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France Geography 1996

  • Following correction sent by Eric Cowen of Luxembourg

    A note at the bottom of the page indicates that there is "an occasional warm tropical wind known as mistral". In actual fact, the wind known as Mistral blows from the North to the South of France, along the Rhone river valley, i.e. roughly at 45� North, which is far from the Tropics. It is a cold and violent wind, not your everyday tropical breeze.

    • Location:
      Western Europe, bordering the Bay of Biscay and English Channel, between Belgium and Spain southeast of the UK; bordering the Mediterranean Sea, between Italy and Spain

    • Map references:

    • Area:

        total area:
        547,030 sq km

        land area:
        545,630 sq km

        comparative area:
        slightly more than twice the size of Colorado

        includes Corsica and the rest of metropolitan France, but excludes the overseas administrative divisions

    • Land boundaries:
      total 2,892.4 km, Andorra 60 km, Belgium 620 km, Germany 451 km, Italy 488 km, Luxembourg 73 km, Monaco 4.4 km, Spain 623 km, Switzerland 573 km

    • Coastline:
      3,427 km (mainland 2,783 km, Corsica 644 km)

    • Maritime claims:

        contiguous zone:
        24 nm

        continental shelf:
        200-m depth or to the depth of exploitation

        exclusive economic zone:
        200 nm

        territorial sea:
        12 nm

    • International disputes:
      Madagascar claims Bassas da India, Europa Island, Glorioso Islands, Juan de Nova Island, and Tromelin Island; Comoros claims Mayotte; Mauritius claims Tromelin Island; Seychelles claims Tromelin Island; Suriname claims part of French Guiana; Mexico claims Clipperton Island; territorial claim in Antarctica (Adelie Land); Saint Pierre and Miquelon is focus of maritime boundary dispute between Canada and France

    • Climate:
      generally cool winters and mild summers, but mild winters and hot summers along the Mediterranean

    • Terrain:
      mostly flat plains or gently rolling hills in north and west; remainder is mountainous, especially Pyrenees in south, Alps in east

    • Natural resources:
      coal, iron ore, bauxite, fish, timber, zinc, potash

    • Land use:

        arable land:

        permanent crops:

        meadows and pastures:

        forest and woodland:


    • Irrigated land:
      11,600 sq km (1989 est.)

    • Environment:

        current issues:
        some forest damage from acid rain; air pollution from industrial and vehicle emissions; water pollution from urban wastes, agricultural runoff

        natural hazards:

        international agreements:
        party to - Air Pollution, Air Pollution-Nitrogen Oxides, Air Pollution-Sulphur 85, Antarctic-Environmental Protocol, Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Marine Dumping, Marine Life Conservation, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Wetlands, Whaling; signed, but not ratified - Air Pollution-Sulphur 94, Air Pollution-Volatile Organic Compounds, Desertification, Law of the Sea

    • Note:
      largest West European nation; occasional warm tropical wind known as mistral

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