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Country Profile and Bilateral Relationship



  • Full name   : French Republic
  • Area  : 547,030 sq km (land: 545,630 sq km; water: 1,400 sq km) not including overseas territories
  • Population   : 63.4 million
  • Capital City   : Paris
  • Language   : French
  • Major Religion  : Christianity
  • Currency   : Euro (1 Euro = 100 cents)
  • Head of State   : President Nicolas Sarkozy (UMP)
  • Prime Minister  : M. François Fillon (UMP)
  • Foreign Minister  : M. Bernard Kouchner (Independent,
    former PS)
  • Life expectancy  : 77 years (men), 84 years (women)(UN)
  • Main exports   : Machinery and transport equipment, agricultural products, including wine
  • GNI per capita  : US $38,500 (World Bank, 2007)


France was one of the founding fathers of European integration as the continent sought to rebuild after the devastation of World War II. In the 1990s Franco-German cooperation was central to European economic integration. The bond between the two countries was again to the fore in the new millennium when their leaders voiced strong opposition as the US-led campaign in Iraq began.


But France sent shockwaves through European Union capitals when its voters rejected the proposed EU constitution in a referendum in May 2005. France's colonial past is a major contributing factor in the presence of a richly diverse multicultural population. It is home to more than five million people of Arab and African descent.


It has a number of territories overseas which, together with mainland France and Corsica, go to make up the 26 regions which the country comprises. It is further divided into 100 departments, four of which - French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Martinique and Réunion- are geographically distant from Europe.


Government in France is known for its high degree of centralization but in March 2003 parliament approved amendments to the constitution allowing for the devolution of quite wide-ranging powers to the regions and departments. In the light of low election turnout, the move was widely seen as a bid to re-engage in the political process French people disillusioned by the ubiquitous influence of what is often perceived as the Paris elite.


France has produced some of the continent's most influential writers and thinkers from Descartes and Pascal in the 17th century, through Rousseau and Voltaire in the 18th, Baudelaire and Flaubert in the 19th to 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. It is also famous for its strong culinary tradition. France produces more than 250 cheeses and some of the world's best-loved wines.


France is party to all major nonproliferation treaties and is a member of all major international export control regimes. Although it has scaled down its nuclear forces since the end of the Cold War, France still retains a significant nuclear capability. Though France developed biological and chemical weapons during World War I and restarted both programs during the 1930s, it has ceased activities in both areas.

A key player on the world stage and a country at the political heart of Europe, France paid a high price in both economic and human terms during the two world wars. The years which followed saw protracted conflicts culminating in independence for Algeria and most other French colonies in Africa as well as decolonization in south-east Asia.


The history of France is complicated, with frontiers that continually changed invasions and wars with the neighbors and migrations of populations to and from various countries. The country changed in shape and size through the centuries and even the capital changed locations. France has experienced various types of government systems throughout the centuries by having some changes from one periode of republic to others. From 1959 up to present, French government survives within the fifth Republic. At the moment, presidency of France belongs to Nicholas Sarkozy who won the election in 1997 and became the sixth president in the fifth republic. 


The political scene in France
Since the French revolution in 1789 and the establishment of a democratic government in 1792 (The First Republic) and the end of the reign of the kings and queens in France, there has always been a Parliament of some sort in France. Despite the dark days of the Second World War and the infamous Vichy government, were the influence of Hitler and Nazi occupation clouded many a politician. French politics tend to swing from one side to the other at ever election, sometimes it is a moderate swing and every now and then a major swap. Politics are very emotional; you still hear words such as Communism, Trotsky and Nationalism. De Gaule and Mitterand were probably the most famous and influential leaders of the political scene. Although both of these Presidents are no longer, people tend to be; conservator and Gauliste or socialiste and Mitterandist.


The government of France
The French government is divided into various levels, ministries and sections, below is a list of the most important ones.

A simplified hierarchy of the governing power in France is as follows:

  • The President of France
  • The Senat with a body of Senators who are elected by the mayors
  • The Parliment, elected by enrolled electors of French nationality
  • Regional council
  • County council
  • Town council

Please note that as the French government is decentralizing its power, many town councils are grouping together to form what is called Communité de communes.

France is one of developed countries with 5th biggest GDP after USA, Japan, Germany, and England. France’s economic growth in 2007 was 1.9 %, decreased from 2006 which was 2.2 %. In 2008, the economic growth was 1.8%. unemployment rate in 2007  was 8% while the number keep increasing during global financial crisis.


Germany, Spain, Italy, UK and Belgium are the main investment places for France. On the other side, France is one of top 4 world investors and one main investment destination. France’s investments abroad mainly spread in European Union countries, USA, and other industrial countries. France has a durable and strong economic relations in those areas due to its supporting economic factors. East European countries are also one of France’s main investment destination for the cultural similarities, low labour cost, and its economic growth.  Recently, France also looks China as its attractive destination for its investment and exports.


As a part of economic recovery policies during the global financial crisis, French government had launched strategic loan for investment for 20 billion Euros to secure French industries from being taken over by foreign companies. Afterwards, on December 5th 2008, Sarkozy launched government loan for 26 billion Euros to stimulate economic growth and provide more jobs. This stimulus package is an investment driven bid.  


In the other side, France has also managed to maintain conducive support in regional level. With decision of European Union Commission on December 8th 2008 to loosen stability pact and European Union economic growth concerning the limits of public loan temporarily, has provoked French government to have a more flexibility in adjusting its budget which is predicted to pass 3% in 2009 and 2010.


France’s presidency has also succeeded to initiate loan package in European Union level for 200 million Euros. Through this package, each member country will donate the fund at regional level for 1.5 % from its GDP to reduce taxes and to raise people’s purchasing power to support economic growth within the countries. France was also able to bring European Countries to agree on “ The 20-2-2-deal” which is an effort to reduce carbon emission for 20 %  in 2020 and to renew total energy used up to 20 %. 

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