Despite suffering extensive losses in World Wars 1 and 2, France today is one of the most advanced countries in the world and is a leader among European nations with a large and vibrant economy.
The French are well known for their strong sense of national identity. Hospitality is important but entertaining in the home involves extended family rather than friends. Socialising with friends is more likely to be done in restaurants as small apartments and kitchens can make cooking difficult.
Though children are important, economic and career factors mean many families opt to have only one child. French mothers often work outside the home, so children are placed in childcare from two and a half years old.
France remains historically and culturally Roman Catholic, but there has been a decline in attendance at both Catholic and mainline Protestant churches. Evangelical Christians are few and scattered, but have grown in number over the last 40 years.
France is home to the largest number of Muslims in Western Europe. Islam is now the second most common religion of France. Buddhism also attracts many French people. Protestant Christians are often identified with ‘sects’ or as extremists by other French people and there have been significant increases in the number of non-religious and non-practising Christians.
France has a strong principle of the separation of Church and state. ‘Conspicuous religious symbols’ like Muslim veils and Christian crosses were banned from public schools in 2004, and a full ban on the public wearing of veils came into effect in 2011. It is difficult to speak publicly about faith in France as religion is thought best confined to the private sphere.
- Region: Europe
- Capital: Paris
- Population: 64.9 million
- Area: 551,500 km2
- Religions: Roman Catholic 56.6%, no religion 25.2%, Muslim 8.6%,
- Languages: French