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Introduction

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France (French: [fʁɑ̃s]), officially the French Republic (French: République française, pronounced [ʁepyblik fʁɑ̃sɛːz]), 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 67.3 million (). France, a sovereign state, 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.

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, established one of modern history's earliest republics, and saw the drafting of the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, which expresses the nation's ideals to this day.

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In the news

16 March 2019 – Yellow vests movement
Protests against French President Emmanuel Macron enter a fourth month in Paris. Tear gas is fired at protestors throwing stones at riot police in front of the Arc de Triomphe, news stands are torched at the Champs-Élysées, and a branch of Banque Tarneaud is burned. More than 80 arrests are made. Businesses around the Champs-Élysées are looted. (Reuters)
13 March 2019 –
An avalanche on Ben Nevis kills two French nationals and a Swiss national. A fourth climber is injured and is receiving treatment at a hospital in Glasgow. (BBC)
11 March 2019 – Battle of Baghuz Fawqani, International military intervention against ISIL
US-backed Syrian forces resume their offensive on the final enclave controlled by ISIL in Syria at Baghuz. (Reuters) (Al Jazeera)
21 February 2019 – American-led intervention in the Syrian Civil War
The United States' allies France and the United Kingdom say they won't keep their troops in Syria after the United States pulls out. (The Washington Post)

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