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France

Introduction

Official Name: French Republic
Capital: Paris
Official Language: French
Currency: Euro (EUR)
Head of State: President Emmanuel Macron
Head of Government: Prime Minister Edouard Philippe
Foreign Minister: H.E. Mr Jean-Yves Le Drian
Government Website: www.gouvernement.fr
Date of joining: 08 April 2001

 

General

SYMBOLS OF THE FRENCH REPUBLIC

Le drapeau tricolore

Le drapeau tricolore is the French national flag, comprised of three vertical bands of blue, white, and red. Le drapeau tricolore is a modification of la cocarde tricolore. Although the flag has been altered many times throughout the past 200 years of French history, the current drapeau tricolore was established as the official flag of the Republic of France under the constitutions of 1946 and 1958. Read more.

Liberté, égalité, fraternité

The national motto of France is liberté, egalité, fraternité. The origin of the phrase is ambiguous and heavily disputed, but it is believed to have surfaced during the French Revolution as an amalgamation of slogans used at the time. It was officially institutionalized under the Third Republic at the end of the 19th century, and could be seen inscribed on buildings in France as early as the 1880s. The phrase was enshrined in the 1946 constitution and in Article 2 of the 1958 constitution, where it remains today. The phrase is displayed on the current logo of the French Republic under a tricolor profile of the Marianne, as well as on some French stamps and euro coins. The official slogan of France, like the French flag and the national anthem, "La Marseillaise," is protected under the French Constitution. Read more.

La Marseillaise

La Marseillaise is the national anthem of France. Written and composed by Claude Joseph Rouget de Isle in 1792, it was originally a rallying cry during the French Revolution. It is entitled La Marseillaise due to its original adoption as the marching song for the National Guard of Marseille. In 1795 it was adopted as the first national anthem of France, and was subsequently banned by both Louis XVIII and Napoleon III. It was not until 1879 that the work was reinstated as the official national anthem. Read more.

La Marianne

The profile of the Marianne appears on the official seal of the country, is engraved on coins, and drawn on stamps and banknotes. The symbol's roots can be traced back to 1792, when a popular song in the south of France used "Marianne" as a metaphor for the French Republic. The Marianne rose in status during France's Second Empire under Napoleon III, and gradually evolved into an official symbol of France under the Third Republic (1870-1940). In 1999, a law was passed in France requiring that a new government logo, which incorporates the Marianne, be stamped on every official document produced by the French authorities. The Marianne serves to both unify government public relations and present a modern image of the state.

Le bonnet phrygien

Le bonnet phrygien (the Phrygian cap) is a vestige of Roman times. In ancient Rome recently freed slaves that became Roman citizens had to wear a conical red headpiece, which was then adopted in 1792 during the French Revolution by revolutionary soldiers who wore it as part of their uniform. In 1793 the cap actually became mandatory in the Assemblies in Paris. Since then, it is mainly seen atop the head of the Marianne.

La cocarde tricolore

La cocarde tricolore is cockade, or circular insignia, composed of the three colors of the French flag: a blue dot in the center, a white middle circle, then red circle on the outside. It was designed by Jacque-Louis David in 1794 and originally worn by soldiers under the reign of Louis XIV. During the storming of the Bastille it was worn by the Paris militia to combine the colors of Paris, red and blue, with the color of the Bourbons, white, out of respect for the monarchy. After the fall of Bastille, Louis XIV proclaimed his approval for the new mayor of Paris and the new head of the National Guard by placing la cocarde on his hat. This became the new symbol of the National Guard, which succeeded the militia.

Le coq

Le coq is one of the most identifiable symbols of France. Inspired by a play on words between the Latin word for rooster, "Gaullus," and France, "Gaul," le coq has now become an unofficial national symbol and mascot of France. It has been used intermittently since medieval times on France engravings and coins. Le coq saw its popularity rise during the French Revolution as a sign of France's identity, and today is one of the most widely recognized symbols, especially in the realm of sports. It is also used by French companies such as Le Coq Sportif and Pathé in their logos. Read more.

Le faisceau de licteur

Another symbol of Roman times, le faisceau de licteur is bundle of wooden sticks with an axe in the center that were carried by lictors, or guards, tasked with protecting the magistrates of the Republic. The French variation is gilded with branches of oak that symbolize justice, olive trees that symbolize peace, and a shield with the initial of the Republic of France (RF) engraved upon it. It is meant to represent the unity of France as "one and indivisible" after the fall of the monarchy, and the strength of French citizens gathered to defend liberty and freedom. In 1913, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs adopted the bundle as part of its emblem, and since then it has also come to symbolize the French Republic. Read more.

La gerbe

La gerbe de blé is a wreath of wheat symbolizing harvest and abundance, with its tied, knotted stems symbolizing convergence. The symbol harks back to the famine and starvation of the revolutionary years. In 1848, some representations of Marianne carried this symbol instead of le bonnet phrygien.

La Semeuse

La semeuse (the Sower) is the image of a young woman standing with her hair shaped in the style of the Phyrgian cap, holding a bag of grain in her left hand and scattering wheat. She was created in 1897 by Oscar Roty as a symbol of the energy and vigor of the French people. She is now represented on euro cent coins and stamps.

Flags/Maps

History

58 BC - 481 AD Roman conquest of Celtic Gaul. Gallo-Roman civilization
481-987 Merovingian and Carolingian dynasties. Sweeping invasions
from the east. Hugh Capet, elected King of France, founds
the Capetian dynasty.
11th-13th centuries Development of agriculture and trade. Emergence of towns.
Royal power gains ground over feudal lords. Economic and
cultural role of the great monastic orders. Crusades.
14th - 15th centuries Epidemics (Black Death, 1397), famine and civil wars.
Rivalry between France and England: Hundred Years' War,
epic of Joan of Arc (1425-1431). Territorial alliances and
reconstitution of the kingdom. Development of agriculture,
the population and trade. First Italian wars and start of the
Renaissance in France.
16th Century The Reformation. Religious wars between Catholics and
Protestants. Reign of Henry IV (1589-1610). Edict of Nantes
grants freedom of conscience and worship (1598)
1610-1715 Reigns of Louis XIII and Louis XIV. Royal power at its
peak; France dominates Europe, French culture spreads.
Start of large-scale sea trade.
18th century Reigns of Louis XV and Louis XVI. Economic and
demographic growth. Age of Enlightenment. Absolute
monarchy challenged.
1789-1799 French Revolution. Declaration of the Rights of Man
and the Citizen (26 August 1789). Abolition of the
monarchy (1792). First Republic. Directory. Consulate.
1799-1815 Rise of Napoleon Bonaparte, First Consul, then
Emperor of the French (1804). Establishment of
modern administrative institutions, codification of
the law. European wars lead to abdication of the Emperor
1815-1848 Restoration and constitutional monarchy
(Louis XVIII, Charles X). Revolution of 1830.
Reign of Louis-Philippe. Economic prosperity.
Rapid development of industrialization.
First railways. First colonies established
1848-1852 Revolution. Second Republic. First laws on labor,
the press and Education
1852-1870 Coup d'Etat by Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte, nephew of
Napoleon I. Second Empire. Political liberalization
(1860). Period of strong growth and colonial expansion.
1870-1875 Franco-Prussian war resulting in the loss of Alsace
and Lorraine and the fall of Napoleon III. Paris
Commune (1871). Third Republic
1875-1914 Parliamentary power at its peak. Recognition of
trade unions. Separation of church and state (1905).
Important scientific and technological inventions.
1914-1918 First World War. Allied victory. Alsace and Lorraine
revert to France. Peace treaties.
1919-1939 Reconstruction. Paris attracts artists from all parts
of the world. Great Depression. Popular Front (1936),
development of social legislation. Tension rises in Europe.
1939-1945 Second World War. Defeat and occupation.
General de Gaulle leads the Resistance from
London and Algiers. Allied victory (8 May 1945)
1946-1957 Fourth Republic. Reconstruction. Demographic and
economic growth. Decolonization. Founding of the
European Communities (Treaty of Rome, 1957)
1958-1968 General de Gaulle returns to power. Constitution
of the Fifth Republic adopted by referendum
(28 September 1958). Common Market becomes
a reality (1959). Signature of Evian Agreements
ends war in Algeria (18 March 1962).
Constitutional amendment introduces election of
the President of the Republic by direct universal
suffrage (referendum of 28 October 1962). General
de Gaulle and Chancellor Adenauer sign Elysée
Treaty establishing a framework for Franco-German
rapprochement (23 January 1963). Economic growth.
Social crisis (May 1968)
1969-1981

Georges Pompidou's presidency (1969-1974).
Economic development. Continued European construction
(first attempt to coordinate currencies by setting up
the "snake" on 10 April 1972, and expansion of the
European Communities to include Denmark, Ireland
and the United Kingdom on 1 January 1973). First oil
shock (1973).

Presidency of Valéry Giscard d'Estaing (1974-1981).
Stages in European construction: European Council
established (December 1974), first Lomé Convention
signed (28 February 1975), European Monetary System
- EMS - set up (1 January 1979), accession of Greece
(1 January 1981). Right to vote at age 18 introduced.
Abortion law promoted by Simone Veil is adopted
(17 January 1975). Second oil shock (1979).
Rise of inflation and unemployment.

1981-1995

Presidency of François Mitterrand (elected 1981,
reelected 1988). Death penalty abolished (1981).
Decentralization laws passed (1982). Rules governing
radio and television stations are liberalized (1982).
European construction progresses: Spain and Portugal
join on 1 January 1986, the Single Act comes into effect
on 1 July 1987, the Treaty on European Union (Treaty of
Maastricht) is ratified by referendum (20 September 1992)

1986-1988

First cohabitation: The 1986 general election resulted in a
parliamentary majority for the two main right-wing parties,
RPR and UDF. Jacques Chirac is appointed Prime Minister by
President François Mitterrand. This first cohabitation ended
with François Mitterrand's re-election in 1988.

1993-1995

Second cohabitation: Edouard Balladur is appointed Prime
Minister by François Mitterrand after the 1993 General Election.
This cohabitation ended with Jacques Chirac's election as
President of the Republic in 1995

7 May 1995

Jacques Chirac is elected President of the Republic.
Alain Juppé is appointed Prime Minister

May-June 1997

Dissolution of the National Assembly and General
Elections resulting in a left-wing majority and thus
the third cohabitation. Lionel Jospin is appointed Prime Minister

02 October 1997

Signing of the Amsterdam Treaty

01 January 1999

Beginning of the introduction of the euro.
The exchange rates for 11 European currencies
are permanently fixed relative to each other
and relative to the euro.

24 September 2000

In a referendum, 73% of the French people voted in
favor of shortening the presidential term from 7 to 5 years.
The 5-year term will be effective after the presidential
elections of 2002.

02 January 2002

Euro bills and coins are introduced. The euro now is
used for all transactions in the 12 participating European
Union countries (France, Belgium, Germany, Spain, Ireland,
Italy, Luxemburg, the Netherlands, Austria, Portugal and Finland)

17 February 2002

French francs are no longer legal tender in France

05 May 2002

Jacques Chirac is re-elected President of the Republic and
appoints Jean-Pierre Raffarin as Prime Minister. It is the end
of the third cohabitation.

29 May 2005

In a referendum, 54.68% of the French people rejects
the Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe

06 May 2007

Nicolas Sarkozy is elected President of the Republic
and appoints François Fillon as Prime Minister

04 February 2008

The French Parliament ratifies the European Treaty of Lisbon

06 May 2012

François Hollande was elected President of the Republic

07 May 2017

Emmanuel Macron is elected President of the Republic and appoints Édouard Philippe as Prime Minister

Geography

Area

Covering 551,000 sq. km., France is the largest country in Western Europe (almost one fifth of the total area of the European Union), with a vast maritime zone (exclusive economic zone extending over 11 million sq. km)

Relief

• Plains cover two thirds of the total area.
• Principal mountain ranges: the Alps (of which the highest peak, Mont Blanc, rising to 4,807 meters, is the highest mountain in Western Europe), Pyrénées, Jura, Ardennes, Massif Central and Vosges.
• The coastline is bordered by four bodies of water : the North Sea, English Channel, Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea. France has 5,500 km of coastline.

Climate

Three types:
- Oceanic in the West
- Mediterranean in the South
- Continental in Central and Eastern France

Environment

• Some 28% of French territory is covered by forests, ranking France third in the European Union for the amount of forestland, behind Sweden and Finland.
• France possesses 136 different kinds of trees in the metropolitan area- and 1,300 in French Guyana alone.
• As of 2012, €47.5 billion is allocated to the protection of the environment. 62% of this goes to waste water management and waste disposal. France is part of many international treaties and conventions concerning the environment, including the United Nations agreements on climate, biodiversity and desertification.
• In order to conserve and develop France's natural heritage, the government has established:
- 10 national parks,
- 48 regional nature parks covering more than 12% of its land (including DOMs),
- 4 natural marine parks.

More information at www.environnement.gouv.fr

Population

With 65.84 million inhabitants (as of January 2014; source: National Institute for Statistics and Economic Studies), France ranks second among the most populated countries in Europe.

Administrative organization
The French Republic comprises:

• Metropolitan France, divided into 22 regions and subdivided into 96 departments,
• Five overseas departments (DOM) : Guadeloupe, Martinique, Guyana (French Guiana), Reunion, and Mayotte since March 2011,
• Five overseas collectivities (COM) : French Polynesia, St Pierre and Miquelon, Wallis and Futuna, Saint Martin, Saint Bartelemy,
• Several territories with a special status : New Caledonia, Clipperton and the French Southern and Antarctic Territories.

More information at www.outre-mer.gouv.fr 

Government & Politics

Institutions

The Constitution of 4 October 1958 provides the institutional basis for the Fifth Republic. It has been amended several times to institute election of the President of the Republic by direct universal suffrage (1962), incorporate a new title defining the criminal liability of members of the Government (1993), establish a single parliamentary session, enlarge the area of application of the referendum (1995), transitional provisions relating to New Caledonia (1998), establishment of European Economic and Monetary Union, equal access of men and women to elective office and positions, recognition of the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court (1999), shorten the Presidential term of office (2000) to 5 years, and the reinstitution of Parliament back into the heart of the democratic process and the limitation of the President to two consecutive terms of office (2008).

President of the Republic

The Head of State is elected for a five-year term by direct universal suffrage. François Hollande became the seventh President of the Fifth Republic on May 15, 2012.

The President of the Republic appoints the Prime Minister and, on the latter's recommendation, appoints the other members of the government (article 8 of the Constitution). He presides over the Council of Ministers, promulgates Acts of Parliament and is Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces. He may dissolve the National Assembly and in an emergency exercise special powers (article 16) 

Prime Minister and Government

Under the direction of the Prime Minister, the government (read the composition of the French government) sets national policy and carries it out. It is answerable to Parliament (article 20). The Prime Minister directs the operation of the government and ensures the implementation of legislation (article 21). The Prime Minister resides in the Matignon Hotel. Manuel Valls was appointed Prime Minister on May 31, 2014.

Parliament

Parliament is formed of two assemblies:

the Senate is elected by indirect universal suffrage for a six-year term (reduced from nine years in 2003). The house is renewable by one-third every three years. The last election took place in September 2014.

the National Assembly's members (deputies) are elected by direct universal suffrage for a five-year term. The most recent general election was held in June 2012. An illustration of the National Assembly's political groups is available here.

The two assemblies supervise the Government and pass legislation. In the event of disagreement on a law, the National Assembly makes the final decision.

The Senate

The Senate has 348 senators affiliated with the following groups as of September 2014:

 Union pour un Mouvement Populaire (UMP) group: 143
 Socialiste et Apparentés group: 112
 Union des Démocrates et Indépendents group: 42
 Communiste, Républicain et Citoyen group: 18
 Rassemblement Démocratique et Social Européen (RDSE) group: 13
 Ecologiste group: 10
 Non-affiliated: 9

An illustration of the Senate's political groups is available here 

The National Assembly

The National Assembly is made up of 577 deputies. The last took place on June 10 and 17, 2012.

More information at http://www.assemblee-nationale.fr

Constitutional Council

The Constitutional Council, composed of nine members, is responsible in particular for overseeing the proper functioning of elections and for ruling on the constitutionality of organic laws and legislation submitted to it.

Judicial system

The "guardian of individual liberty" (article 66 of the Constitution), the French legal system is organized on the basis of a fundamental distinction between civil courts, with jurisdiction in disputes between private individuals or bodies, and administrative courts, with jurisdiction in all cases involving some form of dispute between a private individual or body (company, association, etc.) and a public body.

There are three types of courts

specialized courts (juvenile courts, conseils des prud'hommes for industrial relations disputes, commercial courts for disputes involving business people or firms, and social security courts).
civil courts
criminal courts
which distinguish three types of offence: contraventions (petty offences), tried by police courts, délits (misdemeanours), tried by criminal courts and crimes (serious indictable offences), tried by the Assize Court (the only court with lay jurors and from which there is no appeal against sentences).

The highest judicial body is the Cour de Cassation which decides appeals on points of law and procedure and can set aside or quash judgements and remit cases for rehearing to one of the 35 courts of appeal for retrial. 

The Court of accounts

The Cour des Comptes, formed in 1807, is a judicial authority in financial matters and is independent of both legislature and executive.

Today, its role is to apply mandatory financial verification to several categories of institution, such as central government, national public corporations, social security bodies (since 1950) and public services (since 1976).

Organizational structure

The Senior Judge of the Cour des Comptes, who is appointed by decree issued by the Council of Ministers, cannot be recalled, as is in fact the case for all judges sitting in the court of auditors. The court is assisted by a prosecutor's department headed by a public prosecutor, which acts as an intermediary between court and government.

The organizational structure comprises seven judicial bodies (the various divisions of the court), each of which has approximately thirty judges and rapporteurs: the distribution of powers among the seven divisions generally follows sectoral lines (for example, finance, health and social security, and so on).

The Cour des Comptes itself defines its audit programme entirely independently. It is also vested with very broad powers of investigation. 

Main missions

The missions carried out by the Cour des Comptes fall currently into three categories: verification of the compliance of accounts, verification of management, and provision of assistance to Parliament and the government.

It carries out checks on the correctness of public accounts. It analyzes the overall accounting balance and has as its main task, on the basis of an examination of the accounts and supporting documentation, that of verifying that revenue has been collected and payments made in compliance with accounting rules.

In carrying out its management audits, the Cour also verifies that public funds have been correctly applied. Such checks may be carried out in connection with an evaluation of the financial statements submitted by accountants or by direct analysis of the management of the officers responsible for the disposition of funds.

This form of verification has gradually been extended to the accounts of social security bodies, followed by those of public services. The Cour also makes known its views on the competence with which public services are administered.

It also has powers to verify proper application of public grants and subsidies. In 1991, this mission was extended to cover organizations appealing for charitable donations from the general public.

Finally, the Cour des Comptes cooperates with the government, and more particularly with Parliament, in verifying the performance of the budget, doing so in a number of ways.

Firstly, the Senior Judge may lay the court's findings and comments before the relevant parliamentary committees (finance committees and special commissions of enquiry).

In addition, the committees of both houses may also entrust the court with specific enquiries into the management of bodies over which it has a power of inspection.

Lastly, the Cour des Comptes regularly publishes a number of reports: an Annual Report and special reports, which are made public; a report on the performance of the budget laws for the previous year, which is laid before Parliament; and, since 1995, a report on all audited social security bodies.

An average of nearly 700 reports are produced by the Cour des Comptes each year.

For further informations: http://www.ccomptes.fr

The Conseil d'Etat  is the supreme administrative court and court of final appeal on the legality of administrative acts. It advises the government on draft legislation.

Source: Profile of France; printed by the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs

People

SOCIETY

As of January 2014, the total population of metropolitan France (mainland and Corsica) and French overseas departments was estimated at 65,821 million inhabitants. France has the second largest population behind Germany in the European Union and before the United Kingdom. France thus accounts for 13 percent of the European Union's population.

Life expectancy is high and rising, at 78 years for men and 85 years for women in 2013. The French population continues to age, and the proportion of the children and young people is diminishing despite a significant number of births in recent years.

Source: insee.fr (National Institute for Statistics and Economic Studies)

Economy

Transportation & Communication

Social Indicators

Education

"In 2014, education spending amounted to $172.7 billion USD. There are 64,000 preschool and primary schools, collèges (middle schools) and lycées (high schools). Some 4,600 higher education establishments exist in France."

Preschool, primary and secondary schools (2014)
 12,233,500 pupils
 839,700 teachers

Primary school pupil/teacher ratio (2012): 18.9 to 1
Secondary school pupil/teacher ratio (2012): 12.5 to 1
Baccalauréat pass rate (2013 estimate): 73.7%

Higher Education (2014)
 1,499,600 students
 91,800 teaching staff

Source: education.gouv.fr

Health

Health is a major priority. France spent €240.3 billion ($312.6 billion) in health expenditures.
Consumer care and medical goods accounts for three quarters of this spending, reaching an amount of €180 billion ($233.86 billion).

Source: sante.gouv.fr,insee.fr

Labor Force

France has a total workforce of some 26.4 million, by a 2013 estimate. Within this category, 23.8 million are wage and salary earners, 2.6 million are non-salaried wage earners.

Breakdown by type of employment:
 2.5 percent agriculture
 24.3 percent industry
 71.8 percent services

Source: insee.fr

Religion

The French Republic is a secular state where all religious faiths and denominations are represented.
 Roman Catholic: 83 percent - 88 percent
 Muslim: 5 percent - 10 percent
 Protestant: 2 percent
 Jewish: 1 percent
 Unaffiliated: 4 percent

Social and Demographic Information

 Fertility rate: 2.0 children born/woman (2014)
 Birth rate: 12.3 births/1,000 population (2014)
 Life expectancy: 85 years old for women, 79 years old for men (2014)
 Marriages: 241,000 (2014)
 Marriage Rate: 3.5 marriages/1,000 population (2014).

Source: insee.fr

Population breakdown by age (January 1, 2015)
 24.7 percent under 20 years old
 50.8 percent 20 to 59 years old
 24.5 percent 60 years old and over
 Average age: 40 years (2014)

Source: insee.fr

Social Security

The French Social Security system was introduced in 1945. It is based on the principle of solidarity which guarantees financial protection against hardships of financial, health and other kinds. In order to better address new demographic trends, the pension system underwent a major overhaul which was adopted as law in July 2003.

It covers health insurance, compensation for occupational injuries and illnesses, pensions and family benefits. These four main branches of the social security system are completed by the collection of social contributions and cash management.

In 2011, total net expenditures amounted to €320.3 billion ($416.13 billion) for the general scheme and are estimated at €442.2 billion ($574.51 billion) for all schemes combined in the most recent amending Social Security financing bill. The French social security system is financed by social contributions paid by employers and employees, a general social welfare contribution (CSG) and various other contributions and taxes.

Source: travail.gouv.fr, securite-sociale.fr

 

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