definition of France:
Technically speaking, "France" includes a number of overseas
departments and territories (known in French as the DOM-TOMs),
including Tahiti in the Pacific and French Guyana in South America.
This guide however is concerned with Metropolitan France,
which means continental France, together with the offshore islands,
|►► Site guide
|Full site index
|►► Principal chapters on
regions of France
Paris, a guide to the French regions and their tourist attractions.
the most of your trip to Paris; Information on attractions, Paris
, transport, and lots more.
|Tourism in France
main tourist attractions and places to visit in France - historic
monuments, art galleries, seasides, and more
a trip to France
on things to do before starting your trip to France.
|Driving in France
and useful information on driving in and through France - motorways,
tolls, where to stay....
|Maps of France
towns, departments, regions, climate, wine areas and other themes.
|The French way of
A mine of information about
life and living in France, including
working in France, living in France, food and eating, education,
dictionary of France
dictionary of modern France - key figures, institutions, acronyms,
culture, icons, etc.
François Hollande, French president - Creative
commons photo by MGTXX
France key data:
essential facts and figures
data for France, with selected international comparisons
The Government of France:
France is a republic;
the head of the executive is the President,
elected by universal suffrage, currently Nicolas Sarkozy. The President
determines policy with the aid of his Council of Ministers (Conseil des ministres).
Ministers cannot sit in parliament, and if an elected member of
is appointed minister, he or she has to hand over parliamentary duties
to his / her deputy (adjoint).
Since each elected member has a deputy, by-elections are unusual in
The lower and principal house of parliament is the Assemblée nationale,
or national assembly; the second chamber is the Sénat or
Senate. Députés (members of parliament) are
elected to the National Assembly by universal suffrage, in general
that take place every five years. Senators are chosen by an electoral
college of "grand electors", who are mostly other local
The electoral system
for presidential and parliamentary elections involves two rounds; a
candidate can be elected on the first round by obtaining an absolute
majority of votes cast. The second round is a runoff between the
leading two candidates from round one (presidential election), or two
or more candidates (parliamentary elections). Click here for further
information on the French
Constitution and political system
Metropolitan France is administered as 22 regions, 96
"départements" or departments, and some 36,000 "communes".
See maps of regions and departments.
(There are also 4 overseas regions - French Guiana, Guadeloupe,
Martinique, and Ile de la Réunion - and other overseas territories known
as "TOM" )
is administered by a Regional council (Conseil régional),
and each department
is administered by a county council (Conseil
Général). The central government is
represented in each department and region by a Prefect (préfet),
with powers over the police and public security. The Prefect's other
main role is to make sure that local authorities administer their area
in compliance with national law.
appointed by the President, regional councils are elected by universal
suffrage every six years, involving a complex two-round
semi-proportional voting system.
Departmental councils, conseils
généraux, are elected by universal
suffrage every six years, in elections known as canton elections
are run by municipal councils (conseils
elected every six years by universal suffrage. Increasingly,
important business of small communes, and issues that involve communes
and their neighbours are dealt with by groupings of communes, known as
"Communauté de communes"
Geography of metropolitan France (France in Europe): key data.
area: 547,030 sq km, of which 545,630
sq km of land and 1,400 sq km of rivers and lakes.
France compared to the UK
France's surface area is about double the surface area of the United
Kingdom, and just over four times the surface area of England.
For more geographic details see the About-France.com Maps of France
page and links
of land border; 2889 km. Neighbouring countries: Belgium,
Luxembourg, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Monaco, Spain, Andorra.
of coastline: 4,668 km
elevation: the peak of Mont Blanc, 4,807 metres or 15,782
farmland: 33.5% of the total surface area.
/ Population statistics
Population: 62,150,775 total estimated population of
Metropolitan France, mid 2008
This is just a few thousand more than the population of the United
growth rate: 0.57% (2008 est.)
Birth rate: 12.73 births per 1000 (2008 estimate)
ratio: Average ratio 0.93 males per female (though 1.05
males per female in the under 15 age group).
expectancy at birth: Average: 80.2 years (males: 77.7
years, females: 84.2 years – 2008 estimate.) -
with: UK 79.0, Germany 79.1, Netherlands 79.2,
Switzerland 81.3, USA 77.9, Belgium 77.8 (Source UNDP)
density: 110 people per sq km
This is just less than the EU average of
112 /km², and less than half the density of the UK
Click here for population of the main French
towns and cities
facts and figures :
for an overview)
capita GDP for France:
2007 27,800 €
Compare to: Ireland 35,700 €, Belgium 30,200 €,
UK 29,400 €, Germany
Spain 25,400 €, Portugal 18,200 €.
Source: Eurostat, April 2007.
sector: agriculture: 2.2% industry:21%
services: 76.7% (2007)
(n.b. 2009 was the year of the great recession):
- 2.5 %
with : Ireland -7.5% , Belgium -2.6%, UK
-4.7% , Spain -3.7%, Portugal -2.6 % .
European union average: +2.8% Source:
+ 1.7 %
with : Ireland +2.5% , Belgium +1.9%, UK
+2.0 % , Spain + 2.6 %, Portugal +2.5 %.
European union average: +2.2% Source: IMF
8.6 % (and falling)
with : Ireland +4% , Belgium 7.2%, UK
8.8 % , Spain + 8.0 %, Portugal +7.9 % .
European union average: +6.9% Source: Eurostat, for
Agriculture: 4.1%, industry: 24.4%, services: 71.5%
U.K.: Agriculture: 1.4%, industry: 18.2%, services: 80.4%
(2006) . Source: CIA world factbook.
► More facts,
figures and statistical data about France
Visit the website of the French national statistical office INSEE
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