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Map of France in the world and position of its largest single land territory in continental Europe.

France (French: [fʁɑ̃s] (About this soundlisten)), officially the French Republic (French: République française, pronounced [ʁepyblik fʁɑ̃sɛːz] (About this soundlisten)), 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, and from the Rhine to the Atlantic Ocean. It is bordered by Belgium, Luxembourg and Germany to the northeast, Switzerland and Italy to the east, and Andorra and Spain to the south. The overseas territories include French Guiana in South America and several islands in the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian oceans. The country's 18 integral regions (five of which are situated overseas) span a combined area of 643,801 square kilometres (248,573 sq mi) and a total population of 67.02 million (). France 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, Marseille, Toulouse, Bordeaux, Lille and Nice. France, including its overseas territories, has the most number of time zones with total 12 time zones.

During the Iron Age, what is now metropolitan France was inhabited by the Gauls, 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 East Francia, 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 (1337–1453). 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 Catholics and Protestants (Huguenots). France became Europe's dominant cultural, political, and military power in the 17th century under Louis XIV. In the late 18th century, the French Revolution overthrew the absolute monarchy, establishing one of modern history's earliest republics and drafting 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 took power and established the First French Empire. His subsequent Napoleonic Wars (1803–15) 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, and 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 later dissolved in the course of the Algerian War. The Fifth Republic, led by Charles de Gaulle, was formed in 1958 and remains today. Algeria and nearly all the other colonies became independent in the 1960s, with most retaining close economic and military connections with France.

France has long been a global centre of art, science, 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, and 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, and 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, and a member of the Group of 7, North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the World Trade Organization (WTO), and La Francophonie. Read more...

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The War of the Fifth Coalition was fought in 1809 by a coalition of the Austrian Empire and the United Kingdom against Napoleon's French Empire and its allied Allied German states, including Bavaria. Prussia and Russia did not participate. Major engagements between France and Austria, the main participants, unfolded over much of Central Europe from April to July, with very high casualty rates for both sides. Britain, already involved on the European continent in the ongoing Peninsular War, took advantage of the Austrian intervention to launch the Walcheren Campaign, although this effort had little impact on the outcome of the conflict.

After much campaigning in Bavaria and across the Danube valley, the war ended favourably for the French after the bloody struggle at Wagram in early July. Read more...

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Émile Michel Hyacinthe Lemoine (1840–1912) was a French civil engineer and a mathematician, a geometer in particular. He was educated at a variety of institutions, including the Prytanée National Militaire and, most notably, the École Polytechnique. Lemoine taught as a private tutor for a short period after his graduation from the latter school.

Lemoine is best known for his proof of the existence of the Lemoine point (or the symmedian point) of a triangle. Other mathematical work includes a system he called Géométrographie and a method which related algebraic expressions to geometric objects. He has been called a co-founder of modern triangle geometry, as many of its characteristics are present in his work.

For most of his life, Lemoine was a professor of mathematics at the École Polytechnique. In later years, he worked as a civil engineer in Paris, and he also took an amateur's interest in music. During his tenure at the École Polytechnique and as a civil engineer, Lemoine published several papers on mathematics, most of which are included in a fourteen-page section in Nathan Altshiller Court's College Geometry. Additionally, he founded a mathematical journal titled, L'intermédiaire des mathématiciens.

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The Dîner des trois empereurs or Three Emperors Dinner was a banquet held at Café Anglais in Paris, France on 7 June 1867. It consisted of 16 courses with eight wines served over eight hours. Read more...

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HMS Carnatic, the first of the Carnatic-class seventy-fours, built to the exact lines of Courageux

Courageux was a 74-gun ship of the line of the French Navy, launched in 1753. She was captured by the Royal Navy in 1761 and taken into service as HMS Courageux. In 1778 she joined the Channel Fleet, and she was later part of the squadron commanded by Commodore Charles Fielding that controversially captured a Dutch convoy on 31 December 1779, in what became known as the Affair of Fielding and Bylandt. On 4 January 1781, Courageux recaptured Minerva in a close-range action west of Ushant that lasted more than an hour. That April, Courageux joined the convoy under George Darby which successfully relieved the Great Siege of Gibraltar.

At the start of the French Revolutionary Wars, Courageux took part in the blockade and subsequent occupation of Toulon in 1793. That September, she was sent with a squadron under Robert Linzee to support an insurrection in Corsica and took part in an unsuccessful attack on San Fiorenzo. When Toulon was evacuated, Courageux was in a state of disrepair and was forced to warp out of her mooring without a rudder, but was able to complete repairs while rescuing allied troops from the waterfront. At the Battle of Genoa in March 1795, she was instrumental in the capture of the French ships Ça Ira and Censeur, but at the subsequent Battle of the Hyères Islands, she was so slow getting into the action that, by the time she arrived, the order had been given to disengage. Read more...

Picture of the Month (Archive)


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Looking west along the Champs-Élysées avenue toward the Arc de Triomphe during Christmas season.
Photo credit: Anthony Atkielski

Grenoble trolleybus 637.

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