France Quick Facts• Population: 68 million• Capital: Paris• Currency: Euro• Language: French• Government: Republic• Religion: Roman Catholic with Protestant, Jewish and Muslim minority.• Life Expectancy: 79 years
France’s Past• Known as Gaul when the Romans conquered it in the first century B.C.• Was under the Romans for over 500 hundred years.• Gauls were strongly influenced by cultural convergence, adopting the Romans’ Latin Language and Christian religion.• As Roman Empire declined, the Franks, who France is named after, conquered the region under Charlemagne.• Hugh Capet took over in 987 and the empire grew stronger., expanding the borders of France to almost what they are today.• Then, the monarchy came to an end in 1789 during the French Revolution.
Language and Culture• French is the national language.• Several dialects are still spoken around the country.• French Academy was established in 1635 to preserve the language, and new words have to be approved by it in order to be published in dictionaries.• French people take pride in the arts, such as clothing styles and Impressionism.• Paris is the cultural center, known for its theaters, ballets, operas, orchestras, and cinemas.
Government and Economy• Recently, the French Government has taken different approaches at stimulating its economy.• Its nationalized and privatized businesses vital to national interests to promote economic growth .• Went through a recession in the 1990s and 2000s.• By 2004, economic growth was back, but unemployment was still at 10%.
Physical Characteristics• Called a “hexagon” because it is roughly six-sided.• Water borders three sides of it while mountains border two sides.• Only low hills and flat, wide plains provide an easy passage into neighboring countries.• The Alps provide a natural border between France and Italy while the Jura Mountains provide a barrier between France and Switzerland.• In Southern France lies the Massif Central, where there is poor soil.• Despite the poor soil, there are some crops grown in the Massif Central and there is some industry.
Customs and Traditions• Men and women hug each other as a sign of good acquaintance.• French people keep their arms on the table while eating.• They behead champagne bottles at weddings.• Customs and traditions in France is inseparably linked with July 14th, the day when Bastille Fort was overrun by the French proletariats.