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Map of France


Location: 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

Geographic coordinates: 46 00 N, 2 00 E

Map references: Europe

total: 547,030 sq km
land: 545,630 sq km
water: 1,400 sq km
note: includes only metropolitan France, but excludes the overseas administrative divisions

Area—comparative: slightly less than twice the size of Colorado

Land boundaries:
total: 2,892.4 km
border countries: Andorra 60 km, Belgium 620 km, Germany 451 km, Italy 488 km, Luxembourg 73 km, Monaco 4.4 km, Spain 623 km, Switzerland 573 km

Coastline: 3,427 km

Maritime claims:
contiguous zone: 24 nm
continental shelf: 200-m depth or to the depth of exploitation
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm (does not apply to the Mediterranean)
territorial sea: 12 nm

Climate: generally cool winters and mild summers, but mild winters and hot summers along the Mediterranean

Terrain: mostly flat plains or gently rolling hills in north and west; remainder is mountainous, especially Pyrenees in south, Alps in east

Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Rhone River delta -2 m
highest point: Mont Blanc 4,807 m

Natural resources: coal, iron ore, bauxite, fish, timber, zinc, potash

Land use:
arable land: 33%
permanent crops: 2%
permanent pastures: 20%
forests and woodland: 27%
other: 18% (1993 est.)

Irrigated land: 16,300 sq km (1995 est.)

Natural hazards: flooding

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-Sulphur 85, Air Pollution-Sulphur 94, Air Pollution-Volatile Organic Compounds, Antarctic-Environmental Protocol, Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate Change, 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; occasional strong, cold, dry, north-to-northwesterly wind known as mistral


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Population: 58,804,944 (July 1998 est.)

Age structure:
0-14 years: 19% (male 5,674,417; female 5,411,685)
15-64 years: 65% (male 19,243,919; female 19,182,933)
65 years and over: 16% (male 3,759,565; female 5,532,425) (July 1998 est.)

Population growth rate: 0.31% (1998 est.)

Birth rate: 11.68 births/1,000 population (1998 est.)

Death rate: 9.12 deaths/1,000 population (1998 est.)

Net migration rate: 0.58 migrant(s)/1,000 population (1998 est.)

Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.67 male(s)/female (1998 est.)

Infant mortality rate: 5.69 deaths/1,000 live births (1998 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 78.51 years
male: 74.6 years
female: 82.62 years (1998 est.)

Total fertility rate: 1.63 children born/woman (1998 est.)

noun: Frenchman(men), Frenchwoman(women)
adjective: French

Ethnic groups: Celtic and Latin with Teutonic, Slavic, North African, Indochinese, Basque minorities

Religions: Roman Catholic 90%, Protestant 2%, Jewish 1%, Muslim (North African workers) 1%, unaffiliated 6%

Languages: French 100%, rapidly declining regional dialects and languages (Provencal, Breton, Alsatian, Corsican, Catalan, Basque, Flemish)

definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 99%
male: 99%
female: 99% (1980 est.)


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Country name:
conventional long form: French Republic
conventional short form: France
local long form: Republique Francaise
local short form: France

Data code: FR

Government type: republic

National capital: Paris

Administrative divisions: 22 regions (regions, singular—region); Alsace, Aquitaine, Auvergne, Basse-Normandie, Bourgogne, Bretagne, Centre, Champagne-Ardenne, Corse, Franche-Comte, Haute-Normandie, Ile-de-France, Languedoc-Roussillon, Limousin, Lorraine, Midi-Pyrenees, Nord-Pas-de-Calais, Pays de la Loire, Picardie, Poitou-Charentes, Provence-Alpes-Cote d'Azur, Rhone-Alpes
note: metropolitan France is divided into 22 regions (including the "territorial collectivity" of Corse or Corsica) and is subdivided into 96 departments; see separate entries for the overseas departments (French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Martinique, Reunion) and the overseas territorial collectivities (Mayotte, Saint Pierre and Miquelon)

Dependent areas: Bassas da India, Clipperton Island, Europa Island, French Polynesia, French Southern and Antarctic Lands, Glorioso Islands, Juan de Nova Island, New Caledonia, Tromelin Island, Wallis and Futuna
note: the US does not recognize claims to Antarctica

Independence: 486 (unified by Clovis)

National holiday: National Day, Taking of the Bastille, 14 July (1789)

Constitution: 28 September 1958, amended concerning election of president in 1962, amended to comply with provisions of EC Maastricht Treaty in 1992; amended to tighten immigration laws 1993

Legal system: civil law system with indigenous concepts; review of administrative but not legislative acts

Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal

Executive branch:
chief of state: President Jacques CHIRAC (since 17 May 1995)
head of government: Prime Minister Lionel JOSPIN (since 3 June 1997)
cabinet: Council of Ministers appointed by the president on the suggestion of the prime minister
elections: president elected by popular vote for a seven-year term; election last held 23 April and 7 May 1995 (next to be held by May 2002); prime minister appointed by the president
election results: Jacques CHIRAC elected president; percent of vote, second ballot—Jacques CHIRAC 52.64%, Lionel JOSPIN 47.36%

Legislative branch: bicameral Parliament or Parlement consists of the Senate or Senat (321 seats—296 for metropolitan France, 13 for overseas departments and territories, and 12 for French nationals abroad; members are indirectly elected by an electoral college to serve nine-year terms; elected by thirds every three years) and the National Assembly or Assemblee Nationale (577 seats; members are elected under a single-member majoritarian system to serve five-year terms)
elections: Senate—last held 24 September 1995 (next to be held September 1998); National Assembly—last held 25 May-1 June 1997 (next to be held NA May 2002)
election results: Senate—percent of vote by party—NA; seats by party—RPR 94, UDF 127, PS 75, PCF 15, other 10; National Assembly—percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party—PS 245, RPR 140, UDF 109, PCF 37, PRS 13, Ecologists 8, MDC 7, LDI-MPF 1, FN 1, various left 9, various right 7

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 members 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: Rally for the Republic or RPR [Philippe SEGUIN]; Union for French Democracy or UDF (coalition of PR, FD, RAD, PPDF) [Francois LEOTARD]; Democratie Liberale or DL [Alain MADELIN]; Democratic Force or FD [Francois BAYROU]; Socialist Party or PS [Francois HOLLANDE]; Communist Party or PCF [Robert HUE]; National Front or FN [Jean-Marie LE PEN]; The Greens [Jean-Luc BENNAHMIAS]; Generation Ecology or GE [Brice LALONDE]; Citizens Movement or MDC [Jean Pierre CHEVENEMENT]; National Center of Independents and Peasants or CNIP [Oliver d'ORMESSON]; Radical Socialist Party or PRS (previously the Left Radical Movement or MRG) [Jean-Michel BAYLET]; Movement for France or LDI-MPF [Philippe DEVILLIERS]; Mouvement des Reformateurs [Jean-Pierre SOISSON]; Mouvement Ecologiste Independant [Jenevieve ANDUEZA]; Parti Populaire Pour la Democratie Francaise or PPDF [Herve de CHARETTE]; Parti Radical [Thierry CORNILLET]; Adherents Directs [Pierre-Andre WILTZER]

Political pressure groups and leaders: Communist-controlled labor union (Confederation Generale du Travail) or CGT, nearly 2.4 million members (claimed); Socialist-leaning labor union (Confederation Francaise Democratique du Travail) or CFDT, about 800,000 members (est.); independent labor union or Force Ouvriere, 1 million members (est.); independent white-collar union or Confederation Generale des Cadres, 340,000 members (claimed); National Council of French Employers (Conseil National du Patronat Francais) or CNPF or Patronat

International organization participation: ACCT, AfDB, AG (observer), AsDB, Australia Group, BDEAC, BIS, CCC, CDB (non-regional), CE, CERN, EAPC, EBRD, ECA (associate), ECE, ECLAC, EIB, ESA, ESCAP, EU, FAO, FZ, G- 5, G- 7, G-10, IADB, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICFTU, ICRM, IDA, IEA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, Inmarsat, Intelsat, Interpol, IOC, IOM, ISO, ITU, MINURSO, MIPONUH, MTCR, NATO, NEA, NSG, OAS (observer), OECD, OSCE, PCA, SPC, UN, UN Security Council, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNIDO, UNIFIL, UNIKOM, UNITAR, UNMIBH, UNOMIG, UNRWA, UNTSO, UNU, UPU, WCL, WEU, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WToO, WTrO, ZC

Diplomatic representation in the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Francois V. BUJON DE L'ESTANG
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, and San Francisco

Diplomatic representation from the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Felix G. ROHATYN
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 French Tricouleur (Tricolor); the design and colors are similar to a number of other flags, including those of Belgium, Chad, Ireland, Cote d'Ivoire, and Luxembourg; the official flag for all French dependent areas


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Economy—overview: One of the four West European trillion-dollar economies, France matches a growing services sector with a diversified industrial base and substantial agricultural resources. Services now account for more than 70% of GDP, while industry generates about one-quarter of GDP and more than 80% of export earnings. The government retains considerable influence over key segments of each sector, with majority ownership of railway, electricity, aircraft, and telecommunication firms. It nevertheless has been slowly relaxing its control over these sectors since the early 1990s, most recently selling 23% of France Telecom. The government also plans to sell its stakes in Air France and in the insurance, banking, and defense industries. Meanwhile, large tracts of fertile land, the application of modern technology, and subsidies have combined to make France the leading agricultural producer in Western Europe. A major exporter of wheat and dairy products, France is virtually self-sufficient in agriculture. The economy expanded by 2.3% last year, following a 1.3% gain in 1996. Persistently high unemployment still poses a major problem for the government, however, as does the need to control government spending to keep the economy internationally competitive and meet membership qualifications for the European Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) which is slated to introduce a common European currency in January 1999. Succeeding governments have shied away from cutting exceptionally generous social welfare benefits or the enormous state bureaucracy, preferring to pare defense spending and raise taxes to keep the deficit down. The JOSPIN administration has pledged both to lower unemployment and bring France into EMU, pinning its hopes for new jobs on economic growth and on legislation to gradually reduce the workweek from 39 to 35 hours by 2002.

GDP: purchasing power parity—$1.32 trillion (1997 est.)

GDP—real growth rate: 2.3% (1997 est.)

GDP—per capita: purchasing power parity—$22,700 (1997 est.)

GDP—composition by sector:
agriculture: 2.4%
industry: 26.5%
services: 71.1% (1994)

Inflation rate—consumer price index: 2% (1996)

Labor force:
total: 25.5 million
by occupation: services 69%, industry 26%, agriculture 5% (1995)

Unemployment rate: 12.4% (1997)

revenues: $222 billion
expenditures: $265 billion, including capital expenditures of $NA (1998 est.)

Industries: steel, machinery, chemicals, automobiles, metallurgy, aircraft, electronics, mining, textiles, food processing, tourism

Industrial production growth rate: 4% (1997 est.)

Electricity—capacity: 102.94 million kW (1995)

Electricity—production: 467.541 billion kWh (1995)

Electricity—consumption per capita: 6,841 kWh (1995)

Agriculture—products: wheat, cereals, sugar beets, potatoes, wine grapes; beef, dairy products; fish catch of 850,000 metric tons ranks among world's top 20 countries and is all used domestically

total value: $275 billion (f.o.b., 1997 est.)
commodities: machinery and transportation equipment, chemicals, foodstuffs, agricultural products, iron and steel products, textiles and clothing
partners: Germany 17%, Italy 9%, UK 9%, Spain 8%, Belgium-Luxembourg 8%, US 6%, Netherlands 4.5%, Japan 2%, Russia 0.7% (1996)

total value: $256 billion (f.o.b., 1997 est.)
commodities: crude oil, machinery and equipment, agricultural products, chemicals, iron and steel products
partners: Germany 17%, Italy 10%, US 9%, Belgium-Luxembourg 8%, UK 8%, Spain 7%, Netherlands 5%, Japan 3%, China 2% (1997 est.)

Debt—external: $117.6 billion (1996 est.)

Economic aid:
donor: ODA, $7.915 billion (1993)

Currency: 1 French franc (F) = 100 centimes

Exchange rates: French francs (F) per US$1—6.0836 (January 1998), 5.8367 (1997), 5.1155 (1996), 4.9915 (1995), 5.5520 (1994), 5.6632 (1993)

Fiscal year: calendar year


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Telephones: 35 million (1987 est.)

Telephone system: highly developed
domestic: extensive cable and microwave radio relay; extensive introduction of fiber-optic cable; domestic satellite system
international: satellite earth stations—2 Intelsat (with total of 5 antennas—2 for Indian Ocean and 3 for Atlantic Ocean), NA Eutelsat, 1 Inmarsat (Atlantic Ocean region); HF radiotelephone communications with more than 20 countries

Radio broadcast stations: AM 41, FM 800 (mostly repeaters), shortwave 0

Radios: 49 million (1993 est.)

Television broadcast stations: 846 (mostly repeaters)
note: Eutelsat receive-only TV service

Televisions: 29.3 million (1993 est.)


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total: 32,027 km
standard gauge: 31,928 km 1.435-m gauge; 31,940 km are operated by French National Railways (SNCF); 13,805 km of SNCF routes are electrified and 12,132 km are double- or multiple-tracked
narrow gauge: 99 km 1.000-m gauge
note: does not include 33 tourist railroads, totaling 469 km, many being of very narrow gauge (1996)

total: 892,500 km
paved: 892,500 km (including 9,500 km of expressways)
unpaved: 0 km (1996 est.)

Waterways: 14,932 km; 6,969 km heavily traveled

Pipelines: crude oil 3,059 km; petroleum products 4,487 km; natural gas 24,746 km

Ports and harbors: Bordeaux, Boulogne, Cherbourg, Dijon, Dunkerque, La Pallice, Le Havre, Lyon, Marseille, Mullhouse, Nantes, Paris, Rouen, Saint Nazaire, Saint Malo, Strasbourg

Merchant marine:
total: 62 ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 1,528,107 GRT/2,354,235 DWT
ships by type: bulk 5, cargo 5, chemical tanker 8, combination bulk 1, container 6, liquefied gas tanker 4, multi-function large load carrier 1, oil tanker 18, passenger 2, roll-on/roll-off cargo 5, short-sea passenger 6, specialized tanker 1
note: France also maintains a captive register for French-owned ships in Iles Kerguelen (French Southern and Antarctic Lands) (1997 est.)

Airports: 473 (1997 est.)

Airports—with paved runways:
total: 266
over 3,047 m: 13
2,438 to 3,047 m: 29
1,524 to 2,437 m: 95
914 to 1,523 m: 73
under 914 m: 56 (1997 est.)

Airports—with unpaved runways:
total: 207
1,524 to 2,437 m: 3
914 to 1,523 m: 75
under 914 m: 129 (1997 est.)

Heliports: 3 (1997 est.)




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