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FACTS ABOUT FRANCE, Part 2

 
 
           
 

IntroductionGeographyPeopleGovernment
EconomyCommunicationsTransportation
MilitaryTransnational Issues

 Government TOP of PAGE 
Country name: conventional long form: French Republic
conventional short form: France
local long form: République Française
local short form: France
Government type: republic
Capital: name: Paris
geographic coordinates: 48.52 N, 2.20 E
time difference: UTC+1 (6 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
daylight saving time: +1hr, begins last Sunday in March; ends last Sunday in October
note: applies to metropolitan France only, not to its overseas departments, collectivities, or territories
Administrative divisions: 22 regions (régions, singular - région); Alsace, Aquitaine, Auvergne, Basse-Normandie (Lower Normandy), Bourgogne (Burgundy), Bretagne (Brittany), Centre, Champagne-Ardenne, Corse (Corsica), Franche-Comté, Haute-Normandie (Upper Normandy), Ile-de-France, Languedoc-Roussillon, Limousin, Lorraine, Midi-Pyrénées, Nord-Pas-de-Calais, Pays de la Loire, Picardie, Poitou-Charentes, Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur, Rhône-Alpes
note: metropolitan France is divided into 22 regions (including the "territorial collectivity" of Corse or Corsica) and is subdivided into 96 departments; see separate entries for the overseas departments (French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Martinique, Réunion) and the overseas territorial collectivities (Mayotte, Saint Pierre and Miquelon)
Dependent areas: Bassas da India (uninhabited coral atoll), Clipperton Island, Europa Island, French Polynesia, French Southern and Antarctic Lands, Glorioso Islands, Juan de Nova Island, Tromelin Island, Wallis and Futuna
note: the U.S. does not recognize claims to Antarctica; New Caledonia has been considered a "sui generis" collectivity of France since 1999, a unique status falling between that of an independent country and a French overseas department
Independence: 486 (Frankish tribes unified); 843 (Western Francia established from the division of the Carolingian Empire)
National holiday: Fête de la Fédération, 14 July (1790)
note: although often incorrectly referred to as Bastille Day, the celebration actually commemorates the holiday held on the first anniversary of the storming of the Bastille (on 14 July 1789) and the establishment of a constitutional monarchy; other names for the holiday are Fête Nationale (National Holiday) and quatorze juillet (14th of July)
Constitution: adopted by referendum 28 September 1958, effective 4 October 1958
note: amended concerning election of president in 1962; amended to comply with provisions of 1992 EC Maastricht Treaty, 1997 Amsterdam Treaty, 2003 Treaty of Nice; amended to tighten immigration laws in 1993; amended in 2000 to change the seven-year presidential term to a five-year term; amended in 2005 to make the EU constitutional treaty compatible with the Constitution of France and to ensure that the decision to ratify EU accession treaties would be made by referendum
Legal system: civil law system with indigenous concepts; review of administrative but not legislative acts; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction
Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal
Executive branch: chief of state: President Nicolas SARKOZY (since 16 May 2007)
head of government: Prime Minister Francois FILLON (since 17 May 2007)
cabinet: Council of Ministers appointed by the president at the suggestion of the prime minister
elections: president elected by popular vote for a five-year term (changed from seven-year term in October 2000); election last held 22 April and 6 May 2007 (next to be held spring 2012); prime minister nominated by the National Assembly majority and appointed by the president
election results: Nicolas SARKOZY wins the election; First Round: percent of vote - Nicolas SARKOZY 31.18%, Segolene ROYAL 25.87%, Francois BAYROU 18.57%, Jean-Marie LE PEN 10.44%, others 13.94%; Second Round: SARKOZY 53.1% and ROYAL 46.9%
Legislative branch: bicameral Parliament or Parlement consists of the Senate or Senat (343 seats, 321 for metropolitan France and overseas departments, 2 for New Caledonia, 2 for Mayotte, 1 for Saint-Pierre and Miquelon, 1 for Saint-Barthelemy, 1 for Saint-Martin, 3 for overseas territories, and 12 for French nationals abroad; members are indirectly elected by an electoral college to serve six-year terms; one third elected every three years); note - between 2006 and 2011, 15 new seats will be added to the Senate for a total of 348 seats - 326 for metropolitan France and overseas departments, 2 for New Caledonia, 2 for Mayotte, 1 for Saint-Pierre and Miquelon, 1 for Saint-Barthelemy, 1 for Saint-Martin, 3 for overseas territories, and 12 for French nationals abroad; starting in 2008, members will be indirectly elected by an electoral college to serve six-year terms, with one-half elected every three years; and the National Assembly or Assemblee Nationale (577 seats, 555 for metropolitan France, 15 for overseas departments, 7 for dependencies; members are elected by popular vote under a single-member majority system to serve five-year terms)
elections: Senate - last held 21 September 2008 (next to be held in September 2014); National Assembly - last held 10 and 17 June 2007 (next to be held in June 2012)
election results: Senate - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - UMP 151, PS 116, UC-UDF 29, CRC 23, RDSE 17, other 7; National Assembly - percent of vote by party - UMP 46.37%, PS 42.25%, miscellaneous left wing parties 2.47%, PCF 2.28%, NC 2.12%, PRG 1.65%, miscellaneous right wing parties 1.17%, the Greens 0.45, other 1.24%; seats by party - UMP 313, PS 186, NC 22, miscellaneous left wing parties 15, PCF 15, miscellaneous right wing parties 9, PRG 7, the Greens 4, other 6
Judicial branch: Supreme Court of Appeals or Cour de Cassation (judges are appointed by the president from nominations of the High Council of the Judiciary); Constitutional Council or Conseil Constitutionnel (three members appointed by the president, three appointed by the president of the National Assembly, and three appointed by the president of the Senate); Council of State or Conseil d'Etat
Political parties and leaders: Communist, Republican and Citizen or CRC; Democratic Movement or MoDem [Francois BAYROU] (previously Union for French Democracy or UDF); Democratic and Social European Rally or RDSE [Yvon COLLIN] (mainly Radical Republican and Socialist Parties, and PRG); French Communist Party or PCF [Marie-George BUFFET]; Greens [Cecile DUFLOT]; Left Radical Party or PRG [Jean-Michel BAYLET] (previously Radical Socialist Party or PRS and the Left Radical Movement or MRG); Movement for France or MPF [Philippe DE VILLIERS]; National Front or FN [Jean-Marie LE PEN]; New Center or NC [Herve MORIN]; Radical Party [Jean-Louis BORLOO]; Rally for France or RPF [Charles PASQUA]; Republican and Citizen Movement or MRC [Jean Pierre CHEVENEMENT and Georges SARRE]; Socialist Party or PS [Martine AUBRY]; Union Centrist-UDF or UC-UDF [Michel MERCIER]; Union for a Popular Movement or UMP [Xavier BERTRAND]
Political pressure groups and leaders: Confédération Française Démocratique du Travail or CFDT, left-leaning labor union with approximately 803,000 members; Confédération Générale des Cadres or CGC, independent white-collar union with 196,000 members; Confédération Générale du Travail or CGT, historically communist labor union with approximately 700,000 members; Confédération Générale du Travail - Force Ouvrière or FO, independent labor union with an estimated 300,000 members; Mouvement des Entreprises de France or MEDEF, employers' union with 750,000 companies as members (claimed)
French Guiana: conservationists; gold mining pressure groups; hunting pressure groups
Guadeloupe: Christian Movement for the Liberation of Guadeloupe or KLPG; General Federation of Guadeloupe Workers or CGT-G; General Union of Guadeloupe Workers or UGTG; Movement for an Independent Guadeloupe or MPGI; The Socialist Renewal Movement
Martinique: Caribbean Revolutionary Alliance or ARC; Central Union for Martinique Workers or CSTM; Frantz Fanon Circle; League of Workers and Peasants; Proletarian Action Group or GAP
Réunion: N/A
International organization participation: ADB (nonregional members), AfDB (nonregional members), Arctic Council (observer), Australia Group, BDEAC, BIS, BSEC (observer), CBSS (observer), CE, CERN, EAPC, EBRD, EIB, EMU, ESA, EU, FAO, FZ, G-20, G-5, G-7, G-8, G-10, IADB, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICCt, ICRM, IDA, IEA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, IMSO, InOC, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ISO, ITSO, ITU, ITUC, MIGA, MINURCAT, MINURSO, MINUSTAH, MONUC, NATO, NEA, NSG, OAS (observer), OECD, OIF, OPCW, OSCE, Paris Club, PCA, PIF (partner), Schengen Convention, SECI (observer), SPC, UN, UN Security Council, UNAMID, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNIDO, UNIFIL, Union Latina, UNITAR, UNMIL, UNOCI, UNOMIG, UNRWA, UNTSO, UNWTO, UPU, WADB (nonregional), WCL, WCO, WEU, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO, ZC
Diplomatic representation in the U.S.: chief of mission: Ambassador Pierre VIMONT
chancery: 4101 Reservoir Road NW, Washington, DC 20007
telephone: [1] (202) 944-6000 ; fax: [1] (202) 944-6166
consulate(s) general: Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New Orleans, New York, San Francisco, Washington, DC
Diplomatic representation from the U.S.: chief of mission: Ambassador (vacant); Chargé d'Affaires Mark A. PEKALA
embassy: 2, avenue Gabriel, 75008 Paris
mailing address: PSC 116, APO AE 09777
telephone: [33] (1) 43.12.22.22 ; fax: [33] (1) 42.66.97.83
consulate(s) general: Marseille, Strasbourg
Flag description: three equal vertical bands of blue (hoist side), white, and red; known as the "Le drapeau tricolore" (French Tricolor), the origin of the flag dates to 1790 and the French Revolution; the design and/or colors are similar to a number of other flags, including those of Belgium, Chad, Ireland, Cote d'Ivoire, Luxembourg, and Netherlands; the official flag for all French dependent areas

 Economy TOP of PAGE 
Economy - overview: France is in the midst of transition from a well-to-do modern economy that has featured extensive government ownership and intervention to one that relies more on market mechanisms. The government has partially or fully privatized many large companies, banks, and insurers, and has ceded stakes in such leading firms as Air France, France Telecom, Renault, and Thales. It maintains a strong presence in some sectors, particularly power, public transport, and defense industries. The telecommunications sector is gradually being opened to competition. France's leaders remain committed to a capitalism in which they maintain social equity by means of laws, tax policies, and social spending that reduce income disparity and the impact of free markets on public health and welfare. Widespread opposition to labor reform has in recent years hampered the government's ability to revitalize the economy. During 2007-08, the government implemented several important labor reforms, including a de facto extension of the 35-hour workweek by allowing employees to work longer overtime hours. During 2009, the government is expected to delay or even renounce other reform efforts due to the on-going financial crisis. GDP growth dropped to 0.7% in 2008; the French government plans to increase public investment and continue injecting capital into the banking sector to alleviate the negative effects of the crisis during 2009. As a result of lower fiscal revenues and increased expenditures the general government deficit is expected to exceed the eurozone's ceiling 3% of GDP. France's tax burden remains one of the highest in Europe - at nearly 50% of GDP in 2005. With at least 75 million foreign tourists per year, France is the most visited country in the world and maintains the third largest income in the world from tourism.
GDP: purchasing power parity - $2.097 trillion (2008 est.)
official exchange rate - $2.978 trillion (2008 est.)
real growth rate - 0.7% (2008 est.)
GDP - per capita (PPP): $32,700 (2008 est.)
GDP - composition by sector: agriculture: 2.2%
industry: 20.3%
services: 77.4% (2008 est.)
Labor force: 28.5 million (2008 est.)
Labor force - by occupation: agriculture: 3.8%
industry: 24.3%
services: 71.8% (2005)
Unemployment rate: 7.4% (2008 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage share: lowest 10%: 3%
highest 10%: 24.8% (2004)
Distribution of family income - Gini index: 32.7 (2008)
Investment (gross fixed): 21% of GDP (2008 est.)
Budget: revenues: $1.439 trillion
expenditures: $1.525 trillion (2008 est.)
Public debt: 67% of GDP (2008 est.)
Inflation rate (consumer prices): 1% (2008 est.)
Central bank discount rate: n/a
Commercial bank prime lending rate: 6.6% (2008)
Stock of money and quasi money: n/a
note: the European Central Bank (ECB) controls monetary policy for the 16 members of the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU); individual members of the EMU do not control the quantity of money and quasi money circulating within their own borders
Stock of domestic credit: $5.739 trillion (April 2008)
Market value of publicly traded shares: $2.771 trillion (31 December 2007)
Agriculture - products: wheat, cereals, sugar beets, potatoes, wine grapes; beef, dairy products; fish
Industries: machinery, chemicals, automobiles, metallurgy, aircraft, electronics; textiles, food processing; tourism
Industrial production growth rate: -8% (2008 est.)
Electricity - production: 570 billion kWh (2007 est.)
Electricity - production by source: fossil fuel: 8.2%
hydro: 14%
nuclear: 77.1%
other: 0.7% (2001)
Electricity - consumption: 480 billion kWh (2007 est.)
Electricity - exports: 67.6 billion kWh (2007)
Electricity - imports: 10.8 billion kWh (2007)
Oil - production: 71,400 bbl/day (2007)
Oil - consumption: 1.95 million bbl/day (2007)
Oil - exports: 584,700 bbl/day (2005)
Oil - imports: 2.465 million bbl/day (2005)
Oil - proved reserves: 122 million bbl (1 January 2008 est.)
Natural gas - production: 953 million cu m (2007 est.)
Natural gas - consumption: 42.69 billion cu m (2007 est.)
Natural gas - exports: 966 million cu m (2007 est.)
Natural gas - imports: 42.9 billion cu m (2007 est.)
Natural gas - proved reserves: 7.277 billion cu m (1 January 2008 est.)
Current account balance: -$58 billion (2008 est.)
Exports: $761 billion f.o.b. (2008 est.)
Exports - commodities: machinery and transportation equipment, aircraft, plastics, chemicals, pharmaceutical products, iron and steel, beverages
Exports - partners: Germany 14.9%, Spain 9.3%, Italy 8.9%, UK 8.1%, Belgium 7.3%, U.S. 6.1%, Netherlands 4.1% (2007)
Imports: $833 billion f.o.b. (2008 est.)
Imports - commodities: machinery and equipment, vehicles, crude oil, aircraft, plastics, chemicals
Imports - partners: Germany 18.9%, Belgium 11.4%, Italy 8.4%, Spain 7.1%, Netherlands 7%, UK 5.6%, U.S. 4.4%, China 4% (2007)
Reserves of foreign exchange & gold: $204.4 billion (2008)
Debt - external: $5.37 trillion (30 September 2008)
Stock of direct foreign investment: at home: $1.234 trillion (2008 est.)
abroad: $1.889 trillion (2008 est.)
Currency: euro (EUR)
note: on 1 January 1999, the European Monetary Union introduced the euro as a common currency to be used by financial institutions of member countries; on 1 January 2002, the euro became the sole currency for everyday transactions within the member countries
Exchange rates: euros (EUR) per U.S. dollar - 0.6799 (2008 est.), 0.7345 (2007), 0.7964 (2006), 0.8041 (2005), 0.8054 (2004)

Go to Page 3 (Communications, Transportation, Military, Transnational Issues)

IntroductionGeographyPeopleGovernment
EconomyCommunicationsTransportation
MilitaryTransnational Issues

 
 

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