France Geography

What is the terrain and geography like in France?

Overview:

The landscape is varied; about two?thirds flat plains or gently rolling hills, and the rest mountainous. A broad plain covers most of northern and western France from the Belgian border in the northeast to Bayonne in the southwest, and it rises to uplands in Normandy, Brittany, and the east. This large plain is bounded on the south by the steeply rising ridges of the Pyrénées, on the southeast by the mountainous plateau of the Massif Central, and on the east by the rugged Alps, the low ridges of the Jura, and the rounded summits of the densely forested Vosges. The principal rivers are the Rhône in the south, the Loire and the Garonne in the west, the Seine in the north, and the Rhine, which forms part of France’s eastern border with Germany.

Geography - note:

largest West European nation

Climate:

The west and north of France experience cool winters and mild summers, while southern France and Corsica have a Mediterranean climate with hot summers and mild winters. Precipitation is frequent all year. The average yearly rainfall in Paris for the last 30 years is 26 inches.

France Use of Natural Resources

France Environment

Climate:

The west and north of France experience cool winters and mild summers, while southern France and Corsica have a Mediterranean climate with hot summers and mild winters. Precipitation is frequent all year. The average yearly rainfall in Paris for the last 30 years is 26 inches.

Terrain:

metropolitan France: mostly flat plains or gently rolling hills in north and west; remainder is mountainous, especially Pyrenees in south, Alps in east

French Guiana: low-lying coastal plains rising to hills and small mountains

Guadeloupe: Basse-Terre is volcanic in origin with interior mountains; Grande-Terre is low limestone formation; most of the seven other islands are volcanic in origin

Martinique: mountainous with indented coastline; dormant volcano

Mayotte: generally undulating, with deep ravines and ancient volcanic peaks

Reunion: mostly rugged and mountainous; fertile lowlands along coast

Natural Resources:

metropolitan France: coal, iron ore, bauxite, zinc, uranium, antimony, arsenic, potash, feldspar, fluorspar, gypsum, timber, fish

French Guiana: gold deposits, petroleum, kaolin, niobium, tantalum, clay

Natural Hazards:

metropolitan France: flooding; avalanches; midwinter windstorms; drought; forest fires in south near the Mediterranean

overseas departments: hurricanes (cyclones); flooding; volcanic activity (Guadeloupe, Martinique, Reunion)

Irrigated Land:

10,201 Square Miles
26,420 Square Kilometers

Environmental Issues:

some forest damage from acid rain; air pollution from industrial and vehicle emissions; water pollution from urban wastes, agricultural runoff

Environment - International Agreements:

party to: Air Pollution, Air Pollution-Nitrogen Oxides, Air Pollution-Persistent Organic Pollutants, Air Pollution-Sulfur 85, Air Pollution-Sulfur 94, Air Pollution-Volatile Organic Compounds, Antarctic-Environmental Protocol, Antarctic-Marine Living Resources, Antarctic Seals, Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Marine Life Conservation, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands, Whaling

signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements

France Geography

Geographic Location Europe
Total Area 248,572 Square Miles
643,801 Square Kilometers
Land Area 247,269 Square Miles
640,427 Square Kilometers
Water Area 1,303 Square Miles
3,374 Square Kilometers
Land Boundaries 1,795 Miles
2,889 Kilometers
Irrigated Land 10,201 Square Miles
26,420 Square Kilometers
Border Countries 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
Coastline 3,016 Miles
4,853 Kilometers
Geographic Coordinates metropolitan France: 46 00 N, 2 00 E

French Guiana: 4 00 N, 53 00 W

Guadeloupe: 16 15 N, 61 35 W

Martinique: 14 40 N, 61 00 W

Mayotte: 12 50 S, 45 10 E

Reunion: 21 06 S, 55 36 E
Terrain metropolitan France: mostly flat plains or gently rolling hills in north and west; remainder is mountainous, especially Pyrenees in south, Alps in east

French Guiana: low-lying coastal plains rising to hills and small mountains

Guadeloupe: Basse-Terre is volcanic in origin with interior mountains; Grande-Terre is low limestone formation; most of the seven other islands are volcanic in origin

Martinique: mountainous with indented coastline; dormant volcano

Mayotte: generally undulating, with deep ravines and ancient volcanic peaks

Reunion: mostly rugged and mountainous; fertile lowlands along coast
Highest Point 4,807 Meters
Highest Point Location Mont Blanc 4,807 m
Lowest Point -2 Meters
Lowest Point Location Rhone River delta -2 m
Natural Resources metropolitan France: coal, iron ore, bauxite, zinc, uranium, antimony, arsenic, potash, feldspar, fluorspar, gypsum, timber, fish

French Guiana: gold deposits, petroleum, kaolin, niobium, tantalum, clay
Time Zone UTC+1 (6 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)

note: applies to metropolitan France only, not to its overseas departments, collectivities, or territories
Daylight saving time +1hr, begins last Sunday in March; ends last Sunday in October
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