$name - General

France today is one of the most modern countries in the world and is a leader among European nations. It plays an influential global role as a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, NATO, the G-8, the G-20, the EU and other multilateral organizations. France rejoined NATO's integrated military command structure in 2009, reversing DE GAULLE's 1966 decision to take French forces out of NATO. Since 1958, it has constructed a hybrid presidential-parliamentary governing system resistant to the instabilities experienced in earlier, more purely parliamentary administrations. In recent decades, its reconciliation and cooperation with Germany have proved central to the economic integration of Europe, including the introduction of a common currency, the euro, in January 1999. In the early 21st century, five French overseas entities - French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Martinique, Mayotte, and Reunion - became French regions and were made part of France proper.

Source: CIA World Fact Book


Country name:
conventional long form: French Republic
conventional short form: France
local long form: Republique francaise
local short form: France

Government type:



name: Paris
geographic coordinates: 48 52 N, 2 20 E
time difference: UTC+1 (6 hours ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)
daylight saving time: +1hr, begins last Sunday in March; ends last Sunday in October
note: applies to metropolitan France only, not to its overseas departments, collectivities, or territories

Administrative divisions:

27 regions (regions, singular - region); Alsace, Aquitaine, Auvergne, Basse-Normandie (Lower Normandy), Bourgogne (Burgundy), Bretagne (Brittany), Centre, Champagne-Ardenne, Corse (Corsica), Franche-Comte, Guadeloupe, Guyane (French Guiana), Haute-Normandie (Upper Normandy), Ile-de-France, Languedoc-Roussillon, Limousin, Lorraine, Martinique, Mayotte, Midi-Pyrenees, Nord-Pas-de-Calais, Pays de la Loire, Picardie, Poitou-Charentes, Provence-Alpes-Cote d'Azur, Reunion, Rhone-Alpes
note: France is divided into 22 metropolitan regions (including the 'territorial collectivity' of Corse or Corsica) and 5 overseas regions (French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Martinique, Mayotte, and Reunion) and is subdivided into 96 metropolitan departments and 5 overseas departments (which are the same as the overseas regions)

Dependent areas:

Clipperton Island, French Polynesia, French Southern and Antarctic Lands, New Caledonia, Saint Barthelemy, Saint Martin, Saint Pierre and Miquelon, Wallis and Futuna
note: the US does not recognize claims to Antarctica; New Caledonia has been considered a 'sui generis' collectivity of France since 1998, a unique status falling between that of an independent country and a French overseas department


no official date of independence: 486 (Frankish tribes unified under Merovingian kingship); 10 August 843 (Western Francia established from the division of the Carolingian Empire); 14 July 1789 (French monarchy overthrown); 22 September 1792 (First French Republic founded); 4 October 1958 (Fifth French Republic established)

National holiday:

Fete de la Federation, 14 July (1790); note - although often incorrectly referred to as Bastille Day, the celebration actually commemorates the holiday held on the first anniversary of the storming of the Bastille (on 14 July 1789) and the establishment of a constitutional monarchy; other names for the holiday are Fete Nationale (National Holiday) and quatorze juillet (14th of July)


4 October 1958 (French Constitution) (2013)

Legal system:

civil law; review of administrative but not legislative acts
International law organization participation:

has not submitted an ICJ jurisdiction declaration; accepts ICCt jurisdiction


18 years of age; universal

Executive branch:

chief of state: President Francois HOLLANDE (since 15 May 2012)
head of government: Prime Minister Manuel VALLS (since 1 April 2014)
cabinet: Council of Ministers appointed by the president at the suggestion of the prime minister
(For more information visit the World Leaders website Opens in New Window)
elections: president elected by popular vote for a five-year term (eligible for a second term); election last held on 22 April and 6 May 2012 (next to be held in the spring of 2017); prime minister appointed by the president
election results: Francois HOLLANDE elected; first round: percent of vote - Francois HOLLANDE 28.6%, Nicolas SARKOZY 27.2%, Marine LE PEN 17.9%, Jean-Luc MELENCHON 11.1%, Francois BAYROU, 9.1%, others 6.1%; second round: HOLLANDE 51.6%, SARKOZY 48.4%

Legislative branch:

bicameral Parliament or Parlement consists of the Senate or Senat (348 seats; 328 for metropolitan France and overseas departments, 2 for New Caledonia, 2 for French Polynesia, 1 for Saint-Pierre and Miquelon, 1 for Saint-Barthelemy, 1 for Saint-Martin, 1 for Wallis and Futuna, and 12 for French nationals abroad; members indirectly elected by an electoral college to serve six-year terms; one third elected every three years); and the National Assembly or Assemblee Nationale (577 seats; 555 for metropolitan France, 15 for overseas departments, 7 for overseas dependencies; members elected by popular vote under a single-member majority system to serve five-year terms)
elections: Senate - last held on 25 September 2011 (next to be held in September 2014); National Assembly - last held on 10 and 17 June 2012 (next to be held in June 2017)
election results: Senate - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - PS/Greens 140, UMP 132, UDF 31, PCF/MRC 21, PRG 17, other 7; National Assembly - percent of vote by party - PS 48.5%, UMP 33.6%, miscellaneous left wing parties 3.8%, Greens 3.0%, miscellaneous right wing parties 2.6%, NC 2.1%, PRG 2.1%, FDG 1.7%, other 2.6%; seats by party - PS 280, UMP 194, miscellaneous left wing parties 22, Greens 17, miscellaneous right wing parties 15, NC 12, PRG 12, FDG 10, other 15

Judicial branch:

highest court(s): Court of Cassation or Cour de Cassation (consists of the court president, 6 divisional presiding judges, 120 trial judges, and 70 deputy judges organized into 6 divisions - 3 civil, 1 commercial, 1 labor, and 1 criminal); Constitutional Council (consists of 9 members)
judge selection and term of office: Court of Cassation judges appointed by the president of the republic from nominations from the High Council of the Judiciary, presided by the Court of Cassation and 15 appointed members; judge term of appointment NA; Constitutional Council members appointed - 3 by the president of the republic and 3 each by the National Assembly and Senate presidents; members serve 9-year, non-renewable terms with one third of the membership renewed every 3 years
subordinate courts: appellate courts or Cour d'Appel; regional courts or Tribunal de Grande Instance; first instance courts or Tribunal' d'instance

Political parties and leaders:

Europe Ecology - The Greens or EELV [Emmanuelle COSSE]
French Communist Party or PCF [Pierre LAURENT]
Left Front Coalition or FDG [Jean-Luc MELENCHON]
Left Party or PG [Jean-Luc MELENCHON and Martine BILLARD]
Left Radical Party or PRG [Jean-Michel BAYLET] (previously Radical Socialist Party or PRS and the Left Radical Movement or MRG)
Movement for France or MPF [Philippe DE VILLIERS]
National Front or FN [Marine LE PEN]
New Anticapitalist Party or NPA [collective leadership; main spokesperson Christine POUPIN]
New Center or NC [Herve MORIN]
Radical Party [Jean-Louis BORLOO]
Rally for France or RPF [Charles PASQUA]
Republican and Citizen Movement or MRC [Jean-Luc LAURENT]
Socialist Party or PS [Haerlem DESIR]
United Republic or RS [Dominique DE VILLEPIN]
Union for a Popular Movement or UMP [Jean-Francois COPE]
Union des Democrates et Independants or UDI [Jean-Louis BORLOO] and Democratic Movement or MoDem [Francois BAYROU] (previously Union for French Democracy or UDF); together known as UDI-Modem
Worker's Struggle (Lutte Ouvriere) or LO [collective leadership; spokespersons Nathalie ARTHAUD and Arlette LAQUILLER]

Political pressure groups and leaders:

Confederation Francaise Democratique du Travail (French Democratic Confederation of Labor) or CFDT, left-leaning labor union with approximately 875,000 members [Laurent BERGER, Secretary General]
Confederation francaise de l'encadrement - Confederation generale des cadres (French Confederation of Management - General Confederation of Executives) or CFE-CGC, independent white-collar union with 140,000 members [Carole COUVERT, president]
Confederation francaise des travailleurs chretiens (French Confederation of Christian Workers) or CFTC, independent labor union founded by Catholic workers that claims 142,000 members [Philippe LOUIS, president]
Confederation generale du travail (General Confederation of Labor) or CGT, historically communist labor union with approximately 710,000 members [Bernard THIBAULT, secretary general]
Confederation generale du travail - Force ouvriere (General Confederation of Labor - Worker's Force) or FO, independent labor union with an estimated 300,000 members [Jean-Claude MAILLY, secretary general]
Mouvement des entreprises de France or MEDEF, employers' union with 750,000 companies as members (claimed) [Pierre GATTAZ, president]
French Guiana: 
gold mining pressure groups
hunting pressure groups
Christian Movement for the Liberation of Guadeloupe or KLPG
General Federation of Guadeloupe Workers or CGT-G
General Union of Guadeloupe Workers or UGTG
Movement for an Independent Guadeloupe or MPGI
The Socialist Renewal Movement
Caribbean Revolutionary Alliance or ARC
Central Union for Martinique Workers or CSTM
Frantz Fanon Circle
League of Workers and Peasants
Proletarian Action Group or GAP

International organization participation:

ADB (nonregional member), AfDB (nonregional member), Arctic Council (observer), Australia Group, BDEAC, BIS, BSEC (observer), CBSS (observer), CE, CERN, EAPC, EBRD, ECB, EIB, EITI (implementing country), EMU, ESA, EU, FAO, FATF, FZ, G-20, G-5, G-7, G-8, G-10, IADB, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC (national committees), ICRM, IDA, IEA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IGAD (partners), IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, IMSO, InOC, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ISO, ITSO, ITU, ITUC (NGOs), MIGA, MINURSO, MINUSMA, MINUSTAH, MONUSCO, NATO, NEA, NSG, OAS (observer), OECD, OIF, OPCW, OSCE, Pacific Alliance (observer), Paris Club, PCA, PIF (partner), Schengen Convention, SELEC (observer), SPC, UN, UN Security Council, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNIDO, UNIFIL, Union Latina, UNMIL, UNOCI, UNRWA, UNSC (permanent), UNTSO, UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WFTU (NGOs), WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO, ZC

Diplomatic representation in the US:

chief of mission: Ambassador Francois M. DELATTRE (since 18 February 2011)
chancery: 4101 Reservoir Road NW, Washington, DC 20007
telephone: [1] (202) 944-6000
FAX: [1] (202) 944-6166
consulate(s) general: Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New Orleans, New York, San Francisco

Diplomatic representation from the US:

chief of mission: Ambassador (vacant); Charge d'Affaires Mark A. TAPLIN; note - also accredited to Monaco
embassy: 2 Avenue Gabriel, 75382 Paris Cedex 08
mailing address: PSC 116, 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 'Le drapeau tricolore' (French Tricolor), the origin of the flag dates to 1790 and the French Revolution when the 'ancient French color' of white was combined with the blue and red colors of the Parisian militia; the official flag for all French dependent areas
note: the design and/or colors are similar to a number of other flags, including those of Belgium, Chad, Cote d'Ivoire, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, and Netherlands

National symbol(s):

Gallic rooster, fleur-de-lis, Marianne

National anthem:

name: 'La Marseillaise' (The Song of Marseille)

lyrics/music: Claude-Joseph ROUGET de Lisle
note: adopted 1795, restored 1870; originally known as 'Chant de Guerre pour l'Armee du Rhin' (War Song for the Army of the Rhine), the National Guard of Marseille made the song famous by singing it while marching into Paris in 1792 during the French Revolutionary Wars

Source: CIA World Fact Book


metropolitan France: 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
French Guiana: Northern South America, bordering the North Atlantic Ocean, between Brazil and Suriname
Guadeloupe: Caribbean, islands between the Caribbean Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean, southeast of Puerto Rico
Martinique: Caribbean, island between the Caribbean Sea and North Atlantic Ocean, north of Trinidad and Tobago
Mayotte: Southern Indian Ocean, island in the Mozambique Channel, about half way between northern Madagascar and northern Mozambique
Reunion: Southern Africa, island in the Indian Ocean, east of Madagascar

Geographic coordinates:

metropolitan France: 46 00 N, 2 00 E
French Guiana: 4 00 N, 53 00 W
Guadeloupe: 16 15 N, 61 35 W
Martinique: 14 40 N, 61 00 W
Mayotte: 12 50 S, 45 10 E
Reunion: 21 06 S, 55 36 E

Map references:

metropolitan France: Europe
French Guiana: South America
Guadeloupe: Central America and the Caribbean
Martinique: Central America and the Caribbean
Mayotte: Africa
Reunion: World


total: 643,801 sq km; 551,500 sq km (metropolitan France)
country comparison to the world: 43
land: 640,427 sq km; 549,970 sq km (metropolitan France)
water: 3,374 sq km; 1,530 sq km (metropolitan France)
note: the first numbers include the overseas regions of French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Martinique, Mayotte, and Reunion

Area - comparative:

Area comparison map:  

Land boundaries:

metropolitan France - total: 2,751 km
border countries: Andorra 55 km, Belgium 556 km, Germany 418 km, Italy 476 km, Luxembourg 69 km, Monaco 6 km, Spain 646 km, Switzerland 525 km
French Guiana - total: 1,205 km
border countries: Brazil 649 km, Suriname 556 km


total: 4,853 km
metropolitan France: 3,427 km

Maritime claims:

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


metropolitan France: generally cool winters and mild summers, but mild winters and hot summers along the Mediterranean; occasional strong, cold, dry, north-to-northwesterly wind known as mistral
French Guiana: tropical; hot, humid; little seasonal temperature variation
Guadeloupe and Martinique: subtropical tempered by trade winds; moderately high humidity; rainy season (June to October); vulnerable to devastating cyclones (hurricanes) every eight years on average
Mayotte: tropical; marine; hot, humid, rainy season during northeastern monsoon (November to May); dry season is cooler (May to November)
Reunion: tropical, but temperature moderates with elevation; cool and dry (May to November), hot and rainy (November to April)


metropolitan France: mostly flat plains or gently rolling hills in north and west; remainder is mountainous, especially Pyrenees in south, Alps in east
French Guiana: low-lying coastal plains rising to hills and small mountains
Guadeloupe: Basse-Terre is volcanic in origin with interior mountains; Grande-Terre is low limestone formation; most of the seven other islands are volcanic in origin
Martinique: mountainous with indented coastline; dormant volcano
Mayotte: generally undulating, with deep ravines and ancient volcanic peaks
Reunion: mostly rugged and mountainous; fertile lowlands along coast

Elevation extremes:

lowest point: Rhone River delta -2 m
highest point: Mont Blanc 4,807 m
note: in order to assess the possible effects of climate change on the ice and snow cap of Mont Blanc, its surface and peak have been extensively measured in recent years; these new peak measurements have exceeded the traditional height of 4,807 m and have varied between 4,808 m and 4,811 m; the actual rock summit is 4,792 m and is 40 m away from the ice-covered summit

Natural resources:

metropolitan France: coal, iron ore, bauxite, zinc, uranium, antimony, arsenic, potash, feldspar, fluorspar, gypsum, timber, fish
French Guiana: gold deposits, petroleum, kaolin, niobium, tantalum, clay

Land use:

arable land: 33.45%
permanent crops: 1.86%
other: 64.69%
note: French Guiana - arable land 0.13%, permanent crops 0.04%, other 99.83% (90% forest, 10% other); Guadeloupe - arable land 11.70%, permanent crops 2.92%, other 85.38%; Martinique - arable land 9.09%, permanent crops 10.0%, other 80.91%; Reunion - arable land 13.94%, permanent crops 1.59%, other 84.47% (2011)

Irrigated land:

total: 26,420 sq km 26,950 sq km
metropolitan France: 27,230 sq km (2007)

Total renewable water resources:

211 cu km (2011)

Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural):

total: 31.62 cu km/yr (19%/71%/10%)
per capita: 512.1 cu m/yr (2009)

Natural hazards:

metropolitan France: flooding; avalanches; midwinter windstorms; drought; forest fires in south near the Mediterranean
overseas departments: hurricanes (cyclones); flooding; volcanic activity (Guadeloupe, Martinique, Reunion)

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-Persistent Organic Pollutants, Air Pollution-Sulfur 85, Air Pollution-Sulfur 94, Air Pollution-Volatile Organic Compounds, Antarctic-Environmental Protocol, Antarctic-Marine Living Resources, Antarctic Seals, Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, 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: none of the selected agreements

Geography - note:

largest West European nation

Source: CIA World Fact Book

Demographics and Population Development

noun: Frenchman(men), Frenchwoman(women)
adjective: French

Ethnic groups:

Celtic and Latin with Teutonic, Slavic, North African, Indochinese, Basque minorities
overseas departments: black, white, mulatto, East Indian, Chinese, Amerindian


French (official) 100%, rapidly declining regional dialects and languages (Provencal, Breton, Alsatian, Corsican, Catalan, Basque, Flemish)
overseas departments: French, Creole patois, Mahorian (a Swahili dialect)


Roman Catholic 83%-88%, Protestant 2%, Jewish 1%, Muslim 5%-10%, unaffiliated 4%
overseas departments: Roman Catholic, Protestant, Hindu, Muslim, Buddhist, pagan


country comparison to the world: 22
note: the above figure is for metropolitan France and five overseas regions; the metropolitan France population is 62,814,233 (July 2014 est.)

Age structure:

0-14 years: 18.7% (male 6,337,877/female 6,053,185)
15-24 years: 11.9% (male 4,018,044/female 3,837,191)
25-54 years: 38.6% (male 12,851,278/female 12,719,073)
55-64 years: 12.5% (male 4,012,614/female 4,290,624)
65 years and over: 17.9% (male 5,197,519/female 6,941,607) (2014 est.)
population pyramid:  

Dependency ratios:

total dependency ratio: 57.4 %
youth dependency ratio: 28.6 %
elderly dependency ratio: 28.8 %
potential support ratio: 3.5 (2014 est.)

Median age:

total: 40.9 years
male: 39.3 years
female: 42.4 years (2014 est.)

Population growth rate:

0.45% (2014 est.)
country comparison to the world: 158

Birth rate:

12.49 births/1,000 population (2014 est.)
country comparison to the world: 159

Death rate:

9.06 deaths/1,000 population (2014 est.)
country comparison to the world: 65

Net migration rate:

1.09 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2014 est.)
country comparison to the world: 59


urban population: 85.8% of total population (2011)
rate of urbanization: 1.1% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)

Major urban areas - population:

PARIS (capital) 10.62 million; Marseille-Aix-en-Provence 14,890,100; Lyon 1.488 million; Lille 1.042 million; Nice-Cannes 991,000; Toulouse 933,000 (2011)

Sex ratio:

at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
0-14 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
15-24 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
25-54 years: 1.01 male(s)/female
55-64 years: 0.96 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.74 male(s)/female
total population: 0.96 male(s)/female (2014 est.)

Mother's mean age at first birth:

28.1 (2010 est.)

Maternal mortality rate:

8 deaths/100,000 live births (2010)
country comparison to the world: 158

Infant mortality rate:

total: 3.31 deaths/1,000 live births
country comparison to the world: 214
male: 3.63 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 2.97 deaths/1,000 live births (2014 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:

total population: 81.66 years
country comparison to the world: 15
male: 78.55 years
female: 84.91 years (2014 est.)

Total fertility rate:

2.08 children born/woman (2014 est.)
country comparison to the world: 112

Contraceptive prevalence rate:

note: percent of women aged 20-49 (2008)

Health expenditures:

11.6% of GDP (2011)
country comparison to the world: 10

Physicians density:

3.38 physicians/1,000 population (2011)

Hospital bed density:

6.6 beds/1,000 population (2010)

Drinking water source:

urban: 100% of population
rural: 100% of population
total: 100% of population
urban: 0% of population
rural: 0% of population
total: 0% of population (2012 est.)

Sanitation facility access:

urban: 100% of population
rural: 100% of population
total: 100% of population
urban: 0% of population
rural: 0% of population
total: 0% of population (2012 est.)

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:

0.4% (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 78

HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:

150,000 (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 34

HIV/AIDS - deaths:

1,700 (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 62

Obesity - adult prevalence rate:

18.2% (2008)
country comparison to the world: 108

Education expenditures:

5.9% of GDP (2010)
country comparison to the world: 43


definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 99%
male: 99%
female: 99% (2003 est.)

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education):

total: 16 years
male: 16 years
female: 16 years (2011)

Unemployment, youth ages 15-24:

total: 23.8%
country comparison to the world: 43
male: 23.9%
female: 23.7% (2012)

Source: CIA World Fact Book


Economy - overview:
The French economy is diversified across all sectors. The government has partially or fully privatized many large companies, including Air France, France Telecom, Renault, and Thales. However, the government maintains a strong presence in some sectors, particularly power, public transport, and defense industries. With at least 82 million foreign tourists per year, France is the most visited country in the world and maintains the third largest income in the world from tourism. France's leaders remain committed to a capitalism in which they maintain social equity by means of laws, tax policies, and social spending that mitigate economic inequality. France's real GDP stagnated in 2012 and 2013. The unemployment rate (including overseas territories) increased from 7.8% in 2008 to 10.2% in 2013. Youth unemployment in metropolitan France decreased from a high of 25.4% in the fourth quarter of 2012 to 22.8% in the fourth quarter of 2013. Lower-than-expected growth and high spending have strained France's public finances. The budget deficit rose sharply from 3.3% of GDP in 2008 to 7.5% of GDP in 2009 before improving to 4.1% of GDP in 2013, while France's public debt rose from 68% of GDP to nearly 94% over the same period. In accordance with its EU obligations, France is targeting a deficit of 3.6% of GDP in 2014 and 2.8% in 2015. The administration of President Francois HOLLANDE has implemented greater state support for employment, the separation of banks' traditional deposit taking and lending activities from more speculative businesses, increasing the top corporate and personal tax rates, including a temporary 75% tax on wages over one million euros, and hiring an additional 60,000 teachers during his five-year term. In January 2014 HOLLANDE proposed a “Responsibility Pact” aimed primarily at lowering labor costs in return for businesses’ commitment to create jobs. Despite stagnant growth and fiscal challenges, France's borrowing costs have declined in recent years because investors remain attracted to the liquidity of France’s bonds.

GDP (purchasing power parity):

$2.276 trillion (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 10
$2.269 trillion (2012 est.)
$2.268 trillion (2011 est.)
note: data are in 2013 US dollars

GDP (official exchange rate):

$2.739 trillion (2013 est.)

GDP - real growth rate:

0.3% (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 191
0% (2012 est.)
2% (2011 est.)

GDP - per capita (PPP):

$35,700 (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 39
$35,800 (2012 est.)
$36,000 (2011 est.)
note: data are in 2013 US dollars

Gross national saving:

18.2% of GDP (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 87
17.6% of GDP (2012 est.)
19% of GDP (2011 est.)

GDP - composition, by end use:

household consumption: 57.6%
government consumption: 25.1%
investment in fixed capital: 18.7%
investment in inventories: 0.1%
exports of goods and services: 27.3%
imports of goods and services: -28.8%
(2013 est.)

GDP - composition, by sector of origin:

agriculture: 1.9%
industry: 18.7%
services: 79.4% (2013 est.)

Agriculture - products:

wheat, cereals, sugar beets, potatoes, wine grapes; beef, dairy products; fish


machinery, chemicals, automobiles, metallurgy, aircraft, electronics; textiles, food processing; tourism

Industrial production growth rate:

-0.4% (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 170

Labor force:

29.94 million (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 21

Labor force - by occupation:

agriculture: 2.9%
industry: 20.6%
services: 76.4% (2012 est.)

Unemployment rate:

10.2% (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 108
10.2% (2012 est.)
note: includes overseas territories

Population below poverty line:

7.9% (2011)

Household income or consumption by percentage share:

lowest 10%: 3.5%
highest 10%: 25.4% (2011)

Distribution of family income - Gini index:

30.6 (2011)
country comparison to the world: 117
27.9 (1996)


revenues: $1.41 trillion
expenditures: $1.522 trillion (2013 est.)

Taxes and other revenues:

51.5% of GDP (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 11

Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-):

-4.1% of GDP (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 150

Public debt:

93.4% of GDP (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 18
90.2% of GDP (2012 est.)
note: data cover general government debt, and includes debt instruments issued (or owned) by government entities other than the treasury; the data include treasury debt held by foreign entities; the data include debt issued by subnational entities, as well as intra-governmental debt; intra-governmental debt consists of treasury borrowings from surpluses in the social funds, such as for retirement, medical care, and unemployment; debt instruments for the social funds are not sold at public auctions

Fiscal year:

calendar year

Inflation rate (consumer prices):

0.9% (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 21
2% (2012 est.)

Central bank discount rate:

0.75% (31 December 2013)
country comparison to the world: 114
1.75% (31 December 2010)
note: this is the European Central Bank's rate on the marginal lending facility, which offers overnight credit to banks in the euro area

Commercial bank prime lending rate:

3.1% (31 December 2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 166
3.44% (31 December 2012 est.)

Stock of narrow money:

$810.1 billion (31 December 2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 7
$738.8 billion (31 December 2012 est.)
note: see entry for the European Union for money supply in the euro area; the European Central Bank (ECB) controls monetary policy for the 17 members of the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU); individual members of the EMU do not control the quantity of money circulating within their own borders

Stock of broad money:

$2.299 trillion (31 December 2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 7
$2.273 trillion (31 December 2012 est.)

Stock of domestic credit:

$3.687 trillion (31 December 2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 6
$3.631 trillion (31 December 2012 est.)

Market value of publicly traded shares:

$1.762 trillion (31 December 2012 est.)
country comparison to the world: 7
$1.538 trillion (31 December 2011)
$1.983 trillion (31 December 2010 est.)

Current account balance:

-$58.97 billion (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 188
-$45.22 billion (2012 est.)


$578.6 billion (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 7
$567.1 billion (2012 est.)

Exports - commodities:

machinery and transportation equipment, aircraft, plastics, chemicals, pharmaceutical products, iron and steel, beverages

Exports - partners:

Germany 16.7%, Belgium 7.5%, Italy 7.5%, Spain 6.9%, UK 6.9%, US 5.6%, Netherlands 4.3% (2012)


$659.8 billion (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 7
$653.4 billion (2012 est.)

Imports - commodities:

machinery and equipment, vehicles, crude oil, aircraft, plastics, chemicals

Imports - partners:

Germany 19.5%, Belgium 11.3%, Italy 7.6%, Netherlands 7.4%, Spain 6.6%, UK 5.1%, China 4.9% (2012)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold:

$198.7 billion (31 December 2012 est.)
country comparison to the world: 14
$188.4 billion (31 December 2011 est.)

Debt - external:

$5.371 trillion (31 December 2012 est.)
country comparison to the world: 5
$5.004 trillion (31 December 2011)

Stock of direct foreign investment - at home:

$1.103 trillion (31 December 2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 7
$1.095 trillion (31 December 2012 est.)

Stock of direct foreign investment - abroad:

$1.489 trillion (31 December 2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 4
$1.497 trillion (31 December 2012 est.)

Exchange rates:

euros (EUR) per US dollar -
0.7634 (2013 est.)
0.7752 (2012 est.)
0.755 (2010 est.)
0.7198 (2009 est.)
0.6827 (2008 est.)

Source: CIA World Fact Book


Telephones - main lines in use:
39.29 million (2012)
country comparison to the world: 7

Telephones - mobile cellular:

62.28 million (2012)
country comparison to the world: 21

Telephone system:

general assessment: highly developed
domestic: extensive cable and microwave radio relay; extensive use of fiber-optic cable; domestic satellite system
international: country code - 33; numerous submarine cables provide links throughout Europe, Asia, Australia, the Middle East, and US; satellite earth stations - more than 3 (2 Intelsat (with total of 5 antennas - 2 for Indian Ocean and 3 for Atlantic Ocean), NA Eutelsat, 1 Inmarsat - Atlantic Ocean region); HF radiotelephone communications with more than 20 countries
overseas departments: country codes: French Guiana - 594; Guadeloupe - 590; Martinique - 596; Mayotte - 262; Reunion - 262 (2011)

Broadcast media:

a mix of both publicly operated and privately owned TV stations; state-owned France Televisions operates 4 networks, one of which is a network of regional stations, and has part-interest in several thematic cable/satellite channels and international channels; a large number of privately owned regional and local TV stations; multi-channel satellite and cable services provide a large number of channels; public broadcaster Radio France operates 7 national networks, a series of regional networks, and operates services for overseas territories and foreign audiences; Radio France Internationale (RFI), under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, is a leading international broadcaster; a large number of commercial FM stations, with many of them consolidating into commercial networks (2008)

Internet country code:

metropolitan France - .fr; French Guiana - .gf; Guadeloupe - .gp; Martinique - .mq; Mayotte - .yt; Reunion - .re

Internet hosts:

17.266 million (2012)
country comparison to the world: 7

Internet users:

45.262 million; 44.625 million (metropolitan France) (2009)
country comparison to the world: 8

Source: CIA World Fact Book


464 (2013)
country comparison to the world: 17

Airports - with paved runways:

total: 294
over 3,047 m: 14
2,438 to 3,047 m: 25
1,524 to 2,437 m: 97
914 to 1,523 m: 83
under 914 m: 75 (2013)

Airports - with unpaved runways:

total: 170
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 64
under 914 m: 
105 (2013)


1 (2013)


gas 15,322 km; oil 2,939 km; refined products 5,084 km (2013)


total: 29,640 km
country comparison to the world: 9
standard gauge: 29,473 km 1.435-m gauge (15,361 km electrified)
narrow gauge: 167 km 1.000-m gauge (63 km electrified) (2008)


total: 1,028,446 km (metropolitan France; includes 11,416 km of expressways)
country comparison to the world: 8
note: there are another 5,100 km of roadways in overseas departments (2010)


metropolitan France: 8,501 km (1,621 km accessible to craft of 3,000 metric tons) (2010)
country comparison to the world: 16

Merchant marine:

total: 162
country comparison to the world: 36
by type: bulk carrier 3, cargo 7, chemical tanker 34, container 27, liquefied gas 12, passenger 10, passenger/cargo 41, petroleum tanker 16, refrigerated cargo 1, roll on/roll off 11
foreign-owned: 50 (Belgium 7, Bermuda 5, Denmark 11, French Polynesia 11, Germany 1, New Caledonia 3, Singapore 3, Sweden 4, Switzerland 5)
registered in other countries: 151 (Bahamas 15, Belgium 7, Bermuda 1, Canada 1, Cyprus 16, Egypt 1, Hong Kong 4, Indonesia 1, Ireland 2, Italy 2, Luxembourg 15, Malta 8, Marshall Islands 7, Mexico 1, Morocco 3, Netherlands 2, Norway 5, Panama 7, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines 2, Singapore 3, South Korea 2, Taiwan 2, UK 39, US 4, unknown 1) (2010)

Ports and terminals:

major seaport(s): Brest, Calais, Dunkerque, Le Havre, Marseille, Nantes,
river port(s): Paris, Rouen (Seine); Strasbourg (Rhine); Bordeaux (Garronne)
container port(s): Le Havre (2,215,262)(2011)
cruise/ferry port(s): Calais, Cherbourg, Le Havre

Source: CIA World Fact Book


Electricity - production:
561.2 billion kWh (2012 est.)
country comparison to the world: 8

Electricity - consumption:

462.9 billion kWh (2012 est.)
country comparison to the world: 9

Electricity - exports:

73.4 billion kWh (2012 est.)
country comparison to the world: 1

Electricity - imports:

29 billion kWh (2012 est.)
country comparison to the world: 7

Electricity - installed generating capacity:

124.3 million kW (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 9

Electricity - from fossil fuels:

22.1% of total installed capacity (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 189

Electricity - from nuclear fuels:

50.8% of total installed capacity (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 1

Electricity - from hydroelectric plants:

14.7% of total installed capacity (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 103

Electricity - from other renewable sources:

6.9% of total installed capacity (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 37

Crude oil - production:

72,300 bbl/day (2012 est.)
country comparison to the world: 55

Crude oil - exports:

0 bbl/day (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 115

Crude oil - imports:

1.298 million bbl/day (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 8

Crude oil - proved reserves:

85.18 million bbl (1 January 2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 71

Refined petroleum products - production:

1.55 million bbl/day (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 13

Refined petroleum products - consumption:

1.792 million bbl/day (2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 13

Refined petroleum products - exports:

464,300 bbl/day (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 15

Refined petroleum products - imports:

834,800 bbl/day (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 7

Natural gas - production:

508 million cu m (2012 est.)
country comparison to the world: 70

Natural gas - consumption:

47.99 billion cu m (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 17

Natural gas - exports:

5.994 billion cu m (2012 est.)
country comparison to the world: 32

Natural gas - imports:

47.71 billion cu m (2012 est.)
country comparison to the world: 9

Natural gas - proved reserves:

10.7 billion cu m (1 January 2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 82

Carbon dioxide emissions from consumption of energy:

374.3 million Mt (2011 est.)

Source: CIA World Fact Book


Source: CIA World Fact Book

Annual Exports

Top 20 Sectors exported from Kwazulu-Natal in 2017

#DescriptionChapter CodeTotal (in Rands)
1Vehicles other than railway, tramway87 R3,011,383,287.00
2Aircraft, spacecraft, and parts thereof88 R 282,842,126.00
3Aluminium and articles thereof76 R 170,504,312.00
4Iron and steel72 R 52,587,857.00
5Nuclear reactors, boilers, machinery, etc84 R 29,392,123.00
6Railway, tramway locomotives, rolling stock, equipment86 R 13,744,634.00
7Toys, games, sports requisites95 R 11,883,476.00
8Other made textile articles, sets, worn clothing etc63 R 10,246,906.00
9Electrical, electronic equipment85 R 9,352,970.00
10Tanning, dyeing extracts, tannins, derivs,pigments etc32 R 7,875,197.00
11Plastics and articles thereof39 R 7,558,615.00
12Special woven or tufted fabric, lace, tapestry etc58 R 6,245,102.00
13Mineral fuels, oils, distillation products, etc27 R 6,185,328.00
14Articles of iron or steel73 R 5,187,334.00
15Essential oils, perfumes, cosmetics, toileteries33 R 3,311,412.00
16Wood and articles of wood, wood charcoal44 R 3,080,185.00
17Miscellaneous chemical products38 R 2,976,575.00
18Pulp of wood, fibrous cellulosic material, waste etc47 R 2,352,255.00
19Miscellaneous edible preparations21 R 2,211,090.00
20Organic chemicals29 R 2,189,968.00

Source: SARS

Visa Requirements

Visa Required:  Yes​


Visa Fee: Yes

Visa Issuing Authority:

French Consulate General (Johannesburg)

Tel 011-7785600

French Consulate General (Cape Town)

Tel 021-4231575

Compulsory Vaccination Requirement(s)None

Recommended Vaccination Requirement(s): None

Source: CIA World Fact Book

Business Etiquette

Language: French
Currency: Euro (€)
International Dialing Code: +33
Time Difference: +1 hour GMT
Greeting: Hello – ‘Bonjour’ (pronounced ‘bon jor’), together
with the title ‘Monsieur’ (male) or ‘Madame’ (female)
Goodbye – ‘au revoir’ (pronounced ‘ahr ahv-wah’)

Dealing with a Business Counterpart:
• A firm handshake is the common form of business greeting and applies to both men and women;
• French business etiquette requires a degree of formality and courtesy is emphasised;
• Meetings are held to discuss issues, not for decision-making;
• In business, the French may appear extremely direct. This is because they are unafraid of asking probing questions;
• Should one be unable to speak French, it would be a good idea to immediately apologise for not knowing the language as this could we assist in developing a business relationship. However, learning a few key phrases in French would be advisable as this demonstrates an interest in forming a long-term relationship;
• Business cards should be exchanged immediately after initial introductions, but without formal ritual.

Source: CIA World Fact Book

Realistic Export Opportunities

A total of 158 Realistic Export Opportunities (REOs) from South Africa to France are identified based on the North-West University’s (South Africa) TRADE Decision Support Model (DSM).

The methodology is a very useful instrument to identify market opportunities globally for one’s product and also provides a good reference for one to be able to prioritise marketing efforts based on the value and size of these opportunities.

The TRADE-DSM Navigator provides sound information that companies are able to use in developing their export marketing strategy and forms the basis and guidance for further research should this be required.

In total 158 of the products associated with import demand are identified as realistic export opportunities. The relative 'untapped' potential of the market opportunity is shown in the chart below:

A total 'untapped' potential from South Africa’s perspective of approximately 2 036.17 (in million US dollar terms) based on the average value of the top 6 supplying countries (excluding South Africa) are associated with these specific product export opportunities.

The highest number of identified opportunities are associated with the economic sector of

Machinery & equipment (356-359) .

Not all sectors will be present, as not all economic sectors (some of which are based on economic activity while the REOs are based on traded products) are relevant for all products. However, various other sectors also do exhibit potential.

While the above examples are based on high level economic sectors, the information is available at a much more granular level on the HS 6-digit tariff code level. To demonstrate the following example of a product description is provided:

Sub-heading 84.27:
Fork-lift trucks; other works trucks fitted with lifting or handling equipment:
HS 6-digit product code 8427.10:
Self-propelled trucks powered by an electric motor.

Research reports containing more detailed information related to these realistic export opportunities (down to product level as illustrated with the above product description) for each country are available from TIKZN.

Please contact us if you are interested in more detail by clicking here.

For an example of a more detailed country report please click here.

Please note that a more up-to-date version for the specific country report used in this example is available from TIKZN. This report is provided for demonstration purposes only and should not be used for any decision-making.


Embassies and Diplomats

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Trade Agreements

Read African Free Trade Zone Agreement     Download African Free Trade Zone Agreement   African Free Trade Zone Agreement

Read AGOA Trade Agreement     Download AGOA Trade Agreement   AGOA Trade Agreement

Read SA Trade Agreements with other countries since 1994     Download SA Trade Agreements with other countries since 1994   SA Trade Agreements with other countries since 1994

Read South African Trade Agreements     Download South African Trade Agreements   South African Trade Agreements

Export Incentives

Read EMIA Individual Participation     Download EMIA Individual Participation   EMIA Individual Participation

Read SSAS EMIA Sector Specific Assistance Scheme for Emerging Exporters     Download SSAS EMIA Sector Specific Assistance Scheme for Emerging Exporters   SSAS EMIA Sector Specific Assistance Scheme for Emerging Exporters

Read SSAS Sector Specific Assistance Scheme     Download SSAS Sector Specific Assistance Scheme   SSAS Sector Specific Assistance Scheme

Read CPFP Capital Projects Feasibility Programme     Download CPFP Capital Projects Feasibility Programme   CPFP Capital Projects Feasibility Programme

Read Summary of Incentives     Download Summary of Incentives   Summary of Incentives