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About France

France - Cultural Capital of Europe

The French Republic, or France, as the country is commonly known, is the largest country in the European Union. Its borders stretch from the North Sea to the Mediterranean, and the French landscape is as diverse as its culture. A key player on the world stage and a country at the political heart of Europe, France was one of the founding fathers of European integration. France has produced some of the continents most influential writers, thinkers and artists. France is also known for its exceptional cuisine and culinary traditions and cooking and eating are an integral part of French culture and lifestyle.

Over the past 500 years, France has been a major global power with strong cultural, economic, military and political influence in Europe and in the world. Traditionally, France has played an important role in global affairs and even today its global clout is quite significant.

Due to its colonial past, France has a number of territories overseas on different continents. Mainland France is bordered by Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, Switzerland, Italy and Monaco; with Spain and Andorra to the south. France is linked to the United Kingdom by the Channel Tunnel, which passes underneath the English Channel.

The estimated population of France is 62.6 million. France colonial past is a major contributing factor in the presence of a richly diverse multicultural population. Traditionally, France has had a high level of immigration. France is home to both the largest Muslim and Jewish populations in Europe.

French is the official language of the country. Paris, an epitome of romance, fashion and culture, is the capital city. In January 1999, France joined 10 other European Union countries in adopting the euro as its currency.

The French Republic is a secular state. The principle of secularity is enshrined in the Constitution. The French Republic is a unitary semi-presidential republic with strong democratic traditions and a bicameral parliament.

France is a founding member of the United Nations, one of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, a member of the Francophonie, the G8, WTO, NATO, and many other global organizations. It is also one of the founding members of the European Union.

France has a mixed, advanced industrial economy which ranks fifth in the world and second in Europe. It combines both private and state-run enterprises. The country has substantial agricultural resources, a large industrial base, and a highly skilled work force. A dynamic services sector accounts for an increasingly large share of economic activity and is responsible for nearly all job creation in recent years.

France is one of the most visited countries in the world and ranked as the first most popular tourist destination in the world, ahead of Spain and the United States. France is also the European Union leading agricultural exporter and the world second-largest agricultural producer after the United States. Wine, beverages, wheat, meat, and dairy products are the principal exports.

Although the share of industry in the French economy is lower than in its three largest European neighbours, a number of major French groups are world leaders in their specialities which include automobile manufacture, aerospace, information technology, electronics, chemicals and pharmaceuticals and fashion. Financial services, banking and the insurance sector are also an important part of France  economy.

France is one of the worlds most developed countries. It is the wealthiest European (and the world\\\\\\\'s 4th) nation in aggregate household wealth. The French enjoy a high standard of living, a high level of public education and one of the world highest life expectancies. With foreign direct investment (FDI) a constantly rising figure, France is the third country in the world in receipts of FDI, with all the consequent positive effects on employment.