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French Republic

Republique Francaise

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© 1996-2006
Bob Starkgraf

GOVERNMENT

Country name:
conventional long form: French Republic
conventional short form: France
local long form: Republique Francaise
local short form: France
Government type:
republic
Capital:
Paris
Administrative divisions:
22 regions (regions, singular - region); Alsace, Aquitaine, Auvergne, Basse-Normandie, Bourgogne, Bretagne, Centre, Champagne-Ardenne, Corse, Franche-Comte, Haute-Normandie, Ile-de-France, Languedoc-Roussillon, Limousin, Lorraine, Midi-Pyrenees, Nord-Pas-de-Calais, Pays de la Loire, Picardie, Poitou-Charentes, Provence-Alpes-Cote d'Azur, Rhone-Alpes
note: metropolitan France is divided into 22 regions (including the "territorial collectivity" of Corse or Corsica) and is subdivided into 96 departments; see separate entries for the overseas departments (French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Martinique, Reunion) and the overseas territorial collectivities (Mayotte, Saint Pierre and Miquelon)
Dependent areas:
Bassas da India, Clipperton Island, Europa Island, French Polynesia, French Southern and Antarctic Lands, Glorioso Islands, Juan de Nova Island, New Caledonia, Tromelin Island, Wallis and Futuna
note: the US does not recognize claims to Antarctica
Independence:
486 (unified by Clovis)
National holiday:
Bastille Day, 14 July (1789)
Constitution:
28 September 1958, amended concerning election of president in 1962, amended to comply with provisions of EC Maastricht Treaty in 1992, Amsterdam Treaty in 1996, Treaty of Nice in 2000; amended to tighten immigration laws 1993
Legal system:
civil law system with indigenous concepts; review of administrative but not legislative acts
Suffrage:
18 years of age; universal
Executive branch:
chief of state: President Jacques CHIRAC (since 17 May 1995)
head of government: Prime Minister Jean-Pierre RAFFARIN (since 7 May 2002)
elections: president elected by popular vote for a five-year term (changed from seven-year term in 2001); election last held 21 April and 5 May 2002 (next to be held, first round NA April 2007, second round NA May 2007); prime minister nominated by the National Assembly majority and appointed by the president
election results: Jacques CHIRAC reelected president; percent of vote, second ballot - Jacques CHIRAC (RPR) 81.96%, Jean-Marie LE PEN (FN) 18.04%
cabinet: Council of Ministers appointed by the president on the suggestion of the prime minister
Legislative branch:
bicameral Parliament or Parlement consists of the Senate or Senat (321 seats - 296 for metropolitan France, 13 for overseas departments and territories, and 12 for French nationals abroad; members are indirectly elected by an electoral college to serve nine-year terms; elected by thirds every three years) and the National Assembly or Assemblee Nationale (577 seats; members are elected by popular vote under a single-member majoritarian system to serve five-year terms)
election results: Senate - percent of vote by party - NA%; seats by party - RPR 83, PS 68, UDC 37, DL 35, RDES 16, PCF 16, other 66; National Assembly - percent of vote by party - NA%; seats by party - UMP 355, PS 140, UDF 29, PCF 21, Radical Party 7, The Greens 3, other 22
elections: Senate - last held 23 September 2001 (next to be held NA September 2004); National Assembly - last held 8-16 June 2002 (next to be held NA June 2007)
Judicial branch:
Supreme Court of Appeals or Cour de Cassation (judges are appointed by the president from nominations of the High Council of the Judiciary); Constitutional Council or Conseil Constitutionnel (three members appointed by the president, three appointed by the president of the National Assembly, and three appointed by the president of the Senate); Council of State or Conseil d'Etat
Political parties and leaders:
Citizen adn Republican Movement or MCR [Jean Pierre CHEVENEMENT]; Democratic and European Social Rally or RDES (mainly RAD and PRG) [leader NA]; Forum of Social Republicans or FRS (offshoot from UMP) [Christine BOUTIN]; French Communist Party or PCF [Marie-George BUFFET]; Generation Ecology [France GAMERRE]; Hunting, Fishing, Nature, and Tradition or CPNT [Jean SAINT-JOSSE]; Independent Ecological Movement or MEI [Antoine WAECHTER]; Left Radical Party or PRG (previously Radical Socialist Party or PRS and the Left Radical Movement or MRG) [Jean-Michel BAYLET]; Liberal-Christian Right [Charles MILLON]; Liberal Democracy or DL (originally Republican Party or PR) [Alain MADELIN]; Movement for France or MPF [Philippe DE VILLIERS]; National Front or FN [Jean-Marie LE PEN]; National Republican Movement or MNR [Bruno MEGRET]; Radical Party or RP [Francois LOOS]; Rally for France or RPF [Charles PASQUA]; Rally for the Republic or RPR [Michelle ALLIOT-MARIE]; Revolutionary Communists' League or LCR [Alain KRIVINE]; Socialist Party or PS [Francois HOLLANDE]; The Greens [Gilles LEMAIRE, national secretary]; Union for French Democracy or UDF (coalition of DL, CDS, UDF, RP, and other parties) [Francois BAYROU]; Union for a Popular Movement or UMP (including RPR, DL, and a part of UDF) [Alain JUPPE]; Union of the Center or UDC [leader NA]
Political pressure groups and leaders:
historically-Communist labor union (Confederation Generale du Travail) or CGT, approximately 700,000 members (claimed); left-leaning labor union (Confederation Francaise Democratique du Travail) or CFDT, approximately 865,000 members (claimed, of which 810,000 are actively employed); independent labor union (Confederation Generale du Travail - Force Ouvriere) or FO, 300,000 members (est.); independent white-collar union (Confederation Generale des Cadres) or CGC, 196,000 members (claimed); employers' union (Mouvement des Entreprises de France) or MEDEF, 750,000 companies as members (claimed)
International organization participation:
ACCT, AfDB, AsDB, Australia Group, BDEAC, BIS, CCC, CDB (non-regional), CE, CERN, EAPC, EBRD, ECA (associate), ECE, ECLAC, EIB, EMU, ESA, ESCAP, EU, FAO, FZ, G- 5, G- 7, G- 8, G-10, IADB, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICFTU, ICRM, IDA, IEA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, InOC, Interpol, IOC, IOM, ISO, ITU, MINURSO, MIPONUH, MONUC, NAM (guest), NATO, NEA, NSG, OAS (observer), OECD, OPCW, OSCE, PCA, SPC, UN, UN Security Council, UNAMSIL, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNIDO, UNIFIL, UNIKOM, UNITAR, UNMEE, UNMIBH, UNMIK, UNMOVIC, UNOMIG, UNRWA, UNTSO, UNU, UPU, WADB (nonregional), WCL, WEU, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WToO, WTrO, ZC
Diplomatic representation in the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Jean-David LEVITTE
chancery: 4101 Reservoir Road NW, Washington, DC 20007
FAX: [1] (202) 944-6166
consulate(s) general: Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New Orleans, New York, and San Francisco
telephone: [1] (202) 944-6000
Diplomatic representation from the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Howard H. LEACH
embassy: 2 Avenue Gabriel, 75008 Paris
mailing address: PSC 116, B210 APO AE 09777
telephone: [33] (1) 43-12-22-22
FAX: [33] (1) 42 66 97 83
consulate(s) general: Marseille, Strasbourg
Flag description:
three equal vertical bands of blue (hoist side), white, and red; known as the French Tricouleur (Tricolor); the design and/or colors are similar to a number of other flags, including those of Belgium, Chad, Ireland, Cote d'Ivoire, Luxembourg, and Netherlands; the official flag for all French dependent areas
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ECONOMY

Economy - overview:
France is in the midst of a gradual transition, from a well-to-do modern economy that has featured extensive government ownership and intervention to one that relies more on market mechanisms. The government has partially or fully privatized many large companies, banks, and insurers, but still retains large stakes in several leading firms, including Air France, France Telecom, and Renault, and remains dominant in some sectors, particularly the power, public transport, and defense industries. The telecommunications sector is gradually being opened to competition. France's leaders remain committed to a capitalism in which they maintain social equity by means of laws, tax policies, and social spending that reduce income disparity and the impact of free markets on public health and welfare. The government has lowered income taxes and introduced measures to boost employment but has done little to reform an overly expensive pension system, rigid labor market, and restrictive bureaucracy which discourage hiring and make the tax burden one of the highest in Europe. In addition to the tax burden, the reduction of the workweek to 35 hours has drawn criticism for lowering the competitiveness of French businesses. The current economic slowdown has thrown the government's goal of balancing the budget by 2004 off track.
GDP:
purchasing power parity - $1.54 trillion (2002 est.)
GDP - real growth rate:
1.1% (2002 est.)
GDP - per capita:
purchasing power parity - $25,700 (2002 est.)
GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 3%
industry: 26%
services: 71% (2002 est.)
Population below poverty line:
NA%
Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: 3%
highest 10%: 25% (1995)
Distribution of family income - Gini index:
33 (1995)
Inflation rate (consumer prices):
1.8% (2002 est.)
Labor force:
26.6 million (2001 est.)
Labor force - by occupation:
services 71%, industry 25%, agriculture 4% (1997)
Unemployment rate:
9.1% (2002 est.)
Budget:
revenues: $210 billion
expenditures: $240 billion, including capital expenditures of $NA (2000 est.)
Industries:
machinery, chemicals, automobiles, metallurgy, aircraft, electronics; textiles, food processing; tourism
Industrial production growth rate:
-0.3% (2002)
Electricity - production:
513.92 billion kWh (2000)
Electricity - production by source:
fossil fuel: 10%
hydro: 13%
other: 1% (2000)
nuclear: 77%
Electricity - consumption:
408.51 billion kWh (2000)
Electricity - exports:
73.172 billion kWh (2000)
Electricity - imports:
3.737 billion kWh (2000)
Agriculture - products:
wheat, cereals, sugar beets, potatoes, wine grapes; beef, dairy products; fish
Exports:
$307.8 billion f.o.b. (2002)
Exports - commodities:
machinery and transportation equipment, aircraft, plastics, chemicals, pharmaceutical products, iron and steel, beverages
Exports - partners:
EU 61.3% (Germany 14.7%, UK 9.8%, Spain 9.6%, Italy 8.8%), US 8.7% (2001)
Imports:
$303.7 billion f.o.b. (2002 est.)
Imports - commodities:
machinery and equipment, vehicles, crude oil, aircraft, plastics, chemicals
Imports - partners:
EU 58.6% (Germany 16.7%, Benelux 7.0%, Italy 9.1%, UK 7.5%), US 8.9% (2001)
Debt - external:
$106 billion (1998)
Economic aid - donor:
ODA, $6.3 billion (1997) (1997)
Currency:
euro (EUR); French franc (FRF)
note: on 1 January 1999, the European Monetary Union introduced the euro as a common currency to be used by financial institutions of member countries; on 1 January 2002, the euro became the sole currency for everyday transactions within the member countries
Currency code:
EUR; FRF
Exchange rates:
euros per US dollar - 1.1324 (January 2002), 1.1175 (2001), 1.0854 (2000), 0.9386 (1999); French francs per US dollar - 5.65 (January 1999), 5.8995 (1998), 5.8367 (1997)
Fiscal year:
calendar year
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