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France: Geography

Geography France
Location:
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
Geographic coordinates:
46 00 N, 2 00 E
Map references:
Europe
Area:
total: 547,030 sq km
land: 545,630 sq km
note: includes only metropolitan France; excludes the overseas administrative divisions
water: 1,400 sq km
Area - comparative:
slightly less than twice the size of Colorado
Land boundaries:
total: 2,889 km
border countries: Andorra 56.6 km, Belgium 620 km, Germany 451 km, Italy 488 km, Luxembourg 73 km, Monaco 4.4 km, Spain 623 km, Switzerland 573 km
Coastline:
3,427 km
Maritime claims:
contiguous zone: 24 NM
territorial sea: 12 NM
continental shelf: 200-m depth or to the depth of exploitation
exclusive economic zone: 200 NM (does not apply to the Mediterranean)
Climate:
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
Terrain:
mostly flat plains or gently rolling hills in north and west; remainder is mountainous, especially Pyrenees in south, Alps in east
Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Rhone River delta -2 m
highest point: Mont Blanc 4,807 m
Natural resources:
coal, iron ore, bauxite, zinc, potash, timber, fish
Land use:
arable land: 33.3%
permanent crops: 2.11%
other: 64.59% (1998 est.)
Irrigated land:
20,000 sq km (1998 est.)
Natural hazards:
flooding; avalanches; midwinter windstorms; drought; forest fires in south near the Mediterranean
Environment - current issues:
some forest damage from acid rain (major forest damage occurred as a result of severe December 1999 windstorm); 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-Sulphur 85, Air Pollution-Sulphur 94, Air Pollution-Volatile Organic Compounds, Antarctic-Environmental Protocol, Antarctic-Marine Living Resources, Antarctic Seals, Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Kyoto Protocol, 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: Air Pollution-Persistent Organic Pollutants
Geography - note:
largest West European nation

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Source: The CIA World Fact Book 2003

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