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Welcome to the France Portal!
Bienvenue sur le Portail France !
The French Republic or France (French: République française or France) is a country whose metropolitan territory is located in Western Europe and that also comprises a collection of overseas islands and territories located in North America, the Caribbean, South America, the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean. France is the largest country in Europe (674,843 km² with its overseas départements). With a population of over 66 million inhabitants, France is the second most populous country in Western Europe (after Germany) and the 20th largest in the world. Paris is the most populous city in France with over 12 million people in its aire urbaine, Marseille is the second largest city with 1.7 million people, and the third is Lyon with just 1.6 million people, associated with Villeurbanne.
The French Republic is a democracy which is organised as a unitary semi-presidential republic. It has the fifth-largest economy in the world in nominal terms. Its main ideals are expressed in the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen. France is one of the founding members of the European Union, and has the largest land area of all members. France is also a founding member of the United Nations, and a member of the G7, G8, NATO, and the Latin Union. It is one of the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council wielding veto power, and it is also one of eight acknowledged nuclear powers. With almost 82 million foreign tourists each year, France is the most popular international tourist destination in the world.
French is the official language of France, but each region has its own unique accent; in addition to French, there are several other languages of France traditionally spoken, although use of these languages has greatly decreased over the past two hundred years. French is also an official language in 41 countries, most of which form what is called in French la Francophonie, the community of French-speaking nations.
(English: The Dome), also known as the Coupole d'Helfaut-Wizernes
is a Second World War
bunker complex in the Pas-de-Calais départment
of northern France
, about 5 kilometres (3.1 mi) from Saint-Omer
. It was built by the forces of Nazi Germany
between 1943 and 1944 to serve as a launch base for V-2 rockets
directed against London and southern England.
Constructed in the side of a disused chalk quarry, the most prominent feature of the complex is an immense concrete dome, to which its modern name refers. It was built above a network of tunnels housing storage areas, launch facilities and crew quarters. The facility was designed to store a large stockpile of V-2s, warheads and fuel and was intended to launch V-2s on an industrial scale. Dozens of missiles a day were to be fuelled, prepared and launched in rapid sequence against London and southern England.
However, after repeated heavy bombing by Allied forces during Operation Crossbow, the Germans were unable to complete the construction works and the complex never entered service. It remained derelict until the mid-1990s. In 1997 it opened to the public for the first time, as a museum. Exhibits in the tunnels and under the dome tell the story of the German occupation of France during World War II, the V-weapons and the history of space exploration.
Joan of Arc
, nicknamed "The Maid of Orléans
: La Pucelle d'Orléans
), is a folk heroine
of France and a Roman Catholic saint
. She was born a peasant
girl in what is now eastern France. Claiming divine guidance, she led the French army to several important victories during the Hundred Years' War
, which paved the way for the coronation of Charles VII of France
. She was captured by the Burgundians
, transferred to the English in exchange for money, put on trial by the pro-English Bishop of Beauvais Pierre Cauchon
for charges of "insubordination and heterodoxy", and was burned at the stake
when she was 19 years old.
Twenty-five years after her execution, an inquisitorial court authorized by Pope Callixtus III examined the trial, pronounced her innocent, and declared her a martyr. Joan of Arc was beatified in 1909 and canonized in 1920. She is – along with St. Denis, St. Martin of Tours, St. Louis IX, and St. Theresa of Lisieux – one of the patron saints of France. Joan said that she had visions from God that instructed her to recover her homeland from English domination late in the Hundred Years' War. The uncrowned King Charles VII sent her to the siege of Orléans as part of a relief mission. She gained prominence when she overcame the dismissive attitude of veteran commanders and lifted the siege in only nine days. Several additional swift victories led to Charles VII's coronation at Reims.
To the present day, Joan of Arc has remained a significant figure in Western civilization.