Roman Catholic 83%-88%, Protestant 2%, Jewish 1%, Muslim 5%-10%, unaffiliated 4% overseas departments: Roman Catholic, Protestant, Hindu, Muslim, Buddhist, pagan
This entry is an ordered listing of religions by adherents starting with the largest group and sometimes includes the percent of total population.
The large mountain ranges are distributed in the east and the south while 4 great river basins cross the country. The Seine in the north, the Loire and the Garonne in the west, and the Rhône between Switzerland and the Mediterranean.
France shares its borders with Belgium and Luxembourg in the north, Germany, Switzerland and Italy in the east, and with Spain in the south.
It also includes overseas territories which include a great number of islands.
In addition to its metropolitan territory, France covers more than 46,000 mi² of land overseas: Guadeloupe, Martinique, Saint-Pierre-et-Miquelon, Saint-Martin and Saint-Barthélemy off the coast of North America; French Polynesia, New Caledonia, Wallis and Futuna, and Clipperton in the Pacific Ocean; and Reunion Island, Mayotte, the Scattered Islands, the Crozet Islands and the Kerguelen Islands with St. Paul and Amsterdam in the Indian Ocean. As for French Guiana, it is located in South America while Adélie Land is in Antarctica.
Many kings led wars and battles to strengthen their central authority and the borders of the kingdom. This Capetian dynasty would illustrate itself with Philippe Auguste and then Louis IX, known as Saint Louis. The 14th and a large part of the 15th centuries were marked by periods of conflict like the Hundred Years War, great epidemics and social unrest.
The ascension of François 1st in 1515 and with him the emergence of the Renaissance in France concluded this terrible period. Put back into question during the Wars of Religion between 1562 and 1598, royal authority was restored by Louis XIII and especially Louis XIV who established absolute power. This royal dynasty was brought down by the revolution of 1789 with the end of the reign of Louis XVI and the proclamation of the 1st Republic in 1792. In 1804, Napoleon established an imperial power which, at its end in 1815, marked a period alternating between revolutions and attempts to re-establish royalty. The end of the Second Empire in 1870 definitively sealed the return of the Republic.
The 20th century saw the two World Wars which were particularly murderous. The first one, between 1914 and 1918, finished with a France that was victorious but in ruins. The second one, between 1939 and 1945, opened a dark chapter in the history of France, with the collaboration of the power in place that was Nazi Germany. The Resistance rallied around General de Gaulle contributed to creating a new political class which led the reconstruction of the country under the 4th Republic.
Up until the 1960s, the period was marked by wars of independence and decolonisation. The Algerian war concluded the end of a Republic on its last breath. In 1958, a new constitution proclaimed the 5th Republic.
- The National Assembly, 577 deputies elected by direct universal suffrage for a period of 5 years.
- The Senate, 348 senators elected by indirect universal suffrage for a period of 6 years.
The National Assembly and the Senate control the government and draw up and vote on laws. In case of disagreement on a law, the National Assembly has the final say.
Metropolitan France is composed of territorial collectivities whose members are elected by direct universal suffrage: the communes, the departments and the regions. Every collectivity is representative of itself according to defined capabilities.
The status of France’s overseas territories varies. Some are departments and regions like Guadeloupe, Martinique, Guyana and Mayotte, while others have the status of an overseas collectivity with varying degrees of autonomy and capabilities.
Its dynamic agricultural sector makes France the leading agricultural producer in the European Union, while its viticulture is particularly important since France is the global leader in the production of wines and spirits.
The industrial sector is particularly developed in the agribusiness, automobile, building and public works, chemical industry, rail, aeronautics and aerospace, energy, and pharmaceutical and cosmetics sectors. The transport sector benefits from an efficient road and rail network.
New technologies hold an important place in the developing sectors and are mostly supported by large enterprises but also a small ribbon of SMEs.
France is also renowned for its luxury and tourism sector. It is the leading tourist destination in the world.
The motorway network (more than 60,000 miles, as 10 000 kilomètres) crosses France from north to south and east to west.
A secondary road network services the smaller communities.
The rail network is composed of high speed trains (TGV) servicing the large French and European cities and a local network linking the main cities to the smallest communities.
Air transport services the large French cities and Paris boasts one of the largest international airports.
The public transport systems are very developed. In the large cities, metros, tramways and buses provide transportation for travellers over a large radius around the city centre.
In the smaller towns or in the country, the local services or bus networks linked to the train stations provide access to the majority of the French communities.