France is a beautiful and captivating country full of art, culture, and an important historical background. It is in the heart of Europe and is sometimes called 'The Hexagon', Because of it's shape. It is the largest country in Western Europe and covers about 211, 200 square miles. Four different waters surround the French coastline, this includes; the North Sea, the English Channel, the Mediterranean Sea, and the Atlantic Ocean. The capital of France is Paris, on the banks of the Seine River. Sometimes called the 'The City of Lights', Paris has been admired and loved by millions for centuries.
It is an industrial center as well. Paris is world renowned as a cultural and intellectual center which holds many masterpieces. The Eiffel Tower was built in 1889, and today is 1, 052 ft. high. It welcomes tourists from all over the world. The revolution of 1789 was a very important part of history.
The people could be divided into three groups, the Nobles, the Clergy, and the rest. At this time the peasants owned 80 percent of the land, but had no rights at all. To add to their misery, the food was in short supply. It is estimated that on the eve of the French Revolution one-fifth of the population had no resources at all.
World War I broke out August 1914, setting France, Russia, Britain, Belgium and Serbia at war with Germany and the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Everyone assumed the war would be over in a few months. Instead, the war lasted for four years. Germany finally agreed to sign an armistice on November 11, 1948. (A kind of peace agreement).
The death toll had been the largest of any previous wars. France had lost over 1. 4 million men and in all of Europe over 8. 5 million were killed.
People said it was the war to end all wars. Only twenty years later France was plunged into another war with Germany. On June 22, 1940 France was forced to sign an agreement with Germany. By 1942 France was totally occupied by the Nazi army. This was a very hard time, Jews were persecuted and thousands were sent off to concentration camps. Eventually, in the summer of 1944 France was freed, and the occupation was over.
The President is head of the government and is elected by the people for seven years. Once elected, the President chooses his Prime Minister and other Ministers from the party with the majority in Parliament. The Prime Minister, President and other ministers have to put the laws into effect. The President himself can decide laws, hold referenda, and negotiate with other nations. The Parliament is made up of two chambers, The National Assembly, and the Senate, which together have legislative power. The National Assembly is elected every five years by national election, and can be dissolved by the President.
The Senate is elected for nine years but all members do not stand for election at the same time. Senators are elected by deputies and local councilors. Until the 18 th Century, the main crop in France was wheat. This was because people mainly ate bread, and very little meat, if any, was eaten. Grass for cattle to eat was in short supply and as a result, cattle were rare. The few animals that peasants did own were used to pull farm equipment and to fertilize the soil.
The animals were not killed for meat. Sheep were popular because they didn't eat much and because they produced wool. At the beginning of the 20 th Century, France was still very much an agricultural nation with 40% of it's population working the land. Today, only 3% are farmers. However, farmland still covers more than 57% of the country. The French people are convinced that their wine is the best in the world.
The French wine industry keeps a close eye on the standard of wine it produces. A good wine must meet certain requirements. When a wine is awarded the label Appellation d' Primine Controle e or AOC, this means it is of guaranteed high quality. The traditional goods for which France is renowned include fine china, wine, perfume, and textiles. France now has some very successful firms producing cars, electronics, tires and chemicals. Oil refining is one of the most important industries, since France not only produces it's own oil, but also imports crude oil for refining.
Agriculture still plays an important role in the economy. France is the 5 th producer of beef, wheat, and pork in world and the 3 rd producer of milk in the world. France has many sources of energy. Coal, the most traditional, is found in northern and eastern France.
As a result of the lack of natural resources, France has developed a number of ways of producing energy. Such as dams, Solar energy, hydroelectricity or 'white coal', hot springs, and tidal energy. France has had an important nuclear power program since 1967. Two-thirds of the country's electricity is produced by atomic energy. France's transportation system centers on Paris which is the heart of a network that stretches to all parts of France. Trains are an important source of transportation throughout France.
The latest in a line of new fast trains, which includes the mistral and the Turbo trains, is the high-speed TGV. This train averages 133 miles per hour. The French railway of SNCF has a reputation for being fast, efficient, and reliable. It is also punctual. So much emphasis is placed on punctuality that is an engineer does not keep on time, he is fined. Also roads, air, and water travel is important to France.
Communications are expanding widely in France. Mainly in ways such as telephone, television, radios, and newspapers. The national language of France is French. French was once the language used by diplomats all over the world.
In this study, I have learned a lot about France and I hope to visit there someday.