Portal:France

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Bienvenue sur le Portail France !

Flag Armoiries république française.svg
Map of France in the world and position of its largest single land territory in continental Europe.

France, officially the French Republic (In french : République française), is a country whose metropolitan territory is located in Western Europe and that also comprises a collection of overseas islands and territories located in North America, the Caribbean, South America, the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean. France is the largest country in Western Europe (674,843 km² with its overseas départements), with a population of 67 million inhabitants, France is the second most populous country in Western Europe (after Germany) and the 20th largest in the world. Paris is the capital of France and the country's most populous city, with over 12 million people in its aire urbaine; Lyon is the second largest city with 2.2 million people (associated with Villeurbanne), and the third is Marseille with 1.7 million people.

The French Republic is a democracy which is organised as a unitary semi-presidential republic. It has the fifth-largest economy in the world in nominal terms, its main ideals are expressed in the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen. France is one of the founding members of the European Union, and has the largest land area of all members. France is also a founding member of the United Nations, and a member of the G7, G8, NATO, and the Latin Union. It is one of the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council wielding veto power, and it is also one of eight acknowledged nuclear powers. With almost 82 million foreign tourists each year, France is the most popular international tourist destination in the world.

French is the official national language, but each region has its own unique accent; additionally, there are several other languages of France traditionally spoken, although their use has greatly decreased over the past two centuries. French is also an official language in 41 countries, most of which form what is called la Francophonie, the community of French-speaking nations.

More about... France, its history and inhabitants

Selected article

View of the dome of La Coupole
La Coupole (English: The Dome), also known as the Coupole d'Helfaut-Wizernes is a Second World War bunker complex in the Pas-de-Calais départment of northern France, about 5 kilometres (3.1 mi) from Saint-Omer. It was built by the forces of Nazi Germany between 1943 and 1944 to serve as a launch base for V-2 rockets directed against London and southern England.

Constructed in the side of a disused chalk quarry, the most prominent feature of the complex is an immense concrete dome, to which its modern name refers, it was built above a network of tunnels housing storage areas, launch facilities and crew quarters. The facility was designed to store a large stockpile of V-2s, warheads and fuel and was intended to launch V-2s on an industrial scale. Dozens of missiles a day were to be fuelled, prepared and launched in rapid sequence against London and southern England.

However, after repeated heavy bombing by Allied forces during Operation Crossbow, the Germans were unable to complete the construction works and the complex never entered service, it remained derelict until the mid-1990s. In 1997 it opened to the public for the first time, as a museum. Exhibits in the tunnels and under the dome tell the story of the German occupation of France during World War II, the V-weapons and the history of space exploration.

Selected biography

Prost in 2012
Alain Marie Pascal Prost, OBE, Chevalier de la Légion d'honneur is a French racing driver. A four-time Formula One Drivers' Champion, Prost has won more titles than any driver except for Juan Manuel Fangio (five championships), and Michael Schumacher (seven championships). From 1987 until 2001 Prost held the record for most Grand Prix victories. Schumacher surpassed Prost's total of 51 victories at the 2001 Belgian Grand Prix; in 1999, Prost received the World Sports Awards of the Century in the motor sport category.

Prost discovered karting at the age of 14 during a family holiday, he progressed through motor sport's junior ranks before joining the McLaren Formula One team in 1980 at the age of 25. He finished in the points on his Formula One début in Argentina and took his first race victory at his home Grand Prix in France a year later, while he was driving for the factory Renault team.

During the 1980s and early 1990s, Prost formed a fierce rivalry with mainly Ayrton Senna, but also Nelson Piquet and Nigel Mansell; in 1986, at the last race of the season, he managed to pip Mansell and Piquet of Williams to the title. Senna joined Prost at McLaren in 1988 and the two had a series of controversial clashes, including a collision at the 1989 Japanese Grand Prix that gave Prost his third Drivers' Championship, before the end of a winless 1991 season Prost was fired by Ferrari for his public criticism of the team. After a sabbatical in 1992, Prost joined the Williams team, with a competitive car, Prost won the 1993 championship and retired from driving at the end of the year.

Picture of the Month (Archive)


Napoleon's exile to Elba3.jpg


Napoleon Bonaparte's exile to Elba, from a British engraving, 1814.
Image credit: Published by J. Phillips, No. 32 Charles Street Hampstead road (London), May 1814.

Did you know

The Montmartre funicular.

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Parent portals: Europe | European Union

Related portals: French literature | Lyon | Paris | Military history of France | Napoleonic Wars | New France | French language and French-speaking world