Background: Although ultimately a victor in World Wars I and II, France suffered extensive losses in its empire, wealth, manpower, and rank as a dominant nation-state. Nevertheless, France today is one of the most modern countries in the world and is a leader among European nations. Since 1958, it has constructed a hybrid presidential-parliamentary governing system resistant to the instabilities experienced in earlier more purely parliamentary administrations. In recent years, 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.
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
Area land: 640,053 sq km; 549,970 sq km (metropolitan France)
Area water: 3,374 sq km; 1,530 sq km (metropolitan France)
total: 4,668 km
Country name conventional long form: French Republic
Country name conventional short form: France
Country name former: French Republic
Age structure: 0-14 years: 18.5% (male 6,180,905/female 5,886,849); 15-64 years: 64.7% (male 21,082,175/female 21,045,867); 65 years and over: 16.8% (male 4,578,089/female 6,328,834) (2011 est.);
Population growth rate: 0.5% (2011 est.)
Birth rate: 12.29 births/1,000 population (2011 est.)
Death rate: 8.76 deaths/1,000 population (July 2011 est.)
Net migration rate: 1.46 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2011 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.051 male(s)/female; under 15 years: 1.05 male(s)/female; 15-64 years: 1 male(s)/female; 65 years and over: 0.72 male(s)/female; total population: 0.96 male(s)/female (2011 est.);
Infant mortality rate: total: 3.29 deaths/1,000 live births; male: 3.61 deaths/1,000 live births; female: 2.96 deaths/1,000 live births (2011 est.);
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 81.19 years; male: 78.02 years; female: 84.54 years (2011 est.);
Total fertility rate: 1.96 children born/woman (2011 est.);
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate: 0.4% (2009 est.);
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS: 150,000 (2009 est.);
HIV/AIDS - deaths: 1,700 (2009 est.);
Nationality: noun: Frenchman(men), Frenchwoman(women); adjective: French;
Ethnic groups: Celtic and Latin with Teutonic, Slavic, North African, Indochinese, Basque minorities; overseas departments: black, white, mulatto, East Indian, Chinese, Amerindian;
Religions: Roman Catholic 83%-88%, Protestant 2%, Jewish 1%, Muslim 5%-10%, unaffiliated 4%; overseas departments: Roman Catholic, Protestant, Hindu, Muslim, Buddhist, pagan;
Languages: French (official) 100%, rapidly declining regional dialects and languages (Provencal, Breton, Alsatian, Corsican, Catalan, Basque, Flemish); overseas departments: French, Creole patois;
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write; total population: 99%; male: 99%; female: 99% (2003 est.);
GDP (purchasing power parity): $2.16 trillion (2010 est.); $2.126 trillion (2009 est.); $2.18 trillion (2008 est.);
note: data are in 2010 US dollars
GDP (official exchange rate): $2.555 trillion (2010 est.);
GDP - real growth rate: 1.6% (2010 est.); -2.5% (2009 est.); 0.1% (2008 est.);
GDP - per capita (PPP): $33,300 (2010 est.); $33,000 (2009 est.); $34,000 (2008 est.);
note: data are in 2010 US dollars
GDP - composition by sector: agriculture: 1.8%; industry: 19.2%; services: 79% (2010 est.);
Population below poverty line: 6.2% (2004);
Household income or consumption by percentage share: lowest 10%: 3%; highest 10%: 24.8% (2004);
Labor force: 28.21 million (2010 est.);
Labor force - by occupation: agriculture: 3.8%; industry: 24.3%; services: 71.8% (2005);
Unemployment rate: 9.5% (2010 est.); 9.1% (2009 est.);
Budget: revenues: $1.241 trillion; expenditures: $1.441 trillion (2010 est.);
Industries: machinery, chemicals, automobiles, metallurgy, aircraft, electronics; textiles, food processing; tourism;
Industrial production growth rate: 3.5% (2010 est.);
Electricity - production: 535.7 billion kWh (2007 est.);
Electricity - consumption: 447.2 billion kWh (2007 est.);
Electricity - exports: 58.69 billion kWh (2008 est.);
Electricity - imports: 10.68 billion kWh (2008 est.);
Statistics: CIA World Factbook.
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(Science monthly), Paris
(Progressive, French-language), Paris
(UNESCO monthly), Paris
(Conservative business weekly), Paris
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Many Africans were excited to see French President Nicolas Sarkozy voted out of office, hopeful that François Hollande will better represent their interests.
In 1994 terrorists hijacked a plane headed for Paris, intending to use the plane as a weapon. Although their plan failed, they may have given other terrorists a deadly idea.
Comment and analysis from Australia, United Kingdom, Iceland, Japan, France, China, Egypt, and Russia
Paris has turned a vast 19th century funeral parlor into a center for contemporary art.