World Travelling Guide
World Travelling Guide



Accommodation in Southern Africa and South Africa including accommodation in Western Cape, Eastern Cape, Northern Cape, Gauteng, Limpopo Province, North West Province, Free State, Kwazulu-Natal, Mpumalanga

List of Countries
Map of Europe

France Travelling Guide
France Travelling Guide

General background: 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 advent of the euro in January 1999. Presently, 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.

Area comparative: Slightly less than twice the size of Colorado

Climate: 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.

Terrain: Mostly flat plains or gently rolling hills in north and west; remainder is mountainous, especially Pyrenees in south, Alps in east

Population: 59,765,983 (July 2002 est.)

Ethnic groups: Celtic and Latin with Teutonic, Slavic, North African, Indochinese, Basque minorities

Religions: Roman Catholic 83%-88%, Protestant 2%, Jewish 1%, Muslim 5%-10%, unaffiliated 4%

Language: French 100%, rapidly declining regional dialects and languages (Provencal, Breton, Alsatian, Corsican, Catalan, Basque, Flemish).

Government type: Republic

Capital: Paris

Legal system: Civil law system with indigenous concepts; review of administrative but not legislative acts

Economic overview: France is in the midst of transition, from a well-to-do modern economy that featured extensive government ownership and intervention to one that relies more on market mechanisms. The Socialist-led government has partially or fully privatized many large companies, banks, and insurers, but still retains large stakes in several leading firms, including Air France, France Telecom, Renault, and Thales, and remains 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, but has done little to reform an overly expensive pension system, rigid labor market, and restrictive bureaucracy that discourage hiring and make the tax burden one of the highest in Europe. In addition to the tax burden, the reduction of the workweek to 35 hours, which is to be extended to small firms in 2002, has drawn criticism for lowering the competitiveness of French businesses. The current economic slowdown has thrown the government's goal of balancing the budget by 2004 off track.

Communication/Telephone system: Highly developed

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