France (Listeni /ˈfrænts/ frantss or /ˈfrɑːnts/ frahnts; About this sound French pronunciation (help·info): [fʁɑ̃s]), officially the French Republic (French: République française, pronounced: [ʁepyblik fʁɑ̃sɛz]), is a state in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France extends from the Mediterranean Sea to the English Channel and the North Sea, and from the Rhine to the Atlantic Ocean. It is often referred to as L’Hexagone ("The Hexagon") because of the geometric shape of its territory. It is bordered (clockwise starting from the northeast) by Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, Switzerland, Italy and Monaco; with Spain and Andorra to the south. France is linked to the United Kingdom by the Channel Tunnel, which passes underneath the English Channel.
France is a founding member state of the European Union and is the largest one by area. France has been a major power for several centuries with strong cultural, economic, military and political influence in Europe and in the world. During the 17th and 18th centuries, France colonised great parts of North America; during the 19th and early 20th centuries, France built the second largest empire of the time, including large portions of North, West and Central Africa, Southeast Asia, and many Pacific islands.
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