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Essential data about France

Key facts and figures - About-France.com

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Key facts & figures about France

Key facts and statistical data for France, with selected international comparisons

On this page Government Geography
Economy Local government Population
Map of France
A 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, including Corsica.

The Government of France:

France is a republic; the head of the executive is the President, elected by universal suffrage, currently Emmanuel Macron. 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 parliament (député) 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 France. 


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 elections (élections législatives) that take place every five years. Senators are chosen by an electoral college of "grand electors", who are mostly other local  representatives.
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 facts and information about the French Constitution and political system

Structure of local government:

Metropolitan France is administered as 13 regions (reduced from 22 as from 2016) , 96 "départements" or departments, and some 36,000 "communes". See maps of regions and departments.  
(There are also 4 overseas regions - French Guyana, Guadeloupe, Martinique, and Ile de la Réunion - and other overseas territories known as "TOM" )
Each region is administered by a Regional council (Conseil régional), and each department is administered by a county council (Conseil départemental - formerly 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.
   Prefects are 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 départementaux, are elected by universal suffrage every six years, in elections known as canton elections  (élections cantonales).
   Communes are run by municipal councils (conseils municipaux) elected every six years by universal suffrage.  Increasingly, the 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"

The Geography of metropolitan France (France in Europe): key data.

Surface 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
Basic geographic facts:

Demographics / Population information and statistics

Click here for population of the main French towns and cities

Economic facts and key statistical data 

(See The French economy  for an overview)

Per capita GDP : 2018 : France : 32,900 €  (Source: European commission)
Compare with :
UK 32,400 €, Ireland 59,400 €, Belgium 35,300 €,  Germany 35,900 €,    Spain 25,000 €, Portugal 17,900 €.
   Source: Eurostat.

GDP by sector: agriculture: 2.2%  industry:21%  services: 76.7% (2007)

Economic growth 2018 :  France: 1.5%
Compare with :
UK 1.4%,   Ireland 6.7% , Belgium 1.4%, Germany 1.4% , Spain 2.6%, Portugal 2.1 % .     
   Source: Eurostat 2019.

Inflation 2012 : France 2.2 %
Compare with :
Ireland +1.9% , Belgium +2.6%, UK +2.8%,  Germany +2.1 % ,    Spain + 2.4 %, Portugal +2.8 %.  European union average: +2.6%  
   Source: Eurostat

Unemployment: Jan 2019 : France:  8.8%
Compare with :
Ireland 5.3% , Belgium 5.6%, UK 4.0%,  Germany 3.2 % , Spain  14.1 %, Portugal 6.7 % .  European union average: 7.8 %  
    Source: Eurostat.

Employment by sector:  2011
France: Agriculture: 2.9%,  industry: 22.1%,  services: 75%
Compare with :
U.K.: Agriculture: 1.2%,  industry: 19.1%, services: 79.7%   .
Germany: Agriculture: 1.6%,  industry: 28.3%, services: 70.1% .
Spain:  Agriculture: 4.2%,  industry: 21.8%, services: 74% .
Czech republic:  Agriculture: 32%,  industry: 38.4%, services: 58.6% .
       Source: Eurostat.

More facts, figures, information and statistical data about France

Visit the website of the French national statistical office INSEE  or Eurostat

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