Geographic and Governmental Profile of France

Background
France today is one of the most modern countries in the world and is a leader among European nations. It plays an influential global role as a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, NATO, the G-8, the G-20, the EU and other multilateral organizations. France rejoined NATO's integrated military command structure in 2009, reversing de Gaulle's 1966 decision to take French forces out of NATO. Since 1958, it has constructed a hybrid presidential-parliamentary governing system resistant to the instabilities experienced in earlier more purely parliamentary administrations. In recent decades, its reconciliation and cooperation with Germany have proved central to the economic integration of Europe, including the introduction of a common exchange currency, the euro, in January 1999. In the early 21st century, five French overseas entities - French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Martinique, Mayotte, and Reunion - became French regions and were made part of France proper.
Location
metropolitan France:
Western Europe, bordering the Bay of Biscay and English Channel, between Belgium and Spain, southeast of the UK; bordering the Mediterranean Sea, between Italy and Spain
French Guiana:
Northern South America, bordering the North Atlantic Ocean, between Brazil and Suriname
Guadeloupe:
Caribbean, islands between the Caribbean Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean, southeast of Puerto Rico
Martinique:
Caribbean, island between the Caribbean Sea and North Atlantic Ocean, north of Trinidad and Tobago
Mayotte:
Southern Indian Ocean, island in the Mozambique Channel, about half way between northern Madagascar and northern Mozambique
Reunion:
Southern Africa, island in the Indian Ocean, east of Madagascar
Geographic coordinates
metropolitan France:
46 00 N, 2 00 E
French Guiana:
4 00 N, 53 00 W
Guadeloupe:
16 15 N, 61 35 W
Martinique:
14 40 N, 61 00 W
Mayotte:
12 50 S, 45 10 E
Reunion:
21 06 S, 55 36 E
Continent / Subcontinent
metropolitan France:
Europe
French Guiana:
South America
Guadeloupe:
Central America and the Caribbean
Martinique:
Central America and the Caribbean
Mayotte:
Africa
Reunion:
World
Area
total:
643,801 sq km; 551,500 sq km (metropolitan France)
rank:
43
land:
640,427 sq km; 549,970 sq km (metropolitan France)
water:
3,374 sq km; 1,530 sq km (metropolitan France)
the first numbers include the overseas regions of French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Martinique, Mayotte, and Reunion
Area - comparative
slightly less than the size of Texas
Land boundaries
metropolitan France - total:
2,889 km
border countries:
Andorra 56.6 km, Belgium 620 km, Germany 451 km, Italy 488 km, Luxembourg 73 km, Monaco 4.4 km, Spain 623 km, Switzerland 573 km
French Guiana - total:
1,183 km
border countries:
Brazil 673 km, Suriname 510 km
Coastline
total:
4,853 km
metropolitan France:
3,427 km
Maritime claims
territorial sea:
12 nm
contiguous zone:
24 nm
exclusive economic zone:
200 nm (does not apply to the Mediterranean)
continental shelf:
200 m depth or to the depth of exploitation
Climate
metropolitan France:
generally cool winters and mild summers, but mild winters and hot summers along the Mediterranean; occasional strong, cold, dry, north-to-northwesterly wind known as mistral
French Guiana:
tropical; hot, humid; little seasonal temperature variation
Guadeloupe and Martinique:
subtropical tempered by trade winds; moderately high humidity; rainy season (June to October); vulnerable to devastating cyclones (hurricanes) every eight years on average
Mayotte:
tropical; marine; hot, humid, rainy season during northeastern monsoon (November to May); dry season is cooler (May to November)
Reunion:
tropical, but temperature moderates with elevation; cool and dry (May to November), hot and rainy (November to April)
Terrain
metropolitan France:
mostly flat plains or gently rolling hills in north and west; remainder is mountainous, especially Pyrenees in south, Alps in east
French Guiana:
low-lying coastal plains rising to hills and small mountains
Guadeloupe:
Basse-Terre is volcanic in origin with interior mountains; Grande-Terre is low limestone formation; most of the seven other islands are volcanic in origin
Martinique:
mountainous with indented coastline; dormant volcano
Mayotte:
generally undulating, with deep ravines and ancient volcanic peaks
Reunion:
mostly rugged and mountainous; fertile lowlands along coast
Elevation extremes
lowest point:
Rhone River delta -2 m
highest point:
Mont Blanc 4,807 m
in order to assess the possible effects of climate change on the ice and snow cap of Mont Blanc, its surface and peak have been extensively measured in recent years; these new peak measurements have exceeded the traditional height of 4,807 m and have varied between 4,808 m and 4,811 m; the actual rock summit is 4,792 m and is 40 m away from the ice-covered summit
Natural resources
metropolitan France:
coal, iron ore, bauxite, zinc, uranium, antimony, arsenic, potash, feldspar, fluorspar, gypsum, timber, fish
French Guiana:
gold deposits, petroleum, kaolin, niobium, tantalum, clay
Land use
arable land:
33.46%
permanent crops:
2.03%
other:
64.51%
French Guiana - arable land 0.13%, permanent crops 0.04%, other 99.83% (90% forest, 10% other); Guadeloupe - arable land 11.70%, permanent crops 2.92%, other 85.38%; Martinique - arable land 9.09%, permanent crops 10.0%, other 80.91%; Reunion - arable land 13.94%, permanent crops 1.59%, other 84.47% (2005)
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Irrigated land
total:
26,950 sq km;
metropolitan France:
26,700 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources
189 cu km (2005)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural)
total:
33.16 cu km/yr (16%/74%/10%)
per capita:
548 cu m/yr (2000)
Natural hazards
metropolitan France:
flooding; avalanches; midwinter windstorms; drought; forest fires in south near the Mediterranean
overseas departments:
hurricanes (cyclones); flooding; volcanic activity (Guadeloupe, Martinique, Reunion)
Environment - current issues
some forest damage from acid rain; air pollution from industrial and vehicle emissions; water pollution from urban wastes, agricultural runoff
Environment - international agreements
party to:
Air Pollution, Air Pollution-Nitrogen Oxides, Air Pollution-Persistent Organic Pollutants, Air Pollution-Sulfur 85, Air Pollution-Sulfur 94, Air Pollution-Volatile Organic Compounds, Antarctic-Environmental Protocol, Antarctic-Marine Living Resources, Antarctic Seals, Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Marine Life Conservation, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands, Whaling
signed, but not ratified:
none of the selected agreements
Geography - note
largest West European nation
Country name
conventional long form:
French Republic
conventional short form:
France
local long form:
Republique francaise
local short form:
France
Government type
republic
Capital
name:
Paris
geographic coordinates:
48 52 N, 2 20 E
time difference:
UTC+1 (6 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
daylight saving time:
+1hr, begins last Sunday in March; ends last Sunday in October
applies to metropolitan France only, not to its overseas departments, collectivities, or territories
Administrative divisions
27 regions (regions, singular - region); Alsace, Aquitaine, Auvergne, Basse-Normandie (Lower Normandy), Bourgogne (Burgundy), Bretagne (Brittany), Centre, Champagne-Ardenne, Corse (Corsica), Franche-Comte, Guadeloupe, Guyane (French Guiana), Haute-Normandie (Upper Normandy), Ile-de-France, Languedoc-Roussillon, Limousin, Lorraine, Martinique, Mayotte, Midi-Pyrenees, Nord-Pas-de-Calais, Pays de la Loire, Picardie, Poitou-Charentes, Provence-Alpes-Cote d'Azur, Reunion, Rhone-Alpes
France is divided into 22 metropolitan regions (including the "territorial collectivity" of Corse or Corsica) and 5 overseas regions (French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Martinique, Mayotte, and Reunion) and is subdivided into 96 metropolitan departments and 5 overseas departments (which are the same as the overseas regions)
Dependent areas
Clipperton Island, French Polynesia, French Southern and Antarctic Lands, New Caledonia, Saint Barthelemy, Saint Martin, Saint Pierre and Miquelon, Wallis and Futuna
the US does not recognize claims to Antarctica; New Caledonia has been considered a "sui generis" collectivity of France since 1998, a unique status falling between that of an independent country and a French overseas department
Independence
no official date of independence: 486 (Frankish tribes unified under Merovingian kingship); 10 August 843 (Western Francia established from the division of the Carolingian Empire); 14 July 1789 (French monarchy overthrown); 22 September 1792 (First French Republic founded); 4 October 1958 (Fifth French Republic established)
National holiday
Fete de la Federation, 14 July (1790); note - although often incorrectly referred to as Bastille Day, the celebration actually commemorates the holiday held on the first anniversary of the storming of the Bastille (on 14 July 1789) and the establishment of a constitutional monarchy; other names for the holiday are Fete Nationale (National Holiday) and quatorze juillet (14th of July)
Constitution
adopted by referendum 28 September 1958; effective 4 October 1958; amended many times
amended in 1962 concerning election of president; amended to comply with provisions of 1992 EC Maastricht Treaty, 1997 Amsterdam Treaty, 2003 Treaty of Nice; amended in 1993 to tighten immigration laws; amended in 2000 to change the seven-year presidential term to a five-year term; amended in 2005 to make the EU constitutional treaty compatible with the Constitution of France and to ensure that the decision to ratify EU accession treaties would be made by referendum
Legal system
civil law; review of administrative but not legislative acts
International law organization participation
has not submitted an ICJ jurisdiction declaration; accepts ICCt jurisdiction
Suffrage
18 years of age; universal
Executive branch
chief of state:
President Francois HOLLANDE (since 15 May 2012)
head of government:
Prime Minister Jean-Marc AYRAULT (since 16 May 2012)
cabinet:
Council of Ministers appointed by the president at the suggestion of the prime minister
elections:
president elected by popular vote for a five-year term (eligible for a second term); election last held on 22 April and 6 May 2012 (next to be held in the spring of 2017); prime minister appointed by the president
election results:
Francois HOLLANDE elected; first round: percent of vote - Francois HOLLANDE 28.6%, Nicolas SARKOZY 27.2%, Marine LE PEN 17.9%, Lean-Luc MELENCHON 11.1%, Francois BAYROU, 9.1%, others 6.1%; second round: HOLLANDE 51.6%, SARKOZY 48.4%
Legislative branch
bicameral Parliament or Parlement consists of the Senate or Senat (348 seats; 328 for metropolitan France and overseas departments, 2 for New Caledonia, 2 for French Polynesia, 1 for Saint-Pierre and Miquelon, 1 for Saint-Barthelemy, 1 for Saint-Martin, 1 for Wallis and Futuna, and 12 for French nationals abroad; members indirectly elected by an electoral college to serve six-year terms; one third elected every three years); and the National Assembly or Assemblee Nationale (577 seats; 555 for metropolitan France, 15 for overseas departments, 7 for overseas dependencies; members elected by popular vote under a single-member majority system to serve five-year terms)
elections:
Senate - last held on 25 September 2011 (next to be held in September 2014); National Assembly - last held on 10 and 17 June 2012 (next to be held in June 2017)
election results:
Senate - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - PS/Greens 140, UMP 132, UDF 31, PCF/MRC 21, PRG 17, other 7; National Assembly - percent of vote by party - PS 48.5%, UMP 33.6%, miscellaneous left wing parties 3.8%, The Greens 3.0%, miscellaneous right wing parties 2.6%, NC 2.1%, PRG 2.1%, FDG 1.7%, other 2.6%; seats by party - PS 280, UMP 194, miscellaneous left wing parties 22, The Greens 17, miscellaneous right wing parties 15, NC 12, PRG 12, FDG 10, other 15
Judicial branch
Supreme Court of Appeals or Cour de Cassation (judges are appointed by the president from nominations of the High Council of the Judiciary); Constitutional Council or Conseil Constitutionnel (three members appointed by the president, three appointed by the president of the National Assembly, and three appointed by the president of the Senate); Council of State or Conseil d'Etat
Political parties and leaders
Centrist Union or UDF [Nicolas ABOUT]; Democratic Movement or MoDem [Francois BAYROU] (previously Union for French Democracy or UDF); French Communist Party or PCF [Pierre LAURENT]; Greens [Cecile DUFLOT]; Left Front or FDG [Jean-Luc MELENCHON]; Left Party or PG [Jean-Luc MELENCHON]; Left Radical Party or PRG [Jean-Michel BAYLET] (previously Radical Socialist Party or PRS and the Left Radical Movement or MRG); Movement for France or MPF [Philippe DE VILLIERS]; National Front or FN [Marine LE PEN]; New Anticapitalist Party or NPA [Myriam MARTIN and Christine POUPIN]; New Center or NC [Herve MORIN]; Radical Party [Jean-Louis BORLOO]; Rally for France or RPF [Charles PASQUA]; Republican and Citizen Movement or MRC [Jean-Luc LAURENT]; Socialist Party or PS [Martine AUBRY]; United Republic or RS [Dominique DE VILLEPIN]; Union for a Popular Movement or UMP [vacant]; Worker's Struggle or LO [Nathalie ARTHAUD]
Political pressure groups and leaders
Confederation francaise democratique du travail or CFDT, left-leaning labor union with approximately 803,000 members; Confederation francaise de l'encadrement - Confederation generale des cadres or CFE-CGC, independent white-collar union with 196,000 members; Confederation francaise des travailleurs chretiens of CFTC, independent labor union founded by Catholic workers that claims 132,000 members; Confederation generale du travail or CGT, historically communist labor union with approximately 700,000 members; Confederation generale du travail - Force ouvriere or FO, independent labor union with an estimated 300,000 members; Mouvement des entreprises de France or MEDEF, employers' union with 750,000 companies as members (claimed)
French Guiana:
conservationists; gold mining pressure groups; hunting pressure groups
Guadeloupe:
Christian Movement for the Liberation of Guadeloupe or KLPG; General Federation of Guadeloupe Workers or CGT-G; General Union of Guadeloupe Workers or UGTG; Movement for an Independent Guadeloupe or MPGI; The Socialist Renewal Movement
Martinique:
Caribbean Revolutionary Alliance or ARC; Central Union for Martinique Workers or CSTM; Frantz Fanon Circle; League of Workers and Peasants; Proletarian Action Group or GAP
Reunion:
NA
International organization participation
ADB (nonregional member), AfDB (nonregional member), Arctic Council (observer), Australia Group, BDEAC, BIS, BSEC (observer), CBSS (observer), CE, CERN, EAPC, EBRD, ECB, EIB, EMU, ESA, EU, FAO, FATF, FZ, G-20, G-5, G-7, G-8, G-10, IADB, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICRM, IDA, IEA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IGAD (partners), IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, IMSO, InOC, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ISO, ITSO, ITU, ITUC, MIGA, MINURSO, MINUSTAH, MONUSCO, NATO, NEA, NSG, OAS (observer), OECD, OIF, OPCW, OSCE, Paris Club, PCA, PIF (partner), Schengen Convention, SELEC (observer), SPC, UN, UN Security Council, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNIDO, UNIFIL, Union Latina, UNITAR, UNMIL, UNOCI, UNRWA, UNSC (permanent), UNTSO, UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO, ZC
Diplomatic representation in the US
chief of mission:
Ambassador Francois M. DELATTRE
chancery:
4101 Reservoir Road NW, Washington, DC 20007
telephone:
[1] (202) 944-6000
FAX:
[1] (202) 944-6166
consulate(s) general:
Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New Orleans, New York, San Francisco
Diplomatic representation from the US
chief of mission:
Ambassador Charles H. RIVKIN
embassy:
2 Avenue Gabriel, 75382 Paris Cedex 08
mailing address:
PSC 116, APO AE 09777
telephone:
[33] (1) 43-12-22-22
FAX:
[33] (1) 42 66 97 83
consulate(s) general:
Marseille, Strasbourg
Flag description
three equal vertical bands of blue (hoist side), white, and red; known as the "Le drapeau tricolore" (French Tricolor), the origin of the flag dates to 1790 and the French Revolution when the "ancient French color" of white was combined with the blue and red colors of the Parisian militia; the official flag for all French dependent areas
the design and/or colors are similar to a number of other flags, including those of Belgium, Chad, Cote d'Ivoire, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, and Netherlands
National symbol(s)
Gallic rooster
National anthem
name:
"La Marseillaise" (The Song of Marseille)
lyrics/music:
Claude-Joseph ROUGET de Lisle
adopted 1795, restored 1870; originally known as "Chant de Guerre pour l'Armee du Rhin" (War Song for the Army of the Rhine), the National Guard of Marseille made the song famous by singing it while marching into Paris in 1792 during the French Revolutionary Wars
Data source 1: All Above textual data, maps and flags were extracted from The World Factbook which was prepared by the Central Intelligence Agency and made available on the following link: The World Factbook. Lebanese Economy Forum is not sponsered or affiliated, in any way, by the US Central Intelligence Agency
Data source 2: Plots and Charts are constructed using the world bank public data catalog which can be viewed by visiting the following link: World Bank Data Catalog. Lebanese Economy Forum is not sponsored or affiliated, in any way, by the worldbank

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