General information about France
The official name is the French Republic (Republique Francaise, French Republic). Located in the western part of Europe. The area is 547 thousand km2, the population is 59.7 million people. (2002). The official language is French. The capital is Paris (9.6 million people). National holiday – Bastille Day on July 14th. The monetary unit is the euro (since 2002, before that the French franc).
An integral part of France are overseas territories (French Polynesia, Southern and Atlantic territories, New Caledonia, the Wallis and Futuna Islands), overseas departments (French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Martinique) and territorial communities (Mayotte, Saint Pierre and Miquelon). The total area is 4 thousand km2, the population is 1.8 million people.
Member of the UN (since 1945), IMF and World Bank (since 1947), NATO (1949–66), ECSC (since 1951), OECD (since 1961), EU (since 1957), OBSS (since 1973), G7 “(since 1975), EBRD (since 1990), WTO (since 1995).
Located between 42°20′ and 51°5′ north latitude; 4°27’W and 8°47’E. In the north, the territory of France is washed by the Pas de Calais and the English Channel, in the west by the Bay of Biscay and the Atlantic Ocean, in the south by the Mediterranean Sea. The length of the coastline is 3427 km. France borders on Andorra, Spain, Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, Monaco, Italy, Switzerland.
In France, all types of Western European landscape are found. The central, eastern and southern parts are distinguished by hilly or mountainous relief. The largest mountainous region in terms of area is the Central French Massif (the highest point is Mount Puy de Sancy, 1886 m) – basalt plateaus alternating with volcanic cones, plateaus, rivers of the Loire basin. In the southeast, the high-altitude Alps (Mont Blanc, 4807 m) stretch, framed from the west by medium-altitude ridges – the Pre-Alps, which continue in the north with the Jura and Vosges mountains (Ballon de Guerbiller, 1423 m). The southwest is occupied by the Pyrenees (Vignmal, 3298 m).
North and west, almost 2/3 of France, low and high plains; the largest of them is the Paris Basin. In the southwest, parallel to the Bay of Biscay, the coastal plains of Aquitaine (Landes) stretch with a chain of dunes up to 100 m high. In the northwest, the plains pass into the Armorican Upland, washed by the straits of the North Sea. In the southwest and south, the Rhone and Languedoc lowlands merge. A small part of the Upper Rhine Plain enters the territory of France.
The main rivers are the Loire (1000 km), the Rhone (812 km, including 522 km in France), the Seine (776 km) and the Garonne with an estuary called the Gironde (650 km). To the east is part of the middle course of the Rhine. The southern part of Lake Geneva is also located in France.
20% of the territory of France is covered by forests, concentrated mainly in the western regions of Aquitaine, in the eastern part of the Paris basin, in the Alps and the Pyrenees. The upper limit of the forests is 1600-1900 m above sea level in the Alps, 1800-2100 m in the Pyrenees. Higher they pass into subalpine shrubs, and at an altitude of 2100-2300 m into alpine meadows. The Mediterranean south is characterized by shrub thickets and sparse forests (evergreen species of oak and pine). The characteristic landscape of the northwest is moorland and meadows.
The main representatives of the animal world of France are concentrated in forest areas, especially in the mountains. Mammals: wild forest cat, fox, badger, ermine, red deer, roe deer, fallow deer, wild boar, squirrel, hare; in the highlands – chamois, mountain goat, alpine marmot. Numerous birds: hawks, kites, partridges, hazel grouse, snipes. Among river fish, perch, pike, pike perch, and trout are common; in the seas washing France – tuna, mackerel, sardine, cod, flounder.
A variety of minerals lie in the bowels of France. Reserves of gas, iron ore, bauxites, uranium, potassium salts are allocated.
According to bridgat.com, France has several climatic zones. The western part is dominated by a maritime climate; in the central and eastern regions it is transitional from maritime to continental. A stable snow cover lasts in winter in the Massif Central, the Alps and the Pyrenees. In the mountains, the climate changes significantly with altitude up to the alpine. The south of the Rhone lowland and the Mediterranean coast are dry subtropics.