France (French: [fʁɑ̃s] ), officially the French Republic (French: République française [ʁepyblik fʁɑ̃sɛːz]), is a country located primarily in Western Europe. It also includes overseas regions and territories in the Americas and the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian oceans, giving it one of the largest discontiguous exclusive economic zones in the world. Metropolitan France shares borders with Belgium and Luxembourg to the north, Germany to the north east, Switzerland to the east, Italy and Monaco to the south east, Andorra and Spain to the south, and a maritime border with the United Kingdom to the north west. Its metropolitan area extends from the Rhine to the Atlantic Ocean and from the Mediterranean Sea to the English Channel and the North Sea; overseas territories include French Guiana in South America, Saint Pierre and Miquelon in the North Atlantic, the French West Indies, and many islands in Oceania and the Indian Ocean. Its eighteen integral regions (five of which are overseas) span a combined area of 643,801 km2 (248,573 sq mi) and have a total population of over 68 million as of January 2023. France is a unitary semi-presidential republic with its capital in Paris, the country's largest city and main cultural and commercial centre; other major urban areas include Marseille, Lyon, Toulouse, Lille, Bordeaux, Strasbourg and Nice.
Metropolitan France was settled during the Iron Age by Celtic tribes known as Gauls before Rome annexed the area in 51 BC, leading to a distinct Gallo-Roman culture. In the Early Middle Ages, the Germanic Franks formed the Kingdom of Francia, which became the heartland of the Carolingian Empire. The Treaty of Verdun of 843 partitioned the empire, with West Francia becoming the Kingdom of France in 987. In the High Middle Ages, France was a powerful but decentralized feudal kingdom, but from the mid-14th to the mid-15th centuries, France was plunged into a dynastic conflict with England known as the Hundred Years' War. In the 16th century, the French Renaissance saw culture flourish and a French colonial empire rise. Internally, France was dominated by the conflict with the House of Habsburg and the French Wars of Religion between Catholics and Huguenots. France was successful in the Thirty Years' War and further increased its influence during the reign of Louis XIV.The French Revolution of 1789 overthrew the Ancien Régime and produced the Declaration of the Rights of Man, which expresses the nation's ideals to this day. France reached its political and military zenith in the early 19th century under Napoleon Bonaparte, subjugating part of continental Europe and establishing the First French Empire. The French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars significantly shaped the course of European history. The collapse of the empire initiated a period of relative decline, in which France endured a tumultuous succession of governments until the founding of the French Third Republic during the Franco-Prussian War in 1870. Subsequent decades saw a period of economic prosperity and cultural and scientific flourishing known as the Belle Époque. France was one of the major participants of World War I, from which it emerged victorious at great human and economic cost. It was among the Allied powers of World War II, but it surrendered and was occupied by the Axis in 1940. Following its liberation in 1944, the short-lived Fourth Republic was established and later dissolved in the course of the defeat in the Algerian War. The current Fifth Republic was formed in 1958 by Charles de Gaulle. Algeria and most French colonies became independent in the 1960s, with the majority retaining close economic and military ties with France.
France retains its centuries-long status as a global centre of art, science and philosophy. It hosts the fifth-largest number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites and is the world's leading tourist destination, receiving over 89 million foreign visitors in 2018. France is a developed country with a high nominal per capita income globally and its advanced economy ranks among the largest in the world. A great power in global affairs, being one of the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council and an official nuclear-weapon state. France is a founding and leading member of the European Union and the eurozone, as well as a key member of the Group of Seven, North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and Francophonie.
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