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France Geography

    Location: Western Europe, bordering the Bay of Biscay and English Channel, between Belgium and Spain southeast of the UK; bordering the Mediterranean Sea, between Italy and Spain

    Geographic coordinates: 46 00 N, 2 00 E

    Map references: Europe

    Area:
    total: 547,030 sq km
    land: 545,630 sq km
    water: 1,400 sq km
    note: includes only metropolitan France, but excludes the overseas administrative divisions

    Area—comparative: slightly less than twice the size of Colorado

    Land boundaries:
    total: 2,892.4 km
    border countries: Andorra 60 km, Belgium 620 km, Germany 451 km, Italy 488 km, Luxembourg 73 km, Monaco 4.4 km, Spain 623 km, Switzerland 573 km

    Coastline: 3,427 km

    Maritime claims:
    contiguous zone: 24 nm
    continental shelf: 200-m depth or to the depth of exploitation
    exclusive economic zone: 200 nm (does not apply to the Mediterranean)
    territorial sea: 12 nm

    Climate: generally cool winters and mild summers, but mild winters and hot summers along the Mediterranean

    Terrain: mostly flat plains or gently rolling hills in north and west; remainder is mountainous, especially Pyrenees in south, Alps in east

    Elevation extremes:
    lowest point: Rhone River delta -2 m
    highest point: Mont Blanc 4,807 m

    Natural resources: coal, iron ore, bauxite, fish, timber, zinc, potash

    Land use:
    arable land: 33%
    permanent crops: 2%
    permanent pastures: 20%
    forests and woodland: 27%
    other: 18% (1993 est.)

    Irrigated land: 16,300 sq km (1995 est.)

    Natural hazards: flooding; avalanches

    Environment—current issues: some forest damage from acid rain; air pollution from industrial and vehicle emissions; water pollution from urban wastes, agricultural runoff

    Environment—international agreements:
    party to: Air Pollution, Air Pollution-Nitrogen Oxides, Air Pollution-Sulphur 85, Air Pollution-Sulphur 94, Air Pollution-Volatile Organic Compounds, Antarctic-Environmental Protocol, Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Marine Life Conservation, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands, Whaling
    signed, but not ratified: Air Pollution-Persistent Organic Pollutants, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol

    Geography—note: largest West European nation; occasional strong, cold, dry, north-to-northwesterly wind known as mistral

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Revised 1-Mar-99
Copyright © 1999 Photius Coutsoukis (all rights reserved)