Area: 543,965 sq
km (210,025 sq miles).
of France: 59,481,919 (official estimate 2002).
Population of Paris: 2,125,246
Population Density: 109.3 per sq km
France, the largest country in Europe, is bordered to the north
by the English Channel (La Manche), the northeast
by Belgium and Luxembourg, the
east by Germany, Switzerland and
Italy, to the south by the Mediterranean
(with Monaco as a coastal enclave between Nice
and the Italian frontier), the southwest by Spain
and Andorra, and the west by the Atlantic
Ocean. The island of Corsica, southeast
of Nice, is made up of two départements.
The country offers a spectacular variety of scenery, from the mountain
ranges of the Alps and Pyrénées
to the attractive river valleys of the Loire, Rhône
and Dordogne and the flatter countryside in Normandy
and on the Atlantic coast. The country has some 2900km (1800 miles)
Republic since 1792.
Head of State: President Jacques
Chirac since 1995.
Head of Government: Prime Minister
Jean-Pierre Raffarin since 2002.
French is the official language in France, but there are many regional
dialects. Basque is spoken as a first language
by some people in the southwest, and Breton by
some in Brittany. Many people, particularly those connected with
tourism in the major areas, will speak at least some English.
Religion: Approximately 77%
Roman Catholic with a Protestant minority.
GMT + 1 (GMT + 2 from last Sunday in March to last Sunday in October).
Electricity: 220 volts
AC, 50Hz. Two-pin plugs are widely used, adaptors recommended.