France: Location, History, Size, Population, & Government

About the location, history, size, population, and government of the country Finland.



Location-In Western Europe, bordered on the northwest by La Manche (the English Channel), on the north by Belgium and Luxembourg, on the east by West Germany, Switzerland, Italy, and Monaco, on the south by Spain, Andorra, and the Mediterranean, and on the west by the Atlantic Ocean.

How Created-In 52 B.C. Julius Caesar defeated Vercingetorix, the Gallic ruler, and Gaul became Roman. Less than 2 centuries later, the 1st major invasions reached the Rhine. The invaders called themselves Franks.

Roman Gaul fell in 273 A.D. and Northern Gaul became the Land of the Franks.

By the 5th century, the map of present-day France was practically drawn. The barbarians divided the territory among themselves against a Gallic-Roman background: Franks in the north, Burgundians in the east, Visigoths in the south. They made war frequently among themselves.

The Britons who were chased out of Great Britain by the Angles and the Saxons formed Brittany in the west.

In 800 A.D. Emperor Charlemagne created a single European state whose capital was Aixla-Chapelle (today, Aachen in Germany). After his death in 814 his sons split up the Empire: In the east, Louis the German created Germania; in the center, Lothaire took over Lotharingia (with Burgundy, Alsace, Lorraine, Luxembourg, and what is Belgium today); in the west, Charles the Bald took over Western Francia.

In 911, after a century of savage incursions, the Vikings (Normans or "North Men") gained control of Normandy (from which they conquered England in 1066). In exchange, they agreed to become French.

In 987, the divided Frankish leaders in the west at last elected a King, Hugues Capet. Hugues Capet is considered to be France's 1st King. The Capetian family and then the Bourbons ruled France, directly or indirectly, until the Revolution of 1789 and even after that date. (There was a royal restoration in 1815, after Napoleon the 1sts, which lasted until 1848 and Napoleon III.)

Size-212,742 sq. mi. (551,000 sq. km.).

Population-53 million: French, 85.8%; Alsatian and Lorrainer, 2.7%; Breton, 2.4%; Italian, 2.2%; other, 6.9%. 88% Roman Catholic, 1.5% Protestant, 1.1% Jewish, 1% Muslim, 8.4% other or no religion.

Who Rules-A presidential regime, set up by De Gaulle after his return to power (1958-1969). Successors: Pompidou (1969-1974), and Giscard d'Estaing (1974- ). There are 2 Chambers (Chamber of Deputies and the Senate) which have relatively limited powers. Giscard d'Estaing represents the modern European liberal wing of the Right, of which Pompidou and De Gaulle were the traditionalist, nationalist representatives.

Who REALLY Rules-The country is run by the large capitalist companies on the one hand (many of which are multinationals and have supported Giscard d'Estaing officially), and by a technocratic planning administration on the other hand. This double, contradictory direction allows French capitalism to apply one of its most significant theories: to be capitalist for the profits and socialist for the losses. (The State rarely lets the important businesses "fall"; it intervenes because of employment or for prestige, as in the case of the supersonic "Concorde.")

The key Ministers and important officials graduate from the Ecole Nationale d'Administration (ENA), a supertechnocratic school. Upon graduation ENA students divide up into those who back the regime in power, and those who want to "change life" (slogan of the Socialist party whose Brain Trust also comes out of the ENA). People talk about "Enarchie"; they watch to see who will become the next president of the school's Alumni Association in order to learn whether or not France will become socialist.

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