550,000 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).
Plains cover two thirds of the total area.
Principal mountain ranges: the Alps (of which the highest peak, Mont Blanc, rising to 4,808 metres, is the highest mountain in Western Europe), Pyrenees, Jura, Ardennes, Massif Central and Vosges.
Coastline: Bordered by four seas (North Sea, Channel, Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean), France has 5,500 km of coastline.
Oceanic in the west
Mediterranean in the south
Continental in central and eastern France
Farms and forests cover 48 million hectares, i.e. 82% of the total area of metropolitan France.
Nearly 30% of French territory is covered by forests, placing France third in the European Union in terms of land under forest, behind Sweden and Finland. Forested areas in France have doubled in the last 200 years and have expanded by 46% since 1945.
France boasts 136 different kinds of trees - exceptional for a European country - and the number of large animals is on the rise: in 20 years, the deer population has doubled and the number of roe deer has tripled.
In order to conserve and develop France’s natural heritage, the government has established:
7 national parks
136 nature reserves
516 designated areas for protected species
429 protected coastal areas
France also has 37 regional nature parks covering more than 7% of the country.
€28.8 billion is allocated to the protection of the environment - €469.00 per inhabitant. Three quarters of this goes on waste water management and waste disposal.
France is party to many international treaties and conventions concerning the environment, among them United Nations agreements on climate, biodiversity and desertification.
60 million inhabitants (2003)
Density: 111 inhabitants per sq. km
France has 73 urban areas with over 100,000 inhabitants.
The five largest are:
|Urban areas||Population in 2002|
|2. Lyon||1.7 million|
|3. Marseille-Aix-en-Provence||1.5 million|
|4. Lille||1.2 million|
|5. Toulouse||1 million|
The French Republic comprises:
Metropolitan France, divided into 22 regions and subdivided into 96 departments
Four overseas departments (DOM) - Guadeloupe, Martinique, Guyane (French Guiana) and Réunion
Five overseas territories - French Polynesia, Wallis and Futuna, Mayotte, Saint Pierre and Miquelon and the French Southern and Antarctic Territories
and one territory with special status: New Caledonia