France is known the world over for its cuisine, fashion, culture and language. It is the most visited tourist destination in the world.
A key player on the global stage and a country at the political heart of Europe, France paid a high price in both economic and human terms during the two world wars.
The years which followed saw protracted conflicts culminating in independence for Algeria and most other French colonies in Africa as well as decolonisation in south-east Asia.
France was one of the founding fathers of European integration as the continent sought to rebuild after the devastation of the Second World War.
- French Republic
- Capital: Paris
- Population: 63.5 million
- Area: 543,965 sq km (210,026 sq miles)
- Major language: French
- Major religion: Christianity
- Life expectancy: 78 years (men), 85 years (women)
- Currency: Euro