France is a country in Western Europe, across the English Channel from the United Kingdom. Across the Pyrenees to the south of France lies Spain, and to either side of that, it is bordered by the Bay of Biscay and the Mediterranean Sea. France's northern and eastern borders are touched by Andorra, Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, Switzerland, Monaco, and Italy. French Guiana is in South America, while Guadaloupe and Martinique are in the Central America/Caribbean region. The capital of France is Paris.
The country's official name is the French Republic, and it is a republic. The population in Europe and France's departments, as they are called, in the Americas was estimated to be 63,713,926 in July of 2007, with over 60 million in Europe. French, the official language of France, is spoken by 100% of the population, and the regional dialects — such as Alsatian, Catalan, and Provençal — are reported to be in decline. French and Creole patois are spoken in the overseas departments.
France is known for tourism, of which its restaurants form a key part, so its agricultural output is to be expected. Products of France include cereal grains, wine grapes, dairy products, beef, and fish. Industry besides tourism includes machinery, chemicals, automobiles, and food processing.
There are many significant landmarks and monuments in France. The Eiffel Tower was built for the Paris World’s Fair in 1889. The Arc de Triomphe de l’Etoile, the largest triumphal arch in the world, was imagined by Napoleon I and finished under Louis Philippe. The cathedral of Notre-Dame de Paris was under construction from 1163 to 1345 A.D., and is an example of Gothic style across time.
Famous contributions to culture of France have been made by:
- actors Juliette Binoche, Leslie Caron, Catherine Deneuve, Gérard Depardieu, and Marcel Marceau
- clothing designers Pierre Cardin, Coco Chanel, Christian Dior, Hubert de Givenchy, Yves Saint-Laurent, and Louis Vuitton
- authors Albert Camus, Alexandre Dumas, André Gide, Victor Hugo, Guy de Maupassant, Molière, Anaïs Nin, Charles Perrault, Marcel Proust, Jean Racine, George Sand, Jean Paul Sartre, and Voltaire
- chefs Auguste Escoffier and Jacques Pepin
- composers Hector Berlioz, Georges Bizet, Frederic Chopin, Clause Debusy, Jacques Offenbach, Maruice Ravel, and Camille Saint-Saëns
- filmmakers Jean Cocteau, Jacques-Yves Costeau and Jean Renoir
- painters Paul Cézanne, Edgar Degas, Paul Gaugin, Edouard Manet, Henri Matisse, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, George Seurat, Henri de Tououse-Lautrec
- philosophers Jacques Derrida, René Descartes, Michel Foucault, Montesquieu, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, and Simone Weil, as well as many, many others.