France (French Republic) is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. 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 "The Hexagon" because of the geometric shape of its territory. It is the largest western European country and it possesses the second-largest exclusive economic zone in the world. France is a founding member of the United Nations, one of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, and a member of the Francophone, the G8, G20, NATO, OECD, WTO, and the Latin Union. It is also a founding and leading member state of the European Union and the largest one by area. In 2011, France was listed 20th on the Human Development Index and 24th on the Corruption Perceptions Index.
The north and northwest have a temperate climate, while a combination of maritime influences, latitude and altitude produce a varied climate in the rest of Metropolitan France. In the south-east a Mediterranean climate prevails. In the west, the climate is predominantly oceanic with a high level of rainfall, mild winters and cool to warm summers. Inland the climate becomes more continental with hot, stormy summers, colder winters and less rain. The climate of the Alps and other mountainous regions is mainly alpine, with the number of days with temperatures below freezing over 150 per year and snow cover lasting for up to six months.
The French Republic is a unitary semi-presidential republic with strong democratic traditions. The French parliament is a bicameral legislature comprising a National Assembly and a Senate. The National Assembly deputies represent local constituencies and are directly elected for 5-year terms. The Assembly has the power to dismiss the cabinet, and thus the majority in the Assembly determines the choice of government. The Senate's legislative powers are limited; in the event of disagreement between the two chambers, the National Assembly has the final say. The government has a strong influence in shaping the agenda of Parliament.
A member of the G8 group of leading industrialized countries, it is ranked as the world's fifth largest and Europe's second largest economy by nominal GDP; with 39 of the 500 biggest companies of the world in 2010, France ranks world's 4th and Europe's 1st in the Fortune Global 500 ahead of Germany and the UK. France joined 11 other EU members to launch the euro on 1 January 1999, with euro coins and banknotes completely replacing the French franc in early 2002. France has a mixed economy which combines extensive private enterprise (nearly 2.5 million companies registered) with substantial (though declining) state enterprise and government intervention (see dirigisme). The government retains considerable influence over key segments of infrastructure sectors, with majority ownership of railway, electricity, aircraft, nuclear power and telecommunications. It has been gradually relaxing its control over these sectors since the early 1990s.
11.8 million Foreign-born immigrants and their direct descendants (born in France) lived in France representing 19% of the country's population. More than 5 million are of European origin and about 4 million of Maghrebi origin. France allows foreigners to immigrate and mostly, people are coming from Morocco, Algeria, and Turkey.
The official language of France is French. The French government does not regulate the choice of language in publications by individuals but the use of French is required by law in commercial and workplace communications. In addition to mandating the use of French in the territory of the Republic, the French government tries to promote French in the European Union and globally through institutions such as La Francophonie. The perceived threat from anglicisation has prompted efforts to safeguard the position of the French language in France. Besides French, there exist 77 vernacular minority languages of France, 8 in the French metropolitan territory of continental Europe and 69 in the French overseas territories.
French people start their education at age of 2.5-3 as attending ecole maternelle (kindergarten). From attending ecole elementaire (elementary) to college (middle school) is compulsory education in France. If student is willing to study in university, student may study at lycee (high school) then study in university.
82% of French are following Roman Catholic. Also, the rate of Muslims is getting higher as immigration of people from North Africa.
France has been a center of cultural creation for centuries. Many French artists have been among the most renowned of their time, and France is still recognized in the world for its rich cultural tradition. The successive political regimes have always promoted artistic creation, and the creation of the Ministry of Culture in 1959 helped preserve the cultural heritage of the country and make it available to the public. The Ministry of Culture has been very active since its creation, granting subsidies to artists, promoting French culture in the world, supporting festivals and cultural events, protectinghistorical monuments. The French government also succeeded in maintaining a cultural exception to defend audiovisual products made in the country. The UNESCO inscribed 37 sites in France on the World Heritage List.