When you look at an atlas, France seems a small country. But did you know that there are little bits of France all over the world?
Located in or around the Indian, Pacific and Atlantic oceans, there are 10 overseas "départements" (like counties in the UK) and "pays"/"collectivités" which run most of their own internal affairs. Among these "départements" are two Caribbean islands (Guadeloupe and Martinique) and French Guiana, where there is the Kourou rocket launch site as well as a bit of the Amazon forest. The "pays"/"collectivités" include French Polynesia (including the famous Tahiti) and New Caledonia, as well as a string of Antarctic islands and territories.
What’s more, French is spoken in many other places as well, such as parts of Switzerland, Belgium, Canada and a large part of Africa. Indeed 53 States and governments all sharing the French language (either as their official language or as one of the languages spoken) belong to a club, la Francophonie .
© Maison de la France, 2007
France is at the heart of Europe. She has land borders with a large number of countries: Spain, Andorra, Italy, Switzerland (not in the European Union), Luxembourg, Germany and Belgium.
So for many Europeans, France is next door and, for the others, not far away.
© Communautés européennes, 1995-2006