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EUROPA > The EU at a glance > abc > European countries > Member states of the EU > France
EU at a glance


FranceMember States of the EU


  • Year of EU entry: Founding member
  • Political system: Republic
  • Capital city: Paris
  • Total area: 550 000 km²
  • Population: 64.3 million
  • Currency: euro
  • Listen to the official EU language:
Detailed map - click on the map Detailed map - click on the map
France is the largest country in the EU, stretching from the North Sea to the Mediterranean. The landscape is diverse, with mountains in the east and south, including the Alpine peak of Mont Blanc (4 810 m) which is western Europe's highest point. Lowland France consists of four river basins, the Seine in the north, the Loire and the Garonne flowing westwards and the Rhône, which flows from Lake Geneva to the Mediterranean Sea.

The church of Sacré Coeur in ParisThe president of the Republic has an important political role. He chairs the meetings of the Council of Ministers (cabinet), and retains overall responsibility in key areas of foreign affairs and defence. The day-to-day running of the country is in the hands of the prime minister. The president is elected by direct popular vote for a period of five years. The parliament consists of a National Assembly, directly elected every five years, and a Senate whose members are chosen by an electoral college.

France has an advanced industrial economy and an efficient farm sector. Main activities include automobile manufacture, aerospace, information technology, electronics, chemicals and pharmaceuticals and fashion.

France has produced some of the continent's most influential writers and thinkers from Descartes and Pascal in the 17th century, to Rousseau and Voltaire in the 18th, Balzac, Baudelaire and Flaubert in the 19th and Sartre and Camus in the 20th. In the last two centuries it has given the art world the works of Renoir, Monet, Cezanne, Gauguin, Matisse and Braque, to name but a few.

French cuisine is one of the finest in Europe; cooking and eating are part of French culture and lifestyle.

Useful links

  1. National public administration portal

    Service-Public offers a practical guide to citizens’ rights through subject-based factsheets. Each factsheet looks at the various situations in which individuals might find themselves, explains the steps to be taken and provides links to further information. An extensive database containing French and European legislation as well as a library of public reports can also be consulted.

  2. Introduction to the country

    The official Tourist Office website for France offers a wide array of information tailored to visitors from around the world.

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