A hairpin turn, named for its resemblance to a hairpin/bobby pin, is a bend in a road with a acute inner angle, making it necessary for an oncoming vehicle to turn about 180° to continue on the road. Such turns in ramps and trails may be called switchbacks in American English, by analogy with switchback railways. In British English "switchback" is more to refer to a undulating road—a use extended from the rollercoaster and the other type of switchback railway. Hairpin turns are built when a route climbs up or down a steep slope, so that it can travel across the slope with only moderate steepness, are arrayed in a zigzag pattern. Highways with repeating hairpin turns allow easier, safer ascents and descents of mountainous terrain than a direct, steep climb and descent, at the price of greater distances of travel and lower speed limits, due to the sharpness of the turn. Highways of this style are generally less costly to build and maintain than highways with tunnels. On occasion, the road may loop using a tunnel or bridge to cross itself at a different elevation.
When this routing geometry is used for a rail line, it is called spiral loop. In trail building, an alternative to switchbacks is the stairway; some roads with switchbacks include: Alpe d'Huez in the French Alps, famous for its 21 hairpin bends Stelvio Pass with its 48 hairpin bends on the northern ramp is one of the most famous Alpine Mountain passes Transfăgărăşan in the Romanian Carpathians, famous for its hairpin bends In rallying, the cars slide sideways around hairpins in spectacular style, such as at the Col de Turini of the Monte Carlo Rally Hillclimbing is a special kind of automobile racing held of mountain roads with hairpins, which keeps average speeds lower than on tracks In bicycle racing, climbs up mountains roads with many U-turns are considered the most difficult, feature in Tour de France, Giro d'Italia, Tour de Suisse and Vuelta a España The roads above Monaco, on the foothills of the Alps. The Geiranger road from Geirangerfjord to the mountain pass won the gold medal on the world exhibition, Paris 1900, the original design included a 270° spiral.
Norwegian National Road 7 through Måbødalen has a spiral within tunnels. The road from Frangokastello to Kallikratis in Crete has 27 tight bends. Due to mountainous profile of the country are many public streets in Greece having tight bends, the asphalt is little slippery, making the traction loosen; the situation worsens with the first rains after the long dry summer asphalt slips more than usual The Veleta access road in Granada, Spain is the highest paved road in Europe City streets: Winters Street Vermont Street Lombard Street Snake Alley Mountain Road Shippen Street US Highways: US 6 through Loveland Pass over the Continental Divide in Colorado US 44/NY 55 on the east face of the Shawangunk Ridge in Gardiner. US 93 used to be on both the Nevada and Arizona sides of Hoover Dam, though these sections were bypassed by a new highway alignment and bridge south of the dam that opened in 2010 US 250 between the West Virginia border and West Augusta, Virginia US 129 around the Tennessee/North Carolina border, 318 curves in 11 miles US 191 in Arizona between Morenci and Alpine), has a few switchbacks and about 460 curves.
US 441 through Great Smoky Mountains National Park on the Tennessee/North Carolina border. US 212 contains 19 switchbacks in the Beartooth Mountains; this section is known as Beartooth Highway. US 40 over Berthoud Pass in Colorado. US 550 in Colorado between Silverton and Ouray, nicknamed the "Million Dollar Highway" US 34 in Colorado in Rocky Mountain National Park has 10 switchbacks on Trail Ridge Road State Highways: AZ 89A as it enters Oak Creek Canyon in Arizona. AR 7 in various places in Arkansas CA 1 south of Bodega Bay, California. CA 130 Originally built as a wagon trail to aid in the construction of Lick Observatory, "Mt. Hamilton Road" travels east out of San Jose, CA and rises over the foothills, only to ascend again up the summit of Mt. Hamilton, it has a total of 365 curves and switchbacks: "...one for every day of the year" CA 152 east of Watsonville, California is known as Hwy 152 or Hecker Pass.
Timo Mäkinen was one of the original "Flying Finns" of motor rallying. He is most famous for his hat-tricks of wins in the 1000 Lakes Rally. Mäkinen's start in international rallying came in the 1959 1000 Lakes Rally, in a Triumph TR3, he drove works Austin-Healeys and Minis. In the big Healey, he finished fifth in the RAC Rally in 1963. Mäkinen drove Minis during most of 1964 but came second in the RAC Rally in a Healey, at the end of that year, he returned to the Mini Cooper S in 1965, winning the Monte Carlo Rally and the 1000 Lakes, capturing a Coupe des Alpes at the Alpine Rally. He came second in the 1965 RAC Rally, again in a Healey. In 1967, Timo Mäkinen drove his Mini at a high speed through the famous Ouninpohja stage of the 1000 Lakes with the car's bonnet open. Leather straps holding the bonnet were not tightened, they opened after a few rough bounces, he tried to put his head out of the side window but his helmet was too big and he could only stick his head halfway out. So he had to skid the car sideways continuously to see the road ahead.
So, Mäkinen was third fastest on that special stage and he won the rally overall, for the third year in a row. In 1975, Mäkinen won the RAC for the third time in a row, at the wheel of a Ford Escort RS1800, preceded only by Erik Carlsson in that feat. Mäkinen won the Finnish Rally Championship three times, the ice track championship six times and the saloon car race championship three times. In 1969, Mäkinen competed in the first Round Britain Powerboat Race, which he won. In 1994, Mäkinen made a brief return as Mini celebrated the 30th anniversary of their 1964 Monte Carlo win by Paddy Hopkirk, who participated in the event. Mäkinen retired on the second stage with a fuel system problem. In 2010, he was among the first four inductees into the Rally Hall of Fame, along with Carlsson and Rauno Aaltonen. Mäkinen traveled to Australia to race Mini Coopers in the Bathurst 500 road race, he finished 6th outright and 3rd in class in 1965 co-driving with N. Irish rally driver Paddy Hopkirk while finishing 7th outright and 3rd in class in 1967 with Australian driver John French.
Timo Makinen died on May 4 2017 of natural causes in Finland. 1964 Tulip Rally 1965 Monte Carlo Rally 1965 1000 Lakes Rally 1966 1000 Lakes Rally 1966 Three Cities Rally 1967 1000 Lakes Rally 1972 Hong Kong Rally 1973 Arctic Rally 1973 1000 Lakes Rally 1973 RAC Rally 1974 RAC Rally 1974 Rallye Côte d'Ivoire 1975 RAC Rally 1976 Rallye Côte d'Ivoire
Henri Louis Rougier, was a French sportsman, racing cyclist, pioneer aeroplane pilot and sporting motorist. He is best remembered for his victory in the inaugural Monte Carlo Rally when he drove his Turcat-Méry from Paris to Monte Carlo, but he was a regular competitor in both'City to City' and Grand Prix races. On 18 November 1909 he was awarded Aviator's Certificate number 11 by the Aéro-Club de France. Throughout 1909 and 1910 he was a successful competitor at Air shows and Grands Prix throughout Europe. Rougier was a successful entrepreneur, owning the Paris agency for Turcat-Méry motor cars, using his motor racing and rallying prowess to garner publicity. After World War I he manufactured a limited number of Rougier motor cars, based on Turcat-Méry chassis but with mechanical design improvements and exclusive coach-built bodies. Rougier was appointed Chevalier of the Légion d'honneur, plus being awarded the Croix de guerre and the'Medal of Aeronautics'. Rougier was born in Marseille, on 28 October 1876.
Henri Rougier was the main dealer for Turcat-Méry motor vehicles, like most other manufacturers he used racing and competition as both a technical development and publicity aid for marketing. In May 1903 Rougier finished 11th overall in the Paris-Madrid race driving a 45-hp Turcat-Méry, he was classified 9th in the heavy car class. On 17 June 1904 Rougier competed in the Gordon Bennett Cup race in Germany driving a 45-hp Turcat-Méry. Kaiser Wilhelm II had decreed, he finished in third place. In 1905 Rougier competed in the Circuit des Ardennes at Bastogne, his Lorraine-Dietrich set the fastest lap of 68.51 mph. In 1906 Rougier finished third in the Circuit des Ardennes at Bastogne, his time was 5 hours 50 minutes 11 seconds. At the inaugural 1906 French Grand Prix he was unclassified, over 1 lap behind the winner. In 1907 Rougier competed in the French Grand Prix at Dieppe, driving a Lorraine-Dietrich but retired on lap 5. On 19 May 1908 Rougier competed in the Saint Petersburg-Moscow race driving a Lorraine-Dietrich but retired early.
In the 1908 French Grand Prix at Dieppe, he retired on the first lap with magneto problems on his Lorraine-Dietrich. In 1923 Rougier competed in the French Grand Prix at Tours, driving a'Voisin Laboratoire' he retired after 19 laps. In the 1923 Italian Grand Prix at Monza he retired after 28 laps. In 1909 the Automobile Club de Monaco started planning a car rally at the behest of Albert I, Prince of Monaco; the Monte Carlo Rally was to converge on Monte Carlo. In January 1911 23 cars set out from 11 different locations and Rougier was among the nine who left Paris to cover a 1,020 kilometres route; the event was won by Henri Rougier in a Turcat-Méry 25 Hp. The rally comprised both driving and somewhat arbitrary judging based on the elegance of the car, passenger comfort and the condition in which it arrived in the principality; the outcry of scandal when the results were published changed nothing, so Rougier was proclaimed the first winner. The Turcat-Méry motor manufacturing business began in 1895 when Alphonse Méry of Marseille bought a Panhard-Levassor and a Peugeot.
His younger brother Simon Méry and his brother in law Léon Turcat, both engineers, decided to improve on both models with their own design, a 2.6-litre, four cylinder, five speed car with electric ignition, radiators at each end of the engine and two speeds in reverse. Thus in 1899, when the car was ready for sale, they founded Turcat-Méry & Cie, they established a partnership with Baron Adrien de Turckheim fr:Adrien de Turckheim of the De Dietrich and Lorraine-Dietrich company, produced cars whose slogan was The Car of the Connoisseur. Rougier became the Paris agent and chief publicist for both Turcat-Méry and Lorraine-Dietrich; the liaison with Lorraine-Dietrich lasted until the outbreak of World War I in 1914. Turcat-Méry ceased production in 1928. After World War I Rougier purchased a limited number of completed 1913/14 Turcat-Méry chassis which he had reworked to improve the engines and four-wheel brakes using Henri Perrot's latest drum/shoe brake design; the chassis were bodied by coach-builders such as Million Guillet in Levallois-Perret Paris and the exclusive finished models were badged and registered as'Rougier'.
In 1909, Rougier learned to fly in a Voisin powered by a Gnome Omega engine. On 18 November 1909 he was awarded Aviator's Certificate number 11 by the Aéro-Club de France. In September 1909 he won the prizes for distance and altitude at the Grand Prix of Berlin, while fellow Frenchman Hubert Latham won the prize for speed; the Grand Prix was the first aviation tournament held in Germany, having been triggered by the public enthusiasm for Orville Wright's demonstration flights at Templehoff and Potsdam in August 1909. At the 1909 Air Show in Brescia, Italy in September Rougier again won the altitude prize, beating Glen Curtiss in the Curtiss No. 2. He competed in the 1909 Air meetings at Frankfurt and Blackpool, England where he finished in second place. In Antwerp he won all the races. At the Air Show in Heliopolis in Egypt, he won first prize for'aggregate distance' and second prize for'longest distance without stopping'. In January 1910 in Monaco he became renowned for his exploits over both the Mediterranean sea and Mount Agel.
He described one dangerous trip from Monaco to Nice in high, changeable winds: In 1910 he is reported to have competed in California with the Voisin. In an age when endurance flights were a considerable achi
Albert I, Prince of Monaco
Albert I was Prince of Monaco and Duke of Valentinois from 10 September 1889 until his death. He devoted much of his life to oceanography. Alongside his expeditions, Albert I made reforms on political and social levels, bestowing a constitution on the Principality in 1911. Born Albert Honoré Charles Grimaldi on 13 November 1848 in Paris, the son of Prince Charles III, Countess Antoinette de Mérode-Westerloo, a Belgian noblewoman, maternal aunt of Donna Maria Vittoria dal Pozzo, Princess della Cisterna, Duchess consort of Aosta and Queen consort of Spain; as a young man, Prince Albert served in the Spanish Navy, during the Franco-Prussian War, he joined the French Navy where he was awarded the Legion of Honor. In addition to his interest in oceanographic studies, Albert had a keen interest in the origins of man and in Paris, he founded the "Institute for Human Paleontology", responsible for a number of archeological digs; the "Grimaldi Man" found in the Baousse-Rousse cave was named in his honour.
Albert's intellectual achievements gained him worldwide recognition and in 1909, the British Academy of Science made him a member. On 21 September 1869 at the Château de Marchais in Champagne, Prince Albert was married to Lady Mary Victoria Hamilton, of Lanarkshire, Scotland, a daughter of the 11th Duke of Hamilton and his wife, Princess Marie of Baden; the couple met for the first time in August 1869 at a ball hosted by the Emperor and Empress of France. Caroline had tried to make a match between Albert and Princess Mary Adelaide of Cambridge, the first cousin of Queen Victoria, sought the help of Napoléon III and his wife, Empress Eugénie; the Emperor convinced Caroline that Queen Victoria would never allow a relative of hers to marry into a family who were making a living out of gambling. He suggested Mary, his third cousin and sister of his good friend, the 12th Duke of Hamilton, as a suitable alternative. Mary was a granddaughter of Charles, Grand Duke of Baden and related by blood to the French Imperial family through her maternal grandmother Stéphanie de Beauharnais, Emperor Napoléon I's adopted daughter and second cousin of Napoléon III's mother, Hortense de Beauharnais.
The Hamiltons were well aware of the extent of Monaco's estate, no bigger than theirs, but were sufficiently impressed by its status as an independent principality. The couple married at Château de Marchais on 21 September 1869. Within a year of their marriage, the couple's only child was born, but Mary, from the hills of Scotland, disliked Monaco and everything Mediterranean. While Albert was away fighting in the Franco-Prussian war, she left Monaco permanently; the couple divorced and their marriage was annulled by the Church on 3 January 1880, although a special provision was made by the Vatican to allow Louis to remain legitimate in the eyes of the Church. Civilly, the marriage was dissolved on 28 July 1880 by the Order of Prince Charles III; that same year, the former Princess of Monaco remarried in Florence, Italy, to a Hungarian nobleman, Prince Tassilo Festetics von Tolna. On 10 September 1889, Albert ascended the throne of Monaco on the death of his father; that same year in Paris, on 30 October, he married the Dowager Duchess de Richelieu, née Marie Alice Heine.
The American daughter of a New Orleans building contractor of German-Jewish descent, Alice Heine had married the Duc de Richelieu but had been widowed by age 21 and left with a young son, Armand. Her marriage to Prince Albert proved an equal blessing for him and the tiny principality of Monaco, since Alice brought a strong business acumen, well in advance of her youth. Having helped put her husband's principality on a sound financial footing, she would devote her energies to making Monaco one of Europe's great cultural centers, with an opera, a ballet under the direction of the famed Russian impresario Serge Diaghilev. Despite the initial success of the marriage of Prince Albert and Princess Alice, in 1902, they separated without issue, though did not divorce. According to Anne Edwards' book The Grimaldis of Monaco, this was due to the Princess's friendship with the composer Isidore de Lara. By the same token, the courtesan Caroline Otero, La Belle Otero, who had served him as a high class prostitute between 1893 and 1897, recalled Albert fondly in her memoirs and claimed that he was not a virile man and suffered from erection difficulty.
Princess Alice had La Belle Otero banned from the province in 1897 for being seen with her husband. In March 1910, there were mass protests against his rule; the Monegasque demanded a constitution and a parliament to rein in the absolute monarch or else they would overthrow him and establish a republic. They were dissatisfied about economy. There was severe unemployment as the country lacked factories and farmland and the casinos did not allow citizens to work there. On 5 January 1911, Prince Albert I granted Monaco a constitution, but the document had little real meaning in terms of reducing autocratic rule and was soon suspended by the Prince when World War I broke out. In 1911, Prince Albert created the Monte Carlo Rally, an automobile race designed to draw tourists to Monaco and the Casino. Despite his military service, or because of it, the Prince became a pacifist, establishing the International Institute of Peace in Monaco as a place to develop a peaceful settlement for conflict through arbitration.
In the tension-filled times leading up to World War I, Prince Albert made numerous attempts to dissuade Germany's Kaiser Wilhelm II from
The French Riviera is the Mediterranean coastline of the southeast corner of France. There is no official boundary, but it is considered to extend from Cassis or Toulon on the west to the France–Italy border in the east, where the Italian Riviera joins; the coast is within the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur region of France. The principality of Monaco is a semi-enclave within the region, surrounded on three sides by France and fronting the Mediterranean; this coastline was one of the first modern resort areas. It began as a winter health resort for the British upper class at the end of the 18th century. With the arrival of the railway in the mid-19th century, it became the playground and vacation spot of British and other aristocrats, such as Queen Victoria and King Edward VII, when he was Prince of Wales. In the summer, it played home to many members of the Rothschild family. In the first half of the 20th century, it was frequented by artists and writers, including Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, Francis Bacon, Edith Wharton, Somerset Maugham, Aldous Huxley, as well as wealthy Americans and Europeans.
After World War II, it became a popular tourist convention site. Many celebrities, such as Elton John and Brigitte Bardot, have homes in the region; the French Riviera is home to 163 nationalities with 83,962 foreign residents, although estimates of the number of non-French nationals living in the area are much higher. Its largest city is Nice, which has a population of 347,060; the city is the center of a communauté urbaine – Nice-Côte d'Azur – bringing together 24 communes and more than 500,000 inhabitants and 933,080 in the urban area. Nice is home to Nice Côte d'Azur Airport, France's third-busiest airport, on an area of reclaimed coastal land at the western end of the Promenade des Anglais. A second airport at Mandelieu was once the region's commercial airport, but is now used by private and business aircraft; the A8 autoroute runs through the region, as does the old main road known as the Route nationale 7. High-speed trains serve the coastal region and inland to Grasse, with the TGV Sud-Est service reaching Nice-Ville station in five and a half hours from Paris.
The French Riviera has a total population of more than two million. It contains the seaside resorts of Cap-d'Ail, Beaulieu-sur-Mer, Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat, Villefranche-sur-Mer, Juan-les-Pins, Saint-Raphaël, Fréjus, Sainte-Maxime and Saint-Tropez, it is home to a high-tech and science park at Sophia-Antipolis, a research and technology center at the University of Nice Sophia-Antipolis. The region has 35,000 students; the French Riviera is a major cruising area with several marinas along its coast. According to the Côte d'Azur Economic Development Agency, each year the Riviera hosts 50 percent of the world's superyacht fleet, with 90 percent of all superyachts visiting the region's coast at least once in their lifetime; as a tourist centre, French Riviera benefits from 310 to 330 days of sunshine per year, 115 kilometres of coastline and beaches, 18 golf courses, 14 ski resorts and 3,000 restaurants. The term French Riviera is typical of English use, it was built by analogy with the term Italian Riviera.
As early as the 19th century, the British referred to the region as the Riviera or the French Riviera referring to the eastern part of the coast, between Monaco and the Italian border. Riviera is an Italian noun which means "coastline"; the name Côte d'Azur was given to the coast by the writer Stéphen Liégeard in his book, La Côte d’azur, published in December 1887. Liégeard was born in Dijon, in the French department of Côte-d'Or, adapted that name by substituting the azure blue colour of the Mediterranean for the gold of Côte-d'Or. In Occitan and French, the only usual names are Côte d'Azur in French. A term like "French Riviera" would only be used in adaptations of it. For instance, in French, "Riviera Française" is found in the online Larousse encyclopedia to refer to the holidays of a group of English workers; the Côte d'Azur and the French Riviera have no official boundaries. Some sources put the western boundary at Saint-Tropez in the Var département. Others include Saint Tropez, Hyères or Toulon in the Var, or as far as Cassis in the Bouches-du-Rhône département.
In her 1955 novel, The Talented Mr. Ripley, Patricia Highsmith describes the Riviera as including all of the coast between Toulon and the Italian border; the region of the French Riviera has been inhabited since prehistoric times. Primitive tools dating to between 1,000,000 and 1,050,000 years ago were discovered in the Grotte du Vallonnet, near Roquebrune-Cap-Martin, with stones and bones of animals, including bovines and bison. At Terra Amata, near the Nice Port, a fireplace was discovered, one of the oldest found in Europe. Stone dolmens, monuments from the Bronze Age, can be found near Draguignan, while the Valley of Marvels near Mount Bégo
Rally is a form of motorsport that takes place on public or private roads with modified production or specially built road-legal cars. It is distinguished by running not on a circuit, but instead in a point-to-point format in which participants and their co-drivers drive between set control points, leaving at regular intervals from one or more start points. Rallies may be won by pure speed within the stages or alternatively by driving to a predetermined ideal journey time within the stages; the term "rally", as a branch of motorsport dates from the first Monte Carlo Rally of January 1911. Until the late 1920s, few if any other events used the term. Rallying itself can be traced back to the 1894 Paris–Rouen Horseless Carriage Competition, sponsored by a Paris newspaper, Le Petit Journal, which attracted considerable public interest and entries from leading manufacturers. Prizes were awarded to the vehicles by a jury based on the reports of the observers who rode in each car; this event led directly to a period of city-to-city road races in France and other European countries, which introduced many of the features found in rallies: individual start times with cars running against the clock rather than head to head.
The first of these great races was the Paris–Bordeaux–Paris race of June 1895, won by Paul Koechlin in a Peugeot, despite arriving 11 hours after Émile Levassor in a Panhard et Levassor. Levassor's time for the 1,178 km course, running without a break, was 48 hours and 48 minutes, an average speed of 24 km/h. From 24 September-3 October 1895, the Automobile Club de France sponsored the longest race to date, a 1,710 km event, from Bordeaux to Agen and back; because it was held in ten stages, it can be considered the first rally. The first three places were taken by a Panhard, a Panhard, a three-wheeler De Dion-Bouton. In the Paris–Madrid race of May 1903, the Mors of Fernand Gabriel took just under five and a quarter hours for the 550 km to Bordeaux, an average of 105 km/h. Speeds had now far outstripped the safe limits of dusty highways thronged with spectators and open to other traffic and animals; the French government banned this style of event. From on, racing in Europe would be on closed circuits on long loops of public highway and in 1907, on the first purpose-built track, England's Brooklands.
Racing was going its own separate way. One of the earliest of road races, the Tour de France of 1899, was to have a long history, running 18 times as a reliability trial between 1906 and 1937, before being revived in 1951 by the Automobile Club de Nice. Italy had been running road competitions since 1895, when a reliability trial was run from Turin to Asti and back; the country's first true motor race was held in 1897 along the shore of Lake Maggiore, from Arona to Stresa and back. This led to a long tradition of road racing, including events like Sicily's Targa Florio and Giro di Sicilia, which went right round the island, both of which continued on and off until after World War II; the first Alpine event was held in 1898, the Austrian Touring Club's three-day Automobile Run through South Tyrol, which included the infamous Stelvio Pass. In Britain, the legal maximum speed of 12 mph precluded road racing, but in April and May 1900, the Automobile Club of Great Britain organised the Thousand Mile Trial, a 15-day event linking Britain's major cities, in order to promote this novel form of transport.
Seventy vehicles took part, the majority of them trade entries. They had to complete thirteen stages of route varying in length from 43 to 123 miles at average speeds of up to the legal limit of 12 mph, tackle six hillclimb or speed tests. On rest days and at lunch halts, the cars were shown to the public in exhibition halls; this was followed in 1901 by a five-day trial based in Glasgow The Scottish Automobile Club organised an annual Glasgow–London non-stop trial from 1902 to 1904 the Scottish Reliability Trial from 1905. The Motor Cycling Club allowed cars to enter its trials and runs from 1904. In 1908 the Royal Automobile Club held its 2,000 mi International Touring Car Trial, 1914 the important Light Car Trial for manufacturers of cars up to 1400 cc, to test comparative performances and improve the breed. In 1924, the exercise was repeated as the Small Car Trials. In Germany, the Herkomer Trophy was first held in 1905, again in 1906; this challenging five-day event attracted over 100 entrants to tackle its 1,000 km road section, a hillclimb and a speed trial, but sadly it was marred by poor organisation and confusing regulations.
One participant had been Prince Henry of Austria, inspired to do better, so he enlisted the aid of the Imperial Automobile Club of Germany to create the first Prinz Heinrich Fahrt in 1908. Another trial was held in 1910; these were successful, attracting top drivers and works cars from major teams – several manufacturers added "Prince Henry" models to their ranges. The first Alpine Trial was held in 1909, in Aus
France the French Republic, is a country whose territory consists of metropolitan France in Western Europe and several overseas regions and territories. The metropolitan area of France extends from the Mediterranean Sea to the English Channel and the North Sea, from the Rhine to the Atlantic Ocean, it is bordered by Belgium and Germany to the northeast and Italy to the east, Andorra and Spain to the south. The overseas territories include French Guiana in South America and several islands in the Atlantic and Indian oceans; the country's 18 integral regions span a combined area of 643,801 square kilometres and a total population of 67.3 million. France, a sovereign state, is a unitary semi-presidential republic with its capital in Paris, the country's largest city and main cultural and commercial centre. Other major urban areas include Lyon, Toulouse, Bordeaux and Nice. During the Iron Age, what is now metropolitan France was inhabited by a Celtic people. Rome annexed the area in 51 BC, holding it until the arrival of Germanic Franks in 476, who formed the Kingdom of Francia.
The Treaty of Verdun of 843 partitioned Francia into Middle Francia and West Francia. West Francia which became the Kingdom of France in 987 emerged as a major European power in the Late Middle Ages following its victory in the Hundred Years' War. During the Renaissance, French culture flourished and a global colonial empire was established, which by the 20th century would become the second largest in the world; the 16th century was dominated by religious civil wars between Protestants. France became Europe's dominant cultural and military power in the 17th century under Louis XIV. In the late 18th century, the French Revolution overthrew the absolute monarchy, established one of modern history's earliest republics, saw the drafting of the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, which expresses the nation's ideals to this day. In the 19th century, Napoleon established the First French Empire, his subsequent Napoleonic Wars shaped the course of continental Europe. Following the collapse of the Empire, France endured a tumultuous succession of governments culminating with the establishment of the French Third Republic in 1870.
France was a major participant in World War I, from which it emerged victorious, was one of the Allies in World War II, but came under occupation by the Axis powers in 1940. Following liberation in 1944, a Fourth Republic was established and dissolved in the course of the Algerian War; the Fifth Republic, led by Charles de Gaulle, remains today. Algeria and nearly all the other colonies became independent in the 1960s and retained close economic and military connections with France. France has long been a global centre of art and philosophy, it hosts the world's fourth-largest number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites and is the leading tourist destination, receiving around 83 million foreign visitors annually. France is a developed country with the world's sixth-largest economy by nominal GDP, tenth-largest by purchasing power parity. In terms of aggregate household wealth, it ranks fourth in the world. France performs well in international rankings of education, health care, life expectancy, human development.
France is considered a great power in global affairs, being one of the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council with the power to veto and an official nuclear-weapon state. It is a leading member state of the European Union and the Eurozone, a member of the Group of 7, North Atlantic Treaty Organization, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, the World Trade Organization, La Francophonie. Applied to the whole Frankish Empire, the name "France" comes from the Latin "Francia", or "country of the Franks". Modern France is still named today "Francia" in Italian and Spanish, "Frankreich" in German and "Frankrijk" in Dutch, all of which have more or less the same historical meaning. There are various theories as to the origin of the name Frank. Following the precedents of Edward Gibbon and Jacob Grimm, the name of the Franks has been linked with the word frank in English, it has been suggested that the meaning of "free" was adopted because, after the conquest of Gaul, only Franks were free of taxation.
Another theory is that it is derived from the Proto-Germanic word frankon, which translates as javelin or lance as the throwing axe of the Franks was known as a francisca. However, it has been determined that these weapons were named because of their use by the Franks, not the other way around; the oldest traces of human life in what is now France date from 1.8 million years ago. Over the ensuing millennia, Humans were confronted by a harsh and variable climate, marked by several glacial eras. Early hominids led a nomadic hunter-gatherer life. France has a large number of decorated caves from the upper Palaeolithic era, including one of the most famous and best preserved, Lascaux. At the end of the last glacial period, the climate became milder. After strong demographic and agricultural development between the 4th and 3rd millennia, metallurgy appeared at the end of the 3rd millennium working gold and bronze, iron. France has numerous megalithic sites from the Neolithic period, including the exceptiona