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France is an independent nation in Western Europe and the biggest market of a large overseas administration. It’s the third-largest European nation (after Russia and Ukraine).

In ancient times France was area of the Celtic territory referred to as Gaul or Gallia. Its present name hails from the Latin Francia, meaning “country of the Franks,” a Germanic people who conquered the location throughout the 5th century, at the time of the fall of the Western Roman Empire. It became another country in the 9th century.

Since the 17th century, France has played a major role in European and world events. In the 20th century, it has experienced numerous crises, such as the devastation of two world wars, political and social upheavals, and the increasing loss of a large empire in Indochina, Algeria, and West and Equatorial Africa. It has, however, survived and emerged from the ruins of World War II to become a significant world supplier of agricultural and industrial products and a major partner in the EUROPEAN COMMUNITY (EC, or Common Market).

Today, the word metropolitan France describes the mainland departments and CORSICA, a large island positioned in the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Italy that’s been a part of France since 1768. France has six overseas departments: FRENCH GUIANA in South America; GUADELOUPE and MARTINIQUE in the West Indies; MAYOTTE, an area formerly area of the Comoros, positioned in the Indian Ocean; REUNION, an area in the Indian Ocean; and SAINT PIERRE AND MIQUELON, islands off the east coast of Canada. Additionally, France has numerous small possessions called overseas territories. These include a small grouping of widely scattered islands in the South Pacific, which are administered from Tahiti and are known collectively as FRENCH POLYNESIA; FRENCH SOUTHERN AND ANTARCTIC TERRITORIES; NEW CALEDONIA and WALLIS AND FUTUNA ISLANDS; and many small islands in the southern oceans, such as the Kerguelen and Crozet archipelagos and the hawaiian islands of St. Paul and Amsterdam (Indian Ocean). The overseas departments and territories are represented in the French National Assembly.

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