French Information

France , officially the French Republic , is a member state of the European Union located in its western region, with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents. France is a unitary semi-presidential republic with its main ideals expressed in the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen.

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 often referred to as L’Hexagone because of the geometric shape of its territory. It is bordered by Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Monaco, Spain and Andorra. France's overseas departments and collectivities also share land borders with Brazil and Suriname , and the Netherlands Antilles . France is linked to the United Kingdom by the Channel Tunnel, which passes underneath the English Channel.

France is the largest state in the European Union by area and the third largest in Europe behind Russia and Ukraine. It would be second if its extra-European territories like French Guiana were included. France has been a major power for many centuries with strong economic, cultural, military and political influence. During the 17th and 18th centuries, France colonised great parts of North America; during the 19th and early 20th centuries, France built the second largest empire of the time, including large portions of North, West and Central Africa, Southeast Asia, and many Pacific islands.

Wikipedia, French, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/France (as of Apr 1, 2010)

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