Metropolitan France, or Mainland France, covers an area of 551,695 km²; it includes the island of Corsica. Compared, it is more than twice the size of the United Kingdom or more than twice the size of the U.S. state of Colorado.
The largest city and capital is Paris. Spoken language is French (official).
French Republic | République française
Since prehistoric times, the region that is known today as France has been the scene of trade, travel, and invasions. Three basic European ethnic stocks--Celtic, Latin, and Teutonic (Frankish)--have blended over the centuries to make up France's present population.
Today France is one of the most modern countries in the world and is a leader
among European nations.
Since 1958, it has constructed a presidential democracy,
resistant to the instabilities experienced in earlier parliamentary democracies.
In recent years, its reconciliation and cooperation with Germany have proved central
to the economic integration of Europe, including the advent of the euro in January
Presently, France is at the forefront of European states seeking to exploit
the momentum of monetary union to advance the creation of a more unified and capable
European defense and security apparatus.
France is the most visited country in the world, with 89.4 million foreign tourists in 2018.
Official Name: République française
short form: France
int'l long form: French Republic
int'l short form: France
Location: Central Western Europe, bordering the Bay of Biscay and the English Channel, between Belgium and Spain, southeast of the UK; bordering the Mediterranean Sea, between Italy and Spain. Area: 551,500 km² (220,668 sq. mi.); largest
west European country.
Terrain: Mostly flat plains or gently rolling hills in north and west; mountainous, especially the Pyrenees in the south, and the Alps in the southeast.
Climate: Generally cool to cold winters and mild summers, but mild winters and
hot summers along the Mediterranean; occasional strong, cold, dry, north-to-northwesterly wind known as mistral.
Nationality: French. Population: 67.4 million (2021)
Ethnic groups: Celtic and Latin with Teutonic, Slavic, North African, Sub-Saharan African, Indochinese, and Basque minorities.
Religion: Roman Catholic, 90%. Language: French.
Economy: Natural resources: coal, iron ore, bauxite, zinc, uranium, antimony, arsenic,
potash, feldspar, gypsum, timber, and fish.
View of the French National Assembly from the Quai des Tuileries, with the Pont de la Concorde bridge across the River Seine in Paris. Image: Jebulon
Political System of France
France's political system is that of a semi-presidential republic, defined by the Constitution. There is the separation of powers which consists of an executive branch, a legislative branch, and a judicial branch. The head of state and head of the executive is the President. The President and the government exercise executive power. The French Government consists of the Prime Minister and ministers. The Prime Minister is appointed by the President and is responsible to Parliament.
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The country's most popular medium is television. TF1, the most popular domestic station, is privately owned by the TF1 Group. France Télévisions, the French public television station, is financed by a TV licence fee and advertising revenues.
France has more than 100 daily newspapers and most of them are in private hands and not linked to political parties.
But - editorial independence is insufficiently protected against conflicts of interest involving media owners and the tendency for businessmen to acquire media outlets for influence purposes. Journalists are also exposed to a climate of hostility fed by politicians using aggressive language, and to harassment on social media, where they are favourite targets of trolls of all kinds hiding behind their screens and pseudonyms. 
Online News from France
Agence France-Presse - news and photo agency. La Croix
French general-interest Roman Catholic newspaper. L'Express
National and international news. (in French) Les Echos
Business and Finance Information. (in French) Le Figaro
French daily with national and international news. (in French) Le Monde
National and international news. (in French) Le Monde diplomatique
International news and background information. Le Parisien
National and international news. (in French) Libération
National and international news. (in French) Nice-Matin
Regional and national news. (in French) Paris Match
Magazine Paris Match. (in French) La Tribune
Business and Finance Information. (in French)
TV France 24
French state-owned international news network. France Info
French public news channel. LCI
La Chaîne Info news channel. (part of TF1 Group)
International News sources Le Temps
Swiss Le Temps with articles about France. (in French)
Barges on the Seine river between the Bois de Boulogne and Suresnes, La Défense, the Central Business District of Paris on the horizon.
The French economy
The French economy is a highly developed and free-market-orientated business model. The government has partially or fully privatized many large companies, including Air France, France Telecom (now Orange S.A.), Renault, and Thales (now Thales Group).
Key sectors are the chemical industry (Air Liquide, Groupe Roullier), energy (France runs 58 nuclear plants operated by Électricité de France (EDF), with a total capacity of 63.1 GWe.). Other chief branches are automotive (Peugeot, Renault), banking (BNP PARIBAS, Société Générale, Crédit Agricole), insurance (AXA), retail (Carrefour, Auchan), and the petroleum industry (Total S.A.).
The official website for international business development.
The French economy is diversified across all sectors. The government has partially or fully privatized many large companies, including Air France, France Telecom (now Orange S.A.), Renault, and Thales (now Thales Group). But the French government still maintains a strong presence in some sectors, particularly in power (EDF), public transport (SNCF), and the defense industries.
The official website of the French tourism bureau offers comprehensive information for vacation, accommodation and leisure activities
in France. (English version of the French Government Tourist Office)
UNESCO World Heritage Sites in France
There are 45 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in France, 39 cultural, five natural, one mixed, and 37 sites inscribed on the Tentative List, an inventory of those properties which a state party intends to consider for nomination. (see UNESCO's list of World Heritage Sites in France)
The Decorated Cave of Pont d’Arc, known as Grotte Chauvet-Pont d’Arc, is located in a limestone cliff of the Ardèche River in Southern France.
The site contains the earliest and best preserved known cave paintings in the world. The pictorial drawings were carbon-dated to as early as the Aurignacian period (30,000 to 32,000 BP). The cave was closed off by a rock fall approximately 20,000 years BP and remained sealed until its rediscovery in 1994.
Gulf of Porto: Calanche of Piana, Gulf of Girolata, Scandola Reserve.
The Gulf of Porto is part of the Réserve Naturelle de Scandola which occupies the Scandola peninsula at the north-western coast of Corsica. The vegetation of the nature reserve is scrubland populated by seagulls, cormorants and sea eagles. The clear waters of the gulfs, with their islets and inaccessible caves, host a rich marine life.
The cathedral of Notre-Dame d'Chartres is considered to be the high point of French Gothic art and one of the most authentic and complete works of religious architecture of the early 13th century. The Roman Catholic church is located in the city of Chartres in northwestern France, about 90 km (56 mi) by road southwest of Paris. The cathedral is famous for its architectural innovations, its numerous sculptures and its more than 150 stained glass windows.
Education in France
Campus and mainbuilding of the École Polytechnique in Palaiseau in the southern suburbs of Paris. Image: École Polytechnique
Grandes écoles and Universities
Campus France is a public organization which promotes French higher education and vocational training for foreigners.
École Centrale Paris
École Centrale Paris was the first grande école. In 2015, École Centrale Paris merged with Supélec to form CentraleSupélec, a constituent institute of the University of Paris-Saclay.
École Polytechnique is one of the most prestigious engineering schools in France.
International Group for the Environment, Renewable Energy, and Solidarity.
Réseau Action Climat
RAC-F is the French representative of Climate Action Network International (CAN-I)
Sortir du Nucléaire
is an organization which regularly campaigns against the use of nuclear power in France and in the world. The website of the French federation of anti-nuclear groups offers also a map of the 58 nuclear power plants and other nuclear installations in France.
Cliffs of Bonifacio, a town at the southern tip of the island of Corsica, France. Image: JustinPoulsen
Corsica (French name Corse) is a mountainous Mediterranean island 200 km southeast of Nice on the French mainland, 100 km west of Italy, and just north of the Italian island of Sardinia. The 4th-largest Mediterranean island is part of France since 1768, but still has a distinct Italian culture.
340,000 people live on Corsica (in 2020); major towns are Ajaccio, Bastia, Calvi, Corte, and Sartène. The island was the birthplace of Napoleon I.