The population of early Celtic France by the Gauls began around 500 BC.

As a result of conflicts with the rising Roman Empire, the Gauls were split up into individual groups with Roman rule lasting until the decline of the empire in the 5th century AD. The Carolingians ruled France until round 1000 during which Christianity was able to take a hold.

After the treaty of Verdun, partitioning the Carolingian empire, the West Frankish Empire was created that forms the heart of today’s France. A nation state emerged and was ruled by several royal dynasties until the French revolution.

By the reign of Louis XVI, France was on the verge of ruin, which gave rise to civil unrest amongst the populace. The storming of the Bastille (14th July 1789), a fortress in Paris, marked the beginning of the French Revolution.

After much bloodshed and countless executions, the new constitution was proclaimed in 1795 and the end of the revolution sealed in 1799 after a coup. In 1804, Napoleon crowned himself emperor of the French, only to die in 1821.

During World War I (August 1914 until November 1918), the French fought alongside their allies, sustaining heavy losses. World War II started only a few years later in 1939 and ended with the defeat of the German forces in 1945.

On 7th May 1995, Jacques Chirac was elected President of the French Republic and remains in office to this day. The prime minister is Jean-Pierre Raffarin.

The power of the capital

The power of the capital poses a real problem for France, because business and culture are centred on Paris to such an extent that there is effectively not much left over for the rest of the country.

Despite efforts to decentralise the country in recent years, this deplorable state of affairs has hardly improved, as much still needs to be done in the provinces to bring about economic balance, to make them more competitive and prevent the rural exodus.



approx. 540.000 km²

approx. 59 Mio.

Paris 2,5 Mio. Inhabitants

Euro since 1.1.2002