The population of France in was estimated by the United Nations UN at 60,,, which placed it at number 21 in population among the nations of the world.
There were 95 males for every females in the country. According to the UN, the annual population rate of change for — 10 was expected to be 0. The projected population for the year was 63,, The population density was per sq km per sq mi , with much of the population concentrated in the north and southeast areas of the country. The capital city, Paris, had a population of 9,, in that year.
The next largest cities and their estimated populations include Lyon, 1,,; Marseille , 1,,; and Lille , 1,, A new law on immigration and asylum was passed by parliament in May The law included amendments to include the French constitution's provision to protect "those fighting for freedom" and those threatened with inhuman and degrading treatment in their country of origin. In , a total of , asylum applications were submitted to France, mostly from Asia , Africa, and Europe. Refugees enjoy all the rights of regular immigrants. In it was estimated that illegal foreigners numbered , — , According to Migration News , France deported 11, illegals in , 16, in , and an expected 23, in Minorities are not recognized in France.
They are expected to connect with "the Indivisible Republic," entitled in the French constitution. Nevertheless, in Paris environs between April and August , rioting and fires killed immigrants. Police evacuated rundown buildings where asylum seekers and irregular foreigners lived in crowded conditions.
In , the net migration rate was estimated as 0. Not only is French the national language of France, but it also has official status often with other languages throughout much of the former French colonial empire, including about two dozen nations in Africa.
In all, it is estimated that more than million people have French as their official language or mother tongue. There are about , Jehovah 's Witnesses and between 80, and , Orthodox Christians. Christian Scientists, Mormons, and Scientologists are also represented. The French Jewish community is one of the largest in the world, along with those in the United States , Israel, and the successor states of the former USSR ; more than half are immigrants from North Africa. The , members are divided between Reform, Conservative, and Orthodox groups. Jews have enjoyed full rights of citizenship in France since , and the emancipation of Central European Jewry was accomplished, to a large extent, by the armies of Napoleon Bonaparte.
Anti-Semitism became a flaming issue during the Dreyfus affair in the late s; in the s, principal French synagogues were under police guard because of a wave of attacks by international terrorists.
The constitution provides for freedom of religion, and the government reportedly respects this right in practice. Church and state have been legally separate since Registration for religious groups is not required, but most groups choose to do so in order to gain tax-exempt status. The About-Picard Law allows for the dissolution of groups that endanger the physical or psychological well-being of individuals, promote illegal medical practices, violate the freedom of others, or commit fraud.
The Interministerial Monitoring Mission Against Sectarian Abuses monitors the activities of religious sects or cults that are considered to be a possible threat to society or may be acting in violation of the law. France has one of the most highly developed transportation systems in Europe. Its outstanding characteristic has long been the degree to which it is centralized at Paris — plateaus and plains offering easy access radiate from the city in all directions, and rivers with broad valleys converge on it from all sides.
In , the French road network totaled , km , mi , all of which was paved, and included about 10, km 6, mi of national highways. In there were 29,, passenger cars and 6,, commercial vehicles in use.
As of there were 29, km 18, mi of standard and narrow gauge railway track in operation, of which about 14, km 9, mi were electrified. Standard gauge track accounted for nearly the entire system, with narrow gauge right of way accounting for only km mi. TGV service between Paris and Lausanne became fully operational in The TGV set another world speed record on 18 May with a registered speed of Parisian bus lines carry about , passengers daily.
Other cities with subways are Marseille, Lille, and Lyon, with construction underway in Toulouse. The km mi project by Eurotunnel, a British-French consortium, was completed in From these terminals, people can drive their cars and trucks onto trains, which can make the underground trek in about 30 minutes. Rail lines that run through the tunnel include Le Shuttle, which provides both freight and passenger service, and Eurostar, a high-speed passenger-only line.
In November a truck aboard a Le Shuttle train caught fire in the tunnel, causing extensive damage but no loss of life.
Service was partially restored within weeks of the incident and full repairs were completed by the following May. France, especially in its northern and northeastern regions, is well provided with navigable rivers and connecting canals, and inland water transportation is of major importance.
As of , there were about 8, km 5, mi of navigable waterways, of which 1, km 1, mi was accessible to craft of 3, metric tons. Kerguelen, an archipelago in the French Antarctic Territory, offers an offshore registry program which is less regulatory than official French registry.
More than half of freight traffic to and from French ports is carried by French ships. In there were an estimated airports in France. In , a total of had paved runways, and there were also three heliports. France's national airline, Air France, is government subsidized. It operates regularly scheduled flights to all parts of the world. The two international airports of Paris, Charles de Gaulle and Orly, both located in Paris, lead all others in France in both passenger and freight traffic.
In , about Cave paintings and engravings, the most famous of them at Lascaux, near Montignac in the southwest, attest to human habitation in France as early as 30, years ago. Relics from the period between and bc include some 4, dolmens structures consisting of two vertical stones capped by a horizontal stone , nearly 1, of them in Brittany alone, and more than 6, men-hirs single vertical stones , measuring 1. There may already have been 2 — 3 million people in France when Phoenician and Greek colonists founded cities on the southern coast around bc.
Detailed knowledge of French history begins with the conquest of the region 58 — 51 bc by Julius Caesar. The country was largely inhabited by Celtic tribes known to the Romans as Gauls. Under Roman rule the Gallic provinces were among the most prosperous and civilized of the empire. Roman roads, traces of which still may be seen, traversed the land. Numerous cities were founded.
Latin superseded the Celtic dialects. Christianity spread rapidly in Roman Gaul after its introduction there in the 1st century, and by the time the empire began to disintegrate a few hundred years later, the Gauls were a thoroughly Romanized and Christianized people. The Germanic invaders probably never constituted more than a dominant minority of the population.
The first leader to make himself king of all the Franks was Clovis — , who began his reign in , routing the last forces of the Roman governors of the province in Clovis claimed that he would be baptized a Christian in the event of his victory against the Visigoths, which was said to have guaranteed the battle.
Clovis regained the southwest from the Visigoths, was baptized in , and made himself master of western Germany, but after his death the kingdom disintegrated and its population declined under the Merovingian dynasty.
In , Charles Martel was able to rally the eastern Franks to inflict a decisive defeat on the Saracens — Muslim invaders who already controlled the Iberian Peninsula — between Poitiers and Tours. He spawned the Carolingian family, as well as his grandson, Charlemagne r.
Ruling "by the sword and the cross," he gave the kingdom an efficient administration, created an excellent legal system, and encouraged the revival of learning, piety, and the arts. He added to the territories under his rule through wide conquests, eventually reigning over an area corresponding to present-day France, the FRG, the Low Countries , and northern Italy.
After the death of Charlemagne, the vast Carolingian Empire broke up during a century of feuding, the title of emperor passing to German rulers in the east. The territory of what is now France was invaded anew, this time by pagan tribes from Scandinavia and the north, and the region that later became known as Normandy was ceded to the Northmen in by Charles III "the Simple," r.
At the end of the century, Hugh Capet r. Feudalism was by now a well-established system. At first, their feudal overlordship over the other provinces of France was almost entirely nominal. Some of the largest of these, like the Duchy of Brittany, were practically independent kingdoms. The powers of the French monarchy were gradually extended in the course of the 11th and early 12th centuries, particularly by Louis VI , who died in The power of his son Louis VII r.
Henry's sons, Richard and John, were unable to hold these far-flung territories against the vigorous assaults of Louis's son Philip Augustus r. By , Philip had not only reestablished the French crown's control over the former Angevin holdings in the north and west but also had firmly consolidated the crown's power in Languedoc and Toulouse. Philip's grandson Louis IX St. Louis , in a long reign — 70 , firmly established the strength of the monarchy through his vigorous administration of the royal powers.
The reign of Louis's grandson Philip IV "the Fair," — marks the apogee of French royal power in the medieval period. He quarreled with the papacy over fiscal control of the French clergy and other aspects of sovereignty. His emissaries arrested Pope Boniface VIII and after his death removed the seat of the papacy to Avignon , where the popes resided under French dominance the so-called Babylonian Captivity until It is estimated that between and the population dropped from 16 million to 11 million, mainly from a series of epidemics, beginning with the Black Death bubonic plague of — In , Henry V of England; taking advantage of civil war between the Gascons and Armagnacs, and the growing insanity of Charles VI; launched a new invasion of France and won a decisive victory at Agincourt.
Charles VI r. Upon Henry's death in , his infant son Henry VI was crowned king of both France and England, but in the same year, Charles's son, the dauphin of France, reasserted his claim, formally assumed the royal title, and slowly began the reconquest. Philip the Fair was succeeded by three sons, who reigned briefly and who left no direct male heirs, ending the Capetian dynasty. In , his nephew Philip VI in accordance with the so-called Salic Law, under which succession could pass through a male line only mounted the throne as the first of the Valois kings.
In , Edward asserted a formal claim to the French crown, shortly thereafter quartering the lilies of France on his shield.