France officially the French Republic (French: République française), is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic
oceans. Metropolitan France extends from the Mediterranean Sea to the English Channel and the North Sea, and from the Rhine to the Atlantic Ocean. It is often referred to as l’Hexagone ("The Hexagon") because of the geometric shape of its territory. It is bordered (clockwise starting from the northeast) by
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. In addition to these borders on the European continent France has land borders with Suriname and
through French Guiana, as well as with the Netherlands through the Collectivity of Saint Martin. It is the largest west-European
country and it possesses the second-largest Exclusive Economic Zone in the world, covering 11,035,000 km2 (4,260,000 sq mi), just behind that of the United States (11,351,000 km2 / 4,383,000 sq mi).
France is a member of the United Nations and serves as one of the permanent members of the UN Security Council with veto
rights. France is also a member of the G8, World Trade Organisation (WTO), the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) and the Indian Ocean Commission (COI)
Area Total: 674,843 km2
Population Total: 65,821,885
France does not recognise religious law, nor does it recognise religious beliefs or morality as a motivation for the enactment of prohibitions. As a consequence, France has long had neither blasphemy laws nor sodomy laws (the latter being abolished in 1791). However, "offences against public decency" (contraires aux bonnes mœurs) or disturbing public order (trouble à l'ordre public) have been used to repress public expressions of homosexuality or street prostitution.
With 81.9 million foreign tourists in 2007, France is ranked as the first tourist destination in the world, ahead of Spain (58.5 million in 2006) and the United States (51.1 million in 2006). This 81.9 million figure excludes people staying less than 24 hours in France, such as Northern Europeans crossing France on their way to Spain or Italy during the summer.
France is the fabled land of good food and wine, of royal chateaux and perfectly restored farmhouses, of landmarks known the world over and hidden landscapes few really know. Savour art and romance in the shining capital on the River Seine. See glorious pasts blaze forth at Versailles. Travel south for Roman civilisation and the sparkling blue Med; indulge your jet-set fantasies in balmy Nice and St-Tropez. Ski the Alps. Sense the subtle infusion of language, music and mythology in
Brittany brought by 5th-century Celtic invaders. Smell ignominy on the beaches of
Normandy and battlefields of Verdun and the Somme. And know that this is but the tip of that gargantuan iceberg the French call culture.
France is filled with wonderful regions, each with its own character. Find out details about France regions that are each diverse and a world unto themselves.