Facts and Statistics
Location: Western Europe, bordering Andorra 56.6 km, Belgium 620 km, Germany 451 km,
Italy 488 km, Luxembourg 73 km, Monaco 4.4 km, Spain 623 km, Switzerland 573 km
Climate: generally cool winters and mild summers, but mild winters and hot summers along
the Mediterranean; occasional strong, cold, dry, north-to-northwesterly wind known as mistral
Population: 60,424,213 (July 2004 est.)
Ethnic Make-up: Celtic and Latin with Teutonic, Slavic, North African, Indochinese, Basque minorities
Religions: Roman Catholic 83%-88%, Protestant 2%, Jewish 1%, Muslim 5%-10%, unaffiliated
Languages in France
French, the official language, is the first language of 88% of the population. Most of those who speak minority languages also speak French, as the minority languages are given no legal recognition. 3% of the population speak German dialects, predominantly in the eastern provinces of Alsace-Lorraine and Moselle. Flemish is spoken by around 90,000 people in the northeast, which is 0.2% of the French population. Around 1m people near the Italian border, roughly 1.7% of the population, speaks Italian.
Basque is spoken by 0.1% and mainly along the French-Spanish border.
Catalan dialects are spoken in the French Pyrenees by around 260,000 people or 0.4% of the French population.
The Celtic language, Breton, is spoken by 1.2% and mainly in the north west of France. These three languages have no official status within France.
In the South of France, over 7m speak Occitan dialects, representing 12% of the population of France, but these dialects have no official status. Nor too does Corsu, the dialect of the island of Corsica that is closely related to Tuscan and is spoken by 0.3%.
Arabic, the third largest minority language, is spoken by around 1.7% of the population throughout the country. Other immigrant languages from the former French colonies include Kabyle and Antillean Creole.