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France  France 

Tour eiffelThe largest country in western Europe, France includes the island of Corsica in the Mediterranean Sea. Two major mountain chains, the Pyrenees to the south and the Alps to the east, provide dramatic natural borders with neighboring countries. Several rivers, including the Loire, the Rhône, and the Seine, are important for transportation as well as irrigation of farmland. The states of Monaco and Andora lie in the south.

The influence of French culture, fashion, and food can be seen all over the world. As a leading industrialized nation and founding member of the European Union, France also plays a key role in world affairs. In the last 50 years, the country has become Europe's major agricultural producer and exporter, with main crops of wheat, sugar beets, sunflower seeds, apples, and grapes used for wine. France boasts the world's fastest train, the TGV, which can travel at speeds up to 320 mph (515 km/h).


France louvre

Situated on the banks of the Seine River, Paris is the capital of France and its cultural and political center. One of the world's most visited cities, its famous landmarks include the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, and the cathedral of Notre Dame. There are also many museums, shops, and restaurants. Each spring, the world's leading fashion designers arrive in Paris to present their latest collections.


France has such a range of climates and landscapes that it can produce many different types of foods and fine wines. Each region has its own special dish. Central France, for example, is famous for boeuf bourguignon (beef in red wine), while Marseille on the Mediterranean coast specializes in bouillabaisse (fïsh soup with garlic). France is also known for its breads and pastries, such as croissants, and different types of cheeses.



A tiny country on the Mediterranean coast, Monaco lies close to the Italian border.

The heart of the country is the sophisticated city of Monte-Carlo, famous for its gambling casinos and car racing Grand Prix. Monaco is an idependent principality, ruled for much of its history by the Grimaldi family. Only a small part of the population is originally from Monaco; more than half the people are citizens of France.



High in the pyrenees mountains, on the border between France and Spain, nestles the country of Andorra. The people are governed jointly by the President of France and the Bishop of Urgel in northeastern Spain. Catalan is the officiai language, although many people also speak French and Spanish. The country's only large town is the capital city, Andorra la Vella.


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