France, officially the French Republic, is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France extends from the Mediterranean Sea to the English Channel and the North Sea, and from the Rhine to the Atlantic Ocean. It is often referred to as l’Hexagone (“The Hexagon”) because of the geometric shape of its territory. It is the largest western European country and it possesses the second-largest exclusive economic zone in the world, covering 11,035,000 km².
Over the past 500 years, France has been a major power with strong cultural, economic, military and political influence in Europe and around the world. During the 17th and 18th centuries, France colonised great parts of North America and Southeast Asia; during the 19th and early 20th centuries, France built the second largest colonial empire of the time, including large portions of North, West and Central Africa, Southeast Asia, and many Caribbean and Pacific Islands.
France has its main ideals expressed in the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen. The French Republic is defined as indivisible, secular, democratic and social by its constitution. France is one of the world’s most developed countries; it possesses the world’s fifth largest economy measured by GDP, the ninth-largest economy measured by purchasing power parity and is Europe’s second largest economy by nominal GDP.
France is a founding member of the United Nations, one of the five permanent members of the UN Security Councils, and a member of the Francophonies, the G8, G20, NATO, OECD, WTO, and the Latin Union. It is also a founding and leading member state of the European Union and the largest EU state by area.
France is divided into 27 administrative regions: 22 are in Metropolitan France (21 are on the continental part of Metropolitan France; one is the territorial collectivity of Corsica), and five are overseas regions. The regions are further subdivided into 101 departments.