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France

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French Republic
République française
Location of France on the European continent
Map of France
Location of France on the European continent
Location of France on the European continent
Flag National Emblem
Motto: 
'Liberté, égalité, fraternité'
"Liberty, Equality, Fraternity"
Anthem: "La Marseillaise"
Patron Saint(s): Saint Denis of Paris
Capital
(and largest city)
Paris
Official language(s) French
Demonym French
Government Unitary semi-presidential constitutional republic
 -  President François Hollande
 -  Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault
Legislature Parliament
 -  Upper house Senate
 -  Lower house National Assembly
Formation
 -  Francia 486 (Unification by Clovis
 -  West Francia 843 (Treaty of Verdun) 
 -  French First Republic 1792 (National Convention) 
 -  Current constitution 4 October 1958 (5th Republic) 
Area
 -  Total 674,843 km2 (41st)
260,558 sq mi 
 -  Metropolitan France
  - IGN 551,695 km2 (47th)
213,010 sq mi
  - Cadastre 543,965 km2 (47th)
210,026  sq mi
Population
  (2012 estimate)
 -  Total 65,350,000 (20th)
 -  Metropolitan France 63,460,000 (22nd)
 -  Density 116/km2 (89th)
301/sq mi
GDP (PPP) 2012 estimate
 -  Total $2.257 trillion (9th)
 -  Per capita $35,613 (24th)
GDP (nominal) 2012 estimate
 -  Total $2.712 trillion (5th)
 -  Per capita $42,793 (20th)
Gini (2008) 28.9 
HDI (2011) increase 0.884 (very high) (20th)
Currency Euro (€)[a] (EUR, XPF)
Time zone CET (UTC+1)
 -  Summer (DST) CEST[b] (UTC+2)
Drives on the right
Internet TLD .fr[c]
Calling code 33[d]
a. ^ Prior to 2002, the national currency was the French Franc (₣).
b. ^ CEST applies to Metropolitan France only. Not all overseas territories observe Daylight Saving Time.
c. ^ In addition to .fr, several other Internet TLDs are used in French overseas départements and territories: .re, .mq, .gp, .tf, .nc, .pf, .wf, .pm, .gf and .yt. France also uses .eu, shared with other members of the European Union. The .cat domain is used in Catalan-speaking territories.
d. ^ The overseas regions and collectivities form part of the French telephone numbering plan, but have their own country calling codes: Guadeloupe +590; Martinique +596; French Guiana +594, Réunion and Mayotte +262; Saint Pierre and Miquelon +508. The overseas territories are not part of the French telephone numbering plan; their country calling codes are: New Caledonia +687, French Polynesia +689; Wallis and Futuna +681


For creation apologetics information in the French language: see the French CreationWiki

France or the French Republic (French: République française) is a country in southwestern Europe. It is bordered by Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, and Spain, as well as the English Channel and Bay of Biscay (bodies of the Atlantic Ocean) to the west, and the Mediterranean Sea to the southeast. France is the largest West European nation, with a total area of 547,030 square kilometers. The country's capital city is Paris, which is the only French city with more than 1 million inhabitants. Paris has a population of 2,142,800 in the city proper (as of 2004) and 11,330,700 in the metropolitan area (2003 estimate). Greater metropolitan Paris encompasses more than 15% of the country’s total population.[1]

History

In ancient times France was part of the Celtic territory known as Gaul or Gallia and was primarily inhabited by Celtic peoples such as the Gauls, who, eventually with the coming of the Romans, adopted the Roman culture and language and became the modern French people. Its present name is derived from the Latin Francia, meaning "country of the Franks," a Germanic people who conquered the area during the 5th century, at the time of the fall of the Western Roman Empire.

The French Revolution

Main Article: French Revolution

The French Revolution (1789–1799) is a time of radical social and political upheaval in French and European history. The ruling political classes were the Girondins, most wanting liberal economic reform and representative democracy. Secondly the Mountain (Montagnard) which introduced a communitarian governance concept based on radical, dictatorial direct democracy advocating death to the ruling King. The third political class was the Plain which were essentially independents and thus viable in continuing power of either the Girondins or the Mountain. The Girondins once ruling the Legislative Assembly of Paris with their power now fading collided with the Mountain violently in competition for Plain support during the time of the Reign of Terror (1793 to 1794).[2]

Religion

Between 83% and 90% of the French population is Roman Catholic and only 2% Protestant. The rate of religious practice among the nominally Catholic population is very low. France also has a Jewish minority of about 1%, a Muslim minority of 5–10%, and about 4% unaffiliated. France's Muslim population is the largest in Europe.[1]

France lacks official statistics on religion, a fact that reflects the country's commitment to the religious neutrality of the state, or laïcité, considered necessary for religious freedom. Faced with antidemocratic pressures from the Catholic Church in the early decades of the Third Republic, France promulgated a law in 1905 calling for the strict separation of church and state. The government has since reaffirmed this law, with, for example, a controversial March 2004 bill that banned the display of all conspicuous religious symbols in public schools. This ban targeted in particular the wearing of headscarves by Muslim girls in public schools. The government maintains that the wearing of religious symbols threatens the country’s secular identity, while others contend that the ban on symbols curtails religious freedom.

France currently seeks to encourage the emergence of a “French Islam.” In 2002 the government set up the French Council for the Islamic Faith based on the model of the Consistoire for Jews created in 1808. The government also has called on private divinity schools to train tolerant homegrown imams who can compete with more militant foreign imams. At present, fewer than 20 percent of France’s approximately 1,600 imams have French citizenship, only a third speak French with ease, and half of those who receive regular pay receive it from foreign sources, mainly Algerian, Moroccan, Turkish, and Saudi. Many imams work in unknown “backyard mosques,” a concern for both security agencies and Muslim leaders.[1]

Society

France flag.jpg

In 2006 the population of France was estimated at 60,876,136, up by more than 2 million since the last census in 1999. In addition, 1.9 million live in France’s overseas departments and territories. The annual population growth rate has averaged about 0.4 percent in recent years, less than half the U.S. rate but somewhat above the low West European norm. Nearly all of the European Union (EU) population growth in recent years has come from France, as in 2003, when France added 211,000 out of the EU’s 216,000 total increase. The population density in France proper is 111 people per square kilometer of land area (2005 estimate). Threequarters of the French population live in urban settings, defined as cities and towns with more than 2,000 inhabitants.[1]

Since the late eighteenth century, France's demographic pattern has differed from that of other West European countries. France was the most populous country in Europe until 1795 and the third most populous in the world, behind only China and India. However, unlike the rest of Europe, France did not experience strong population growth in the nineteenth century and first half of the twentieth century. The country’s birthrate dropped after the French Revolution, when the peasantry gained an ownership stake in land and then limited births to ensure passing on viable plots of land to their children. Thanks to this limitation, France effected the “demographic transition” to lower birthrates much earlier than other countries, and France’s population eventually fell in comparative terms behind Germany, the United Kingdom, and Italy, as well as a score of non-West European countries. After World War II, France was again atypical among European countries, in that its postwar baby boom lasted longer than elsewhere. As a result, since 1991 France has regained its position behind only Germany as the most populous West European nation. If present trends continue, the French will outnumber the Germans by mid-century.[1]

Geography

France globe and US comparison.jpg

France is composed of its metropolitan territory located in Western Europe and a collection of overseas islands and territories located on other continents. The French often refer to metropolitan France as the “Hexagon” because of its shape. Three of the Hexagon's six sides are bounded by water—the English Channel and North Sea on the northwest, the Atlantic Ocean and Bay of Biscay on the west, and the Mediterranean Sea on the southeast. The remaining sides, mostly mountainous, abut Spain and Andorra in the southwest, Belgium and Luxembourg in the northeast, and Germany, Switzerland, and Italy in the east. The United Kingdom, to the northwest, is now linked to France via the Channel Tunnel, which passes underneath the English Channel.

The largest West European nation, France has a total area of 547,030 square kilometers (or somewhat smaller than California and New England combined). This area total includes the island of Corsica (8,721 square kilometers) and 1,400 square kilometers of water. Corsica, considered part of metropolitan France, is in the Mediterranean, about 185 kilometers eastsoutheast of Nice. France's area total excludes its 10 overseas possessions, mostly remnants of France’s colonial empire. Referred to as “DOM–TOM”—for domaines d'outre-mer and territoires d'outre-mer. These possessions include several that are considered to be official departments of France: Guadeloupe and Martinique in the Caribbean, French Guiana in South America, and Réunion in the Indian Ocean. Of these, French Guiana, now used for France's space launches, is by far the largest, at 91,000 square kilometers.[1]

Topography

France features mostly coastal lowlands, flat plains, and gently rolling hills in the north and west. South-central France has hilly uplands. Mountainous and hilly areas lie on nearly all of France’s borders, creating a series of natural boundaries. Only the nation’s northeastern border is largely exposed. The two principal mountain chains are the Pyrenees, which form the border with Spain, and the Alps, which form most of the border with Switzerland and Italy. The Pyrenees are a formidable barrier because of the absence of low passes and the chain’s elevation—several summits exceed 3,000 meters. The French Alps, at the western end of the European Alpine chain, are also high, with elevations of 3,500 meters, but are broken by several important river valleys, including the Rhône, Isère, and Durance, providing access to Switzerland and Italy. The Jura range on the Swiss border is a lower and less rugged component of the Alpine chain. In the Alps near the Italian and Swiss borders is Western Europe’s highest point—Mont Blanc, at 4,810 meters. The country’s lowest point is the Rhône River delta, at two meters below sea level.[1]

Natural Resources

France’s most valuable natural asset is its rich agricultural land. High-quality soils cover almost half the country’s surface, giving France an agricultural surplus that makes it an exporter of food. The country’s varied physiography, with beaches, rivers, forests, and mountains, is a draw for the tourism industry. France is not well endowed with indigenous energy supplies or other mineral resources. Hydroelectric production, although well developed, is inadequate to France’s needs.

Endowed with a third of all the agricultural land in the European Union (EU) and a moderate and varied climate, France is the world's second largest agricultural producer (behind the United States) and the EU’s leading producer. Of France's land surface, about 33.46% is arable and in annually replanted crops, while 2.03% is in permanent crops, such as fruit trees and vines. According to a 1998 estimate, an area of about 20,000 square kilometers was irrigated. French agricultural production makes up a fourth of the EU total and accounts for 2.5% of French gross domestic product (2006 estimate). France has roughly 1 million farms, which benefit substantially from subsidies, especially EU subsidies. Wheat, corn, meat, wine, sugar beets, and dairy products are France’s main agricultural products.[1]

France also has forest resources that are among the largest in Europe. The forests are about two-thirds deciduous and cover almost 17 million hectares, accounting for a third of the country's land area. The average figure per capita is 0.3 hectares. Forest cover is growing by about 30,000 hectares, or 0.4 percent a year, through encroachment on former agricultural land. This expansion of forested land partly reflects the continuation of long-existing forest expansion and improvement policies. Since 1947, the government has subsidized the reforestation of 2.1 million hectares of forestland, for a growth of forestland by 35%. A quarter of the country’s forests are publicly owned, and 95 percent have free public access. State subsidies, amounting to some 90 million euros per year for the period 2000–9, have been earmarked for assisting communities and private owners to clear and regenerate their forests.

France is not especially rich in natural mineral resources, although the coal deposits of northern France and the iron ore deposits in the east were important in the nation’s early industrialization. The country's limited iron ore is of poor quality, and the nearly depleted coal reserves are unsuitable for steel production. In 2004, coal mining in France by its state-owned company was phased out altogether in favor of limited imports. Deposits of petroleum and natural gas, small and largely tapped, each yield only 5% of France's consumption. France currently imports iron ore along with most other minerals important in industrial production. France remains a significant producer of uranium, a fuel used in nuclear reactors, and bauxite, from which aluminum is made.[1]

See Also

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 1.8 Country Profile: France by the U.S. Library of Congress]
  2. Reign of Terror By Wikipedia

External Links