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Brief History of France : France , officially the French Republic is a country primarily located in Western Europe, consisting of metropolitan France and several overseas regions and territories. The metropolitan area of France extends from the Rhine to the Atlantic Ocean and from the Mediterranean Sea to the English Channel and the North Sea. The overseas territories include French Guiana in South America and several islands in the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans.

France borders Belgium, Luxembourg and Germany to the northeast, Switzerland, Monaco and Italy to the east, Andorra and Spain to the south, as well as the Netherlands, Suriname and Brazil in the Americas. The countrys eighteen integral regions (five of which are situated overseas) span a combined area of 643,801 km2 (248,573 sq mi) and a total population of 67.41 million (as of January 2021).France is a unitary semi-presidential republic with its capital in Paris, the countrys largest city and main cultural and commercial centre. Other major urban areas include Lyon, Marseille, Toulouse, Bordeaux, Lille and Nice. France, including its overseas territories, has the most time zones of any country, with a total of twelve.

During the Iron Age, what is now metropolitan France was inhabited by the Gauls. The area was annexed by Rome in 51 BC, developing a distinct Gallo-Roman culture that laid the foundation of the French language. The Germanic Franks arrived in 476 and formed the Kingdom of Francia, which became the heartland of the Carolingian Empire. The Treaty of Verdun of 843 partitioned the empire, with West Francia becoming the Kingdom of France in 987.

In the High Middle Ages, France was a highly decentralized feudal kingdom in which the authority of the king was barely felt. King Philip Augustus achieved remarkable success in the strengthening of royal power and the expansion of his realm, doubling its size and defeating his rivals. By the end of his reign, France had emerged as the most powerful state in Europe. In the mid-14th century, French monarchs were victorious in the Hundred Years War with England. The Italian Wars with Spain followed during the Renaissance.

French culture flourished and a global colonial empire was started, which by 1900 would become the second largest in the world. The second half of the 16th century was dominated by religious civil wars with Catholics expelling Protestant (Huguenots), which severely weakened the country. But France once again emerged as Europes dominant cultural, political, and military power in the 17th century under Louis XIV following the Thirty Years War. Despite the wealth of the nation the government had inadequate financial and taxation systems that could not fund endless and costly wars. Especially costly were the Seven Years War and the American War of Independence. The French Revolution in 1789 saw the fall of the absolute monarchy that characterized the Ancien Régime. The French First Republic drafted the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen. The declaration expresses the nations ideals to this day.

In 1799-1814 France reached its political and military zenith under Napoléon Bonaparte, subjugating much of continental Europe and establishing the First French Empire. The French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars shaped the course of European and world history. After the collapse of the empire and a relative decline, France endured a tumultuous succession of governments culminating in the establishment of the French Third Republic in 1870 in the midst of the Franco-Prussian War. France was one of the prominent participants of World War I, from which it emerged victorious, and was one of the Allied powers in World War II, but came under occupation by the Axis in 1940. Following liberation in 1944, a Fourth Republic was established and later dissolved in the course of the Algerian War. The Fifth Republic, led by Charles de Gaulle, was formed in 1958 and remains to this day. Algeria and nearly all other French colonies became independent in the 1960s, with most retaining close economic and military connections with France.

France retains its centuries-long status as a global centre of art, science, and philosophy. It hosts the worlds fifth-largest number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites and is the leading tourist destination, receiving over 89 million foreign visitors in 2018. France is a developed country with the worlds seventh-largest economy by nominal GDP, and the tenth-largest by PPP. In terms of aggregate household wealth, it ranks fourth in the world.

France performs well in international rankings of education, health care, life expectancy, and human development. It remains a great power in global affairs, being one of the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council and an official nuclear-weapon state. France is a founding and leading member of the European Union and the Eurozone,and a member of the Group of 7, North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the World Trade Organization (WTO), and La Francophonie.

Geography

The vast majority of Frances territory and population is situated in Western Europe and is called Metropolitan France, to distinguish it from the countrys various overseas polities. It is bordered by the North Sea in the north, the English Channel in the northwest, the Atlantic Ocean in the west and the Mediterranean sea in the southeast. Its land borders consist of Belgium and Luxembourg in the northeast, Germany and Switzerland in the east, Italy and Monaco in the southeast, and Andorra and Spain in the south and southwest. With the exception of the northeast, most of Frances land borders are roughly delineated by natural boundaries and geographic features: to the south and southeast, the Pyrenees and the Alps and the Jura, respectively, and to the east, the Rhine river. Due to its shape, France is often referred to as lHexagone ("The Hexagon"). Metropolitan France includes various coastal islands, of which the largest is Corsica. Metropolitan France is situated mostly between latitudes 41° and 51° N, and longitudes 6° W and 10° E, on the western edge of Europe, and thus lies within the northern temperate zone. Its continental part covers about 1000 km from north to south and from east to west.

Politics and Government

The French Republic is a unitary semi-presidential representative democratic republic with strong democratic traditions. The Constitution of the Fifth Republic was approved by referendum on 28 September 1958. It greatly strengthened the authority of the executive in relation to Parliament. The executive branch itself has two leaders. The President of the Republic, currently Emmanuel Macron, is the head of state, elected directly by universal adult suffrage for a 5-year term (formerly 7 years).] The Prime Minister, currently Jean Castex, is the head of government, appointed by the President of the Republic to lead the Government of France.

The National Assembly is the lower house of the French Parliament.The French Parliament is a bicameral legislature comprising a National Assembly (Assemblée nationale) and a Senate. The National Assembly deputies represent local constituencies and are directly elected for 5-year terms. The Assembly has the power to dismiss the government; thus the majority in the Assembly determines the choice of government. Senators are chosen by an electoral college for 6-year terms (originally 9-year terms); one half of the seats are submitted to election every 3 years.

The Senates legislative powers are limited; in the event of disagreement between the two chambers, the National Assembly has the final say. The Government has a strong influence in shaping the agenda of Parliament.

Until World War II, Radicals were a strong political force in France, embodied by the Republican, Radical and Radical-Socialist Party which was the most important party of the Third Republic. Since World War II, they were marginalized while French politics became characterized by two politically opposed groupings: one left-wing, centred on the French Section of the Workers International and its successor the Socialist Party (since 1969); and the other right-wing, centred on the Gaullist Party, whose name changed over time to the Rally of the French People (1947), the Union of Democrats for the Republic (1958), the Rally for the Republic (1976), the Union for a Popular Movement (2007) and The Republicans (since 2015). In the 2017 presidential and legislative elections, radical centrist party En Marche! became the dominant force, overtaking both Socialists and Republicans.

Economy

A member of the Group of Seven (formerly Group of Eight) leading industrialized countries, as of 2018, it is ranked as the worlds tenth largest and the EUs second largest economy by purchasing power parity.France joined 11 other EU members to launch the euro in 1999, with euro coins and banknotes completely replacing the French franc (₣) in 2002.

France has a diversified economy,that is dominated by the service sector (which represented in 2017 78.8% of its GDP), whilst the industrial sector accounted for 19.5% of its GDP and the primary sector accounted for the remaining 1.7%. The fifth largest trading nation in the world (and second in Europe after Germany). It is the third largest manufacturing country in Europe behind Germany and Italy. France is also the most visited destination in the world,as well the European Unions leading agricultural power.

France was in 2020 the largest Foreign Direct Investment recipient in Europe, Europes second largest spender in Research and development, ranked among the 10 most innovative countries in the world by the 2020 Bloomberg Innovation Index, as well as the 15th most competitive nation globally, according to the 2019 Global Competitiveness Report (up 2 notches compared to 2018).

According to the IMF, in 2020, France was the worlds 20th country by GDP per capita with $39,257 per inhabitant. In 2019, France was listed on the United Nationss Human Development Index with a value of 0.901 (indicating very high human development) and 23rd on the Corruption Perceptions Index in 2019