I. Geographic Information
1. Reference Map of France:
Map of France
2. Absolute Location of France: 46° 00 N, 2° 00 E
3. Regions in Which France Is Located: France is part of Western Europe, which is part of Europe. France is also part of the northern hemisphere. It is also part of both the western and eastern hemispheres.
4. Relative Location of France: France is on the western edge of Europe. It is shaped like a hexagon, a shape having six sides. France is bordered on its western side by the Atlantic Ocean. It is bordered on its northwest side by the English Channel and by the Mediterranean Sea on its southeast side. Mountains make up the eastern and the southern sides of France. The Pyrenees Mountains separate France on the south from Spain, while the Alps and the Jura Mountains separate France on the east from Italy, Switzerland, and Germany. France is bordered on its northeast side by Belgium, Luxembourg, and Germany. Germany is the only country that borders France on two of its sides.
5. Size of France: The total area of France is: 547,030 square kilometers (including the island of Corsica). Its land area is 544,756 square kilometers, and its water area is 2,274 square kilometers).
6. Comparative Analysis of the Size of France: In landmass, France is the largest country in Western Europe and the largest country in the European Union. France is the 48th largest country in the world, slightly smaller than Kenya, and slightly larger than Yemen. With 547,030 square kilometers, France is 3.2% of the size of Russia, largest country in the world (17,075,200 square kilometers). France is much smaller than the United States; it is about 80% of the size of Texas.
7. Geographic Features of France:
a. Loire Valley: The longest river in France is the Loire River. This large river has cut basins in the rolling hills and plains of the region and many vineyards are in this region. It covers an area of 800 square kilometers in central France, and it has been a popular region throughout France's history.
Château overlooking the Loire Valley
b. Massif Central: This is the south central area of France. It is the largest of France's geographic regions, covering about one-sixth of the country. Millions of years ago, this area was a chain of active volcanoes, but today all volcanic action is extinct. The area consists of highlands and deep valleys carved into the volcanic rock by long ago glaciers. Puy de Dome (1,465 meters) is the highest of the extinct volcanoes in this region. The slopes of Puy de Dome are covered with fertile soil, lakes, and small farming towns.
A village on the slope of Puy de Dome
c. French Alps Mountain Range: The major mountain range of Europe is the Alps. The portion of the Alps located in France is called the French Alps. Many of the mountains in the French Alps are covered with snow throughout the year, and some are higher than the tree level, meaning that no trees grow near their summits. Water from many mountain streams in this area has been harnessed to generate hydroelectric power. This area also contains many ski resorts. The highest mountain in Europe, Mont Blanc, (4,807 meters) is in the French Alps.
d. French Riviera: This is the coastal area in the southeastern area of France along the Mediterranean Sea. It has a Mediterranean climate - mild, short winters and warm, long summers. The French Riviera has about 800 kilometers of coastal beaches, and it is an area very popular with tourists from around the world.
The French Riviera
e. Aquitaine Basin: This area is in southwestern France. The Aquitaine Basin is a large plain into which rivers have cut wide valleys. A blanket of sediments that were deposited by glaciers millions of years ago make the soil very fertile today. It is a large area of 1,100 square kilometers. Vineyards, orchards, and farms cover this fertile area of France.
8. Climatic Zones of France: France has a mild mid-latitude climate that can be divided into three main climatic regions - the Atlantic, the Mediterranean, and the Highland.
a. Atlantic Climate: Although northern France's latitude is comparable to Newfoundland in Canada, northern France has a mild Atlantic climate. The prevailing westerly winds that blow across the Atlantic's Gulf Stream bring warm humid air to Northern France. Because the winds originate over the Atlantic, and since water moderates temperature extremes, climate in this part of France is mild. Summers are not especially hot, and winters are not severely cold. Since there are no major land barriers, these winds bring a moderate climate across the interior, until the Alps are reached. The Atlantic climate area is most of France, excluding only the mountain areas and beaches along the Mediterranean Sea. The mean annual temperature in this Atlantic climate area of France is 11 degrees Celsius and the mean annual rainfall is 100 cm.
b. Mediterranean Climate: In southeastern France along the beaches, the warm Mediterranean Sea brings a Mediterranean climate with hot summers, cool winters, and low rainfall. The mean annual temperature in southeastern France is 15 degrees Celsius and the mean annual rainfall is 68 cm.
c. Highland Climate: The Highland climate of the French Alps, the Jura, and the Pyrenees Mountains varies with location. In general, temperatures fall as altitude increases (very high altitudes, like Mont Blanc have permanent snow cover). Summers are warm to cool, and winters are very cold. The mean annual temperature in this area of France is 3 degrees Celsius and the mean annual rainfall is 50 cm.
II. Population Analysis
1. Total Population: As of October 31, 2011, the estimated total population of France is 65,073,482.
2. World Ranking in Population: In population, France ranks as the 21st largest country in the world, slightly smaller than Thailand (20th), and larger than the United Kingdom (22nd). In population, France is about 21% of the size of the United States.
World Population Chart as of 1/1/2011
3. Population Density of France:
a. Arithmetic Density: 110 people per square km
b. Physiologic Density: 332 people per square km
c. Analysis: The arithmetic density is calculated by taking the total population of France divided by its total land area. With an arithmetic density of 110, France is denser than the United States (27 people per square km) but less dense than the European Union (117 people per square km). The physiologic density, on the other hand, is calculated by taking the total population of France divided by its total arable land area (land suitable for agriculture). This big difference in these two numbers (110 people per square km for arithmetic density versus 332 people per square km for physiologic density) shows that people in France live in an area much smaller than its total land area. This means that areas of France are not suitable for farming, such as the mountain ranges in the south and east, along with various bodies of water.
d. Population Concentration in France: The Ile de France (Paris region) contains the largest concentration of population in France (11,490,968). The Rhone region is the next largest concentration of population (6,004,983) followed by the Cote d'Azur region (4,780,866). France's population is concentrated mostly in urban areas (68% urban population concentration).
4. Population Data for France:
a. Crude Birth Rate (CBR): 12.3 births per 1,000 of population
b. Crude Death Rate (CDR): 11.9 deaths per 1,000 of population
c. Fertility Rate (FR): 1.9 children born per woman
d. Infant Mortality Rate (IMR): 3.3 deaths per 1,000 live births
e. Child Mortality Rate (CMR): 3.9 deaths per 1,000 live births
f. Life Expectancy: 81.2 years total life expectancy at birth as of 2011
g. Natural Increase Rate: 0.4 per 1,000 of population
5. Demographic Transition Model -- Stage 4: With its relatively low crude birth and crude death rates, France is currently in Stage 4 of the Demographic Transition Model. The data shows that France has a low crude birth rate, with a slightly smaller crude death rate, resulting in very low to almost no population growth.
Demographic Transition Model with France Plotted
6. Population Analysis - 1990 and 2010:
Population Pyramids for France 1990 and 2010
In 1990, the first cohort (younger people) of France's population was about equal; however, the second cohort (middle-aged people) showed an increase in males followed by an increase in the proportion of females in the third cohort (elderly people). In 2010, the first two cohorts were about equal in proportion of male to female, while the proportion of females to males increased in the third cohort. The population boom that ended in about 1965 can be seen moving up the pyramid, with that boom now (2010 pyramid chart) clearly in the second cohort (middle age). The shape of the pyramid has changed, with the pyramid now looking more like a vase than a traditional bell shape.
7. Population Prediction - 2050:
Population Pyramid for France 2050
By 2050, it is predicted that the population of France will decrease. As you can see in the above 2050 pyramid, the birth rate will have annually decreased for almost 30 years. The elderly population (third cohort) will have increased by 2050. The net effect will be that France will be an aging country, and fewer younger people will have to support an increasing elderly population. The middle-aged population (second cohort), which is the productive portion of the population doing labor and paying taxes, will be barely larger than the elderly population (third cohort) who look to the government to pay their pensions and medical benefits. All of this will be a substantial burden on the middle aged and an even bigger burden when the young of 2050 reach middle age. France will have transitioned into the Fifth Stage by 2050.