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France’s identity card

France is a country, a state and a nation. 63.5 million French people share a country, its laws and a language.

Through centuries of war and peace the identity of the country and its population has been forged by its history.

With their labour, or their artistic or sporting talents, many foreigners from different countries of the world have contributed to the development of France and its reputation as a “terre d’accueil”, land of welcome.

Since the 1974 oil crisis with its ensuing unemployment and economic problems, it has been more difficult for non-European foreigners to come and live in France. Immigration is now very strictly controlled and a residence permit must be obtained to study, work or stay in France for more than 3 months, unless you are a citizen of the European Union.

Symbols of France

Drapeaux français et européen - Photo : G. Brame

Its blue, white and red flag which flies alongside the European flag on town halls and other public buildings.

Marianne with mottoIts motto: “Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité” (Freedom, Equality, Brotherhood.). This three-word motto can be found on euro coins.  

stamp Marianne with mottoMarianne - Photo : G. Brame The letters "RF" stand for “République Française”. For example, you see "RF" engraved like a two-letter logo on the entrance to state maintained schools. Marianne represents the French Republic. This woman’s face appears on postage stamps and her bust can be found in town halls all over France. 

The Marseillaise is the national anthem.

July 14th is the French National Holiday. It commemorates the fall of the Bastille and the Federation celebration held after the Revolution.

Coq emblême de la France - Photo : G. BrameThe cockerel is another image associated with the French. France was once Gaul and the name of its inhabitants, the Gauls, translates into latin as gallus which also means cockerel. The cockerel has become the official mascot of French teams in international sporting competitions. There is a weathercock on many churches. 

The words “France” and “Français” come from the very early occupants of the country, the Franks (“les Francs”).

France and Marianne were popular girls’ names in the 1950s. France can also be a family name. Anatole France was a famous French writer who died in 1924 whilst today Cécile de France is a very successful Belgian actress.

French political system

The country’s administration is organised on 4 levels which correspond to its geographical divisions:

Political system

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