France - Francia

República Francesa
French Republic
Member State of the European Union

Flag of France.svg
French republic coat of arms.svg

Motto : Liberté, égalité, fraternité
« Liberty, equality, fraternity »
Himno : La Marseillaise
" La Marsellesa "


(and most populous city)
Coat of arms of the city of Paris

48°51′25″N 2°21′05″E / 48.856944444444, 2.3513888888889Coordenadas: 48°51′25″N 2°21′05″E / 48.856944444444, 2.3513888888889 View and modify data on Wikidata
Official languages French [ 1 ] [ 10 ]
• Spoken French , German , Italian , Dutch and others
Demonym French -esa ,
Gaul, -la
Form of government Semipresidentialist republic
President Emmanuel Macron
Prime Minister Jean Castex
Legislative body French parliament View and modify data on Wikidata
Carolingian Imp.
Verdun Treaty
Hundred Years War
First Empire
III Republic
IV Republic
V Republic

481 - 511
Dec. 25 of 800
August 10 of 843
1789 - 1799
1799 - 1815
Sept. 4. of 1870
27 of October of 1946
4 of October of 1958
Surface 43rd position
• Total 675 417 [2][1]km²
• Water (%) 0,26 %
Borders 2 889 km
Coast line 5 500 km
Highest point Mont Blanc View and modify data on Wikidata
Total population 22nd position
• Census 64 979 000 (2020) [ 2 ] hab.
Density 99.24 hab./km²
Start ( PPA ) 10th position
• Total (2019) Increase $ 3,061 trillion [ 3 ]
Per capita Increase $47,223[3]​ (25.°)
START (nominal) 7th position
• Total (2019) Decrease$ 2,707 trillion [ 3 ]
• Per capita Decrease $46,761[3]​ (19.°)
IDH (2020) Increase0.901 [ 4 ] ( 26th ) - Very high
Gini coefficient Red Arrow Up.svg 29,2 (2019)[5]
Currency Euro (€)
Time zone UTC +1 [5]
• In summer UTC +2
ISO code 250 / FRA / FR
Internet domain .fr, .bzh, .tf, .re, .wf, .yt, Ver y modificar los datos en Wikidata
Telephone prefix +33, +590, +594,
+596, +262, +508,
+687, +689 [7]
Radio prefix FAA-FZZ, HWA-HYZ,
Country acronym for aircraft


Country acronym for automobiles F AP-651-RR
IOC Code FROM View and modify data on Wikidata
  1. Several regional languages ​​are also spoken.
  2. Of which 552,000 m² correspond to metropolitan France , that is, to the part of the country that is in Europe. In addition, worldwide it has the 2nd. largest extension of territorial sea (11 million km²). [ 1 ]
  3. ^ Of which 65,017,000 in metropolitan France .
  4. ^ The CFP franc is legal tender in five overseas territories. Until 2002, the French franc (F, FRF) was the country's monetary unit.
  5. Metropolitan France only.
  6. Also .eu , for being part of the European Union and .cat in the territories where the Catalan language is spoken .
  7. The prefix +33corresponds to continental France. The others are used for the different overseas territories.
  8. Data in October of 2017 .
  9. Permanent member .
  10. The Italian is spoken minoriamente in Corsica along the corso and while Italian and Occitan Niçois spoken in the city of Nice , while the Catalan in Pyrenees Orientales , the German in the regions of Lorraine and Alsace and Dutch in French Flanders ; The Basque is spoken in the territories of Labourd , Lower Navarre and Sola, Commonly referred to collectively as the Basque Country French ( Iparralde in Euskera , 'Zona Norte') and members with Béarn in the department of Pyrenees - Atlantiques .

France (in French , France , pronounced / fʁɑ̃s / ( listen ) ), officially the French Republic (in French , République française pronounced / ʁepyblik fʁɑ̃sɛːz / ( listen ) ), is a transcontinental country , member of the European Union , whose form of government is the semi-presidential republic . Territorially, it includes metropolitan France and France overseas , being in turn the largest country in the European Union . [ 7 ] Its territory, which includes overseas regions or dependent Territories , extends over a total area of ​​675 417 km². [ 1 ]In 2017, the country had 67.1 million inhabitants (65 million in metropolitan departments and 2.1 million in overseas departments). [ 8 ]

The metropolitan or continental part of the country [ 9 ] is located in Western Europe , where it is bordered to the south by the Mediterranean Sea , Monaco , Spain and Andorra ; to the west the Atlantic Ocean ; to the north with the English Channel that separates it from the United Kingdom and in its eastern part it borders Belgium , Luxembourg , Germany , Switzerland and Italy . The European island territory includes the Mediterranean island of Corsicaand various coastal archipelagos in the Atlantic Ocean. In America, it has French Guiana , most of the island of Saint Martin and the islands and archipelagos of Martinique , Guadeloupe , Saint Barthelemy and Saint Peter and Miquelon . In the Indian Ocean it has the islands of Mayotte and Reunion , and in the Pacific Ocean the archipelagos of French Polynesia , Wallis and Futuna and New Caledonia , the atoll of Clipperton Island , in the eastern Pacific Ocean, and the French Southern Lands ( Kerguelenand several others in the southern Indian Ocean) and the so-called French Antarctic Lands ( Adelia Land and Dumont D'Urville Base in Antarctica ). Worldwide, it is the second country with the largest extension of territorial sea (11 million km²). [ 10 ]

France is the sixth world economy (2018) with a very high cultural diffusion in the international context. It is a member of the G7 , the euro zone and the Schengen area , and is home to many of the most important multinational companies, leaders in various segments of the industry and the primary sector, in addition to being the world's leading tourist destination, with 83 million foreign visitors per year (7% of GDP). [ 11 ] France is a developed country that ranks high in the international ranks. It is there where the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen of 1789 was written , it is a founding member of theUnited Nations Organization and one of the five permanent members of its Security Council . [ 12 ] France hosts the headquarters of the Council of Europe and the European Parliament , both in Strasbourg , and those of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development and Unesco , in Paris. Belonging to NATO , France is one of the eight recognized nuclear powers . [ 13 ]

Since the 16th century , the country was a colonial power , and for a long time the French language was the main language of diplomacy. Even today, it is one of the languages ​​with the greatest projection, and French culture and civilization form the link between the countries of the Francophonie . In 2018, the French language, with 284.9 million speakers, was the fifth most widely spoken in the world [ 14 ] and due to demographic trends in the 21st century, it would become the third most spoken language in the world. [ 15 ] [ 16 ]



Horse represented in the Lascaux cave , painted around 18,000 BC. C.

Important Lower Paleolithic remains exist in the Somme River and the traditional Pyrenees ( Neanderthal man ), as well as at La Chapelle-aux-Saints , Le Moustier and La Ferrassie . From the Upper Paleolithic there are abundant traces of the Cro-Magnon and Chancelade men , dated to about 25,000 years old, which are located in the Dordogne valley . [ 17 ] Among the most famous cave paintings in the world are those of Lascaux and Font de Gaume, in the French Pyrenees.

In the Mesolithic, some agricultural activities were replacing the caves in importance , and in the Neolithic (from the third millennium BC) the megalithic culture emerged (which used menhirs , dolmens and burials ). From around 1500 a. C. the age of the bronze begins , developing commercial routes. Tooling from the Acheulean industry of homo erectus from 900,000 to 1,000,000 years ago has been found in the Le Vallonnet grotto in southern France. The Iron Age and Celtic culturesthey are located within the 1st millennium BC. C.


Around the year 600 a. C. Greek Ionians arrived in Gaul and founded the colony of Massalia (modern city of Marseille ), near the mouth of the Rhone , which makes it the oldest city in France. [ 18 ] [ 19 ] At the same time tribes Gallic began to penetrate the eastern and northern France, and gradually extending to the rest of the country between centuries V and III a. C. [ 20 ]

The concept of Gaul emerged during this period, which corresponds to the Celtic settlement territories located between the Rhine , the Atlantic Ocean , the Pyrenees and the Mediterranean. The borders of modern France are roughly the same as those of Ancient Gaul, which was a prosperous territory, a territory of which, in the southernmost part, was subject to great Roman and Greek influences.

Around 390 a. C. the tribal chief Breno and his troops passed to Italy through the Alps , defeating the Romans in the battle of Alia , thus proceeding to besiege and demand the payment of a ransom from the city of Rome. [ 21 ] The Gallic invasion left Rome weakened, and the Gauls continued to harass the region until 345 BC. C. when they entered into a formal treaty with the city. [ 22 ] But the Romans and the Gauls remained rivals for centuries to come, thus the Gauls were a threat to Italy.

Vercingetorix surrenders to Caesar after the Battle of Alesia . The defeat of the Gauls secured the Roman dominion in the territory.

Around the year 125 a. Southern Gaul was conquered by the Romans, who called their new territory Provincia Nostra (Our Province), which over time evolved into the name of the modern French territory of Provence . [ 23 ] Julius Caesar conquered the rest of Gaul and overcame resistance directed Gallic leader Vercingetorix in 52 a. C. [ 24 ] According to Plutarch and Brendan Woods, the Gallic War resulted in the conquest of 800 cities, 300 subdued tribes, one million people turned into slaves and another three million dead in battle.

Gaul was divided by Augustus into Roman provinces. Many cities were founded in the Gallo-Roman period, such as Lugdunum ( today's Lyon ), the capital of Roman Gaul. [ 25 ] These cities were built in the Roman style, with a forum , a theater , a circus , an amphitheater, and thermal baths [ 25 ] . The Gauls mixed with the Roman settlers and eventually adopted Roman culture and language ( Latin , from which French evolved). The Roman polytheism was mixed withCeltic polytheism in a process of syncretism .

La Maison Carrée was a temple in the Gallo-Roman city of Nemausus (now Nimes ) and is one of the best-preserved remains of the Roman Empire .

From the year 250 to 280 AD. C., Roman Gaul suffered from numerous crises with the limes being attacked on numerous occasions by barbarian peoples . [ 26 ] Even so, the situation in the first half of the fourth century was a period of prosperity and rebirth in Gaul. [ 27 ] In 312 the Emperor Constantine I converted to Christianity, which took root in the second and third centuries , and was firmly established during the fifth and sixth centuries , at that time Jerónimo de Estridón(Saint Jerome) wrote that Gaul was the only region "free from heresy." [ 28 ] But at the beginning of the 5th century the barbarian invasions began again. [ 29 ] Teutonic tribes invaded the region from what is now Germany, the Visigoths settled in the southwest, the Burgundians along the Rhine River valley, and the Franks (from whom France takes its name) in the north. . [ 30 ]

In overseas France there were hunter-gatherer peoples in Guiana , in Saint Pierre and Miquelon paleo -Eskimo peoples settled , [ 31 ] in the French Antilles the pre-Columbian period began; Guadalupe by groups of preceramic Native Americans; [ 32 ] New Caledonia , Wallis and Futuna received its first inhabitants by the year 3000. C. and its first Lapita culture , which developed in the imillennium BC The rest of the overseas territories were apparently unoccupied during this period.

Kingdom of France (481 AD - 843 AD)

The territorial expansion of the francs between 481 and 814.

In 451, Attila , the leader of the Huns invaded Gaul with the help of the Frankish and Visigoth peoples , [ 33 ] managing to establish himself in the main part of Gaul . In the 4th century , the eastern frontier of Gaul along the Rhine was crossed by Germanic peoples , mainly the Franks , from whom the old name "Francie" derives. "Modern France" owes its name to the feudal rule of the Capeto kings.from France, around Paris. The Franks were the first tribe among the Germanic conquerors of Europe, after the fall of the Roman Empire , to convert to Christianity following the baptism of King Clovis in 498; thus, France obtained the title of "Eldest Daughter of the Church", and the country would adopt this as justification for calling itself "the most Christian kingdom in Europe."

With the conversion of Clovis to Catholicism in 496, the Frankish , elective and secular monarchy , until then, became hereditary and of divine right .

France during the Middle Ages was ruled by the following dynasties:

The Merovingian dynasty ruled present-day France and part of Germany between the 5th and 8th centuries . Its first king was Clovis I , who conquered much of the Gallic territory between 486 [ 34 ] and 507 (the year in which he established Paris as the capital). Clovis converted to Orthodox Christianity (in opposition to the Arian heresy ), being baptized in Reims around 496, [ 35 ] thus obtaining the support of the Gallo-Roman elites and establishing an important historical link between the French crown and the Church. catholic. [34]

In 732, Charles Martel defeated the Arab forces of the Umayyad Caliphate at the Battle of Poitiers , also called the Battle of Tours , thus halting the Muslim advance towards Rome through western Europe. Following the rise of Charlemagne in 768, the kingdom expanded to encompass much of Germany and Italy. At Christmas 800, Charlemagne was crowned emperor of the Romans by Pope Leo III , establishing the so-called Carolingian Empire .

Kingdom of France (843 AD - 1791 AD)

Joan of Arc , one of the protagonists of the Hundred Years War .

The existence of France as a separate entity began with the Treaty of Verdun (843), which divided the Carolingian Empire of Charlemagne in France Oriental , Western France and France Media . Western France comprised roughly the area occupied by modern France, of which it was the forerunner. Their kings continued to use the title of King of the Franks until the government of Philip Augustus , who first used the title of King of France in a diplomatic document dated 1204.

Louis XIV , the Sun King , by Hyacinthe Rigaud (1701).

Between the years 1337 and 1453, the Kingdom of France was the scene of the so-called Hundred Years' War , a war that it waged against the Kingdom of England , and which resulted in the English withdrawal from Gallic soil.

The history of France in the seventeenth century was marked by the height of royal power, which became absolute. After the Treaty of the Pyrenees (1659), the kingdom of France became a power whose radiance extended to much of Europe.

It is also a period of great change from a cultural point of view. The French culture radiates Europe, in all domains, supported by the creation of Academies: literature, arts, sciences. The Frenchman is confirmed as a language of great writers (Molière, Corneille). Painting, sculpture, architecture and music also flourish. French scientists have a very important position in Europe (astronomy, mathematics, physics, optics), with Fermat, Pascal, Descartes. French artists and intellectuals are at that time at the heart of European cultural networks. This is the reason why the seventeenth century is known in France as "the Great Century."

The absolute monarchy was gradually imposed as of the arrival to the throne of the House of Bourbon , a process initiated by Henry IV of France and which reached its peak under the reign of Louis XIV in the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries .

Despite periodic opposition from the high nobility and tensions with the provincial parliaments, this regime continued until the reign of Louis XVI . At this time France had the largest population in Europe and its politics, economy and culture influenced the entire continent. France also obtained many overseas possessions in America, Africa and Asia and part of Europe. The reign of Louis XIV was the most important in French history as he knew how to lead the kingdom. The end of his reign was marked by the first symptoms of the decline of the absolutist regime, the decline of French hegemony in Europe, the failure of his colonial policy and the social unrest suffered by the poor; tense situations that had his heirs in suspense.

I French Republic

Storming of the Bastille in 1789, symbol of the beginning of the French Revolution .

The secession of the Third Estate in the Estates General of 1789 and the creation of the Constituent Assembly marked the beginning of the French Revolution , whose symbolic milestone was the storming of the Bastille . This social, economic and political process developed between 1789 and 1799 and its main consequences were the abolition of the monarchy and the proclamation of the First French Republic in 1792, having eliminated all the economic and social bases of the Old Regime in France .

First French Empire

After a series of short-lived government schemes, Napoleon Bonaparte took control of the republic in 1799, becoming the first consul and emperor of what is now known as the First French Empire (1804-1814). Apart from his military prowess, Napoleon is also known for establishing the Napoleonic Code , a civil code that would remain in force until the second half of the 20th century.and it would serve as a model for other countries, such as Spain. He is also known for his talent for being surrounded by brilliant experts with a high sense of the State, who knew how to create the legal and administrative framework of contemporary France. Others, however, consider him a tyrannical dictator whose wars caused the deaths of millions of people, and one of the most megalomaniacal and nefarious characters of all time. [ 36 ]

After leading the armies of the Revolution to victory in a war of defense of the national territory threatened by the armies of the European monarchies, his army, the Grande Armée , conquered most of continental Europe . In the invaded territories, Napoleon appointed members of the Bonaparte family and some of his closest generals as monarchs of the territories. Today, the Swedish royal family is descended from the Bonapartist general Bernadotte .

The Battle of Waterloo in an oil painting by William Sadler . This battle, in Belgium, marked the final downfall of Napoleon.

Although the political organization of France oscillated between republic, empire and monarchy for seventy-five years after the First Republic fell after Napoleon Bonaparte's coup , the truth is that the revolution marked the definitive end of absolutism and gave to light to a new regime where the bourgeoisie , and on some occasions the popular masses, became the dominant political force in the country. After Napoleon's final defeat in 1815 at the Battle of Waterloo , his victors met at the Congress of Vienna , where the French Bourbon monarchy was reinstated., but with new limitations defined by a Magna Carta .

July Monarchy

In the July 1830 revolution , a civil uprising overthrew King Charles X and established the constitutional monarchy called the July Monarchy , bringing Louis Philip I , from the House of Orleans , to the throne .

II French Republic

The French Revolution of 1848 is a popular insurrection that took place in Paris from February 23 to 25, 1848. It forced King Louis Philippe I of France to abdicate and gave way to the Second French Republic .

Second french empire

This short-lived regime ended in December 1852, when French President Charles Louis Napoleon Bonaparte, nephew of the late Napoleon Bonaparte , staged a coup and proclaimed himself Napoleon III , emperor of the Second French Empire .

Then, in the country there is considerable development in means of transport, the positive economic bonanza grows, the banking network increases and a free trade agreement is signed with England in 1860 that encourages international trade. However, foreign policy had a series of important failures such as the second French intervention in Mexico and especially the resounding defeat in the Franco-Prussian War of 1870 in which Napoleon III was completely defeated.

III French Republic

The fall in the Franco-Prussian War precipitated the proclamation of the French Third Republic . France had colonial possessions in various parts of the world, from the early 17th century to the 1960s. In the 19th and 20th centuries , its colonial empire was the second largest in the world after the British Empire . At its peak, between 1919 and 1939, the Second French Colonial Empire spanned 12,347,000 square kilometers (4,767,000 square miles) of land. Including metropolitan France, the total area of ​​the land under French sovereignty reached 12,898,000 square kilometers (4,980,000 square miles) in the 1920s and 1930s, which is 8.6% of the land area of ​​the planet.

France during the world wars

In August 1914, after the assassination of the heir to the Austro-Hungarian crown, the Western Front of the First World War was opened after the German army invaded Belgium and Luxembourg , for which it managed to gain military control of the most important places industrialists of France.

Map of metropolitan France during its occupation by Axis forces (1940-1944), in World War II .

Although ultimately one of the victors in World War I , France suffered enormous human and material losses that weakened it for decades to come. The 1930s were marked by a variety of social reforms introduced by the Popular Front government .

France and the United Kingdom declared war on Nazi Germany on September 3, 1939 [ 37 ] by virtue of a treaty signed with Poland, whose territory had been invaded by the Wehrmacht , a German army. At the beginning of World War II , France carried out a series of unsuccessful rescue campaigns in Norway , Belgium and the Netherlands between 1939 and 1940. After the lightning attack by Nazi Germany and its ally, fascist Italy, between May and June 1940, the political leadership of France signed the Armistice of June 22, 1940. The Germans established an authoritarian regime under the tutelage of Marshal Philippe Pétain known as Vichy France , who adopted a policy of collaboration with Nazi Germany. [ 38 ] Opponents of the regime formed the Free French state outside of France, supported the French resistance, and increasingly added colonial territories to their cause. Continental France was liberated with the common effort of the Allies , Free France, and the French resistance in 1945.

IV French Republic

The Fourth French Republic , founded after World War II , struggled to maintain its economic and political status as a world power. He tried to regain control over his colonial empire , affected by the war. The half-hearted attempt in 1946 to regain control in French Indochina resulted in the First Indochina War , which ended in French defeat at the Battle of Dien Bien Phu in 1954. Only a few months later, France faced a new conflict. , even harsher than the previous one in its oldest and most important colony, Algeria .

V French Republic

The 1958 Constitution , which gave way to the Fifth Republic , meant an increase in powers for the executive.

The debate over maintaining control of Algeria , then the land of a million European settlers, weakened the country and led to near civil war. In 1958, the weak and unstable fourth republic led to the French Fifth Republic , which relies on a strong executive branch.

Barricades in 1960 in the streets of Algiers during the Algerian war

Charles de Gaulle took the extreme path of war. The Algerian War and the civil war that broke out in Algeria between supporters of leaving the colony and settlers who were clinging to maintain the French presence, was concluded in 1962, with Evian's declaration that included the holding of a self-determination referendum .

May 1968 protests in Paris

General de Gaulle also had to face another ordeal in May 1968 , from which he emerged triumphant in the early elections called in June of the same year.

In 1981, the socialist François Mitterrand was elected president of France and ruled from 1981 to 1995. Later, the conservative Jacques Chirac would be elected president of France, ruling between 1995 and 2007, the year in which his Minister of the Interior, Nicolas Sarkozy , was elected. President. France supported the United States in the first Gulf War (1990), [ 39 ] as well as in the overthrow of the Taliban regime . France's reconciliation and cooperation with Germany proved the central line to the political and economic integration of the European Development Union , [ 40 ]Including the introduction of the euro in January 1999. France was at the forefront of European Union member states trying to exploit the momentum of the monetary union to create a political European Union, with a more capable and unified defense and apparatus in security.

Dominique de Villepin , at the head of French diplomacy, led the bloc of countries that opposed the 2003 invasion of Iraq , [ 41 ] threatening to use his right to veto in the Security Council , leading to a cooling of relations with the George W. Bush administration . The candidate of the conservative right, Nicolas Sarkozy , defeated Segolene Royal in the electoral elections of May 6, 2007 to occupy the Presidency of the French Republic, succeeding Jacques Chirac . [ 42 ]On May 6, 2012 Sarkozy was defeated in his aspiration to continue as head of the government in the presidential elections by the socialist candidate François Hollande . [ 43 ]

In the 2010s the country suffered several Islamist attacks, including the attack on Charlie Hebdo in early 2015 with 12 deaths, [ 44 ] the bombings in Paris in November that year with 130 dead [ 45 ] , and the Nice 2016 with 85 fatalities.

At the end of 2018, they had several protests and arrests in Paris related to the yellow vest movement , [ 46 ] in discontent with the policies of President Emmanuel Macron .

government and politics

The current Constitution of France (Constitution of the Fifth Republic) was approved by referendum on 28 September 1958. With its implementation, the office of President of the Republic significantly strengthened its authority over the executive branch , [ 47 ] above embodied in the prime minister and the government, becoming the true representative of the Executive in relation to parliament . According to the Constitution, the president is elected by direct suffragefor a period of five years (originally it was seven years). The arbitration of the president ensures the regular operation and balance of public powers . The president appoints the prime minister , who presides over the Cabinet, commands the armed forces, and concludes treaties. The cabinet or council of ministers is appointed by the president on the proposal of the prime minister. This government organization is known as a semi-presidential republic .

The National Assembly is the main legislative body. Its 577 deputies are directly elected for a term of five years and all seats are voted in each election. The other chamber is the Senate , whose 321 senators are elected by an electoral college (it is an indirect vote) and remain in office for nine years. One third of the Senate is renewed every three years. The legislative powers of the Senate are limited, and the National Assembly has the final say in the event of a dispute between both houses. The government has a strong influence on the parliamentary agenda. There is also a Constitutional Council (9 members), [48 ] that ensures control of the constitutionality of laws and resolves electoral disputes. French citizens are all those over 18 years of age.

External relationships

Since the presidency of General Charles de Gaulle (1958-1969), France's foreign policy has been characterized by a desire for independence, especially from the United States, [ 49 ] which led to the development of nuclear weapons by France. and the withdrawal of the integrated command of NATO between 1966 and 2009. [ 49 ]

France's network of embassies is the third in the world, with 156 embassies and 97 consulates across five continents. [ 50 ] France helps developing countries, especially Africa. Official development assistance represents 0.36% of France's gross national product in 2014, lower than that of the United Kingdom or Germany . [ 51 ]

European Union

The Clock Room where the Schuman Declaration was delivered

The Schuman Declaration is the title informally known to the speech delivered by French Foreign Minister Robert Schuman on May 9, 1950 in which - as officially recognized by the European Union - the first step towards the formation of this organization by proposing that the coal and steel of Germany and France (and the other countries that joined) be put under joint administration.

The Treaty of Paris , signed on April 18, 1951 between Belgium , France, the Federal Republic of Germany , Italy , Luxembourg and the Netherlands , established the European Coal and Steel Community ( ECSC ) which subsequently became part, first, of the European Communities and then the European Union . [ 52 ] The French have the second largest representation in the European Parliament , by virtue of their number of inhabitants; Furthermore, the French Jean-Claude TrichetHe was President of the European Central Bank and Jacques Barrot was one of the Vice - Presidents of the European Commission for the period 2004-2009.

Strasbourg is the seat of the European Parliament ; plenary sessions are held there one week each month. For this reason, the city is considered the second capital of the EU after Brussels , where the deputies are the rest of the time. The city is also home to the Eurocorps Central Command and the Europol Information Center .

On July 14, 2007, troops from the 27 countries of the European Union paraded together for the first time on the Champs Elysees in Paris on the occasion of the French national holiday in a ceremony led by Sarkozy. [ 53 ] The French presidency of the Council of the European Union in the second half of 2008 was framed within the rotating administration system of that institution. [ 54 ] It was expected that at the end of the administration the European Treaty of Lisbon would enter into force , allowing the first permanent president of the Union to be appointed, but this was not possible since the document was not ratified by all the states.

In 2017 Emmanuel Macron was one of the main leaders of the project to re-found the European Union . [ 55 ]

Armed forces

Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier , Rafale fighter jet , Leclerc tank and French soldiers in Afghanistan.

The French Armed Forces are members of NATO , EUFOR and the Eurocorps . The French army , with a staff force of 547,278 in 2014 (257,920 regular, 204,000 reservists and nearly 100,000 gendarmerie ), [ 56 ] constitutes one of the largest military forces in Europe. In 2011 the country had the fifth highest global military spending, behind the United States, China, Russia and the United Kingdom. [ 57 ]

The dynamic French arms industry, especially aeronautics, produces fighter planes such as the Rafale , with nuclear cargo. The DGSE is the country's intelligence service . The French Navy has only one aircraft carrier , the nuclear powered Charles de Gaulle, but they hope to have one available in 2012 under the name PA2 (Aircraft Carrier 2) that will displace 75,000 tons. [ 58 ] In 2011, France allocated 2.3% of its annual GDP to national defense, according to NATO data, and together with Germany they jointly allocate more than 40% of the total defense expenditure of theEuropean Union . [ 59 ] About 10% of the French defense budget goes to the Force de frappe , in charge of nuclear weapons loaded on submarines. [ 60 ]

In March 2008 the French government announced its plans to reduce its arsenal to less than 300 nuclear warheads, " half the maximum " of those it maintained during the Cold War. [ 61 ]

Human rights

Regarding human rights , with regard to membership of the seven bodies of the International Bill of Human Rights , which include the Human Rights Committee (HRC), France has signed or ratified:

UN emblem blue.svgStatus of major international instruments of human rights [ 62 ]
Flag of France
International deals
CESCR[63] CCPR [ 64 ] CERD [ 65 ] CED[66] CEDAW [ 67 ] CAT[68] CRC[69] MWC[70] EARL [ 71 ]
Belonging Yes check.svgFrance has recognized the competence to receive and process individual communications by the competent bodies. No information. Yes check.svgFrance has recognized the competence to receive and process individual communications by the competent bodies. Yes check.svgFrance has recognized the competence to receive and process individual communications by the competent bodies. Neither signed nor ratified. Yes check.svgFrance has recognized the competence to receive and process individual communications by the competent bodies. No information. Signed and ratified. Signed and ratified. Signed and ratified. No information. Signed and ratified. Signed but not ratified. Signed but not ratified. Neither signed nor ratified. Signed but not ratified. Signed but not ratified.
Yes check.svg Signed and ratified, Check.svg signed, but not ratified, X mark.svg neither signed nor ratified, Symbol comment vote.svg No information, Sign 101 - danger point, StVO 1970.svg has agreed to sign and ratify the body in question, but also recognizes the competence to receive and process individual communications from the competent bodies.

Territorial organization

Regions of France since 2015

France is administratively divided into regions, departments, districts, cantons, and municipalities (or communes). Additionally, it has communities, territories and dependencies. The largest department is French Guiana with 91,000 km². [ 72 ]

The 18 regions and their corresponding 101 departments are from the metropolis or overseas.

Metropolitan territorial division

  • 13 regions (in French régions ): France is divided into 18 regions, of which 13 are in the metropolis. Although it is the main division, France is a unitary country and the regions do not have legislative or executive autonomy, but receive from the state a consistent part of the national taxes that they can dispose and distribute according to their needs.
  • 96 departments ( départements in French ): are governed by a General Council elected for six years by direct suffrage. They were created in 1790 so that everyone could address their representatives on a horse journey at the most. Each has a prefect.
  • 329 districts (in French arrondissements ): each department is divided into several districts, each having its sub-prefect. His role is to help the prefect of the department.
  • 3,879 cantons : it is a smaller division, especially for electoral purposes.
  • 36 571 communes : equivalent to the municipality. In the city of Paris, they are called arrondissements .
  • Intercommunities of France (in French intercommunautés ): equivalent to a commonwealth, they group together several communes within the same department.

Overseas territorial division

Six dependencies are scattered and currently uninhabited French islands: Clipperton , in the northeastern Pacific Ocean (administered from French Polynesia) and Isla Europa , the Islas Gloriosas , Juan de Nova , Tromelin , and Bassas da India , in the southwest of the ocean. Indica (managed by Reunion ).


Physical geography

Metropolitan France with cities (urban areas) of more than 100,000 inhabitants.

The French territory has an area of ​​675 417 km², [ 1 ] which represents 0.50% of the emerged lands of the planet (43rd place in the world). The metropolitan France , ie European, has 551,500 square kilometers, [ 1 ] while the French overseas has another 123 722 km² (excluding the Adelie Land by the Antarctic Treaty in 1959 that suspended the recognition of all sovereignties in that region). It is the largest country in Western Europe and the European Union (with about 1/5 of the surface of the EU). Its largest islands are New Caledonia , Corsica, Kerguelen , Reunion , Guadeloupe , Martinique , Tahiti and Mayotte .

Topography of metropolitan France.

The political demarcation of continental European France is based on its "natural borders" being these (counterclockwise): the North Sea , the English Channel , the Atlantic Ocean ( Bay of Biscay ); the Pyrenees ; the Mediterranean Sea ( Gulf of León , Costa Azul ); the Alps ; the Jura mountains ; the river rhine. The Rhine is a border for only part of its course, a point from which to the North Sea there are no geographical features that "naturally" delimit the border with Belgium, Luxembourg and Germany. The most important French island in Europe is Corsica , located in the Mediterranean Sea. In metropolitan France the borders extend for 2,889 km and the coastline for another 3,427 km. In Africa, Asia, Oceania, North America and the Caribbean, the French territory is insular. The French Guiana (in South America) is the only mainland outside Europe, bordered to the north by the Atlantic Ocean (378 km); to the west with Suriname (510 km), to the east with Brazil (673 km). Most of theThe island of Saint Martin (in the Caribbean Sea) is French having a southern border with the Netherlands Antilles (10.2 km).

Gorge of the Verdon in Provence

The territory of France, and its metropolitan or continental part, limits, to the south, with the Mediterranean Sea and Monaco (4.4 km); to the southwest, with Spain (623 km), Andorra (56.6 km) and the Cantabrian Sea ; to the west, with the Atlantic Ocean ; to the north, with the English Channel , the United Kingdom (22.6 m, in the middle of the submarine tunnel that connects them), the North Sea and Belgium (620 km), and to the east, with Luxembourg (73 km), Germany (451 km), Switzerland (573 km) and Italy(488 km). Its European insular territory includes the island of Corsica , in the western Mediterranean, and various coastal archipelagos in the Atlantic Ocean . In America , French Guiana is the territory of France , which borders Brazil (673 km) [ 73 ] and Suriname (510 km), also most of the island of Saint Martin which borders the Dutch part of Sint Marteen (10 , 2 km) [ 74 ] , and the islands and archipelagos of Martinique , Guadeloupe ,San Bartolomé , and San Pedro and Miquelon . In the Indian Ocean it has the islands of Mayotte and Reunion , as well as the archipelagos of French Polynesia , Wallis and Futuna and New Caledonia in the Pacific Ocean . The uninhabited territories of France are the atoll of Clipperton Island , in the eastern Pacific Ocean, and the French Southern Lands ( Kerguelen and several others in the southern Indian Ocean) and the so-called French Antarctic Lands ( Adelie Land andDumont D'Urville Base in Antarctica ). Worldwide, it is the 2nd country with the largest extension of territorial sea (11 million km²). [ 75 ]

France has part of the Pyrenees (border with Spain and Andorra) and the Alps (border with Italy), both to the south. Other mountain ranges are the Jura (on the border with Switzerland), the Ardennes , the Massif Central and the Vosges mountain range . The Mont Blanc in the Alps with 4810.06 meters is the highest peak in Western Europe and the European Union. The lowest point in the country is in the Rhone river delta: -2 m. The territory also has coastal plains to the north and west of the country.

Biodiversity and land uses

Most of the metropolitan France corresponds to the biome of temperate hardwood forest , although also present temperate coniferous forest in the Alps and the Mediterranean forest in the southeast. The number of deer and deer in the wild is increasing thanks to policies oriented towards this objective, in addition, the protection of non-domestic native species is guaranteed, with the creation of parks and nature reserves, as well as the reintroduction of species that were exterminated in the country ( brown bear , lynx and European bison , among others).

Field of lavender in Provence

In metropolitan France there are 136 species of trees, [ 76 ] something exceptional for a European country. Vegetable species cultivated for direct human consumption and for agro-industrial production occupy large areas of the French surface, highlighting the vine and wheat among many others. Intensive breeding and exploitation of cattle , pigs , sheep , goats and horses is practiced . Minor species such as rabbits and poultry are also abundant .

Cereals in Beauce

Agricultural production represents 56% (of which farmland is 33%, permanent crops 3%, and permanent pastures 20%), forest mass 28%, and "others" 16%. [ 77 ] The forests extend over the surface of metropolitan France to cover more than 140,000 km. The specially protected areas make up 8% of the national territory. The subsoil provides abundant building materials ( gravel , sand , lime ) and raw materials ( kaolin , talc , sulfur , potash ), but is poor in energy and mineral products. TheFrench Guiana , for its part, is part of the Guayano-Venezuelan Massif, having 90% of its territory covered by tropical rainforest .

Hydrology and coasts

Main river basins of metropolitan France

Inland waters cover 0.26% of the French continental surface. The most important rivers in France are, on the Atlantic slope: the Loire , the Garonne , the Dordogne (in the Atlantic Ocean), and the Seine (in the English Channel ). On the Mediterranean side, the Rhone (in the Gulf of León), with its tributary the Saone . It also has a good part of the basins of the rivers Rhine, Meuse , Mosel and Scheldt (which flow into the North Sea). The longest inland river is the Loire, with more than 1000 km. The largest lake is Lemán (582 km²).

Cliffs near Étretat ( Normandy )

France has 5500 km of coastline and ranks fourth in fish production in the EU. In total, the French coasts are bathed by the Atlantic, Indian, and Pacific oceans. France's Maritime Zone is 12 miles from the coast, and the Exclusive Economic Zone extends up to 200 miles from the coast (11 million km²).


Types of Weather in France

France is located in western Europe, and although the country is not as big as those in America, the climate is very varied. France has an Atlantic facade. That is why, thanks to the Gulf Stream, it has a humid and mild climate, with mild winters and cool summers.

In the inland area, the climate is more continental and more rigorous with increasing altitude. Low and cloudy skies predominate in the north of the country. Towards the center and east, the winters are cold and the summers hot, alternating with neutral temperatures. On the other hand, the south of France is characterized by its Mediterranean climate, with hot summers and winters with mild temperatures and clear skies, although it must be taken into account that temperatures drop as they rise and if the areas are affected by the winds from the north, such as the Mistral or the Tramontana.

For all these reasons, the climate of France is characterized by being temperate and being subjected to the Atlantic influences that enter the interior. Afterwards, in no French region does it rain less than 500 mm per year. The extension in the latitude of France causes that there are different types of climate, from the Mediterranean climate of the southeastern coast to the Alpine one in the highest areas. The oceanic climate of the Atlantic coast is characterized by mild temperatures and low thermal amplitude. In the east of the country the continental climate predominates, in which the thermal amplitude is greater, with warmer summers and colder winters, in addition to having more rainfall in summer. France's Mediterranean climate is characterized by hot summers and mild winters. France's alpine climate is noticeable in the Alps, the Pyrenees or different high points of the country. Average temperatures are quite low and rainfall falls in the form of snow, even exceeding 3,000 mm per year in certain areas.


France is considered a developed country thanks to its standard of living ( HDI ) and by other indicators. It is the seventh largest economy in the world in nominal terms , and at the European level it is placed behind Germany, with a GDP in dollars higher than that of the United Kingdom. In 2006, French economic growth reached 2%, being the lowest in the euro zone and its unemployment rates among the highest. [ 78 ]

The French economy has a large base of private companies, but state intervention in large companies is higher than in other economies of its size. Key sectors with large investments in infrastructure, such as electricity, telecommunications or the aeronautical sector, have historically been directly or indirectly directed by the State, although since the early 1990s, state participation has been declining.

Its assets are diverse: transport , telecommunications, agro-food industries, pharmaceuticals , aeronautics , defense, technology , as well as the banking sector, insurance , tourism , and traditional luxury products (leather goods, ready-to-wear , perfumes , alcohols , etc.). GDP by sector: Agriculture (2.7%), industry (24.4%), services (72.9%). On the other hand, solar energy is beginning to be increasingly important in France. [ 79 ]It has a major aerospace industry run by the European Airbus consortium in addition to having a space base called the Kourou spaceport . In telecommunications, France Télécom stands out as the main operator in the country.

Without oil production, France has relied on the development of nuclear power , which now accounts for about 78% of the country's electricity production . The radioactive waste is stored in facilities retreatment. In 2006 , net electricity production amounted to 548.8 TWh, of which: [ 80 ]

  1. 428.7 TWh (78.1%) were produced by the generation of nuclear reactors .
  2. 60.9 TWh (11.1%) were produced by the generation of hydroelectric plants .
  3. 52.4 TWh (9.5%) were produced by the generation of thermoelectric plants .
  4. 6.9 TWh (1.3%) were produced by the generation of other types such as wind turbines.

Working market

THE per capita GDP French is slightly lower than that of other comparable large European economies such as Germany or Britain, although GDP per hour worked is one of the highest in the OECD . [ 81 ] GDP per capita is determined by (I) productivity per hour worked, which in France is the highest of the G8 member countries, [ 81 ] (II) the number of hours worked, which is one one of the lowest in developed economies; [ 82 ] (III) the activity rate. France has one of the lowest activity rates for the segment of the population between 15 and 64 years of the OECD: in 2004 only 68.8% of this segment of the population was employed, compared to rates of 80% in Japan, 78 9% in the UK or 71.0% in Germany, the age groups of 15-24 and 55-64 are precisely those with significantly lower rates in relation to the European Union to 25. [ 83 ] [ 84 ]

The fact that the activity rate is low is explained by the existence of a high minimum wage (which keeps unproductive workers, such as young people, out of the labor market, although it guarantees decent working conditions), a university education in many cases little in line with the world of work [ citation needed ] and in the case of older workers, incentives for early retirement. [ 85 ]

Regarding the standard of living of the French, a significant fact is that the gap between rich and poor has deepened in France during the period from 2004 to 2007. According to a study by INSEE ( Institut National de la Statistique et des Études Économiques ) , "The general population has become poorer compared to those with very high incomes, who have seen much stronger average increases." [ 86 ]


Exports (2011) to [ 87 ] Imports (2011) of
Country Percentage Country Percentage
GermanyFlag of Germany.svg Germany 16,7 % GermanyFlag of Germany.svg Germany 19,1 %
ItalyFlag of Italy.svg Italy 8,3 % BelgiumFlag of Belgium (civil).svg Belgium 11,3 %
SpainFlag of Spain.svg Spain 7,4 % ItalyFlag of Italy.svg Italy 7,7 %
BelgiumFlag of Belgium (civil).svg Belgium 7,4 % NetherlandsFlag of the Netherlands.svg Netherlands 7,5 %
UKFlag of the United Kingdom UK 6,7 % SpainFlag of Spain.svg Spain 6,6 %
United States flag USA 5,0 % UKFlag of the United Kingdom UK 5,1 %
NetherlandsFlag of the Netherlands.svg Netherlands 4,3 % ChinaFlag of the People's Republic of China China 4,8 %

The great European and world war conflicts between 1870 and 1945 faced France and Germany , however, both countries have built a network of relationships since the 1950s: research institutes and common universities, an intense youth exchange, more than 2000 twinned cities and countless personal contacts. This situation laid the foundation for European political integration, they are reciprocally its main trading partner and together they constitute the economic engine of the European Union .

In 2005 with 10.2%, it was once again the main destination for German exports and the origin of 8.7% of imports. [ 88 ] In 2006 more than 14% of French exports went to Germany and about 17% of total French imports came from Germany. [ 89 ] Other important partners in 2006 were Belgium , Italy , the United Kingdom and Spain .


Vineyard in the Champagne-Ardenne region .

It is the main agricultural producer in the European Union, about a third of all agricultural land. Northern France is characterized by large wheat farms . Dairy products, pork and apple production are found mostly in the western region. Beef production is located mainly in the central zone, while the production of fruits , vegetables , and wine extends from the center to the south. It is a large agricultural producer and is currently expanding its forestry and fish farming industries. The implementation of the common agricultural policy of the European Unionand the General Agreement on tariffs and trade, GATT have caused reforms of the agricultural sector of the economy.

It is a world agricultural production leader and the sixth largest. It is also the second largest exporter, after the United States . However, 70% of its exports are destined for other members of the European Union and many poor African countries (including its former colonies) facing serious food shortages. US agricultural exports to France are approximately $ 600 million each year and consist primarily of soybeans , food and feed products, and shellfish . They mainly export cheese to the United States, processed products and wine. It amounts to more than 950 million dollars a year. The French poultry sector is mainly made up of two sectors: chickens for fattening and eggs for consumption.


In electrical energy, the Électricité de France company is responsible for the main supply of electricity in France. On the other hand, neighboring Spain usually exports electricity to France through the existing interconnections between the electrical systems of both countries.

Map with the location of nuclear plants in the country. Nuclear is the majority energy source in France.

The French nuclear industry is now a leading sector in its economy and one of the pillars of its energy policy. France is the second largest producer of nuclear energy in the world only behind the United States . With more than 60 nuclear reactors on its territory, France has the second largest complex in the world, while the share of nuclear energy in the total production of its electricity corresponds to about 79%, making France the leader in the entire world. world regarding this development.


Tourism is a primary source of the French economy, as this is the country with the most visitors in the world, with approximately 80 million a year; Its tourists come mainly from North America , Japan , China , and other European countries. Paris is the main attraction, but the Côte d'Azur and the Loire castles also receive many visitors . France is a country with multiple points of tourist interest: apart from cultural tourism derived from its historical and artistic heritage, it has beach , mountain and country tourism .

The country also has several theme parks. The most famous are:

Foreign trade

French exports in 2006.

For more than thirty years, French industry has been considerably externalizing itself. The development of French exports, however, varies greatly from one sector to another.

Very important for the balance of French foreign trade is the agri-food sector, since in this area they include productions such as alcoholic beverages ( champagne , wine , cognac ), followed by the production of cereals (such as wheat ) and livestock and meats. In terms of export and import balance, the agri-food sector is followed by the automotive sector.

France's main trading partners abroad are the countries of the European Union with which it had a trade surplus of 62% of exports and 60% of imports in 2000. After the European Union, the countries of Asia and the United States are also its main partners in economic matters abroad.

France's main oil suppliers are Norway , Saudi Arabia , Russia and the United Kingdom . Other imported products are French household appliances and leather clothing products.

France in the international context

The historical trajectory of France, as well as the construction of its solid economic model after the Second World War , have given it a very relevant political status in most international organizations. In fact, regardless of macroeconomic indicators such as GDP or per capita income , France stands out in social indicators such as the percentage of paved roads or the ratio of Internet users, whose increase in recent years (372.8% since the year 2000) has been higher than that of some adjacent countries. According to the World Bank , France has 53% of land dedicated to agriculture , and it is one of the countries that has reduced the mostCO2 emissions per capita in recent decades, for which it has been supported in part by the proliferation of nuclear power plants . According to data from the CIA World Factbook , the average life expectancy of the French is 80.98 years and of these 64 years are in good health (ninth country in the European ranking, according to Eurostat ). The number of beds in hospitals, an important indicator for measuring the global healthcare environment, is 718.3 units per 100,000 inhabitants (the only large European country that exceeds this is Germany ). Furthermore, according to the World Economic Forum, France is the fifteenth country in the world in the Global Competitiveness Index. The following table shows the socio-economic context of France based on data from the World Bank, Eurostat and the World Economic Forum:

Indicator Value Position in the world Increase
Gross domestic product (nominal) 2,649,390,060,000
Source: World Bank (2009)
The world's richest country by GDP [ 90 ]
France: 5th place
1 327 964 749 824 $ in 2000 (incr: 99.5%)
Source: Evolution between 1960 and 2009 [ 91 ]
Surface 643 427 km²
Source: World Bank (2008)
Largest countries in the world [ 92 ]
France: 42º place
Population 66,940,000 people
Source: World Bank (2015)
Most populous countries in the world [ 93 ]
France since 19th
58,895,516 people in 2000 (incr 6.3%)
Source: Evolution between 1960 and 2009 [ 94 ]
CO2 emissions 6 tons
Source: World Bank (2007)
Countries with higher CO2 emissions [ 95 ]
France since 57th
6,069 You tonnes in 2000 (incr: -1.1%)
Source: Evolution between 1960 and 2007 [ 96 ]
Rent per capita 43 333
Source: World Bank (2009)
Countries with highest per capita income [ 97 ]
France: 11th place
$ 24,450 in 2000 (incr: 67.9%)
Source: Evolution between 1962 and 2009 [ 98 ]
Birth rate 2 people
Source: World Bank (2008)
Countries with the highest birth rate (children per woman) [ 99 ]
France: 95th place
1.88 people in 2000 (incr 6.4%)
Source: Evolution between 1960 and 2008 [ 100 ]
% Internet users 67.9%
Source: World Bank (2008)
Countries with the highest rate of Internet users [ 101 ]
France: since 22º
14.36% in 2000 (incr: 372.8%)
Source: Evolution between 1990 and 2008 [ 102 ]
Average days to start a business 7 days
Source: World Bank (2009)
Faster countries to set up a company [ 103 ]
France: as 149th
42 days in 2003 (incr: -83.3%)
Source: Evolution between 2003 and 2009 [ 104 ]
Energy consumption per inhabitant 4258 kilograms
Source: World Bank (2007)
Countries with higher energy consumption per capita [ 105 ]
France: 23º place
4386.68 kilograms in 2000 (incr: -2.9%)
Source: Evolution between 1960 and 2007 [ 106 ]
Land dedicated to agriculture 53.7%
Source: World Bank (2007)
Countries with more land devoted to agriculture [ 107 ]
France: since 57th
54% in 2000 (incr: -0.6%)
Source: Evolution between 1961 and 2007 [ 108 ]
Consumed electrical power 7,772 kilowatt-hours
Source: World Bank (2007)
Countries with more electric power consumed [ 109 ]
France: 20th place
7485.97 kilowatt-hours in 2000 (incr: 3.8%)
Source: Evolution between 1960 and 2007 [ 110 ]
Forest area 156 352 km²
Source: World Bank (2007)
Countries with the largest forest area [ 111 ]
France: 33º place
153,510 km² in 2000 (incr 1.9%)
Source: Evolution between 1990 and 2007 [ 112 ]
Paved roads 99%
Source: World Bank (2007)
Paved roads countries with [ 113 ]
France: since 3rd
99% in 2000 (incr: 0%)
Source: Evolution between 1996 and 2007 [ 114 ]
Life expectancy (women) 84.5 years
Source: Eurostat (2008)
European Countries by longer life expectancy for women [ 115 ]
France: since 9th
63.2 years in 2000 (incr 1.6%)
Source: Evolution between 1995 and 2008 [ 116 ]
Life expectancy (men) 77.8 years
Source: Eurostat (2008)
European Countries by increased life expectancy for men [ 117 ]
France: since 10th
60.1 years in 2000 (incr 3.8%)
Source: Evolution between 1995 and 2008 [ 118 ]
No. of cancer deaths 166.7 people
Source: Eurostat (2008)
European Countries by the number of deaths due to cancer [ 119 ]
France: since 14.º
184.1 people in 2001 (incr: -9.5%)
Source: Evolution between 2001 and 2008 [ 120 ]
No. of HIV deaths 1 people
Source: Eurostat (2008)
European Countries by the number of deaths due to HIV [ 121 ]
France: since 6.º
1.8 people in 2001 (incr: -44.4%)
Source: Evolution between 2001 and 2008 [ 122 ]
No. of beds in hospitals 718.3 units
Source: Eurostat (2006)
European Countries by the number of beds in hospitals [ 123 ]
France: since 7th
816.8 units in 2000 (incr: -12.1%)
Source: Evolution between 1996 and 2006 [ 124 ]
Global Competitiveness Index 5,127 units
Source: World Economic Forum (2011)
Most competitive countries [ 125 ]
France: since 15.º
5,181 units in 2008 (incr: -1%)
Source: Evolution between 2008 and 2011 [ 126 ]


TGV , a high speed train.

The railway network is 29,640 kilometers (2008 figure), the second largest in Western Europe after Germany. [ 127 ] It is operated by the state company SNCF (National Society of French Railways) that owns high-speed trains such as the Thalys , the Eurostar and the TGV that reach 320 kilometers per hour. Eurostar trains connect France via the Eurotunnel with the United Kingdom . It also has rail connections with its other neighboring countries in Europe, except with Andorra . There is also metroin various cities of the country such as Paris , Lille , Lyon , Marseille , Rennes and Toulouse .

A-40 motorway

There are approximately one million kilometers of useful road in the country. [ 128 ] The Paris region has the densest road network, linking it to virtually all parts of the country and to Belgium , Spain , Monaco , Switzerland , Germany and Italy . There is no price for taxes on the roads, however, the use of the highway is toll except in the surroundings of large agglomerations. French brands dominate the car market in the country, such as Renault (27% of cars sold in France in 2003), Peugeot(20.1%) and Citroën (13.5%). [ 129 ] More than 74% of the new cars sold in 2007 were diesel powered. [ 130 ]

Airbus A380 , the largest commercial aircraft in the world.

There are approximately 478 airports, including airfields. The Paris-Charles de Gaulle airport , located in the outskirts of Paris, is the largest and busiest airport in the country, handling the majority of civil and commercial traffic, and connecting Paris with practically all the major cities in the world. Air France is the national airline, although many private airlines provide domestic and international travel.

There are ten main ports, the largest of which is Marseille . 14,932 kilometers of waterways cross France including the Canal du Midi which connects the Mediterranean Sea with the Atlantic Ocean via the Garonne River .


It has 66 952 000 inhabitants (October 2015), of which 62 793 432 live in metropolitan France , with a density of 115 inhabitants / km², and 2 653 942 live in overseas France, including a community of about 2000 scientists and leading researchers in Antarctica .

Around 75% of French people live in urban centers. Paris and its metropolitan area corresponding to the region known as " Ile de France " has 11,769,433 inhabitants, [ 131 ] which makes it one of the largest in the world, and the most populated in the European Union. Other metropolitan areas with more than one million inhabitants are Lyon and Marseille, which each exceed one and a half million inhabitants.

Cities of more than
200,000 inhabitants. (2011)
metropolitan areas (2011)
Paris 2 249 971 Paris 12 292 895
Marsella 850 636 Lyon 2 288 759
Lyon 472 305 Marsella 1 720 941
Toulouse 447 340 Toulouse 1 250 251
Nice 344 064 Little 1 159 547
Nantes 287 845 Bordeaux 1 140 668
Strasbourg 272 222 Nice 1 003 947
Montpellier 264 538 Nantes 884 275
Bordeaux 235 178 Strasbourg 764 013
Little 227 533 Rennes 679 866
Rennes 208 033 Grenoble 675 122

The life expectancy at birth is the 84.5 years for women and 77.8 years for men (2009). [ 132 ] Generally, men tend to get full-time jobs and women part-time. In France, legal paid holidays add up to five weeks in each working year. It is considered one of the countries with the highest quality of life since the population enjoys a high degree of services, apart from health, which is one of the best in the world.

The population is made up of descendants of various ethnic groups, mainly of Celtic origin (but also Ligurian and Iberian ), mainly Gauls fused with the preceding population, who gave name to the region of Gaul , today France (which also included Belgium , Luxembourg and Switzerland ). Chronologically, other ethnic groups were added: in the formative historical process of present-day France, the populations of Greek , Roman , Basque , German origin (mainly Francobut also Burgundian ), Viking (in Normandy ) and to a lesser extent Saracen .

Population density in France by area in 2011.

Since the 19th century , France has been a country of immigration . [ 133 ] One in four inhabitants is of foreign origin (in 1999, 23% of the population). [ 134 ] Among the foreigners who are integrating, the Belgians , Swiss , Germans , Italians , Spaniards predominate ( Spanish immigration began in the 19th century ), Portuguese , Poles , Armenians , Greeks , North Africans ,Sub - Saharan Africans , Chinese (one million in 2007), [ 135 ] Indochinese ( Vietnamese , 250,000 in 2008), [ 136 ] Turks (500 000 in 2010 [ 137 ] ) and Roma (500 000 in 2005 [ 138 ] ). The largest number of immigrants in recent years comes from the Maghreb . [ 139 ]In total there are about four and a half million immigrants, of whom approximately one and a half million were born in foreign land but have become naturalized by acquiring French nationality, while another three million are still foreigners. According to the Government, it is estimated that in France there are between 200,000 and 400,000 illegal immigrants , although the NGOs speak of half a million. [ 140 ]

Studies of the French population show its majority composition of citizens of European origin, 91.6%, of which 85.0% are French and 6.6% from other countries. 5.7% of the population comes from African countries, 3.0% from Asians and 0.6% from Americans. [ 141 ] According to a study published in La France africaine (2000), 13% of the French population is of African origin ( Maghreb and black Africa ). [ 142 ]This composition is the result of migratory evolution and the significant presence of a population born in France but of foreign parents, generally immigrants who over the years obtained French citizenship. The population of Jewish origin was estimated at 550,000 people in the early 2000s, although no statistical data exist since French law prohibits the collection of census data on ethnicities or religions.

Demographic evolution

Evolution of the country's population between 1960 and 2010.

The privileged situation in Western Europe, in the center of one of the historically most populated regions in the world, has favored high rates of population and demographic expansion, being the third most populated country on earth until the 18th century . This expansion experienced a sharp deceleration on the eve of the industrial revolution that continued until well into the twentieth century , in parallel with the demographic increase of the bordering regions, especially towards Central Europe, in the area of ​​influence of Germany, and the British Isles.

On the other hand, and especially from the 16th to the early 20th centuries , a part of the French population settled in other regions of the world, sheltered from colonial expansion, configuring the basis of the population characteristics and ethnic composition of other countries, mainly in the Quebec of Canada , Haiti and other former African, Asian and Oceanic colonies. In America, in the French sovereign territories of Saint Pierre and Miquelon ; the French Guiana , Martinique and Guadeloupe, to the population base from the metropolis, was added that of African origin which, together with the mestizo, has become the majority ethnic group. In Oceania, the emigration of French has been less and centralized in New Caledonia and French Polynesia , while in North Africa, a part of the population installed in the Maghreb formed after their repatriation in the mid-twentieth century the community known as de los Pieds-noirs.

There is also a significant presence of a population of French origin in other countries outside the European continent not directly related to its colonies, mainly the United States and to a lesser extent in Brazil and Latin American countries , such as Argentina , Mexico , Uruguay or Chile . After the Second World War and the demographic period known as the baby boom , the slow stagnation of growth rates has been less marked in France than in other neighboring countries, maintaining a prominent birth rate in Europe thanks to the social policies applied for your encouragement.


Francophone world map native language administrative language unofficial second language francophone minorities

The official language is French , which according to some nineteenth- century linguists would come from French , a linguistic variant spoken in the Isle of France that at the beginning of the Middle Ages and throughout the centuries was imposed on the rest of the languages ​​and linguistic variants that were they speak in other parts of the territory. The other thesis that is handled is that French is a standard configured from the different languages ​​of oïl . [ 143 ]

Often times, this imposition of French has been the result of political decisions made throughout history, with the aim of creating a linguistically uniform state. In fact, article 2 of the French Constitution of 1958 says verbatim that " La langue de la République est le français ". [ 144 ]

This article has served to not allow the official use in the fields of cultured use of the languages ​​that are spoken in France, until in 1999 the Cerquiglini report established 75 regional and minority languages ​​spoken in metropolitan France and overseas. Since 2006, 13 of them have been taught as an optional second foreign language in public schools, such as Breton , Catalan , Corsican , Occitan , Basque , Alsatian , Tahitian and 4 Melanesian languages. Immigration from outside the country, as well as from exclusively French-speaking regions, means that the percentage of speakers of these languages ​​is increasingly low.

It is one of the states that have not signed the European Charter for minority languages. In spite of everything, nowadays, some private institutions have tried to promote the use of these languages ​​by creating media , cultural associations, primary and secondary schools to teach these languages ​​and take advocacy actions in favor of an alternative linguistic policy .


Religion in France (2016) [ 145 ]
Christianity 64.1% Irreligion 26.6% Islam 5,6 % Other 2.5% Judaism 0.8% Undecided 0.4%

The French Republic was officially declared as a secular state, [ 146 ] secular and religious freedom has as a constitutional right. Some organizations such as Scientology , the Unification Church or the International Family or Family (former Children of God ) have the status of non-profit associations since they are not recognized as religions, and are considered "sects" in numerous parliamentary studies . [ 147 ] The central office of worship, under the Ministry of the Interior, ensures relations between the State and established religious associations.

Reims Cathedral , place of coronation of the kings of France until 1825.

The majority religion is Catholic . There are more than 45,000 Catholic churches in France. The French Law of separation of the Church and the State of 1905 is excepted in some points due to the resumption of the concordant relationship with the Catholic Church in 2008 with the signing of the Agreement on recognition of degrees and diplomas of higher education of 18 of December 2008, which entered into force on January 1, 2009, and which has led to the official recognition of religious teaching. [ 148 ]It must be borne in mind that these agreements, with the value of an international treaty, displace internal legislation where it is incompatible, by virtue of the primacy of international law. It does not, therefore, imply a repeal of the law, but it does not apply to the Catholic Church with regard to the aspects of the agreement.

According to a survey conducted in January 2007 made by Catholic News World in its population are represented major religious denominations, but Catholicism is in recess: [ 149 ] [ 150 ] Catholics 52% (vs. 80% 15 years before), atheists 30% (compared to 23% in the same survey 15 years earlier), Muslim 6%, Protestant 6%, Jewish 1.5%, Buddhist 1%, Orthodox 2%, others 1%. In another survey carried out by IFOP and published in the Catholic magazine La Vie, [ 151 ] Catholics represent 64%, the proportion of atheists is equal to 27%, 3% identify as Muslim , 2.1% identify themselves as identify as Protestantand 0.6% identify as Jewish .

According to the most recent Eurobarometer of 2005, [ 152 ] 43% of French citizens answered that "they believe that there is a god", while 27% answered that "they believe that there is some kind of spirit or force" and 30% that "they do not believe that there is any kind of spirit, god, or force." Another study gives 32% of people who declare themselves atheist , and another 32% who declare themselves "skeptical about the existence of God, but not an atheist." [ 153 ]

The community of Jews in France is approximately 600,000 according to the World Jewish Congress and is the largest group of this religion in Europe. Estimates of the number of Muslims vary widely. According to the 1999 census, there were only 3.7 million people (6.3% of the total population). In 2003, the Ministry of Internal Affairs estimated the total number between 5 and 6 million [ 154 ] [ 155 ] (8 million according to the National Front ). [ 156 ]


Science, technology and education

Great inventors were born in France such as the Montgolfier brothers (inventors of the hot air balloon), Joseph-Nicéphore Niépce (chemist, lithographer and amateur scientist who invented, together with his brother, a motor for boats and, together with Daguerre, photography), Clément Ader (inventor of the airplane, the microphone and the first improvements of the telephone), the Lumière Brothers (inventors of the film projector), René Théophile Hyacinthe Laënnec (inventor of the stethoscope), Louis Pasteur (the technique known as pasteurization) among others, whose contributions to science have been decisive in the history of humanity.

In France, education is free at all levels, both for French and foreign students. In 2007, education expenditures reached 28% of the state budget. [ 146 ] The Sorbonne University is one of the oldest and most prestigious in the world.


Victor Hugo is the most prominent writers of romantic in French .

France is the country with the most Nobel Prize winners for Literature (fifteen). Among the great French writers of all time we can mention the playwright Molière , the philosophers Descartes , Montesquieu , Rousseau and Voltaire , the fabulist La Fontaine , the short story writer Charles Perrault , the romantic Victor Hugo , the novelists Gustave Flaubert , Alexander Dumas and Guy de Maupassant , and Nobel Prize winners Sully Prudhomme , Jean-Paul Sartre , Patrick Modianoand Maurice Druon , author of the series The Damned Kings , among many others. We can also mention the great writer Antoine de Saint-Exupéry , author of the book The Little Prince and Jules Verne , one of its most famous writers. Both French citizens and francographers from other countries (such as the Belgian Maurice Maeterlinck or the Senegalese Léopold Sédar Senghor ) make up what is known as Francophone literature , which has influenced the work of important foreign authors, and the literature of many countries. Such is the case of the Cuban Alejo Carpentier or the so-calledboom latinoamericano.

Fine arts

The first manifestations come from prehistoric art, in the Franco-Cantabrian style. The Carolingian era marks the birth of a school of illuminators that lasted throughout the entire Middle Ages, culminating in the illustrations in the book The Very Rich Hours of the Duke of Berry . The classical painters of the French seventeenth century are Poussin and Lorrain . In the 18th century the Rococo predominated , with Watteau , Boucher and Fragonard . At the end of the century the classicism of a Jacques-Louis David begins . the romanticismit is dominated by the figures of Géricault and Delacroix . The realistic landscape of the Barbizon School has its continuation in artists of a more testimonial realism about the social reality of their time, such as Millet and Courbet . At the end of the 19th century , Paris, converted into the center of painting, saw the birth of Impressionism , preceded by the work of Édouard Manet . These are followed by Toulouse-Lautrec , Gauguin and Cézanne . Already in the twentieth century , the Fauvists emerged around Matisse and theCubism from the hand of Georges Braque and the Spanish Picasso who works in Paris. Other artistic movements are taking place in interwar Paris, declining as a world pictorial center after the Second World War.

The French sculpture has evolved from ancient times through various styles, excelling in all of them: prehistoric, Roman, Christian, Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque and Rococo, Neoclassical ( Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi : Statue of Liberty ), romantic ( Auguste Rodin : The Thinker ), and contemporaries.


Eiffel Tower , icon of French architecture and symbol of the country internationally.

With regard to architecture , the Celts also left their mark on the erection of great monoliths or megaliths, and the Greek presence from the 6th century BC . C. is remembered today in the classical heritage of Massalia (Marseille). The Roman style has examples in the Maison Carrée , a Roman temple built between 138-161 BC. C., or in the Pont du Gard built between 40 and 60 AD. C., in Nimes and declared universal heritage in 1985. In France the Gothic style was invented , reflected in cathedrals such as those of Reims , Chartres , Amiens , Notre Dameor Strasbourg. The Renaissance that emerged in Italy, has its architectural style masterfully represented in the Castle of Chambord , the Castle of Montsoreau or the Palace of Fontainebleau among others.

Baroque art (also of Italian origin), and Rococo (French invention) have extraordinary works in France. Such is the case of the Louvre Palace and the Pantheon in Paris among many others. Modernism or modern art in architecture covers the entire 19th century and the first half of the 20th century , and in it Alexandre Gustave Eiffel revolutionized the architectural theory and practice of his time in the construction of gigantic bridges and in the use of materials such as steel. . His most famous work is the so-called Eiffel Tower . Another great of universal architecture is Le Corbusier, an innovator and functionalist celebrated especially for his urban contributions in housing buildings and housing complexes.


Serge Gainsbourg , influential French musician. [ 157 ]

In French music since before the year 1000 the Gregorian chant used in liturgies stands out. In France polyphony was created . In the so-called Ars Antiqua , the Scholae Cantorum (783) is attributed to Charlemagne . The Oaths of Strasbourg is the most important French lyrical work of the Middle Ages, a period in which the Songs of Gesta are developed as the Song of Roldán . France was the cradle of the troubadours in the 12th century , as well as the Ars Nova two centuries later. During RomanticismParis becomes the musical center of the world and today France maintains a privileged place in musical creation thanks to new generations of composers. Among the exponents of French popular music of the second half of the 20th century , there are figures such as Edith Piaf , Dalida , Charles Aznavour , Charles Trenet , Gilbert Bécaud , Johnny Hallyday , Georges Brassens , Serge Gainsbourg , Jean-Michel Jarre , Michel Sardou or Barbara .


Macarons , a typical Parisian dessert ( macarons ) «rainbow» from the Ladurée house .

Characterized by its variety, the result of a regional diversity, both cultural and raw materials, as well as its refinement, French cuisine is considered a world reference. Its influence is felt mainly in the kitchens of the Western world that have been incorporating French technical knowledge into their bases. The international renown of its main chefs , such as Taillevent , La Varenne , Carême , Escoffier , Ducasse or Bocuse, contributed to the spread of haute cuisine by French restaurateurs from the end of the 13th century.. The art de la table or table art, develops a series of recommendations on how to present the table, serve the dishes and taste them. The famous red Michelin guide ( Guide rouge Michelin ) establishes a classification of the best restaurants in the world through a ranking by number of stars, the maximum of which is reserved for a few considered of supreme quality.

The foie gras is a protected gastronomic heritage of France.

With the support of the authorities and the approval of the President of the Republic Nicolas Sarkozy , a group of chefs and gastronomes advocate for French cuisine to be included by Unesco in the list of World Heritage Sites . [ 158 ]

Traditionally, each region has its own cuisine, characterized by the products

If there is one thing that French gastronomy stands out , apart from its breads, cheeses and pastries, it is for its wines and spirits of all kinds, from Bordeaux to sparkling wines from the Champagne-Ardenne region . They are also typical French and national production absinthe , armagnac , calvados , chartreuse , Cointreau , cognac and pastis .


The Jeu de Paume was the most popular sport in the Kingdom of France .

Throughout its history, France has had great athletes who have raised the French tricolor flag. These include 4-time Formula 1 champion Alain Prost , Romain Grosjean , tennis player Mary Pierce , tennis players Gael Monfils and Richard Gasquet , NBA basketball players Tony Parker , Joakim Noah and Boris Diaw . France's best participation in the Olympic Games It was in 1900, the year in which the event was held in Paris, the city that once again hosted the event in 1924. In this event, the French delegation has never fallen below the top 10 places, being one of the greatest world powers at the Olympic level and why not, on a sporting level.

One of the keys to why France is one of the greatest sports powers in the world is due to INSEP , a state-funded high-performance center located on the outskirts of Paris that is considered a world reference in grassroots sports, and whose training methods are studied by coaches around the world.

France is one of the motorsport powers worldwide, as it hosts the 24 Hours of Le Mans , one of the most important motor racing races in the world. The French Grand Prix was held from 1950 to 2008, ten years later (2018) this competition was held again at the Paul Ricard Circuit , in addition there were numerous French teams in the premier class, among which Equipe Ligier and the Renault F1 team stand out. who were champions in 2005 and 2006.

The Tour de France is the most prestigious cycling race in the world.

Individual sports are well established in France. For example, the Tour de France , held annually in July since 1903, is the most prestigious cycling competition on the professional calendar. They also stand out in track cycling, a modality in which they have won several world championships. The Roland Garros Tournament in Paris is one of the most cosmopolitan Grand Slam tournaments. [ 159 ] When it comes to martial arts, France also stands out as one of the best in Europe. Well, the one that most dominates to this day is karate, judo and savate (French boxing), the latter one of the most widespread in the world, mainly in tournament tournaments.Knock Out . In Judo, the Frenchman David Douillet stands out as one of the most important in the history of the world, with various participations and awards throughout his career in this sport.

The French soccer team lifting their second World Cup.

When it comes to team sports, soccer is the most popular sport in the country, and the French soccer team is one of the most important national teams in the world. He has won the 1998 World Cup in France and Russia 2018 , and won Euro 2000 and Euro 1984 and the Confederations Cups in 2001 and 2003.

The national league, known as Ligue 1 is one of the best in Europe. Clubs such as Olympique de Marseille , the only French club to win the prestigious UEFA Champions League , and Saint-Étienne , the second most successful club in the country, stand out. Likewise, Olympique Lyonnais (a club that won seven league titles continuously at the beginning of the 21st century ), Paris Saint-Germain (currently winner of six league titles in a row, having won the last season ended - 2018- 19 -), AS Monaco (club that despite being a foreigner -of the homonymous state, where it is the only sports club, participates in the French league), Girondins de Bordeaux , among others.

For its part, the French rugby team is one of the best in the world, and rugby is very popular and the French league is one of the most important in the world. The basketball is one of the most followed sports, taking the France national handball team as a major player internationally. His record includes the title in the 2010 European Cup, the 2009 and 2011 World Championships, and the 2008 Beijing Olympics gold medal, being the first handball team to win these three titles, the most important in the world in this sport, consecutively. Also the France basketball teamit is also one of the best national teams in the world. He was ranked fifth in the 2006 Basketball World Championship .

Geographical location of metropolitan France

Compass rose pale.svg English Channel
(UKFlag of the United Kingdom United Kingdom )
BelgiumFlag of Belgium (civil).svg Belgium LuxembourgLuxembourg flag Luxembourg
GermanyFlag of Germany.svg Germany
Compass rose pale.svg
Atlantic Ocean North GermanyFlag of Germany.svg Germany
SwissFlag of Switzerland (Pantone).svg Swiss
West Compass rose.svg It is
SpainFlag of Spain.svg Spain
AndorraFlag of Andorra.svg Andorra
SpainFlag of Spain.svg Spain
Mediterranean Sea
ItalyFlag of Italy.svg Italy
MonacoMonaco flag Monaco
Mediterranean Sea

See also


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  9. Popularly called l'Hexagone ('the hexagon' or 'country of the hexagon') due to its similarity to this geometric shape.
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  20. Carpentier, Jean (2000). History of France . ISBN 2-02-010879-8 .
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  22. Polybius, The Histories, 2.18.19
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  25. a b Carpentier, Jean (2000). History of France (in French) . p. 53 -55. ISBN 2-02-010879-8 . Carpentier et al. 2000, pp. 53–55.
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