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Basic Facts
Country name conventional long form: French Republic
conventional short form: France
local long form: Republique francaise
local short form: France
Gevernment typerepublic
Capital name: Paris
geographic coordinates: 48 52 N, 2 20 E
time difference: UTC+1 (6 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
daylight saving time: +1hr, begins last Sunday in March; ends last Sunday in October
Flag descriptionthree equal vertical bands of blue (hoist side), white, and red; known as the "Le drapeau tricolore" (French Tricolor), the origin of the flag dates to 1790 and the French Revolution; the design and/or colors are similar to a number of other flags, including those of Belgium, Chad, Ireland, Cote d'Ivoire, Luxembourg, and Netherlands; the official flag for all French dependent areas
Currencyeuro (EUR)
note: on 1 January 1999, the European Monetary Union introduced the euro as a common currency to be used by financial institutions of member countries; on 1 January 2002, the euro became the sole currency for everyday transactions within the member countries
Internet country codemetropolitan France - .fr; French Guiana - .gf; Guadeloupe - .gp; Martinique - .mq; Reunion - .re
Ports and terminalsBasse-Terre (Guadeloupe), Bordeaux, Calais, Degrad de Cannes (French Guiana), Dunkerque, Fort-de-France (Martinique), Gustavia (Guadeloupe), La Pallice, La Trinite (Martinique), Le Havre, Le Port (Reunion), Marin (Martinique), Marseille, Nantes, Paris, Pointe-a-Pitre (Guadeloupe), Rouen, Strasbourg
Agriculture productswheat, cereals, sugar beets, potatoes, wine grapes; beef, dairy products; fish
Industriesmachinery, chemicals, automobiles, metallurgy, aircraft, electronics; textiles, food processing; tourism
Geography
LocationWestern 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
French Guiana: Northern South America, bordering the North Atlantic Ocean, between Brazil and Suriname
Guadeloupe: Caribbean, islands between the Caribbean Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean, southeast of Puerto Rico
Martinique: Caribbean, island between the Caribbean Sea and North Atlantic Ocean, north of Trinidad and Tobago
Reunion: Southern Africa, island in the Indian Ocean, east of Madagascar
Coordinates46 00 N, 2 00 E
French Guiana: 4 00 N, 53 00 W
Guadeloupe: 16 15 N, 61 35 W
Martinique: 14 40 N, 61 00 W
Reunion: 21 06 S, 55 36 E
ContinentEurope
French Guiana: South America
Guadeloupe: Central America and the Caribbean
Martinique: Central America and the Caribbean
Reunion: World
Area total: 643,427 sq km; 547,030 sq km (metropolitan France)
land: 640,053 sq km; 545,630 sq km (metropolitan France)
water: 3,374 sq km; 1,400 sq km (metropolitan France)
note: the first numbers include the overseas regions of French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Martinique, and Reunion
Boundaries metropolitan France - total: 2,889 km
border countries: Andorra 56.6 km, Belgium 620 km, Germany 451 km, Italy 488 km, Luxembourg 73 km, Monaco 4.4 km, Spain 623 km, Switzerland 573 km
Guadeloupe - total: 10.2 km
border countries: Netherlands Antilles (Sint Maarten) 10.2 km
French Guiana - total: 1,183 km
border countries: Brazil 673 km, Suriname 510 km
Coastline total: 4,668 km
metropolitan France: 3,427 km
Climategenerally cool winters and mild summers, but mild winters and hot summers along the Mediterranean; occasional strong, cold, dry, north-to-northwesterly wind known as mistral
French Guiana: tropical; hot, humid; little seasonal temperature variation
Guadeloupe and Martinique: subtropical tempered by trade winds; moderately high humidity; rainy season (June to October); vulnerable to devasting cyclones (hurricanes) every eight years on average
Reunion: tropical, but temperature moderates with elevation; cool and dry (May to November), hot and rainy (November to April)
Terrainmostly flat plains or gently rolling hills in north and west; remainder is mountainous, especially Pyrenees in south, Alps in east
French Guiana: low-lying coastal plains rising to hills and small mountains
Guadeloupe: Basse-Terre is volcanic in origin with interior mountains; Grande-Terre is low limestone formation; most of the seven other islands are volcanic in origin
Martinique: mountainous with indented coastline; dormant volcano
Reunion: mostly rugged and mountainous; fertile lowlands along coast
Natural resourcescoal, iron ore, bauxite, zinc, uranium, antimony, arsenic, potash, feldspar, fluorospar, gypsum, timber, fish
French Guiana: gold deposits, petroleum, kaolin, niobium, tantalum, clay
Natural hazards metropolitan France: flooding; avalanches; midwinter windstorms; drought; forest fires in south near the Mediterranean
overseas departments: hurricanes (cyclones), flooding, volcanic activity (Guadeloupe, Martinique, Reunion)
People
Population total: 62,752,136
note: 60,876,136 in metropolitan France (July 2006 est.)
Ethnic groupsCeltic and Latin with Teutonic, Slavic, North African, Indochinese, Basque minorities
overseas departments: black, white, mulatto, East Indian, Chinese, Amerindian
ReligionsRoman Catholic 83%-88%, Protestant 2%, Jewish 1%, Muslim 5%-10%, unaffiliated 4%
overseas departments: Roman Catholic, Protestant, Hindu, Muslim, Buddhist, pagan
LanguagesFrench 100%, rapidly declining regional dialects and languages (Provencal, Breton, Alsatian, Corsican, Catalan, Basque, Flemish)
overseas departments: French, Creole patois

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