France flag 10 x 15 cm
France, officially the French Republic (French: République française), is a country whose metropolitan territory is located in Western Europe and that also comprises various overseas islands and territories located in other continents. 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. France is a unitary semi-presidential republic with its main ideals expressed in the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen.
Metropolitan France is bordered (in clockwise direction from the north) by Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Monaco, Andorra, and Spain. France's overseas departments and collectivities also share land borders with Brazil and Suriname (bordering French Guiana), and the Netherlands Antilles (bordering Saint-Martin). France is linked to the United Kingdom by the Channel Tunnel, which passes underneath the English Channel.
France is the largest country in the European Union and the second largest in Europe, France has been one of the world's foremost powers for many centuries. During the 17th and 18th centuries, France colonized much of North America; during the 19th and early 20th centuries, France built one of the largest colonial empires of the time, including large portions of North, West and Central Africa, Southeast Asia, and many Pacific islands. France is a developed country and possesses the fifth largest economy in the world—according to nominal GDP figures. It is the most visited country in the world, receiving 82 million foreign tourists annually. France is one of the founding members of the European Union, and has the largest land area of all members. France is a founding member of the United Nations, and a member of the Francophonie, the G8, NATO, and the Latin Union. It is one of the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council and owns the largest number of nuclear weapons with active warheads and nuclear power plants in the European Union.
The national flag of France (known in French as drapeau tricolore, drapeau français,and in military parlance, les couleurs) is a tricolour featuring three vertical bands coloured blue (hoist side), white, and red. It is known to English speakers as the French tricolour or simply, the tricolour.
The traditional emblem of France was the fleur-de-lis, or lily, which first appeared on the arms in the 12th century. The Tricolore was used during the Revolution and has since become a symbol of liberty around the world. Other nations have also adopted the design. Because France has no arms, the Tricolour is also the national emblem. The colours represent those of Paris (blue and red), combined with that of the Bourbon Dynasty (white), though they are usually associated with freedom, equality, and fraternity, the ideals of the French Revolution.