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France, officially the French Republic, is the largest country in the European Union and the second largest in Europe.This is a country whose metropolitan territory is located in Western Europe and that also comprises various overseas islands and territories located in different parts of the world.
Metropolitan France extends from the Mediterranean Sea to the English Channel and the North Sea, and from the Rhine to the Atlantic Ocean. It is bordered (in clockwise direction from the north) by Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Monaco, Andorra, and Spain. France is linked to the United Kingdom by the Channel Tunnel, which passes underneath the English Channel.
While Metropolitan France is located in Western Europe, the country also has a number of territories in North America, the Caribbean, South America, the southern Indian Ocean, the Pacific Ocean, and even Antarctica. These territories have varying forms of government ranging from overseas departments to overseas collectivity.
Overseas departments are Guadeloupe, Martinique, French Guiana, Réunion. Overseas territories consist of French Polynesia (Tahiti), New Caledonia (Nouvelle Caledonie), Saint-Pierre and Miquelon (Saint Pierre et Miquelon), Mayotte, Wallis and Futuna. France also maintains control over a number of small non-permanently inhabited islands in the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean: Bassas da India, Clipperton Island, Europa Island, Glorioso Islands, Juan de Nova Island, Tromelin Island.
With 81.9 million foreign tourists in 2007, France is ranked as the first and most popular tourist destination in the world, ahead of Spain (58.5 million in 2006) and the United States (51.1 million in 2006). This record figure excludes people staying less than 24 hours in France, such as northern Europeans crossing the country on their way to Spain or Italy during their summer vacations. France features cities of high cultural interest (Paris being the foremost), beaches and seaside resorts, ski resorts, and rural regions that many enjoy for their beauty and tranquility (green tourism). Also the country is renowned for its gastronomy (particularly wines and cheeses), history, culture and fashion.
674,843 sq km (260,558 sq mi)
62.5 million in Metropolitan France, 65.0 million with overseas territories
French is the official language of France, although there are regional variations in pronunciation and local words. As France is a very multicultural society, many African languages, Arabic, Chinese dialects, Vietnamese or Cambodian could be spoken. English and Spanish are the most commonly studied foreign languages in French schools, colleges and universities, but not widely used and understood after that, except in specific job positions (technical and tourism).
According to a January 2007 poll, 51% of French citizens identified themselves as Catholics, 31% as agnostics or atheists, 10% as from other religions or did not have any opinion, 4% identified as Muslim, 3% as Protestant, 1% identified as Jewish.
230V / 50Hz (European plug)
on the right
European Union (EU) citizens may travel without any restriction. If you are not an EU citizen and France is the first stop on your visit, you will need to obtain a Schengen Visa. This visa is valid for any country in the Schengen zone.
The main international airport, Parisâ€™ Charles de Gaulle International Airport (CDG), is likely to be the port of entry for those who fly into France from outside Europe. Paris' second major airport, Paris-Orly (ORY) also has flights to European destinations. Paris Beauvais Tille Airport (BVA) is a hub for budget airlines like RyanAir. There are other air gateways to France: Bordeaux - Merignac Airport (BOD), Clermont-Ferrand - Auvergne Airport (CFE), Lille Lesquin International Airport (LIL), the Saint-Exupery International Airport (LYS) of Lyon, Marseille Provence Airport (MRS), also known as Marseille-Marignane Airport, Nantes Atlantique Airport (NTE), the Cote d'Azur International Airport (NCE) of Nice and Toulouse Blagnac International Airport (TLS), which serve flights to destinations throughout Europe. Flights to major French airports are available on most carriers, including Air France, British Airways, United Airlines and many more.
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