France is country of Europe located in west Europe.
|Official Name:||French Republic|
|Total area:||674 843 km2|
|GDP per capita:||$35,548|
|Government:||Unitary semi-presidential constitutional republic|
|Major Religion:||Roman Catholicism|
|Monetary Unit:||Euro (EUR)|
France is the largest country in the EU, stretching from the North Sea to the Mediterranean. The landscape is diverse, with mountains in the east and south, including the Alpine peak of Mont Blanc (4 810 m) which is western Europe's highest point. Lowland France consists of four river basins, the Seine in the north, the Loire and the Garonne flowing westwards and the Rhône, which flows from Lake Geneva to the Mediterranean Sea.
The president of the Republic has an important political role. He chairs the meetings of the Council of Ministers (cabinet), and retains overall responsibility in key areas of foreign affairs and defence. The day-to-day running of the country is in the hands of the prime minister. The president is elected by direct popular vote for a period of five years. The parliament consists of a National Assembly, directly elected every five years, and a Senate whose members are chosen by an electoral college.
France has an advanced industrial economy and an efficient farm sector. Main activities include automobile manufacture, aerospace, information technology, electronics, chemicals and pharmaceuticals and fashion.
France has produced some of the continent's most influential writers and thinkers from Descartes and Pascal in the 17th century, to Rousseau and Voltaire in the 18th, Balzac, Baudelaire and Flaubert in the 19th and Sartre and Camus in the 20th. In the last two centuries it has given the art world the works of Renoir, Monet, Cezanne, Gauguin, Matisse and Braque, to name but a few.
French cuisine is one of the finest in Europe; cooking and eating are part of French culture and lifestyle.
Health & Welfare
Comprehensive welfare rights including medical care, chose of provider, and 100% reimbursable treatments.
Economy & Jobs
Agriculture, forestry, fishing, banking, retailing, and tourism.
Paris, Arles city, Biarritz coastal town, Cannes city, Chamonix valley, Chï¿½teau de Chambord valley, Saint Malo and the North Coast, and Toulouse city.
A member of the G8 group of leading industrialised countries, it is ranked as the world's fifth largest and Europe's second largest economy by nominal GDP; with 39 of the 500 biggest companies of the world in 2010, France ranks world's 4th and Europe's 1st in the Fortune Global 500 ahead of Germany and the UK. France joined 11 other EU members to launch the euro on 1 January 1999, with euro coins and banknotes completely replacing the French franc (₣) in early 2002.
France derives 79% of its electricity from nuclear power, the highest percentage in the world.
France has a mixed economy which combines extensive private enterprise (nearly 2.5 million companies registered) with substantial (though declining) state enterprise and government intervention (see dirigisme). The government retains considerable influence over key segments of infrastructure sectors, with majority ownership of railway, electricity, aircraft, nuclear power and telecommunications. It has been gradually relaxing its control over these sectors since the early 1990s. France is part of a monetary union, the Eurozone (dark blue), and of the EU single market.
The government is slowly corporatising the state sector and selling off holdings in France Télécom, Air France, as well as the insurance, banking, and defence industries. France has an important aerospace industry led by the European consortium Airbus, and has its own national spaceport, the Centre Spatial Guyanais.
According to the World Trade Organization (WTO), in 2009 France was the world's sixth-largest exporter and the fourth-largest importer of manufactured goods. In 2008, France was the third-largest recipient of foreign direct investment among OECD countries at $117.9 billion, ranking behind Luxembourg (where foreign direct investment was essentially monetary transfers to banks located in that country) and the United States ($316.1 billion), but above the United Kingdom ($96.9 billion), Germany ($24.9 billion), or Japan ($24.4 billion).
In the same year, French companies invested $220 billion outside of France, ranking France as the second most important outward direct investor in the OECD, behind the United States ($311.8 billion), and ahead of the United Kingdom ($111.4 billion), Japan ($128 billion) and Germany ($156.5 billion). With 39 of the 500 biggest companies of the world in 2010, France ranks 4th in the Fortune Global 500, behind the USA, Japan and China, but ahead of Germany and the UK.
Financial services, banking and the insurance sector are an important part of France's economy. The Paris stock exchange market (French: La Bourse de Paris) is an ancient institution, as it was created by Louis XV in 1724. In 2000, the stock exchanges of Paris, Amsterdam and Bruxelles merged into Euronext. In 2007, Euronext merged with the New York stock exchange to form NYSE Euronext, the world's largest stock exchange. Euronext Paris, the French branch of the NYSE Euronext group is Europe's second largest stock exchange market, behind the London Stock Exchange.
French companies have maintained key positions in the Insurance and Banking industries: AXA is the world's largest insurance company, and is ranked by Fortune the ninth richest corporation by revenues. The leading French banks are BNP Paribas and the Crédit Agricole, ranking as the world's 1st and 6th largest banks in 2010 (determined by the amount of assets), while the Société Générale group was ranked the world's eight largest in 2008–2009.
France is the smallest emitter of carbon dioxide among the seven most industrialized countries in the world, due to its heavy investment in nuclear power. As a result of large investments in nuclear technology, most of the electricity produced in the country is generated by 59 nuclear power plants (78% in 2006, up from only 8% in 1973, 24% in 1980, and 75% in 1990). In this context, renewable energies (see the power cooperative Enercoop) are having difficulties taking off the ground.
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