Breton, Alsatian, Corsican, Catalan, Basque, Flemish).
Literacy: definition: persons aged 15 and over who can read and write; for the general population: 99%; men: 99%; women: 99% (1980 est.).
Common long form: French Republic;
conventional short form: France; local long form: Republique Francaise; local short form: France. State system: republic.
Government: See a2zgov.com to know more about France government and politics.
Administrative division: 22 regions: Aquitaine, Brittany, Burgundy, Upper Normandy, Lands of the Loire, Ile-de-France, Corsica, Lange-doc-Roussillon, Limousin, Lorraine, Lower Normandy, Hop-Pas-de-Calais, Auvergne, Picardy, Provence -Alpes-Côte d’Azur, Poitiers-Charentes, Rhone-Alpes, Franche-Comté, Center, Champagne-Ardennes, Alsace, Midi-Pyrenees; note: France proper is divided into 22 regions (including the “territorial community” of Corsica), which are further subdivided into 96 departments; see separately overseas departments (French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Martinique, Reunion) and overseas territorial possessions (Mayotte, Saint-Pierre and Miquelon).
Dependent Territories: Bassas da India, Clipperton Island, Europa Island, French Polynesia, French Southern and Antarctic Lands, Gloriose Island, Juan de Nova Island, New Caledonia, Tromelin Island, Wallace and Futuna Islands; note: The US does not recognize territorial claims in Antarctica.
Independence: from 486 (unification of the country by Clovis).
National holiday: Bastille Day, July 14 (1789).
Constitution: adopted on 28 September 1958, amendments concerning presidential elections adopted in 1962, amendments to comply with EU conditions under the Maastricht Treaty adopted in 1992; amendments tightening migration legislation – in 1993
Legal system: civil law system with local characteristics; Administrative but not legislative acts may be subject to judicial review.
Suffrage: from the age of 18, universal.
chief of state: President Jacques CHIRAC (since 17 May 1995);
head of government: Prime Minister Lionel JOSPIN (since 3 June 1997);
government: the Council of Ministers is appointed by the President on the proposal of the Prime Minister; elections: the president is elected by popular vote for a 7-year term; elections last held 23 April and 7 May 1995 (next to be held in May 2002); the prime minister is appointed by a majority of the National Assembly and confirmed by the president; election results: Jacques Chirac elected president; percentage of votes cast, second round: Jacques CHIRAC (RPR) 52.64%, Lionel JOSPIN (PS) 47.36%.
Legislature: the bicameral parliament consists of the Senate (321 seats – 296 for France proper, 13 for overseas territories, 12 for French citizens living in other countries; members are elected indirectly by the electoral college for 9 years, a third is elected every three years) and the National Assembly (577 seats; members are elected by popular vote in single-member majoritarian districts for five years); elections: Senate – last held 27 September 1998 (next to be held September 2001); National Assembly – last held May 25 – June 1, 1997 (next to be held in May 2002); election results: Senate, distribution of votes between parties: NA; distribution of seats among parties: RPR 99, UDC 52, DL 47, PS 78, PCF 16, others 29; National Assembly, distribution of votes between parties: no data;
Judiciary: Supreme Court of Cassation, judges are appointed by the president from candidates proposed by the High Council of Justice; Constitutional Council, three members appointed by the President, three by the President of the National Assembly and three by the President of the Senate; State Council.
Political parties and leaders: Movement of Citizens (MdC) (Jean Pierre CHEVENEMENT); French Communist Party (PCF) (Robert HUE); Independent Environmental Movement (MEI) (Antoine WAECHTER); Left Radical Party (PRG) (formerly the Radical Socialist Party and the Left Radical Movement) (Jean-Michel BAYLET [Jean-Michel BAYLET]); Liberal Democracy (DL) (originally the Republican Party) (Alain MADELIN); Movement for France (LDI-MPF) (Philippe DEVILLIERS); Front National (FN) (Jean-Marie LE PEN]); Rally for the Republic (RPR) (Michelle ALLIOT-MARIE); Socialist Party (PS) (Francois HOLLANDER; Union for French Democracy (UDF) (Francois BAIL-ROU[ Francois BAYROU]); Union of the Center (UDC) (leader – no data).
Political pressure groups and their leaders: communist-controlled trade unions (General Confederation of Labour), almost 2.4 million members (declared); independent trade union (Workforce), 1 million members (est.); independent union of employees (General Confederation of Employees), 340,000 members (declared number); National Council of French Employers (Patronage); pro-socialist trade union (French Democratic Confederation of Labour), about 800,000 members (est.).
Participation in international organizations: ACCT, AfDB, AsDB, Australia Group, BDEAC, BIS, CCC, CDB (non-regional), CE, CERN, EAPC, EBRD, ECA (associate), ECE, ECLAC, EIB, EMU, ESA, ESCAP, EU, FAO, FZ, G- 5, G- 7, G-10, IADB, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICFTU, ICRM, IDA, IEA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, Inmarsat, InOC, Intelsat, Interpol, IOC, IOM, ISO, ITU, MINURSO, MIPONUH, MONUC, NAM (guest), NATO, NEA, NSG, OAS (observer), OECD, OPCW, OSCE, PCA, SPC, UN, UN Security Council, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNIDO, UNIFIL, UNIKOM, UNITAR, UNMEE, UNMIBH, UNMIK, UNOMIG, UNRWA, UNTAET, UNTSO, UNU, UPU, WADB (nonregional), WCL, WEU, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WToO, WTrO, ZC.
Diplomatic representation in the USA: Head of Mission: Ambassador Francois V. BUJON DE L’ESTANG; office: 4101 Reservoir Road NW, Washington, DC 20007; phone:  (202) 944-6000; fax: [C (202) 944-6166; consulates general: Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New Orleans, New York, San Francisco.
US Mission: Chief of Mission: Ambassador Designate Howard H. LEACH; embassy: 2 Avenue Gabriel, 75382 Paris Ce-dex 08; mailing address: PSC 116, ARO AE 09777; phone:  (1) 43-12-22-22; fax:  (1) 42-66-97-83; consulates general: Marseille, Strasbourg.
Flag Description: three equal vertical stripes of blue (left), white and red, known as the French tricolor. The look and colors are similar to the flags of a number of other countries, in particular Belgium, Chad, Ireland, Côte d’Ivoire, Luxembourg; the official flag of all dependent territories.