Europe :: France
page last updated on August 3, 2010
Flag of France
Map of France
Introduction ::France
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 hybrid presidential-parliamentary governing system resistant to the instabilities experienced in earlier more purely parliamentary administrations. 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 efforts to develop the EU's military capabilities to supplement progress toward an EU foreign policy.
Geography ::France
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
Geographic coordinates:
metropolitan France: 46 00 N, 2 00 E
French Guiana: 4 00 N, 53 00 W
Guadeloupe: 16 15 N, 61 35 W
Martinique: 14 40 N, 61 00 W
Reunion: 21 06 S, 55 36 E
Map references:
metropolitan France: Europe
French Guiana: South America
Guadeloupe: Central America and the Caribbean
Martinique: Central America and the Caribbean
Reunion: World
total: 643,427 sq km; 551,500 sq km (metropolitan France)
country comparison to the world: 42
land: 640,053 sq km; 549,970 sq km (metropolitan France)
water: 3,374 sq km; 1,530 sq km (metropolitan France)
note: the first numbers include the overseas regions of French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Martinique, and Reunion
Area - comparative:
slightly less than the size of Texas
Land boundaries:
metropolitan France - 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
French Guiana - total: 1,183 km
border countries: Brazil 673 km, Suriname 510 km
total: 4,668 km
metropolitan France: 3,427 km
Maritime claims:
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
Current Weather
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
French Guiana: tropical; hot, humid; little seasonal temperature variation
Guadeloupe and Martinique: subtropical tempered by trade winds; moderately high humidity; rainy season (June to October); vulnerable to devastating cyclones (hurricanes) every eight years on average
Reunion: tropical, but temperature moderates with elevation; cool and dry (May to November), hot and rainy (November to April)
metropolitan France: mostly flat plains or gently rolling hills in north and west; remainder is mountainous, especially Pyrenees in south, Alps in east
French Guiana: low-lying coastal plains rising to hills and small mountains
Guadeloupe: Basse-Terre is volcanic in origin with interior mountains; Grande-Terre is low limestone formation; most of the seven other islands are volcanic in origin
Martinique: mountainous with indented coastline; dormant volcano
Reunion: mostly rugged and mountainous; fertile lowlands along coast
Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Rhone River delta -2 m
highest point: Mont Blanc 4,807 m
note: in order to assess the possible effects of climate change on the ice and snow cap of Mont Blanc, its surface and peak have been extensively and periodically measured in recent years; these new peak measurements have exceeded the traditional height of 4,807 m and have varied between 4,808 m and 4,811 m; the actual rock summit is 4,792 m and is 40 m away from the ice-covered summit
Natural resources:
metropolitan France: coal, iron ore, bauxite, zinc, uranium, antimony, arsenic, potash, feldspar, fluorspar, gypsum, timber, fish
French Guiana: gold deposits, petroleum, kaolin, niobium, tantalum, clay
Land use:
arable land: 33.46%
permanent crops: 2.03%
other: 64.51%
note: French Guiana - arable land 0.13%, permanent crops 0.04%, other 99.83% (90% forest, 10% other); Guadeloupe - arable land 11.70%, permanent crops 2.92%, other 85.38%; Martinique - arable land 9.09%, permanent crops 10.0%, other 80.91%; Reunion - arable land 13.94%, permanent crops 1.59%, other 84.47% (2005)
Irrigated land:
total: 26,190 sq km;
metropolitan France: 26,000 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources:
189 cu km (2005)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural):
total: 33.16 cu km/yr (16%/74%/10%)
per capita: 548 cu m/yr (2000)
Natural hazards:
metropolitan France: flooding; avalanches; midwinter windstorms; drought; forest fires in south near the Mediterranean
overseas departments: hurricanes (cyclones); flooding; volcanic activity (Guadeloupe, Martinique, Reunion)
Environment - current issues:
some forest damage from acid rain; air pollution from industrial and vehicle emissions; water pollution from urban wastes, agricultural runoff
Environment - international agreements:
party to: Air Pollution, Air Pollution-Nitrogen Oxides, Air Pollution-Persistent Organic Pollutants, 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: none of the selected agreements
Geography - note:
largest West European nation
People ::France
total: 64,057,792
country comparison to the world: 21
note: 62,814,233 in metropolitan France (July 2010 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years: 18.6% (male 6,160,071/female 5,866,997)
15-64 years: 64.9% (male 21,041,384/female 21,008,320)
65 years and over: 16.5% (male 4,470,839/female 6,220,778) (2010 est.)
Median age:
total: 39.7 years
male: 38.2 years
female: 41.2 years (2010 est.)
Population growth rate:
0.525% (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 151
Birth rate:
12.43 births/1,000 population (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 161
Death rate:
8.65 deaths/1,000 population (July 2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 87
Net migration rate:
1.47 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 43
urban population: 77% of total population (2008)
rate of urbanization: 0.8% annual rate of change (2005-10 est.)
Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.051 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.72 male(s)/female
total population: 0.96 male(s)/female (2010 est.)
Infant mortality rate:
total: 3.31 deaths/1,000 live births
country comparison to the world: 216
male: 3.63 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 2.98 deaths/1,000 live births (2010 est.)
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 81.09 years
country comparison to the world: 10
male: 77.91 years
female: 84.44 years (2010 est.)
Total fertility rate:
1.97 children born/woman (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 130
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:
0.4% (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 83
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
140,000 (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 38
HIV/AIDS - deaths:
1,600 (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 65
noun: Frenchman(men), Frenchwoman(women)
adjective: French
Ethnic groups:
Celtic and Latin with Teutonic, Slavic, North African, Indochinese, Basque minorities
overseas departments: black, white, mulatto, East Indian, Chinese, Amerindian
Roman Catholic 83%-88%, Protestant 2%, Jewish 1%, Muslim 5%-10%, unaffiliated 4%
overseas departments: Roman Catholic, Protestant, Hindu, Muslim, Buddhist, pagan
French 100%, rapidly declining regional dialects and languages (Provencal, Breton, Alsatian, Corsican, Catalan, Basque, Flemish)
overseas departments: French, Creole patois
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 99%
male: 99%
female: 99% (2003 est.)
School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education):
total: 16 years
male: 16 years
female: 17 years (2006)
Education expenditures:
5.7% of GDP (2005)
country comparison to the world: 46
Government ::France
Country name:
conventional long form: French Republic
conventional short form: France
local long form: Republique francaise
local short form: France
Government type:
name: Paris
geographic coordinates: 48 52 N, 2 20 E
time difference: UTC+1 (6 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
daylight saving time: +1hr, begins last Sunday in March; ends last Sunday in October
note: applies to metropolitan France only, not to its overseas departments, collectivities, or territories
Administrative divisions:
26 regions (regions, singular - region); Alsace, Aquitaine, Auvergne, Basse-Normandie (Lower Normandy), Bourgogne (Burgundy), Bretagne (Brittany), Centre, Champagne-Ardenne, Corse (Corsica), Franche-Comte, Guadeloupe, Guyane (French Guiana), Haute-Normandie (Upper Normandy), Ile-de-France, Languedoc-Roussillon, Limousin, Lorraine, Martinique, Midi-Pyrenees, Nord-Pas-de-Calais, Pays de la Loire, Picardie, Poitou-Charentes, Provence-Alpes-Cote d'Azur, Reunion, Rhone-Alpes
note: France is divided into 22 metropolitan regions (including the "territorial collectivity" of Corse or Corsica) and 4 overseas regions (including French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Martinique, and Reunion) and is subdivided into 96 metropolitan departments and 4 overseas departments (which are the same as the overseas regions)
Dependent areas:
Clipperton Island, French Polynesia, French Southern and Antarctic Lands, Mayotte, New Caledonia, Saint Barthelemy, Saint Martin, Wallis and Futuna
note: the US does not recognize claims to Antarctica; New Caledonia has been considered a "sui generis" collectivity of France since 1998, a unique status falling between that of an independent country and a French overseas department
486 (Frankish tribes unified); 843 (Western Francia established from the division of the Carolingian Empire)
National holiday:
Fete de la Federation, 14 July (1790); note - although often incorrectly referred to as Bastille Day, the celebration actually commemorates the holiday held on the first anniversary of the storming of the Bastille (on 14 July 1789) and the establishment of a constitutional monarchy; other names for the holiday are Fete Nationale (National Holiday) and quatorze juillet (14th of July)
adopted by referendum 28 September 1958; effective 4 October 1958; amended many times
note: amended concerning election of president in 1962; amended to comply with provisions of 1992 EC Maastricht Treaty, 1997 Amsterdam Treaty, 2003 Treaty of Nice; amended to tighten immigration laws in 1993; amended in 2000 to change the seven-year presidential term to a five-year term; amended in 2005 to make the EU constitutional treaty compatible with the Constitution of France and to ensure that the decision to ratify EU accession treaties would be made by referendum
Legal system:
civil law system with indigenous concepts; review of administrative but not legislative acts; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction
18 years of age; universal
Executive branch:
chief of state: President Nicolas SARKOZY (since 16 May 2007)
head of government: Prime Minister Francois FILLON (since 17 May 2007)
cabinet: Council of Ministers appointed by the president at the suggestion of the prime minister
(For more information visit the World Leaders website Opens in New Window)
elections: president elected by popular vote for a five-year term; election last held on 22 April and 6 May 2007 (next to be held in the spring of 2012); prime minister appointed by the president
election results: Nicolas SARKOZY wins the election; first round: percent of vote - Nicolas SARKOZY 31.2%, Segolene ROYAL 25.9%, Francois BAYROU 18.6%, Jean-Marie LE PEN 10.4%, others 13.9%; second round: SARKOZY 53.1% and ROYAL 46.9%
Legislative branch:
bicameral Parliament or Parlement consists of the Senate or Senat (343 seats; 321 for metropolitan France and overseas departments, 2 for New Caledonia, 2 for Mayotte, 1 for Saint-Pierre and Miquelon, 1 for Saint-Barthelemy, 1 for Saint-Martin, 3 for overseas territories, and 12 for French nationals abroad; members indirectly elected by an electoral college to serve six-year terms; one third elected every three years); note - between 2006 and 2011, 15 new seats will be added to the Senate for a total of 348 seats - 326 for metropolitan France and overseas departments, 2 for New Caledonia, 2 for Mayotte, 1 for Saint-Pierre and Miquelon, 1 for Saint-Barthelemy, 1 for Saint-Martin, 3 for overseas territories, and 12 for French nationals abroad; starting in 2008, members will be indirectly elected by an electoral college to serve six-year terms with one-half elected every three years; and the National Assembly or Assemblee Nationale (577 seats; 555 for metropolitan France, 15 for overseas departments, 7 for dependencies; members elected by popular vote under a single-member majority system to serve five-year terms)
elections: Senate - last held on 21 September 2008 (next to be held in September 2014); National Assembly - last held on 10 and 17 June 2007 (next to be held in June 2012)
election results: Senate - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - UMP 151, PS 116, UC-UDF 29, CRC 23, RDSE 17, other 7; National Assembly - percent of vote by party - UMP 46.4%, PS 42.2%, miscellaneous left wing parties 2.5%, PCF 2.3%, NC 2.1%, PRG 1.6%, miscellaneous right wing parties 1.2%, the Greens 0.4%, other 1.2%; seats by party - UMP 313, PS 186, NC 22, miscellaneous left wing parties 15, PCF 15, miscellaneous right wing parties 9, PRG 7, the Greens 4, other 6
Judicial branch:
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:
Communist, Republican and Citizen or CRC; Democratic and Social European Rally or RDSE [Yvon COLLIN] (mainly Radical Republican and Socialist Parties, and PRG); Democratic Movement or MoDem [Francois BAYROU] (previously Union for French Democracy or UDF); French Communist Party or PCF [Marie-George BUFFET]; Greens [Cecile DUFLOT]; Left Party or PG [Jean-Luc MELENCHON]; Left Radical Party or PRG [Jean-Michel BAYLET] (previously Radical Socialist Party or PRS and the Left Radical Movement or MRG); Movement for France or MPF [Philippe DE VILLIERS]; National Front or FN [Jean-Marie LE PEN]; New Anticapitalist Party or NPA [Olivier BESANCENOT]; New Center or NC [Herve MORIN]; Radical Party [Jean-Louis BORLOO]; Rally for France or RPF [Charles PASQUA]; Republican and Citizen Movement or MRC [Jean Pierre CHEVENEMENT and Georges SARRE]; Socialist Party or PS [Martine AUBRY]; Union Centrist-UDF or UC-UDF [Michel MERCIER]; Union for a Popular Movement or UMP [Xavier BERTRAND]; Worker's Struggle or LO [Nathalie ARTHAUD]
Political pressure groups and leaders:
Confederation francaise democratique du travail or CFDT, left-leaning labor union with approximately 803,000 members; Confederation francaise de l'encadrement - Confederation generale des cadres or CFE-CGC, independent white-collar union with 196,000 members; Confederation francaise des travailleurs chretiens of CFTC, independent labor union founded by Catholic workers that claims 132,000 members; Confederation generale du travail or CGT, historically communist labor union with approximately 700,000 members; Confederation generale du travail - Force ouvriere or FO, independent labor union with an estimated 300,000 members; Mouvement des entreprises de France or MEDEF, employers' union with 750,000 companies as members (claimed)
French Guiana: conservationists; gold mining pressure groups; hunting pressure groups
Guadeloupe: Christian Movement for the Liberation of Guadeloupe or KLPG; General Federation of Guadeloupe Workers or CGT-G; General Union of Guadeloupe Workers or UGTG; Movement for an Independent Guadeloupe or MPGI; The Socialist Renewal Movement
Martinique: Caribbean Revolutionary Alliance or ARC; Central Union for Martinique Workers or CSTM; Frantz Fanon Circle; League of Workers and Peasants; Proletarian Action Group or GAP
Reunion: NA
International organization participation:
ADB (nonregional member), AfDB (nonregional member), Arctic Council (observer), Australia Group, BDEAC, BIS, BSEC (observer), CBSS (observer), CE, CERN, EAPC, EBRD, EIB, EMU, ESA, EU, FAO, FATF, FZ, G-20, G-5, G-7, G-8, G-10, IADB, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICCt, ICRM, IDA, IEA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, IMSO, InOC, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ISO, ITSO, ITU, ITUC, MIGA, MINURCAT, MINURSO, MINUSTAH, MONUC, NATO, NEA, NSG, OAS (observer), OECD, OIF, OPCW, OSCE, Paris Club, PCA, PIF (partner), Schengen Convention, SECI (observer), SPC, UN, UN Security Council, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNIDO, UNIFIL, Union Latina, UNITAR, UNMIL, UNOCI, UNRWA, UNTSO, UNWTO, UPU, WADB (nonregional), WCO, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO, ZC
Diplomatic representation in the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Pierre VIMONT
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, San Francisco
Diplomatic representation from the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Charles H. RIVKIN
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:
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 official flag for all French dependent areas
note: 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
Economy ::France
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 2.2% 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.
GDP (purchasing power parity):
$2.11 trillion (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 9
$2.158 trillion (2008 est.)
$2.151 trillion (2007 est.)
note: data are in 2009 US dollars
GDP (official exchange rate):
$2.666 trillion (2009 est.)
GDP - real growth rate:
-2.2% (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 147
0.3% (2008 est.)
2.3% (2007 est.)
GDP - per capita (PPP):
$32,800 (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 40
$33,700 (2008 est.)
$33,800 (2007 est.)
note: data are in 2009 US dollars
GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 1.8%
industry: 19.3%
services: 78.9% (2009 est.)
Labor force:
28.1 million (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 20
Labor force - by occupation:
agriculture: 3.8%
industry: 24.3%
services: 71.8% (2005)
Unemployment rate:
9.1% (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 108
7.4% (2008 est.)
Population below poverty line:
6.2% (2004)
Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: 3%
highest 10%: 24.8% (2004)
Distribution of family income - Gini index:
32.7 (2008)
country comparison to the world: 98
32.7 (1995)
Investment (gross fixed):
20.6% of GDP (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 85
revenues: $1.286 trillion
expenditures: $1.487 trillion (2009 est.)
Public debt:
77.5% of GDP (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 16
67.5% of GDP (2008 est.)
Inflation rate (consumer prices):
0.1% (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 27
2.8% (2008 est.)
Central bank discount rate:
3% (31 December 2008)
country comparison to the world: 103
5% (31 December 2007)
note: this is the European Central Bank's rate on the marginal lending facility, which offers overnight credit to banks in the euro area
Commercial bank prime lending rate:
8.13% (31 December 2008)
Stock of money:
note: see entry for the European Union for money supply in the euro area; the European Central Bank (ECB) controls monetary policy for the 16 members of the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU); individual members of the EMU do not control the quantity of money and quasi money circulating within their own borders
Stock of quasi money:
Stock of domestic credit:
$4.102 trillion (31 December 2008)
country comparison to the world: 6
$3.397 trillion (31 December 2007)
Market value of publicly traded shares:
$NA (31 December 2009)
country comparison to the world: 6
$1.492 trillion (31 December 2008)
$2.771 trillion (31 December 2007)
Agriculture - products:
wheat, cereals, sugar beets, potatoes, wine grapes; beef, dairy products; fish
machinery, chemicals, automobiles, metallurgy, aircraft, electronics; textiles, food processing; tourism
Industrial production growth rate:
-7.7% (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 130
Electricity - production:
535.7 billion kWh (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 9
Electricity - consumption:
447.2 billion kWh (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 9
Electricity - exports:
58.69 billion kWh (2008 est.)
Electricity - imports:
10.68 billion kWh (2008 est.)
Oil - production:
70,820 bbl/day (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 57
Oil - consumption:
1.875 million bbl/day (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 13
Oil - exports:
554,100 bbl/day (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 28
Oil - imports:
2.346 million bbl/day (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 9
Oil - proved reserves:
103.3 million bbl (1 January 2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 65
Natural gas - production:
877 million cu m (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 64
Natural gas - consumption:
44.84 billion cu m (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 18
Natural gas - exports:
1.931 billion cu m (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 33
Natural gas - imports:
45.85 billion cu m (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 5
Natural gas - proved reserves:
6.937 billion cu m (1 January 2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 84
Current account balance:
-$56.13 billion (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 187
-$64.23 billion (2008 est.)
$472.7 billion (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 6
$605.2 billion (2008 est.)
Exports - commodities:
machinery and transportation equipment, aircraft, plastics, chemicals, pharmaceutical products, iron and steel, beverages
Exports - partners:
Germany 15.88%, Italy 8.16%, Spain 7.8%, Belgium 7.44%, UK 7.04%, US 5.65%, Netherlands 3.99% (2009)
$538.9 billion (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 5
$692.1 billion (2008 est.)
Imports - commodities:
machinery and equipment, vehicles, crude oil, aircraft, plastics, chemicals
Imports - partners:
Germany 19.41%, Belgium 11.61%, Italy 7.97%, Netherlands 7.15%, Spain 6.68%, UK 4.9%, US 4.72%, China 4.44% (2009)
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold:
$133.1 billion (31 December 2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 15
$102.9 billion (31 December 2008 est.)
Debt - external:
$5.021 trillion (30 June 2009)
country comparison to the world: 4
$4.935 trillion (31 December 2008)
Stock of direct foreign investment - at home:
$1.191 trillion (31 December 2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 2
$1.126 trillion (31 December 2008 est.)
Stock of direct foreign investment - abroad:
$1.76 trillion (31 December 2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 2
$1.604 trillion (31 December 2008 est.)
Exchange rates:
euros (EUR) per US dollar - 0.7338 (2009), 0.6827 (2008), 0.7345 (2007), 0.7964 (2006), 0.8041 (2005)
Communications ::France
Telephones - main lines in use:
35.909 million; 35.0 million (metropolitan France) (2008)
country comparison to the world: 8
Telephones - mobile cellular:
59.259 million; 57.972 million (metropolitan France) (2008)
country comparison to the world: 18
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
overseas departments: country codes: French Guiana - 594; Guadeloupe - 590; Martinique - 596; Reunion - 262
Radio broadcast stations:
AM 41, FM about 3,500 (this figure is an approximation and includes many repeaters), shortwave 2 (1998)
Television broadcast stations:
584 (plus 9,676 repeaters) (1995)
Internet country code:
metropolitan France - .fr; French Guiana - .gf; Guadeloupe - .gp; Martinique - .mq; Reunion - .re
Internet hosts:
14.327 million; 14.314 million (metropolitan France) (2009)
country comparison to the world: 6
Internet users:
42.912 million; 42.315 million (metropolitan France) (2008)
country comparison to the world: 9
Transportation ::France
475 (2009)
country comparison to the world: 16
Airports - with paved runways:
total: 297
over 3,047 m: 14
2,438 to 3,047 m: 27
1,524 to 2,437 m: 97
914 to 1,523 m: 82
under 914 m: 77 (2009)
Airports - with unpaved runways:
total: 178
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 70
under 914 m: 107 (2009)
1 (2009)
gas 14,688 km; oil 2,943 km; refined products 5,080 km (2009)
total: 29,213 km
country comparison to the world: 9
standard gauge: 29,046 km 1.435-m gauge (15,164 km electrified)
narrow gauge: 167 km 1.000-m gauge (2008)
total: 1,027,183 km (metropolitan France; includes 10,950 km of expressways)
country comparison to the world: 7
note: there are another 5,100 km of roadways in overseas departments (2007)
metropolitan France: 8,501 km (1,621 km accessible to craft of 3,000 metric tons)
country comparison to the world: 16
French Guiana: 3,760 km (460 km navigable by small oceangoing vessels and coastal and river steamers, 3,300 km by native craft) (2008)
Merchant marine:
total: 138
country comparison to the world: 43
by type: bulk carrier 2, cargo 1, chemical tanker 32, container 25, liquefied gas 12, passenger 3, passenger/cargo 33, petroleum tanker 23, roll on/roll off 7
foreign-owned: 38 (Belgium 6, China 5, Denmark 2, Germany 1, Italy 2, Japan 1, NZ 1, Norway 5, Saudi Arabia 1, Singapore 2, Sweden 9, Switzerland 3)
registered in other countries: 127 (Antigua and Barbuda 1, Australia 1, Bahamas 30, Belgium 2, Bermuda 1, Hong Kong 1, Indonesia 1, Isle of Man 1, Italy 2, Liberia 5, Luxembourg 17, Malta 5, Morocco 14, Netherlands 1, Norway 3, Panama 5, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines 6, Singapore 1, Taiwan 1, UK 23, Wallis and Futuna 6) (2008)
Ports and terminals:
Bordeaux, Calais, Dunkerque, Le Havre, Marseille, Nantes, Paris, Rouen, Strasbourg
Military ::France
Military branches:
Army (Armee de Terre; includes Marines, Foreign Legion, Army Light Aviation), Navy (Marine Nationale, includes Naval Air, Maritime Gendarmerie (Coast Guard)), Air Force (Armee de l'Air (AdlA), includes Air Defense), National Gendarmerie (2010)
Military service age and obligation:
17-40 years of age for male or female voluntary military service; no conscription; 12-month service obligation; women serve in noncombat military posts (2008)
Manpower available for military service:
males age 16-49: 14,591,656
females age 16-49: 14,285,551 (2010 est.)
Manpower fit for military service:
males age 16-49: 12,053,912
females age 16-49: 11,763,951 (2010 est.)
Manpower reaching militarily significant age annually:
male: 389,956
female: 372,312 (2010 est.)
Military expenditures:
2.6% of GDP (2005 est.)
country comparison to the world: 57
Transnational Issues ::France
Disputes - international:
Madagascar claims the French territories of Bassas da India, Europa Island, Glorioso Islands, and Juan de Nova Island; Comoros claims Mayotte; Mauritius claims Tromelin Island; territorial dispute between Suriname and the French overseas department of French Guiana; France asserts a territorial claim in Antarctica (Adelie Land); France and Vanuatu claim Matthew and Hunter Islands, east of New Caledonia
Illicit drugs:
metropolitan France: transshipment point for South American cocaine, Southwest Asian heroin, and European synthetics
French Guiana: small amount of marijuana grown for local consumption; minor transshipment point to Europe
Martinique: transshipment point for cocaine and marijuana bound for the US and Europe

Source: The World Factbook (CIA)