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Basic Information

Area: 674,843 km²

Calling code: +33

Population: 64,473,140

Official Language: French

Time zone: CET (UTC+1), Local time: 17:35


France is located in Western Europe, bordering the countries of Andorra, Belgium, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, Monaco, Spain and Switzerland. It spans an area of 674,843km2, with a population of 64.4 million, making it one of the most populated countries in Europe.
The metropolitan mainland area of France is divided into 22 regions for administrative purposes, which are sub-divided into 100 departments and 342 districts. It is a member of many international organizations such as the WTO, G20, G8, NATO and the United Nations (UN). In 1957 France became a fully fledged member of the European Union (EU), and in 2002 it replaced the French franc (FRA) with the unified euro (EUR) currency system.


France is one of the richest nations in Europe, with a GDP purchasing polarity figure of $2.11 trillion. Its economy is based around a strong service sector, which contributes 78% of the total GDP and employs 71% of the workforce. The largest companies in France based on gross revenue are Total S.A (oil and gas), AXA (finance), Carrefour (retail), and BNP Paribas (finance).
France is the most visited country in the world, attracting over 82 million international tourists annually, who generate an estimated 7% of the countries total GDP figure. The most popular tourist destination is the capital city of Paris, while ski resorts in the Alps and stunning beaches along the French Rivera are also known tourist hot-spots.
The country exports $468 billion worth of goods a year - mostly machinery and transportation equipment, chemicals and pharmaceutical products. The countries largest export partners are Germany, Italy, Spain, the United Kingdom and Belgium.
In a bid to stabilize the economy the government injected $25 billion into what it calls a strategic investment fund, to help protect French companies from being taken over by foreign investors.


France has a modern and well developed transportation network, which spans the entire country, and allows for convenient travel by road, rail and air. There are a total of 475 airports that serve the country, which gives France the third largest number of airports in Europe, after Germany and the United Kingdom. The largest is Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport (GDG), which is located 25km north-east of Paris's city centre. It is the busiest airport in Europe based on the amount of passengers it handles (57 million in 2009), and it offers frequent flights to international destinations. It also has a large cargo terminal which acts as a base for 12 international cargo carrying airlines.
Most of the 29,213km of railways running throughout the country are owned and operated by French National Railways (SNCF). The TGV system has technologically advanced trains which can travel up to speeds of 300km an hour, and the Eurostar rail route can transport passengers from Paris to London in just 2 hours and 15 minutes. There are almost 900,000km of roadways in the country, with tolls located on the major highways, to collect money that is partially re-invested back into the transportation system.
Marseille Port is the largest in the country, accomodating both passenger and cargo ships. There are 8 other major ports in the country: Bordeaux, Calais, Dunkerque, Le Havre, Nantes, Paris, Rouen and Strasbourg.


France has a total labour force of 27.2 million - the third largest in Europe after Germany and the United Kingdom. The official and sole language is French, with 77 regional dialects spoken across the country, while English is taught in all secondary schools and is widely spoken in tourist areas. Languages such as Arabic, French, German, Flemish and Catalan are also spoken by ethnic minorities who make up 8% of the total population.

The education system is structured and well developed, helping to produce a highly educated workforce and a total national literacy rate of 99%. Attendance of school is compulsory for all citizens up to 15 years of age, and provided by the state free of charge. Higher educational facilities consist of universities and grandes écoles, both of which offer internationally accredited degree programmes. France has a total of 82 state universities, 5 catholic universities and several individual institutes which also offer degree programmes and courses that usually focus on a specific field of study.

A 35 hour work week was first introduced in 2000, reducing the amount of hours worked from the standard 39 - all hours worked over this threshold are considered overtime and are eligible for additional payment.

Business Costs

Rental expenses are highest in the Paris CBD, with an average cost of $93.14 per square foot per annum, making it the 8th most expensive city in the world for office rental space, based on the 2010 Cushman and Wakefield report. The cities of Lyon and Marseilles have much lower rental prices, where it costs an average of $34.59 and $28.61 per square foot per annum respectively. Some sub-markets in France saw an increase in rental prices over 2009, while many other cities in Europe were struggling in the economic downfall.

The standard corporate tax rate is 33.33% on all profits, although smaller companies generating less than €38,120 a year are allocated a low 15% tax rate. Individual taxes are based on both a progressive and share system, whereby the amount payable depends on the amount earned and the number of people who are a part of the family (living in the same household). Any individual earning less than €5,697 does not have to pay any taxes, while the highest individual tax bracket is 40%, which applies to those earning more than €67,546 per annum. Value added tax rates are divided into 3 amounts depending on the goods or service: 2.1% for medicines and books, 5.5% for public transportation and foodstuffs, and 19.7% for all other items.

There is a wage pact that is known as the Salaire Minimum Interprofessionnel de Croissance (SMIC), which ensures workers are paid at least €8.82 per hour, or €1,337.70 a month based on the standard 35 hour work week. Labour costs are relatively high for a European country - even higher than the United Kingdom's minimum wage of £5.80 per hour, which converts to €6.63 per hour.
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