Major cities: Bordeaux, Lille, Lyon, Marseille, Nice, Nantes, Strasbourg, Toulon, Toulouse
Political system: Republic
President: François Hollande
Flag: Three vertical stripes: blue, white, red
National anthem: The Marseillaise
National motto: Liberty, Equality, Fraternity
GDP: 2,121 billion Euros (5th in the world)
€33,152 / capita (oct. 2013)
Population: 65,821,000 inhabitants in 2014
Area: 244,340 sq mi (632 834 km2), 213,010 sq mi (551 695 km2) of which are covered by Metropolitan France
The key symbols of the French Republic emerged from the French Revolution of 1789: the national motto “Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité” (“Liberty, Equality, Fraternity”), the National Day (Bastille Day) on 14th July, the national anthem the “Marseillaise”, the “tricolour” blue, white and red French flag, the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of Citizens of 1789, the allegorical figure of Marianne. The French education system is also based on fundamental principles: academic freedom, free education, neutrality, secularism, compulsory schooling between the ages of 6 and 16 for all French and foreign children living in France.
A fundamental value and essential principle of the Republic, secularism is a French invention.
“France is an indivisible, secular, democratic and social Republic, guaranteeing that all citizens regardless of their origin, race or religion are treated as equals before the law and respecting all religious beliefs.” states the Constitution of 1958. The “freedom to practice religion” has been recognised since 1905 when the loi sur la séparation de l’Église et de l’État (Law on the Separation of the Church and State) came into effect. Far from being a weapon against religion, this text returned all religions to the private sector and established state secularism in the public sphere. The French State does not favour any one religion and guarantees their peaceful co-existence in respect of the laws and principles of the Republic.
In application of the secular principle, the law of 15 March 2004 prohibits all clothing or other attire displaying religious worship to be worn in schools.
Bank, religious and civil holidays mark out France’s annual calendar.
The 5th largest economic power, France’s economy currently revolves around services which employ more than 70% of the active population.
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.