Economy

The French Republic is a member of the G8, the leading industrialized countries. France represents the fifth largest economy in the world and the second largest economy in Europe (according to nominal GDP) and it accounts for 39 of the 500 biggest companies in the world. The economy in France is mixed, i.e. it combines private and state owned companies. The French state predominantly owns companies in the transport sector, such as railway and aircraft, the energy sector, such as electricity and nuclear power, and the telecommunications sector.

France is the leading producer and exporter of agricultural products within Europe, due to its fertile land, the use of modern technology and substantial EU subsidies, and the biggest exporter of agricultural products worldwide. Agricultural produce includes wheat, dairy, meat such as poultry, beef and pork, as well as Champagne and Bordeaux wines. An estimated number of 3.5% of the French population is employed in the agricultural sector.

The French labor market is characterized by high unemployment rates. This results from low employment rates in the youngest age group (15-24 years) as well as in the oldest age group (55-64 years). Even if the unemployment rate has decreased to 7% it still is one of the highest among European countries.

France is a popular tourist destination with nearly 82 million foreign visitors per year. This makes France the most popular tourist destination in the entire world. Apart from numerous UNESCO World Heritage sights, France also offers many places of cultural interest with some of the world’s most renowned museums, in cities such as Paris, Toulouse, Strasbourg, Bordeaux and Lyon. Apart from culture France offers seaside resorts and beautiful beaches as well as exquisite ski resorts. Other thriving tourist magnets are Disneyland Paris and the town of Lourdes which attracts several million pilgrims each year.

The French transport system consists of a vast railway network, which offers travellers high-speed trains, most notably the TGV which travels at 320km/h. The Eurostar connects France and Great Britain through the Channel Tunnel. France also has an extensive tramway, bus and underground system. The country counts 475 airports, the largest and most important being Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport, and ten major ports, the largest of which is Marseille.