Monday, February 3, 2014

France - Introduction

France , officially the French Republic, is a sovereign country in Western Europe that includes overseas regions and territoriesMetropolitan France extends from the Mediterranean Sea to theEnglish Channel and the North Sea, and from the Rhine to the Atlantic Ocean. It is one of only three countries (besides Morocco and Spain) to have both Atlantic and Mediterranean coastlines. Due to its shape, it is often referred to in French as l’Hexagone ("The Hexagon").
France is the largest country in Western Europe and theEuropean Union, and the third-largest in Europe as a whole. With a total population of around 66 million, it is thethird most-populous European country. France is a unitarysemi-presidential republic with its capital in Paris, the nation's largest city and the main cultural and commercial centre. The current Constitution of France, adopted by referendum on 4 October 1958, establishes the country as secular and democratic, with its sovereignty derived from the people. The nation's ideals are expressed in theDeclaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, one of the world's earliest documents on human rights, which was formulated during the seminal French Revolution of the late 18th century.
France has been a major power in Europe since the Late Middle Ages, reaching its height during the 19th and early 20th centuries, when it possessed what was then thesecond-largest colonial empire, and one of the largest in history. This legacy is reflected in the prevalence of French languageculture, and jurisprudence worldwide. Throughout its long history, France has produced many influential artists, thinkers, and scientists, and remains prominent global centre of culture. It hosts the world'sfourth-largest number of cultural UNESCO World Heritage Sites, drawing around 83 million foreign tourists annually – the most of any country in the world.
France remains a great power with significant cultural,economicmilitary, and political influence in Europe and around the world. It has the world's sixth-largest military budgetthird-largest stockpile of nuclear weapons,and second-largest diplomatic corps, after the United States. Due to its overseas regions and territoriesthroughout the world, France has the second-largestexclusive economic zone in the world. France is adeveloped country and has the world's fifth-largest economy by nominal GDP and seventh-largest bypurchasing power parity. In terms of total household wealth, France is the wealthiest nation in Europe and fourth in the world.
French citizens enjoy a high standard of living, with the country performing well in international rankings of educationhealth carelife expectancy, civil liberties, andhuman development. France is a founding member of the United Nations, where it serves as one of the fivepermanent members of the UN Security Council. It is a member of numerous international institutions, includingFrancophonie, the G8G20NATOOECDWTO, and theLatin Union. France is a founding and leading member state of the European Union.