| GENERAL INFORMATION
IOC Code: FRA
President: Nicolas Sarkozy Capital: Paris
Largest City: Paris
Currency: Euro (€)
Official languages: French
Motto: Liberty, Equality, Fraternity
(1 January 2006)
Population: 63 587 100
GDP/inhabitant (in US $): 29 900
Average age (in years):
Life expectancy (in years): 79.28
Internet code: .fr
Calling code: +33
France, known officially as the French Republic (French: République française), is a country whose metropolitan territory is located in Western Europe and that also comprises a collection of overseas islands and territories located in other continents. Metropolitan France extends from the Mediterranean Sea to the English Channel and North Sea, and from the Rhine River to the Atlantic Ocean. French people often refer to Metropolitan France as l'Hexagone (the "Hexagon") because of its geographical shape.
France is bordered by Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Monaco, Andorra, and Spain. In some of its overseas departments, France also shares land borders with Brazil, Suriname, and the Netherlands Antilles. France is also linked to the United Kingdom via the Channel Tunnel, which passes underneath the English Channel.
The French Republic is a democracy which is organised as a unitary semi-presidential republic. It is a highly developed country with the sixth-largest economy in the world. Its main ideals are expressed in the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen. France is one of the founding members of the European Union, and has the largest land area of all members. France is also a founding member of the United Nations, and a member of La Francophonie, the G8, and the Latin Union. It is one of the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council wielding veto power, and it is also one of eight acknowledged nuclear powers. With almost 75 million foreign tourists each year, France is the most popular tourist destination in the world.
The name France originates from the Franks, a Germanic tribe that occupied the region after the fall of the Western Roman Empire. More precisely, the region around Paris, called Île-de-France, was the original French royal demesne.