France Country Guide

by Jose Marc Castro on August 5, 2009

movingtofranceIMAGE200While it is a little known fact, the word France originates from the Franks, a Germanic Tribe who occupied much of Northern Europe after the fall of the Roman Empire.  France has since gone on to become one of the powerhouses of Europe, being a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, a founding member of the United Nations and a forceful member of the G8.

France, officially known as the French Republic, is the most popular destination for tourists in the developed world, with some 75 million foreign tourists making for the French shores every year.  The attractions of France are many, from the vineyards to the Eiffel Tower to the Alps – not to mention the beautiful countryside in between and the multicultural city that is Paris.

The country also has one of the most highly developed transport networks of the modern world, boasting a record 31,000 km of rail track, access to the Eurotunnel and a very efficient underground system.  While an obvious attraction for the traveling tourists, the infrastructure has also helped to build a strong French economy. The country has become one of the most developed countries in the world and ranks as the fifth largest economy by nominal GDP and the eighth largest economy by purchasing power parity.

France has had problems in the past with the rise of immigrant enclaves, sometimes leading to conflict with the French nationals.  Much of the work was been carried out by the government and the situation now seems to be under control.  Even though French is the official language, there are an amazing 77 recognized regional variations, as well as a vast array of religions practiced (France is predominately a Catholic country).

Contents: Economy in FranceProspects in FranceFrance Facts

Economy in France

France boasts one of the highest numbers of registered companies, with some 2.5 million registered as at the end of 2006.  This is a reflection of the entrepreneurial spirit of the French, which has still flourished against a (now declining) program of government intervention with regards to national industries such as power, water, transport, etc.  This has often led to controversy with many of the French Utility companies expanding overseas to the likes of the UK and Spain, while safe in the knowledge that strict government laws prevent French utility companies from moving into foreign hands.

The country has the 6th largest economy in the world and was one of the initial countries to introduce the Euro as their national currency.  Even though there have been many instances of the very strong agricultural sector flexing their muscles in France, the current government are working towards reducing the reliance on EU handouts and state aid.  This is reflected by the fact that France attracts the second highest level of foreign investment in the world.

The French unemployment rate is set to fall to an acceptable 8% by the end of 2007, which is very much in line with the country’s European counter parts.  The country is currently in the throes of a Presidential Election with a number of parties in with a chance of success.  Short term economic growth will depend on the new party in charge, although longer term the country is well positioned for future expansion.

In 2009, France is the world’s sixth largest exporting country and the fifth largest importer of manufactured goods. It is also one of the largest recipients of foreign direct investment in the world with 117.9 billion dollars in 2008. France has one of the strictest tax regimes in the world, with corporation tax set at 33% and personal income tax varying from 10% to 48% depending on your level of income.  Areas of strength include the Automobile market and Tourism.

Prospects in France

After years of indifference France is firmly positioned at the heart of Europe, involved in the planning and drafting of all major policies and structural changes.  While the French economy is one of the most efficient in the world, the actual working population is a percentage of the overall population that is lower than average.

Even though State assistance is very much in evidence in areas such as agriculture and there are a variety of potentially anti-competitive polices to protect French business, the country continues to attract record foreign investment, and overseas tourists.  It is no surprise that France has become one of the more popular areas of Europe for a second home – with particular interest from their British comrades over the English Channel.

The property prices in France have been steadily falling because of the global economic doldrums, but the market has been much more stable compared to the United Kingdom and Spain. This makes purchasing property in France one of the best investments in these hard financial times.

Key Facts on France:

Bordered by the UK, Spain, Belgium, Switzerland, Italy,. Luxembourg and Germany.

Food: Meats, Seafood and Champagne

Temperature: Continental hot climate inland, and a sub zero climate in the mountainous areas of the country.

Industries: Transports, Wine and Tourism.

Education: 11 years of compulsory education, with the majority of students going on to higher education.

Health: Life expectancy 72 years

More information on Expats living in France can be found here.

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