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The World Factbook (1990)/France



World Factbook (1990) France.jpg

 See regional map V


Total area: 547,030 km²; land area: 545,630 km²; includes Corsica and the rest of metropolitan France, but excludes the overseas administrative divisions

Comparative area: slightly more than twice the size of Colorado

Land boundaries: 2,892.4 km total; Andorra 60 km, Belgium 620 km, FRG 451 km, Italy 488 km, Luxembourg 73 km, Monaco 4.4 km, Spain 623 km, Switzerland 573 km

Coastline: 3,427 km (includes Corsica, 644 km)

Maritime claims:

Contiguous zone: 12-24 nm
Extended economic zone: 200 nm
Territorial sea: 12 nm

Disputes: maritime boundary dispute with Canada (St. Pierre and Miquelon); Madagascar claims Bassas da India, Europa Island, Glorioso Islands, Juan de Nova Island, and Tromelin Island; Comoros claims Mayotte; Mauritius claims Tromelin Island; Seychelles claims Tromelin Island; Suriname claims part of French Guiana; territorial claim in Antarctica (Adelie Land)

Climate: generally cool winters and mild summers, but mild winters and hot summers along the Mediterranean

Terrain: mostly flat plains or gently rolling hills in north and west; remainder is mountainous, especially Pyrenees in south, Alps in east

Natural resources: coal, iron ore, bauxite, fish, timber, zinc, potash

Land use: 32% arable land; 2% permanent crops; 23% meadows and pastures; 27% forest and woodland; 16% other; includes 2% irrigated

Environment: most of large urban areas and industrial centers in Rhône, Garonne, Seine, or Loire River basins; occasional warm tropical wind known as mistral

Note: largest West European nation


Population: 56,358,331 (July 1990), growth rate 0.4% (1990)

Birth rate: 14 births/1,000 population (1990)

Death rate: 9 deaths/1,000 population (1990)

Net migration rate: 0 migrants/1,000 population (1990)

Infant mortality rate: 6 deaths/1,000 live births (1990)

Life expectancy at birth: 73 years male, 82 years female (1990)

Total fertility rate: 1.8 children born/woman (1990)

Nationality: noun—Frenchman(men), Frenchwoman(women); adjective—French

Ethnic divisions: Celtic and Latin with Teutonic, Slavic, North African, Indochinese, and Basque minorities

Religion: 90% Roman Catholic, 2% Protestant, 1% Jewish, 1% Muslim (North African workers), 6% unaffiliated

Language: French (100% of population); rapidly declining regional dialects (Provençal, Breton, Alsatian, Corsican, Catalan, Basque, Flemish)

Literacy: 99%

Labor force: 24,170,000; 61.5% services, 31.3% industry, 7.3% agriculture (1987)

Organized labor: 20% of labor force (est.)


Long-form name: French Republic

Type: republic

Capital: Paris

Administrative divisions: metropolitan France—22 regions (régions, singular—région); Alsace, Aquitaine, Auvergne, Basse-Normandie, Bourgogne, Bretagne, Centre, Champagne-Ardenne, Corse, Franche-Comté, Haute-Normandie, Île-de-France, Languedoc-Roussillon, Limousin, Lorraine, Midi-Pyrénées, Nord-Pas-de-Calais, Pays de la Loire, Picardie, Poitou-Charentes, Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur, Rhône-Alpes; note—the 22 regions are subdivided into 96 departments; see separate entries for the overseas departments (French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Martinique, Reunion) and the territorial collectivities (Mayotte, St. Pierre and Miquelon)

Dependent areas: Bassas da India, Clipperton Island, Europa Island, French Polynesia, French Southern and Antarctic Lands, Glorioso Islands, Juan de Nova Island, New Caledonia, Tromelin Island, Wallis and Futuna

Independence: unified by Clovis in 486, First Republic proclaimed in 1792

Constitution: 28 September 1958, amended concerning election of president in 1962

Legal system: civil law system with indigenous concepts; review of administrative but not legislative acts

National holiday: Taking of the Bastille, 14 July (1789)

Executive branch: president, prime minister, Council of Ministers (cabinet)

Legislative branch: bicameral Parliament (Parlement) consists of an upper house or Senate (Sénat) and a lower house or National Assembly (Assemblée Nationale)

Judicial branch: Court of Cassation (Cour de Cassation)

Leaders: Chief of State—President François MITTERRAND (since 21 May 1981);

Head of Government—Prime Minister Michel ROCARD (since 10 March 1988)

Political parties and leaders: Rally for the Republic (RPR, formerly UDR), Jacques Chirac; Union for French Democracy (UDF, federation of PR, CDS, and RAD), Valéry Giscard d'Estaing; Republicans (PR), François Léotard; Center for Social Democrats (CDS), Pierre Méhaignerie; Radical (RAD), Yves Gallard; Socialist Party (PS), Pierre Mauroy; Left Radical Movement (MRG), Yves Collin; Communist Party (PCF), Georges Marchais; National Front (FN), Jean-Marie Le Pen

Suffrage: universal at age 18

Elections: President—last held 8 May 1988 (next to be held May 1995); results—Second Ballot François Mitterrand 54%, Jacques Chirac 46%;

Senate—last held 24 September 1989 (next to be held September 1992); results—percent of vote by party NA; seats—(321 total; 296 metropolitan France, 13 for overseas departments and territories, and 12 for French nationals abroad) RPR 93, UDF 143 (PR 53, CDS 65, RAD 25), PS 64, PCF 16, independents 2, unknown 3;

National Assembly—last held 5 and 12 June 1988 (next to be held June 1993); results—Second Ballot PS-MRG 48.7%, RPR 23.1%, UDF 21%, PCF 3.4%, other 3.8%; seats—(577 total) PS 275, RPR 132, UDF 90, UDC 40, PCF 25, independents 15

Communists: 700,000 claimed but probably closer to 150,000; Communist voters, 2.8 million in 1988 election

Other political or pressure groups: Communist-controlled labor union (Confédération Générale du Travail) nearly 2.4 million members (claimed); Socialist-leaning labor union (Confédération Française Démocratique du Travail or CFDT) about 800,000 members est.; independent labor union (Force Ouvrière) about 1,000,000 members est.; independent white-collar union (Confédération Générale des Cadres) 340,000 members (claimed); National Council of French Employers (Conseil National du Patronat Français—CNPF or Patronat)

Member of: ADB, CCC, Council of Europe, DAC, EC, EIB, EMA, EMS, ESA, ESCAP, FAO, GATT, IAEA, IATP, IBRD, ICAC, ICAO, ICES, ICO, IDA, IDB—Inter-American Development Bank, IFAD, IFC, IHO, ILO, ILZSG, IMF, IMO, INTELSAT, INTERPOL, IOOC, IPU, IRC, ISO, ITC, ITU, IWC—International Whaling Commission, NATO (signatory), OAS (observer), OECD, SPC, UN, UNESCO, UPU, WEU, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WSG, WTO

Diplomatic representation: Ambassador Jacques ANDREANI; Chancery at 4101 Reservoir Road NW, Washington DC 20007; telephone (202) 944-6000; there are French Consulates General in Boston, Chicago, Detroit, Houston, Los Angeles, New Orleans, Miami, New York, San Francisco, and San Juan (Puerto Rico); US—Ambassador Walter J. P. CURLEY; Embassy at 2 Avenue Gabriel, 75382 Paris Cedex 08 (mailing address is APO New York 09777); telephone [33](1) 42-96-12-02 or 42-61-80-75; there are US Consulates General in Bordeaux, Lyon, Marseille, and Strasbourg

Flag: three equal vertical bands of blue (hoist side), white, and red; known as the French Tricouleur (Tricolor); the design and colors have been the basis for a number of other flags, including those of Belgium, Chad, Ireland, Ivory Coast, and Luxembourg; the official flag for all French dependent areas


Overview: One of the world's most developed economies, France has substantial agricultural resources and a highly diversified modern industrial sector. Large tracts of fertile land, the application of modern technology, and subsidies have combined to make it the leading agricultural producer in Western Europe. France is largely self-sufficient in agricultural products and is a major exporter of wheat and dairy products. The industrial sector generates about one-third of GDP and employs about one-third of the work force. During the period 1982-86 economic growth was sluggish, averaging only 1.4% annually. This trend was reversed by late 1987, however, with a strong expansion of consumer demand, followed by a surge in investment. The economy has had difficulty generating enough jobs for new entrants into the labor force, resulting in a high unemployment rate, but the upward trend in growth recently pushed the jobless rate below 10%. The steadily advancing economic integration within the European Community is a major force affecting the fortunes of the various economic sectors.

GDP: $819.6 billion, per capita $14,600; real growth rate 3.4% (1989 est.)

Inflation rate (consumer prices): 3.5% (1989 est.)

Unemployment rate: 9.7% (1989 est.)

Budget: revenues $197.0 billion; expenditures $213.4 billion, including capital expenditures of $NA (1989 est.)

Exports: $183.1 billion (f.o.b., 1989 est.); commodities—machinery and transportation equipment, chemicals, foodstuffs, agricultural products, iron and steel products, textiles and clothing; partners—FRG 15.8%, Italy 12.2%, UK 9.8%, Belgium-Luxembourg 8.9%, Netherlands 8.7%, US 6.7%, Spain 5.6%, Japan 1.8%, USSR 1.3% (1989 est.)

Imports: $194.5 billion (c.i.f., 1989 est.); commodities—crude oil, machinery and equipment, agricultural products, chemicals, iron and steel products; partners—FRG 19.4%, Italy 11.5%, Belgium-Luxembourg 9.2%, US 7.7%, UK 7.2%, Netherlands 5.2%, Spain 4.4%, Japan 4.1%, USSR 2.1% (1989 est.)

External debt: $59.3 billion (December 1987)

Industrial production: growth rate 4.4% (1989 est.)

Electricity: 109,972,000 kW capacity; 403,570 million kWh produced, 7,210 kWh per capita (1989)

Industries: steel, machinery, chemicals, automobiles, metallurgy, aircraft, electronics, mining, textiles, food processing, and tourism

Agriculture: accounts for 4% of GNP (including fishing and forestry); one of the world's top five wheat producers; other principal products—beef, dairy products, cereals, sugar beets, potatoes, wine grapes; self-sufficient for most temperate-zone foods; shortages include fats and oils and tropical produce, but overall net exporter of farm products; fish catch of 850,000 metric tons ranks among world's top 20 countries and is all used domestically

Aid: donor—ODA and OOF commitments (1970-87), $59.8 billion

Currency: French franc (plural—francs); 1 French franc (F) = 100 centimes

Exchange rates: French francs (F) per US$1—5.7598 (January 1990), 6.3801 (1989), 5.9569 (1988), 6.0107 (1987), 6.9261 (1986), 8.9852 (1985)

Fiscal year: calendar year


Railroads: French National Railways (SNCF) operates 34,568 km 1.435-meter standard gauge; 11,674 km electrified, 15,132 km double or multiple track; 2,138 km of various gauges (1.000-meter to 1.440-meter), privately owned and operated

Highways: 1,551,400 km total; 33,400 km national highway; 347,000 km departmental highway; 421,000 km community roads; 750,000 km rural roads; 5,401 km of controlled-access divided autoroutes; about 803,000 km paved

Inland waterways: 14,932 km; 6,969 km heavily traveled

Pipelines: crude oil, 3,059 km; refined products, 4,487 km; natural gas, 24,746 km

Ports: maritime—Bordeaux, Boulogne, Brest, Cherbourg, Dunkerque, Fos-Sur-Mer, Le Havre, Marseille, Nantes, Rouen, Sete, Toulon; inland—42

Merchant marine: 153 ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 3,671,645 GRT/5,950,785 DWT; includes 10 short-sea passenger, 19 cargo, 19 container, 1 multifunction large-load carrier, 30 roll-on/roll-off cargo, 37 petroleum, oils, and lubricants (POL) tanker, 9 chemical tanker, 6 liquefied gas, 4 specialized tanker, 17 bulk, 1 combination bulk; note—France also maintains a captive register for French-owned ships in the Kerguelen Islands (French Southern and Antarctic Lands) and French Polynesia

Civil air: 355 major transport aircraft (1982)

Airports: 470 total, 460 usable; 204 with permanent-surface runways; 3 with runways over 3,659 m; 34 with runways 2,440-3,659 m; 133 with runways 1,220-2,439 m

Telecommunications: highly developed system provides satisfactory telephone, telegraph, radio and TV broadcast services; 39,110,000 telephones; stations—42 AM, 138 (777 relays) FM, 215 TV (8,900 relays); 25 submarine coaxial cables; communication satellite earth stations operating in INTELSAT, 3 Atlantic Ocean and 2 Indian Ocean, EUTELSAT, MARISAT, and domestic systems

Defense Forces

Branches: Army, Navy, Air Force, National Gendarmerie

Military manpower: males 15-49, 14,285,904; 12,042,731 fit for military service; 409,544 reach military age (18) annually

Defense expenditures: 3.8% of GDP, or $31.1 billion (1989 est.)