France is the largest country in Western Europe and one of the world's major economic and political powers. France is a country with varied and beautiful landscapes, modern industries, and historic towns and cities. It has helped to shape the history and culture of Western Europe as well as many parts of the world. France has produced great thinkers, scientists, politicians, musicians, writers, and fashion designers. The French are also famous for their fine cuisine and wine, which is often said to be the best in the world. Enjoyment of these is an important part of life for most French people and visitors to the country.
France is ranked currently as the second largest economy is Europe and the fifth largest in the world by nominal GDP ("Gross domestic product 2010," 2011). France is a member of the G8 group of leading industrialized countries and in 1999 joined 11 other EU members to create the Euro.
France's economy is a mixed economy, meaning it comprises of private enterprise as well as extensive government ownership. This has been changing in recent years, however with the government fully or partially privatizing many large companies, banks, and insurers, and has ceded stakes in such leading firms as Air France, France Telecom, Renault, and Thales. The government still maintains a strong presence in key sectors, particularly power, public transport, and defense industries (Central Intelligence Agency, 2011).
France has weathered the global financial crisis quite well due in large part to domestic consumer spending, a large public sector, and less exposure to the downturn in global demand than in some other countries. France is also the most visited country in the world and maintains the third largest income in the world from tourism with over 75 million tourists visiting annually...