Country name:

Officially the French Republic (French: République française)
Abbreviation: FR


Metropolitan France: Western Europe, bordering the Bay of Biscay and English Channel, between Belgium and Spain, southeast of the UK; bordering the Mediterranean Sea, between Italy and Spain
French Guiana: Northern South America, bordering the North Atlantic Ocean, between Brazil and Suriname
Guadeloupe: Caribbean, islands between the Caribbean Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean, southeast of Puerto Rico
Martinique: Caribbean, island between the Caribbean Sea and North Atlantic Ocean, north of Trinidad and Tobago
Reunion: Southern Africa, island in the Indian Ocean, east of Madagascar

Area - comparative:

Slightly less than the size of Texas
Largest West European nation


Metropolitan France: generally cool winters and mild summers, but mild winters and hot summers along the Mediterranean; occasional strong, cold, dry, north-to-northwesterly wind known as mistral


Metropolitan France: mostly flat plains or gently rolling hills in north and west; remainder is mountainous, especially Pyrenees in south, Alps in east.

Natural resources:

Metropolitan France: coal, iron ore, bauxite, zinc, uranium, antimony, arsenic, potash, feldspar, fluorspar, gypsum, timber, fish.


Total: 64,057,792
Country comparison to the world: 21
note: 62,150,775 in metropolitan France (July 2009 est.)


Definition: age 15 and over can read and write
Total population: 99%
Male: 99%
Female: 99% (2003 est.)

Economy - overview:

France is in the midst of transition from a well-to-do modern economy that has featured extensive government ownership and intervention to one that relies more on market mechanisms. The government has partially or fully privatized many large companies, banks, and insurers, and has ceded stakes in such leading firms as Air France, France Telecom, Renault, and Thales. It maintains a strong presence in some sectors, particularly power, public transport, and defense industries. With at least 75 million foreign tourists per year, France is the most visited country in the world and maintains the third largest income in the world from tourism. France's leaders remain committed to a capitalism in which they maintain social equity by means of laws, tax policies, and social spending that reduce income disparity and the impact of free markets on public health and welfare. France has weathered the global economic crisis better than most other big EU economies because of more resilient consumer and government spending, and lower exposure to the downturn in global demand. Nonetheless, France's real GDP contracted 2.1% in 2009, while the unemployment rate increased from 7.4% in 2008 to nearly 10%. In response to the economic crisis the government passed a $35 billion stimulus plan in February 2009 centered on investment in infrastructure and tax breaks for small businesses. Paris also created a $25 billion strategic investment fund to protect French companies from foreign takeovers, and President Nicolas SARKOZY proposed a $52 billion plan for strategic investments in science and technology. These various stimulus and investment measures are contributing to a deterioration of France's public finances. France's tax burden remains one of the highest in Europe - at nearly 50% of GDP. The government budget deficit rose sharply from 3.4% of GDP in 2008 to over 8% of GDP in 2009, topping the 3% euro-zone ceiling in both years. SARKOZY is expected to seek passage of some structural reforms - notably to the pension system and government bureaucracy - which have the potential to cut public expenditures, while he may delay additional, more costly, reforms.

Also see: Doing business 2010 : France by The World Bank Group.

GDP (official exchange rate):

$2.635 trillion (2009 est.)

Telephone system:

General assessment: highly developed
Domestic: extensive cable and microwave radio relay; extensive use of fiber-optic cable; domestic satellite system
International: country code - 33; numerous submarine cables provide links throughout Europe, Asia, Australia, the Middle East, and US; satellite earth stations - more than 3 (2 Intelsat (with total of 5 antennas - 2 for Indian Ocean and 3 for Atlantic Ocean), NA Eutelsat, 1 Inmarsat - Atlantic Ocean region); HF radiotelephone communications with more than 20 countries

Representation in USA:

Consulate(s) General: Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Honolulu, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami,
New Orleans, New York, San Francisco, San Juan P.R., Washington, D.C.

Ten Reasons to Invest in France PDF