Saturday, 25 May, 2013
13:01 GMT 17:01 Moscow
Local Time: 17:01
The French Republic
The French Republic is situated in western Europe. The country borders Belgium, Luxembourg and Germany in the northeast, Germany and Switzerland in the east, Monaco and Italy in the southeast and Spain and Andorra in the southwest. France borders the North and Mediterranean seas, Pas de Calais and La Manche straits and the Bay of Biscay. The western and northern areas of the country are plains, with the central and eastern ones featuring medium-height mountains of the French Massif Central, Vosges and Jura. The southwestern border is made up by the Pyrenees and the southeastern one by the Alps, the highest mountains in western Europe.
The country occupies an area of 551,600 km2.
The population is 60.2 million as of 2004.
The capital of France is Paris.
The country’s administrative divisions are 95 departments, including a special political unit of Corsica with the greater local government authority in economy, social policies and culture, 22 regions, communes. There is also division into 37 historic provinces.
The state language is French.
The currency is the euro (1 euro = 100 eurocents).
The political system is a republic.
The Fifth Republic’s Constitution is in effect. It was approved by referendum on September 28, 1958 in France and its overseas departments.
The head of state is the president elected by general direct vote for a five-year term of office. The president nominates the prime minister and individual ministers.
The legislative authority is vested in two houses of parliament – the National Assembly and the Senate. The National Assembly has 491 seats and the Senate – 321. National Assembly deputies are elected by general direct vote for a five-year term in office. The Senate election is general but not direct, with the senators elected by an electoral college comprising National Assembly deputies, department council delegates and municipal council delegates. Voting is proportional in large entities and majority in smaller ones. In case none of the candidates under the majority arrangement secures a majority vote, a second round is held. Senators are elected for a nine-year term of office. A third of the Senate is renewed every three years.
The chairman of the Senate is elected for three years. The current Senate chairman is Christian Ponslet.
The chairman of the National Assembly is Jean-Louis Debré.
The executive authority is vested in the Council of Ministers. Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin was appointed on May 31, 2005.
The judicial authority is vested in courts of two types. The first type is constituted by civil and criminal courts that are divided into the ordinary and specialized ones, e.g. commercial, social security and juvenile ones, military tribunals, etc. There are four hierarchic levels, including minor courts, courts of highest resort, the Court of Appeal and the Court of Review. The other type consists of administrative courts that also divide into ordinary and specialized ones, e.g. budget and financial discipline courts, higher education courts, etc. There are three levels of administrative courts – the first, second (Court of Appeal) and third (State Council) courts. There are courts outside the two types, e.g. the Conflict Court that judges on conflicts about the jurisdiction between courts of the above two types, the Constitutional Council in its capacity of a judiciary body, the High Court of Justice and the Court of Justice of the Republic.
The state holiday is July 14, Bastille Day, celebrated since 1789.
The principal economic indices are as follows:
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