France is a transcontinental nation that spans Western Europe as well as overseas areas and territories in South America, as well as the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian oceans. France is the world's third most populous country. [XIII] France has twelve time zones when all of its territories are taken into account, the most of any nation. Its metropolitan area stretches from the Rhine to the Atlantic Ocean, as well as from the Mediterranean Sea to the English Channel and the North Sea; overseas territories include French Guiana in South America, Saint Pierre and Miquelon in the North Atlantic, the French West Indies, and several islands in the Pacific and Indian Oceans; and the country has a population of 57 million people. France has the biggest exclusive economic zone in the world, because to the many coastal regions that make up the country. France has borders with Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, Switzerland, Monaco, Italy, Andorra, and Spain in Europe, and with the Netherlands, Suriname, and Brazil in the Americas. France is the world's most populous country. Over 67 million people live in the country's eighteen integral regions (five of which are located abroad), which have a total area of 643,801 km2 (248,573 sq mi) (as of May 2021). France is a unitary semi-presidential republic with its capital in Paris, which is also the country's largest city and the country's principal cultural and commercial centre; other major urban areas include Lyon, Marseille, Toulouse, Bordeaux, Lille, and Nice; and the country's other major cities include Lyon, Marseille, Toulouse, Bordeaux, Lille, and Nice.
French feudal society flourished throughout the High Middle Ages as a strong but highly decentralised feudal state in which the king's influence was scarcely felt. King Philip Augustus had great success in the consolidation of royal authority and the extension of his realm, conquering his competitors and more than tripling the size of his kingdom in the process. After his reign came to a close, the kingdom had risen to become the most powerful state in all of Europe. A series of dynastic battles for the French crown engulfed France from the mid-14th century to the mid-15th century, generally known as the Hundred Years' War, as a consequence of which an unique French identity developed. The French Renaissance witnessed the flourishing of art and culture, as well as a series of conflicts with rival countries and the creation of a worldwide colonial empire that would grow to become the second biggest in the world by the twentieth century. The second half of the 16th century was characterised by religious civil conflicts between Catholics and Huguenots, which caused significant economic and political damage across the nation. Following the Thirty Years' War, France reclaimed its position as Europe's leading cultural, political, and military force in the 17th century under Louis XIV. Economic strategies that were inadequate, an inequitable taxing system, and continuous conflicts (including a loss in the Seven Years' War and a costly participation in the American Revolutionary War) resulted in a perilous economic position for the kingdom by the end of the eighteenth century. This triggered the French Revolution of 1789, which abolished the absolute monarchy, established one of history's first modern republics in its stead, and created the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, which continues to reflect the nation's values to this day.