Country Briefs: One of the most modern and successful countries of the world, a leader amongst European nations, a country blessed and caressed by nature, offering timeless attractions, France is the place with a difference.
If we look at the geographic aspect of France we find that the metropolitan France i.e. the part of France that lies in Europe stretches from the Mediterranean Sea to the English Channel and North Sea, and from Rhine River to the Atlantic Ocean.
Covering an area of around sixty-seven square kilometers and with a population of over sixty-three million people, France borders the Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Monaco, Andorra and Spain.
The borders of France have more or less remained unchanged since Celtic Gauls inhabited the region in first century BC. The successor rulers of Gauls were the Romans who had a long-lasting effect on this country. Around second and third century CE Christianity penetrated in France.
The Germanic tribes particularly the Franks attacked the eastern portion of France. The Franks gave the name Francie (the archaic name of contemporary France). While Francie's modified version "France" comes from the feudal territory of the Capetian Kings of France around Paris.
France came up as an individual existence at the time when Charlemagne's Carolingian empire broke into pieces. Of these parts the western part of the broken empire was known as modern France later.
However till 987 France continued to be governed by Charlemagne's descendants. But from 987 to 996 Hugh Capet, the Duke of France and the Count of Paris ruled France. After Capet, the rule of France was transferred to his descendants who constantly kept on augmenting the area of the country by new invasions and conquests.
France experienced some glorious years of monarchy particularly in 17th century when under the reign of Louis XIV France became one of the economically, politically and culturally powerful countries in entire Europe.
But the 75-year-old monarchy was uprooted in 1792 because the French Revolution proved successful in its aim. The French Revolution thus led to the establishment of the First Republic. On 21st September 1792 the French people proclaimed France's first republic. This signified a new era of republican government in Europe.
Bit in 1799 Napoleon Bonaparte seized the control of the republic and declared himself the first consul. Soon he also became the emperor of the first French Empire. During his reign from 1804 to 1814 Napoleon waged and won many wars. But Napoleon was defeated in 1815 as a result of which monarchy resumed control in France.
Political changes took place and in 1830 France witnessed a civil revolt, the French revolution or the July revolution. This revolt by the middle class population of France against the Boubon King led to the establishment of July monarchy under the Orleanist king Louis Philippe.
After the July monarchy came the Second Republic in 1848. The republic came as a result of the 1848 revolution. But the republic ended soon in 1852 when Louis Napoleon Bonaparte declared himself as the second emperor of France.
In 1870 there took place the Franco-Prussian war (war between France and Prussia over the Prussia's supremacy in Germany) and this led to the formation and coming of the Third Republic in France.
However France emerged victorious in the First and Second World War. Its disappearing strength and glory revived and France once again became an assertive nation state.
At present France is a developed country that possesses the fifth largest economy in the world (according to a survey in 2004). France is one of the founders of the European union as well as United Nations.
- HASC: Hierarchical administrative subdivision codes.
- Reg: regions of France, identified by their ISO 3166-2 codes (see below).
- ISO: codes from ISO 3166-2. These are standard department codes for France.
- FIPS: Codes from FIPS PUB 10-3.
- NUTS: Nomenclature of Territorial Units for Statistics.
- Population: 1999-03-08 census.