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  Transnational Issues

In general, information available as of 1 January, 2004
was used in the preparation of The World Factbook 2004.

This page was last updated on 30 November, 2004

Map of France

Legend: DefinitionDefinition Field ListingField Listing Rank OrderRank Order
   Introduction    France
Definition Field Listing
Although ultimately a victor in World Wars I and II, France suffered extensive losses in its empire, wealth, manpower, and rank as a dominant nation-state. Nevertheless, France today is one of the most modern countries in the world and is a leader among European nations. Since 1958, it has constructed a presidential democracy resistant to the instabilities experienced in earlier parliamentary democracies. In recent years, its reconciliation and cooperation with Germany have proved central to the economic integration of Europe, including the introduction of a common exchange currency, the euro, in January 1999. At present, France is at the forefront of European states seeking to exploit the momentum of monetary union to advance the creation of a more unified and capable European defense and security apparatus.
   Geography    France
Definition Field Listing
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
Geographic coordinates:
Definition Field Listing
46 00 N, 2 00 E
Map references:
Definition Field Listing
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
total: 547,030 sq km
land: 545,630 sq km
water: 1,400 sq km
note: includes only metropolitan France; excludes the overseas administrative divisions
Area - comparative:
Definition Field Listing
slightly less than twice the size of Colorado
Land boundaries:
Definition Field Listing
total: 2,889 km
border countries: Andorra 56.6 km, Belgium 620 km, Germany 451 km, Italy 488 km, Luxembourg 73 km, Monaco 4.4 km, Spain 623 km, Switzerland 573 km
Definition Field Listing
3,427 km
Maritime claims:
Definition Field Listing
territorial sea: 12 nm
contiguous zone: 24 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm (does not apply to the Mediterranean)
continental shelf: 200-m depth or to the depth of exploitation
Definition Field Listing
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
Definition Field Listing
mostly flat plains or gently rolling hills in north and west; remainder is mountainous, especially Pyrenees in south, Alps (great for skiing holidays in France) in east
Elevation extremes:
Definition Field Listing
lowest point: Rhone River delta -2 m
highest point: Mont Blanc 4,807 m
Natural resources:
Definition Field Listing
coal, iron ore, bauxite, zinc, uranium, antimony, arsenic, potash, feldspar, fluorospar, gypsum, timber, fish
Land use:
Definition Field Listing
arable land: 33.53%
permanent crops: 2.07%
other: 64.4% (2001)
Irrigated land:
Definition Field Listing
20,000 sq km (1998 est.)
Natural hazards:
Definition Field Listing
flooding; avalanches; midwinter windstorms; drought; forest fires in south near the Mediterranean
Environment - current issues:
Definition Field Listing
some forest damage from acid rain; air pollution from industrial and vehicle emissions; water pollution from urban wastes, agricultural runoff
Environment - international agreements:
Definition Field Listing
party to: Air Pollution, Air Pollution-Nitrogen Oxides, Air Pollution-Sulfur 85, Air Pollution-Sulfur 94, Air Pollution-Volatile Organic Compounds, Antarctic-Environmental Protocol, Antarctic-Marine Living Resources, Antarctic Seals, Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Marine Life Conservation, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands, Whaling
signed, but not ratified: Air Pollution-Persistent Organic Pollutants
Geography - note:
Definition Field Listing
largest West European nation
   People    France
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
60,424,213 (July 2004 est.)
Age structure:
Definition Field Listing
0-14 years: 18.5% (male 5,724,185; female 5,446,716)
15-64 years: 65.1% (male 19,698,497; female 19,663,776)
65 years and over: 16.4% (male 4,049,970; female 5,841,069) (2004 est.)
Median age:
Definition Field Listing
total: 38.6 years
male: 37 years
female: 40.1 years (2004 est.)
Population growth rate:
Definition Field Listing
0.39% (2004 est.)
Birth rate:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
12.34 births/1,000 population (2004 est.)
Death rate:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
9.06 deaths/1,000 population (2004 est.)
Net migration rate:
Definition Field Listing
0.66 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2004 est.)
Sex ratio:
Definition Field Listing
at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.69 male(s)/female
total population: 0.95 male(s)/female (2004 est.)
Infant mortality rate:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
total: 4.31 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 4.83 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 3.78 deaths/1,000 live births (2004 est.)
Life expectancy at birth:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
total population: 79.44 years
male: 75.8 years
female: 83.27 years (2004 est.)
Total fertility rate:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
1.85 children born/woman (2004 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
0.4% (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
120,000 (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deaths:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
less than 1,000 (2003 est.)
Definition Field Listing
noun: Frenchman(men), Frenchwoman(women)
adjective: French
Ethnic groups:
Definition Field Listing
Celtic and Latin with Teutonic, Slavic, North African, Indochinese, Basque minorities
Definition Field Listing
Roman Catholic 83%-88%, Protestant 2%, Jewish 1%, Muslim 5%-10%, unaffiliated 4%
Definition Field Listing
French 100%, rapidly declining regional dialects and languages (Provencal, Breton, Alsatian, Corsican, Catalan, Basque, Flemish)
Definition Field Listing
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 99%
male: 99%
female: 99% (1980 est.)
   Government    France
Country name:
Definition Field Listing
conventional long form: French Republic
conventional short form: France
local long form: Republique Francaise
local short form: France
Government type:
Definition Field Listing
Definition Field Listing
Administrative divisions:
Definition Field Listing
22 regions (regions, singular - region); Alsace, Aquitaine, Auvergne, Basse-Normandie, Bourgogne, Bretagne, Centre, Champagne-Ardenne, Corse, Franche-Comte, Haute-Normandie, Ile-de-France, Languedoc-Roussillon, Limousin, Lorraine, Midi-Pyrenees, Nord-Pas-de-Calais, Pays de la Loire, Picardie, Poitou-Charentes, Provence-Alpes-Cote d'Azur, Rhone-Alpes
note: metropolitan France is divided into 22 regions (including the "territorial collectivity" of Corse or Corsica) and is subdivided into 96 departments; see separate entries for the overseas departments (French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Martinique, Reunion) and the overseas territorial collectivities (Mayotte, Saint Pierre and Miquelon)
Dependent areas:
Definition Field Listing
Bassas da India, Clipperton Island, Europa Island, French Polynesia, French Southern and Antarctic Lands, Glorioso Islands, Juan de Nova Island, New Caledonia, Tromelin Island, Wallis and Futuna
note: the US does not recognize claims to Antarctica
Definition Field Listing
486 (unified by Clovis)
National holiday:
Definition Field Listing
Bastille Day, 14 July (1789)
Definition Field Listing
28 September 1958, amended concerning election of president in 1962, amended to comply with provisions of 1992 EC Maastricht Treaty, 1996 Amsterdam Treaty, 2000 Treaty of Nice; amended to tighten immigration laws in 1993; amended to change the seven-year presidential term to a five-year term in 2000
Legal system:
Definition Field Listing
civil law system with indigenous concepts; review of administrative but not legislative acts
Definition Field Listing
18 years of age; universal
Executive branch:
Definition Field Listing
chief of state: President Jacques CHIRAC (since 17 May 1995)
head of government: Prime Minister Jean-Pierre RAFFARIN (since 7 May 2002)
cabinet: Council of Ministers appointed by the president on the suggestion of the prime minister
elections: president elected by popular vote for a five-year term (changed from seven-year term in October 2000); election last held 21 April and 5 May 2002 (next to be held, first round NA April 2007, second round NA May 2007); prime minister nominated by the National Assembly majority and appointed by the president
election results: Jacques CHIRAC reelected president; percent of vote, second ballot - Jacques CHIRAC (RPR) 81.96%, Jean-Marie LE PEN (FN) 18.04%
Legislative branch:
Definition Field Listing
bicameral Parliament or Parlement consists of the Senate or Senat (321 seats - 296 for metropolitan France, 13 for overseas departments and territories, and 12 for French nationals abroad; members are indirectly elected by an electoral college to serve nine-year terms; elected by thirds every three years); note - between now and 2010, 25 new seats will be added to the Senate for a total of 346 seats - 326 for metropolitan France and overseas departments, 2 for New Caledonia, 2 for Mayotte, 1 for Saint-Pierre and Miquelon, 3 for overseas territories, and 12 for French nationals abroad; members will be indirectly elected by an electoral college to serve six-year terms, with one-half the seats being renewed every three years; and the National Assembly or Assemblee Nationale (577 seats; members are elected by popular vote under a single-member majoritarian system to serve five-year terms)
elections: Senate - last held 23 September 2001 (next to be held NA September 2004); National Assembly - last held 8-16 June 2002 (next to be held not later than June 2007)
election results: Senate - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - RPR 83, PS 68, UDF 37, DL 35, RDES 16, PCF 16, other 66; National Assembly - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - UMP 355, PS 140, UDF 29, PCF 21, Radical Party 7, Greens 3, other 22
Judicial branch:
Definition Field Listing
Supreme Court of Appeals or Cour de Cassation (judges are appointed by the president from nominations of the High Council of the Judiciary); Constitutional Council or Conseil Constitutionnel (three members appointed by the president, three appointed by the president of the National Assembly, and three appointed by the president of the Senate); Council of State or Conseil d'Etat
Political parties and leaders:
Definition Field Listing
Citizen and Republican Movement or MCR [Jean Pierre CHEVENEMENT]; Democratic and European Social Rally or RDSE (mainly RAD. and PRG) [Jacques PELLETIER]; French Communist Party or PCF [Marie-George BUFFET]; Left Radical Party or PRG (previously Radical Socialist Party or PRS and the Left Radical Movement or MRG) [Jean-Michel BAYLET]; Movement for France or MPF [Philippe DE VILLIERS]; Rally for France or RPF [Charles PASQUA]; Socialist Party or PS [Francois HOLLANDE]; Greens [Gilles LEMAIRE, Francine BAVAY, Jean DESESSARD, Christophe PORQUIER, Maud LELIEVRE]; Union for French Democracy or UDF (formed when RPR and DL fused and dissolved) [Francois BAYROU]; Union for a Popular Movement or UMP (including RPR, DL, and a part of UDF) [Alain JUPPE]
Political pressure groups and leaders:
Definition Field Listing
historically-Communist labor union (Confederation Generale du Travail) or CGT, approximately 700,000 members (claimed); left-leaning labor union (Confederation Francaise Democratique du Travail) or CFDT, approximately 889,000 members (claimed); independent labor union (Confederation Generale du Travail - Force Ouvriere) or FO, 300,000 members (est.); independent white-collar union (Confederation Generale des Cadres) or CGC, 196,000 members (claimed); employers' union (Mouvement des Entreprises de France) or MEDEF, 750,000 companies as members (claimed)
International organization participation:
Definition Field Listing
Diplomatic representation in the US:
Definition Field Listing
chief of mission: Ambassador Jean-David LEVITTE
chancery: 4101 Reservoir Road NW, Washington, DC 20007
telephone: [1] (202) 944-6000
FAX: [1] (202) 944-6166
consulate(s) general: Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New Orleans, New York, and San Francisco
Diplomatic representation from the US:
Definition Field Listing
chief of mission: Ambassador Howard H. LEACH
embassy: 2 Avenue Gabriel, 75382 Paris Cedex 08
mailing address: PSC 116, APO AE 09777
telephone: [33] (1) 43-12-22-22
FAX: [33] (1) 42 66 97 83
consulate(s) general: Marseille, Strasbourg
Flag description:
Definition Field Listing
three equal vertical bands of blue (hoist side), white, and red; known as the "Le drapeau tricolore" (French Tricolor), the origin of the flag dates to 1790 and the French Revolution; the design and/or colors are similar to a number of other flags, including those of Belgium, Chad, Ireland, Cote d'Ivoire, Luxembourg, and Netherlands; the official flag for all French dependent areas
   Economy    France
Economy - overview:
Definition Field Listing
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 Socialist-led government partially or fully privatized many large companies, banks, and insurers, but the government retains controlling stakes in several leading firms, including Air France, France Telecom, Renault, and Thales, and is dominant in some sectors, particularly power, public transport, and defense industries. The telecommunications sector is gradually being opened to competition. 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. The current government has lowered income taxes and introduced measures to boost employment. The government is focusing on the problems of the high cost of labor and labor market inflexibility resulting from the 35-hour workweek and restrictions on lay-offs. The government is also pushing for pension reforms and simplification of administrative procedures. The tax burden remains one of the highest in Europe (43.8% of GDP in 2003). The current economic slowdown and inflexible budget items have pushed the 2003 deficit to 4% of GDP, above the EU's 3% debt limit. Business investment remains listless because of low rates of capital utilization, sluggish demand, high debt, and the steep cost of capital.
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
purchasing power parity - $1.661 trillion (2004 est.)
GDP - real growth rate:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
0.5% (2004 est.)
GDP - per capita:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
purchasing power parity - $27,600 (2004 est.)
GDP - composition by sector:
Definition Field Listing
agriculture: 2.7%
industry: 24.4%
services: 72.9% (2004 est.)
Investment (gross fixed):
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
19.2% of GDP (2004 est.)
Population below poverty line:
Definition Field Listing
6.5% (2000)
Household income or consumption by percentage share:
Definition Field Listing
lowest 10%: 2.8%
highest 10%: 25.1% (1995)
Distribution of family income - Gini index:
Definition Field Listing
32.7 (1995)
Inflation rate (consumer prices):
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
2.1% (2004 est.)
Labor force:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
27.39 million (2004 est.)
Labor force - by occupation:
Definition Field Listing
agriculture 4.1%, industry 24.4%, services 71.5% (1999)
Unemployment rate:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
9.7% (2004 est.)
Definition Field Listing
revenues: $882.8 billion
expenditures: $955.4 billion, including capital expenditures of $23 billion (2004 est.)
Public debt:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
68.8% of GDP (2004 est.)
Agriculture - products:
Definition Field Listing
wheat, cereals, sugar beets, potatoes, wine grapes; beef, dairy products; fish
Definition Field Listing
machinery, chemicals, automobiles, metallurgy, aircraft, electronics; textiles, food processing; tourism
Industrial production growth rate:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
-0.3% (2004 est.)
Electricity - production:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
520.1 billion kWh (2001)
Electricity - consumption:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
415.3 billion kWh (2001)
Electricity - exports:
Definition Field Listing
72.6 billion kWh (2001)
Electricity - imports:
Definition Field Listing
4.2 billion kWh (2001)
Oil - production:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
34,920 bbl/day (2001 est.)
Oil - consumption:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
2.026 million bbl/day (2001 est.)
Oil - exports:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
409,600 bbl/day (2001)
Oil - imports:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
2.281 million bbl/day (2001)
Oil - proved reserves:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
144.3 million bbl (1 January 2002)
Natural gas - production:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
1.898 billion cu m (2001 est.)
Natural gas - consumption:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
42.01 billion cu m (2001 est.)
Natural gas - exports:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
1.725 billion cu m (2001 est.)
Natural gas - imports:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
40.26 billion cu m (2001 est.)
Natural gas - proved reserves:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
12.86 billion cu m (1 January 2002)
Current account balance:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
$13.8 billion (2004 est.)
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
$346.5 billion f.o.b. (2004 est.)
Exports - commodities:
Definition Field Listing
machinery and transportation equipment, aircraft, plastics, chemicals, pharmaceutical products, iron and steel, beverages
Exports - partners:
Definition Field Listing
Germany 14.9%, Spain 9.6%, UK 9.4%, Italy 9.3%, Belgium 7.2%, US 6.8% (2003)
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
$339.9 billion f.o.b. (2003 est.)
Imports - commodities:
Definition Field Listing
machinery and equipment, vehicles, crude oil, aircraft, plastics, chemicals
Imports - partners:
Definition Field Listing
Germany 19.1%, Belgium 9.4%, Italy 9%, Spain 7.4%, Netherlands 7%, UK 7%, US 5.4% (2003)
Reserves of foreign exchange & gold:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
$70.76 billion (2003)
Debt - external:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
Economic aid - donor:
Definition Field Listing
ODA, $5.4 billion (2002)
Definition Field Listing
euro (EUR)
note: on 1 January 1999, the European Monetary Union introduced the euro as a common currency to be used by financial institutions of member countries; on 1 January 2002, the euro became the sole currency for everyday transactions within the member countries
Currency code:
Definition Field Listing
Exchange rates:
Definition Field Listing
euros per US dollar - 0.886 (2003), 1.0626 (2002), 1.1175 (2001), 1.0854 (2000), 0.9386 (1999)
Fiscal year:
Definition Field Listing
calendar year
   Communications    France
Telephones - main lines in use:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
33,905,400 (2003)
Telephones - mobile cellular:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
41,683,100 (2003)
Telephone system:
Definition Field Listing
general assessment: highly developed
domestic: extensive cable and microwave radio relay; extensive introduction of fiber-optic cable; domestic satellite system
international: country code - 33; satellite earth stations - 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
Radio broadcast stations:
Definition Field Listing
AM 41, FM about 3,500 (this figure is an approximation and includes many repeaters), shortwave 2 (1998)
Television broadcast stations:
Definition Field Listing
584 (plus 9,676 repeaters) (1995)
Internet country code:
Definition Field Listing
Internet hosts:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
2,396,761 (2004)
Internet users:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
21.9 million (2003)
   Transportation    France
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
total: 32,175 km
standard gauge: 32,008 km 1.435-m gauge (14,320 km electrified)
narrow gauge: 167 km 1.000-m gauge (2003)
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
total: 894,000 km
paved: 894,000 km (including 11,500 km of expressways)
unpaved: 0 km (2000)
Definition Field Listing
8,500 km (1,686 km accessible to craft of 3,000 metric tons) (2000)
Definition Field Listing
gas 13,946 km; oil 3,024 km; refined products 4,889 km (2003)
Ports and harbors:
Definition Field Listing
Bordeaux, Boulogne, Cherbourg, Dijon, Dunkerque, La Pallice, Le Havre, Lyon, Marseille, Mulhouse, Nantes, Paris, Rouen, Saint Nazaire, Saint Malo, Strasbourg (2003)
Merchant marine:
Definition Field Listing
total: 32 ships (1,000 GRT or over) 703,639 GRT/889,705 DWT
by type: cargo 3, chemical tanker 6, container 2, liquefied gas 4, passenger 1, petroleum tanker 10, roll on/roll off 2, short-sea/passenger 4
foreign-owned: Germany 1, Monaco 2, New Caledonia 1, Sweden 5
registered in other countries: 118 (2003 est.)
Definition Field Listing
477 (2003 est.)
Airports - with paved runways:
Definition Field Listing
total: 281
over 3,047 m: 13
2,438 to 3,047 m: 28
1,524 to 2,437 m: 95
914 to 1,523 m: 82
under 914 m: 63 (2003 est.)
Airports - with unpaved runways:
Definition Field Listing
total: 196
1,524 to 2,437 m: 3
914 to 1,523 m: 70
under 914 m: 123 (2003 est.)
Definition Field Listing
3 (2003 est.)
   Military    France
Military branches:
Definition Field Listing
Army (includes Marines, Foreign Legion, Army Light Aviation), Navy (including naval air), Air Force (including Air Defense), National Gendarmerie
Military manpower - military age:
Definition Field Listing
18 years of age (2004 est.)
Military manpower - availability:
Definition Field Listing
males age 15-49: 14,487,165 (2004 est.)
Military manpower - fit for military service:
Definition Field Listing
males age 15-49: 12,044,827 (2004 est.)
Military manpower - reaching military age annually:
Definition Field Listing
males: 394,413 (2004 est.)
Military expenditures - dollar figure:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
$45,238.1 million (2003)
Military expenditures - percent of GDP:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
2.6% (2003)
   Transnational Issues    France
Disputes - international:
Definition Field Listing
Madagascar claims Bassas da India, Europa Island, Glorioso Islands, and Juan de Nova Island; Comoros claims Mayotte; Mauritius claims Tromelin Island; territorial dispute between Suriname and French Guiana; territorial claim in Antarctica (Adelie Land); Matthew and Hunter Islands, east of New Caledonia, claimed by France and Vanuatu
Illicit drugs:
Definition Field Listing
transshipment point for and consumer of South American cocaine, Southwest Asian heroin, and European synthetics

This page was last updated on 30 November, 2004

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