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France profile
largest West European nation
France history
France today is one of the most modern countries in the world and is a leader among European nations. It plays an influential global role as a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, NATO, the G-8, the G-20, the EU and other multilateral organizations. France rejoined NATO's integrated military command structure in 2009, reversing de Gaulle's 1966 decision to take French forces out of NATO. Since 1958, it has constructed a hybrid presidential-parliamentary governing system resistant to the instabilities experienced in earlier, more purely parliamentary administrations. In recent decades, its reconciliation and cooperation with Germany have proved central to the economic integration of Europe, including the introduction of a common currency, the euro, in January 1999. In the early 21st century, five French overseas entities - French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Martinique, Mayotte, and Reunion - became French regions and were made part of France proper.
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Conventional long form: French Republic
Conventional short form: France
Local long form: Republique francaise
Local short form: France
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France's capital city is Paris
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France Constitution:

adopted by referendum 28 September 1958; effective 4 October 1958; amended many times
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France population growth rate: 0.47%
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France highest point: Mont Blanc 4,807 m
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France lowest point: Rhone River delta -2 m
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About 33% of France's land is arable.
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Loire River is the Longest River in France
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France birth rate is 13 births/1,000 population
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France infant mortality rate is 3 deaths/1,000 live births
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France fertility rate is 2.08 children born/woman
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France climate:

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 Mayotte: tropical; marine; hot, humid, rainy season during northeastern monsoon (November to May); dry season is cooler (May to November) Reunion: tropical, but temperature moderates with elevation; cool and dry (May to November), hot and rainy (November to April)
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Top 10 cities of France with populations (2012 est.) are:
1. Paris: 2,152,000
2. Marseille: 808,000
3. Lyon: 422,000
4. Toulouse: 366,000
5. Nice: 346,000
6. Strasbourg: 256,000
7. Nantes: 252,000
8. Bordeaux: 213,000
9. Montpellier: 211,000
10. Rennes: 204,000
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France ethnic groups:

Celtic and Latin with Teutonic, Slavic, North African, Indochinese, Basque minorities overseas departments: black, white, mulatto, East Indian, Chinese, Amerindian
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France Exports:

machinery and transportation equipment, aircraft, plastics, chemicals, pharmaceutical products, iron and steel, beverages
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France Imports:

machinery and equipment, vehicles, crude oil, aircraft, plastics, chemicals
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bicameral Parliament or Parlement consists of the Senate or Senat (348 seats; 328 for metropolitan France and overseas departments, 2 for New Caledonia, 2 for French Polynesia, 1 for Saint-Pierre and Miquelon, 1 for Saint-Barthelemy, 1 for Saint-Martin, 1 for Wallis and Futuna, and 12 for French nationals abroad; members indirectly elected by an electoral college to serve six-year terms; one third elected every three years); and the National Assembly or Assemblee Nationale (577 seats; 555 for metropolitan France, 15 for overseas departments, 7 for overseas dependencies; members elected by popular vote under a single-member majority system to serve five-year terms)

Administrative Divisions:
27 regions (regions, singular - region):
1. Alsace
2. Aquitaine
3. Auvergne
4. Basse-Normandie (Lower Normandy)
5. Bourgogne (Burgundy)
6. Bretagne (Brittany)
7. Centre
8. Champagne-Ardenne
9. Corse (Corsica)
10. Franche-Comte
11. Guadeloupe
12. Guyane (French Guiana)
13. Haute-Normandie (Upper Normandy)
14. Ile-de-France
15. Languedoc-Roussillon
16. Limousin
17. Lorraine
18. Martinique
19. Mayotte
20. Midi-Pyrenees
21. Nord-Pas-de-Calais
22. Pays de la Loire
23. Picardie
24. Poitou-Charentes
25. Provence-Alpes-Cote d'Azur
26. Reunion
27. Rhone-Alpes
Political parties and leaders:
Centrist Union (UC) - Nicolas ABOUT

Democratic Movement (MoDem) - Francois BAYROU (previously Union for French Democracy (UDF))

French Communist Party (PCF) - Pierre LAURENT

Greens - Dominique VOYNET

Left Front Coalition (FDG) - Jean-Luc MELENCHON

Left Party (PG) - Jean-Luc MELENCHON and Martine BILLARD

Left Radical Party (PRG) - Jean-Michel BAYLET (previously Radical Socialist Party (PRS) and the Left Radical Movement (MRG))

Movement for France (MPF) - Philippe DE VILLIERS

National Front (FN) - Marine LE PEN

New Anticapitalist Party (NPA) - Myriam MARTIN and Christine POUPIN

New Center (NC) - Herve MORIN

Radical Party - Jean-Louis BORLOO

Rally for France (RPF) - Charles PASQUA

Republican and Citizen Movement (MRC) - Jean-Luc LAURENT

Socialist Party (PS) - Haerlem DESIR

United Republic (RS) - Dominique DE VILLEPIN

Union for a Popular Movement (UMP) - Jean-Francois COPE

Worker's Struggle (LO) - Nathalie ARTHAUD