France is the second largest country in Europe, with the fifth largest population in Europe.
Population: 57.5 million
Geographic size: 212,935 square miles
Major cities and population: Paris - 8.7 million people, Lyon - 1.2 million, Marseille - 1.2 million, Lille - 950,000 and Bordeaux - 640,000.
Two thirds of France is mountains and hills, with the Alps, Pyrenees and Vosges ranges. Mont Blanc in the Alps is the highest mountain in Europe.
The Mediterranean coast includes the popular tourist area, the French Riviera. Its hot, dry summers and mild winters make it a popular beach area.
The Eiffel Tower is one of France's national landmarks. At 1,050 feet tall, it is one of the world's most recognizable structures.
The Cathedral of Notre Dame was built in 1163. It is the largest church in Northern France.
It got worldwide recognition in the popular book "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" by Victor Hugo. The book was also made into a successful movie.
Points of Interest
Paris is one of the world's most beautiful cities, and a popular tourist area.
Paris was founded by, and named after, the Celtic tribe, the Parisii.
Paris is a major culture center for Europe and the world.
The Louvre is one of the world's best known, and finest art galleries. It contains many of the world's most famous art, including the Mona Lisa.
The Arc de Triomphe is a Paris landmark. It is the entrance way to the Champs Elysees.
Historically, agriculture was one of France's major industries. France is still a leading producer of wine.
Today the economy is much more industrialized. France industry produces cars, aerospace products, and other manufactured goods. It is also a major producer of chemical products. Fashion, textiles and tourism also play a significant role in the French ecomony.
Early French settlers were the Celts in 1000 BC. Later the Romans took over the area in 58 BC. In 486 AD, a Germanic tribe called the Franks invaded the area. France got its name from the Franks.
In the 17th and 18th centuries France was ruled by Monarchs. French explorers discovered many parts of the world, and established French colonies all over the world.
In the early 19th century, General Napoleon Bonaparte conquered much of Europe and established himself as an Emperor. He was finally defeated at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815.
In 1789, the French Revolution managed to overthrow the monarchy. This led to the establishment of the National Assembly, an elected government.
Population and Culture
The French population has very diverse origins. Many people have settled in France including the Celts, Romans, Germans, Russians, Asians, Africans and North Americans. The populations tend to vary by region.
Historically, France was primarily a rural community. Today about 75% of people live in cities or towns.
Art and culture are an important part of France. Many famous artists, such as Renoir and Monet, are from France. Several famous writers, including Victor Hugo who wrote Le Miserables and the Hunchback of Notre Dame, are from France.
Sports are also popular, with Soccer being a major team sport. France is also well known for the "Tour de France," a 2,500 mile bicycle race.
France is located mid-way between the equator and the North Pole. This gives France a temperate climate. Most areas do get extremely hot or cold. Along the Mediterranean coast, the warm Gulf Stream current provides for mild winters and hot, dry summers. Mountain areas tend to be colder, with considerable rain and snow.