The Republic of France is a major country in western Europe, with a population of around 66 million people. It is a member of the European Union, the G7 and the Organisation internationale de la Francophonie. It is also a founding member of NATO and UNESCO, and has been a longtime leader in global diplomatic and economic affairs.
France has a rich history, particularly in literature and philosophy. The country has been home to the great writers of the Enlightenment and the French Revolution, as well as many influential political movements for generations. Today, it has a relatively stable Fifth Republic, which is one of the most advanced in the world.
In the 20th century, the nation was heavily involved in world wars and was at the centre of anti-colonialist movements. In 1946, the Fourth Republic began a process of economic reconstruction and allowed France’s colonies to become independent states. In 1954, France became involved in a bitter war with communist Viet Minh forces in French Indochina (now Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia). This was a key moment in the Cold War, which saw France allied to the Soviet Union and the United States, and at odds with China.
It is a popular tourist destination, with many cities and towns featuring world-class museums, architecture, restaurants and shopping. It is also an active and adventurous country, with a wide range of outdoor activities available, including hiking, cycling, mountaineering, kayaking, sailing and skiing.
The climate varies across the different regions. Metropolitan France has a temperate climate with large variations in temperature and rainfall between seasons, but the south has a more Mediterranean climate. The mountains have a continental climate; temperatures can drop below freezing and snow is common in winter.
French television is very popular and has many high-profile shows, such as the late night news programme Grand Soir 3 on public channel France 3. The majority of channels are privately owned, but there is a public broadcaster, France Télévisions, funded by a TV licence fee.
Although France has a reputation for repressive laws on freedom of expression, there are some exceptions. In the past, journalists have been jailed for publishing allegedly defamatory material or criticising public figures. The media is still highly critical of government policy, and it has an important role to play in keeping politicians accountable.
While it’s not uncommon for people to have dual citizenship in Canada and France, our ability to offer consular services is limited while you’re travelling there. It’s important to have valid Canadian documents and copies of your passport when you travel to France. Make sure you carry all necessary visas, and keep original documents and copies in separate locations. It is illegal to cover your face in public in France, including international airport arrivals areas.
In the event of an emergency while visiting, contact the nearest embassy or consulate or the police on duty. The police number is 999. If the situation is life-threatening, call 999 or 112 for an ambulance.