Currency euro (EUR)
Area 547,030 sq km
Population 59,765,983 (July 2002 est.)
Language French 100%, some regional dialects
Religion Roman Catholic 83%-88%, Protestant 2%, Jewish 1%, Muslim 5%-10%, unaffiliated 4%
France is divided into 22 administrative regions, which themselves can be grouped into 7 main "cultural regions", which share common points.
The Ile de France is the region surrounding the capital, Paris.
The North is a region where the world wars have left scars. It includes Nord-Pas de Calais, Picardie, and Haute-Normandie.
The North-East is a region where the European culture (and specially Germany culture) has merged with the French culture, giving interesting results. It includes Alsace, Lorraine, Champagne-Ardennes and Franche-Comte.
The Great West is an oceanic region, with a culture more influenced by the ancient Gaelic and Anglo-Saxon people. It includes Bretagne, Basse-Normandie, and Pays de la Loire.
The Center is an agricultural region, with valleys and old mountains. It includes Centre, Poitou-Charentes, Bourgogne, Limousin, and Auvergne.
The South-West is a region of sea and wine, with nice beaches over the atlantic ocean, as well as young, high mountains close to Spain. It includes Aquitaine and Midi-Pyrenees.
The South-East is the main touristic region of the country, with a warm climate and sea, as well as tall mountains. It includes Rhone-Alpes, Languedoc-Roussillon, Provence-Alpes-Cotes d'Azur and Corse.
The biggest cities in France, and the cities which cannot be missed if you want to visit thoroughly the country, are listed below.
France is a very old country.
French is the language of choice in France. In Alsace and part of Lorraine is spoken a kind of German language. In the south, the language is closer to Catalan than to French, and is called
Langue d'Oc (because the word for "yes" is oc) or Provençal. In Bretagne, Breton is spoken; this Celtic language sounds like French, but is incomprehensible unless you also know Welsh. In parts of Aquitaine, they speak Basque, but not as much as on the Spanish side of the border. In Corse is spoken a kind of Italian language.
Some Parisians are snobbish about French and will correct your French, or spit at you if you talk English to them. People elsewhere in France are more tolerant.
France is part of the Eurozone, so like in many other
European Union countries the currency here is the euro (symbol: €).
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