Country Focus Data: France
March 01, 1998
by Mindy Dake
Located in Western Europe, France borders the Mediterranean Sea and Atlantic Ocean. France's capital is Paris.
Demography: Population 58.1 million (1996 estimate), 0.34% growth rate; French is the official language; Roman Catholic predominant religion.
Geography: Flat plains and rolling hills in the north and west, mountains cover the south and east; temperate to Mediterranean climate.
Government: Republic. President is Jacques Chirac, Prime Minister is Alain Juppe.
Official agricultural agencies: Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries under Agriculture Minister Louis Le Pensec. Economy: Market system. France has the fifth largest economy in the world, behind the United States, Japan, China and Germany. The state spends about 55% of gross domestic product on its social welfare system, running the railways, airlines, electricity and telecommunications sectors of industry, although state involvement slowly is decreasing. G.D.P. per capita: U.S.$20,200 (1995 estimate), 2.4% real growth rate.
Currency: The French franc. Feb. 9, 1998 exchange rate: 6.1 FFr per U.S. dollar.
Exports: U.S.$235 billion (f.o.b., 1994) machinery, agricultural products, textiles.
Imports: U.S.$229 billion (c.i.f., 1994) machinery, chemicals, iron and steel.
Major agricultural crops/products: Grains, fruits, vegetables, grapes/wine.
Wheat: One of the world's major wheat producers, France in 1997 harvested 34.2 million tonnes, an increase of about 4 million since 1994 and an 11-million-tonne increase since 1983. Soft winter wheat is the predominant type, although soft spring and durum are also produced. France markets its wheat on the basis of protein content and physical qualities rather than on bread making properties. Growth in area planted to wheat used for feed has led to consideration of a separate "feed wheat" class.
Maize: French maize production accounts for more than 40% of the E.U.'s total maize production. In 1997, France harvested 16.5 million tonnes, up from 14.4 million in 1996.
Transportation: Railroads, 33,524 km, 1.435-m gauge; 16 million km of highways, with 811,000 km paved; 15,000 km of inland waterways, 6,969 of which are heavily traveled; major ports are Rouen, Marseille, Le Havre, Nantes, Bordeaux.