Capital city Paris
Surface 674,843 km²
Population 67,176,000
Road network length 1,000,960 km
Length of highway network 15,760 km
First highway 1941
Motorway name Autoroute
Traffic drives Right
License plate code f

France (French: République française) is a country in Western Europe. The country has more than 67 million inhabitants, making it one of the largest countries in Europe. Including overseas territories, France has an area more than 16 times the size of the Netherlands. Metropolitan France is also called “France métropolitaine” and has an area of ​​552,000 km². The overseas territories (“la France d’outre-mer”) cover an additional 88,000 km², of which French Guiana is the largest. The capital is Paris (Paris).


The A40 at Sallanches with Mont Blanc.

According to ABBREVIATIONFINDER, France is located in Western Europe, on both the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea. The country is bordered to the north by Belgium and Luxembourg, to the east by Germany, Switzerland and Italy and to the south by Spain and Andorra. The tiny state of Monaco is located on the Mediterranean Sea in southeastern France. The European part of France is usually referred to as ‘metropolitan France’ or ‘France métropolitaine’. In addition, there is ‘overseas France’ or ‘France d’outre-mer’, these areas are varied in size, population and degree of autonomy and self-government.. Several islands in the Caribbean, Indian Ocean and Pacific Ocean belong to France.

Metropolitan France has a varied landscape. The Atlantic coast is made up of a varied coastline, from the chalk cliffs in the north to the cliffs of Brittany and the sandy beaches with high dunes around the Bay of Biscay. The Mediterranean coast west of Marseille is mostly flat with lagoons. East of Marseille, the coastline is mostly mountainous.

Large parts of France are relatively flat to sloping, especially in the north, west and center of the country. To the southeast are the French Alps, with the 4,808-meter-high Mont Blanc on the border with Italy being the highest point in both France and the Alps. The French Alps include several ‘four-thousanders’. West of the Alps is the Rhone Valley, which runs north-south through southeastern France. West of the Rhone Valley is the Massif Central, with regions such as the Auvergne, Ardèche, Cévennes and Lozère. The highest point of this is the 1,886 meter high Puy de Sancy.

The border with Spain is formed by the Pyrenees, which slope steeply to the lowlands on the French side. The high mountains occupy only a narrow strip on the French side. The 3,298 meter high Vignemale is the highest point of the Pyrenees on the French side. In the northeast of France you will find the Vosges (Vosges), a low mountain range with the 1,424 meter high Grand Ballon as the highest point. Between the French Alps and the Vosges you will find the Massif du Jura, with the 1,720 meter high Crêt de la Neige as the highest point. The highest point in Corsica is the 2,706 meter high Monte Cinto.

Other parts of France are flatter to at most hilly, such as the French Ardennes, Burgundy and the Morvan. The largest rivers in France are the Loire, Seine and Rhone. The Rhine (Rhin) partly forms the border with Germany. Smaller rivers are the Meuse (Meuse), Moselle (Moselle), Doubs, Saône, Dordogne, Garonne and Var. In addition, the Loire and Seine in particular have a large number of longer tributaries. The largest lake is Lac Léman (Lake Geneva) which lies on the border with Switzerland. Other large lakes are the Lac du Bourget and Lac d’Annecy.

Many regions of France are internationally known, such as the Drôme, Provence, Côte d’Azur, Dordogne, Brittany, Normandie, Bourgogne and Alsace. The departments of France are often named after this.


France is the third largest economy in Europe and the sixth largest economy in the world. The country has a relatively large industrial sector, notably chemical industry, car industry (Citroën, Peugeot and Renault), aviation industry (Airbus), energy (GDF Suez, EDF) and arms industry. Agriculture plays a relatively minor role, but is internationally known, especially French wines. One third of all the agricultural area of ​​the European Union is located in France.

The country is the most popular tourist destination in the world. Tourists flock to the cities, beaches and mountains. The largest numbers of tourists travel to Paris. Many Northern Europeans spend the summer holidays in France.


The A55 at Marseilles.

Although France has many inhabitants, large parts of the country are relatively sparsely populated. See France population density. About 20% of the French live in the Île de France region around Paris. Other major agglomerations are Lyon, Marseille, Bordeaux, Toulouse, Lille, Nantes and Strasbourg. There are few larger cities in the center of France except for Paris. The French have to travel great distances through sparsely populated areas between the metropolitan regions.

The population of France was relatively stable in the first half of the 20th century, growing from 40 million in 1900 to 42 million in 1950. From the 1950s onwards, the population started to grow strongly due to immigration from former colonies and other countries. In 1969 the limit of 50 million inhabitants was crossed and in 2003 the limit of 60 million inhabitants followed.

France is home to a relatively large number of people of North African descent, especially from Algeria (which was an integral part of France until 1962) and other North African countries such as Tunisia and Morocco. In addition, there are many people of African descent south of the Sahara, who were also colonies of France. Most immigrants or people of African descent live on the periphery of large cities, the so-called ‘banlieues’, which are socially and economically disadvantaged. In 2005, large-scale riots broke out in the banlieues of France.

Overseas Territories

Overseas Departments and Territories of France
French Guiana • Guadeloupe • Martinique • Mayotte • ReunionFrench Polynesia • New Caledonia • Saint-Barthélemy • Saint-Martin • Saint Pierre and Miquelon • Wallis and Futuna

France Location Map