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  • - Let's give this a shot... -

  • As some of you know, I am 1/8th French.

  • So, I guess I should like, honor my heritage or something.

  • ♫ ♫ ♫

  • It's time to learn Geography! ♫ NOW!

  • Hey everyone! I'm your host, Barby.

  • Ahhh, France. Pretty much everybody on the planet has heard of this place.

  • I mean, immediately, images of wine, cafés, embellished 18th century Baroque architecture,

  • and people who really hate globalization of the English language.

  • But take a step back even further and France becomes a place with

  • jaguars, coconuts, volcanoes, penguins, grass skirts, war dances, bamboo flutes, witch doctors,

  • and a multifaceted history, that is evolved into a people group into becoming

  • one of the most notable nations on the planet.

  • So, let's go!

  • ♫ ♫ ♫

  • - Political Geography -

  • The first thing you need to know about France is that it's not just European,

  • but a trans-continental country that spans across twelve time zones.

  • More then any other country in the world.

  • But how is that possible?

  • Let me explain fat boy.

  • France is kinda divided into two main parts:

  • The European Metropolitan France, where about 95% of the population lives

  • and the overseas French regions, departments and territories,

  • otherwise known as "départements et territoires d'outre-mer" or "DOM-TOM".

  • Before we tell you what they are, let's explain the difference between them.

  • Regions have exactly the same legal status as mainland France

  • in the same civil penal code and administrative social tax laws.

  • However, they can be slightly adapted to suit the region's particular needs.

  • In collectivities, the autonomy rises and they are empowered to make their own laws

  • except in certain areas like defense, currency, trade and diplomacy.

  • The overseas regions are Guadeloupe and Martinique in the Caribbean.

  • French Guiana in South America, which by the way, has the Kuro Space center,

  • disputably the best in the world because it adds an extra gravitational slingshot effect

  • because it's so close to the equator of the earth,

  • andunion and Mayotte off the coast of East Africa.

  • The overseas collectivities are French Polynesia. (you've probably heard of Tahiti,

  • that's French Polynesia) as well as Wallis and Futuna in the Pacific,

  • Saint Pierre and Miquelon, right off the coast of Canada,

  • Saint Barthelemy and Saint Martin, which is the only place in France that has a border with the Netherlands

  • as the Dutch own the southern part of the island, located all in the Caribbean.

  • The only islands that lie under the title of "overseas territories" are

  • the French Southern and Antarctic Islands, or the TAAF.

  • These islands are made up of the Kerguelen islands, the Saint Paul and Amsterdam islands.

  • (you can probably guess who used to own those),

  • the Crozet islands, and Adélie Land, the claimed slice of Antarctica

  • that is technically not recognized thanks to the Antarctic Treaty.

  • And as of 2007, the scattered islands in the Indian Ocean, remember the Comoros episode,

  • were added to make the fifth district of the territory.

  • Even though half of them are disputed with Comoros, Seychelles and Mauritius.

  • These islands are mostly uninhabited and only house temporary military or scientific personnel.

  • Finally, France administers two special territories that don't quite

  • fall into any of the previously mentioned categories.

  • There's the uninhabited Clipperton island off the coast of Mexico which has a crazy murder story behind it.

  • And last but not least, there's New Caledonia,

  • which has a special particular status out of the French administered overseas territories.

  • New Caledonia is the only one that's vying for a, kind of, somewhat independence

  • as the political power was passed to the native Kanak peoples.

  • There is a weird dual, French, EU and New Caledonian citizenship thing going on.

  • And in 2018, they will hold a referendum to either remain or leave France.

  • And thanks to all these territories, they together give France

  • the second largest executive economic zone in the world, after the US.

  • (exhale)

  • Okay, now let's go back to Metropolitan Europe France.

  • The country is located in Western Europe, bordered by eight other nation states.

  • Don't forget little Andorra and Monaco!

  • Along the coast by the English Channel and the Bay of Biscay in the north and west,

  • as well as the Mediterranean sea to the south.

  • Mainland France is sometimes referred to as the "hexagon"

  • since if you tilt your head a little bit, it kinda looks like it has six sides.

  • Quite frankly, I was always under the impression that it kinda looked like a teapot with feet.

  • Mainland France is also divided into thirteen regions, including Corsica island,

  • eighteen all together if you include the overseas regions.

  • With the capital, largest city as well as the main cultural and commercial center: Paris.

  • We could talk on and on about Paris, what with the unbelievably designed metropolitan layout,

  • the rich vibrant atmosphere,

  • the juxtaposition of classically adorned historical sights along neo-contemporary architecture,

  • the food, the shops and of course:

  • Au soleil, sous la pluie, A midi ou à minuit

  • Il y a tout ce que vous voulez aux Champs-Elysées. ♪

  • But that in itself would take too long and we've got to get through three more segments.

  • The busiest airports are the two Paris twins:

  • Charles de Gaulle and Orly International, as well as Nicete d’Azur.

  • And the second and third largest cities: Lyon Saint-Exupéry and Marseille Provence International.

  • At around 643,000 km², France is the largest country in the EU.

  • The interesting thing about France is that it's kinda divided into areas

  • that historically had their own distinct cultural identity.

  • Some of the most notable ones being:

  • Occitania, Savoy , Brittany, Normandie, Alsace, a section of the Basque country,

  • Nice and the island of Corsica which speaks its own dialect that most French people can't even understand.

  • These regions contribute their own unique piece of the French pie.

  • Speaking of pie, we all know about French food. Which is great because we're gonna discuss more about it in:

  • ♫ ♫ ♫

  • - Physical Geography -

  • If you look at France's physical makeup, you start to kinda understand

  • why food plays such a huge role in their culture.

  • Everything just kinda works out perfectly for them.

  • For Metropolitan France, big, rich, nourishing rivers and their tributaries like the:

  • Garonne, Dordogne, Loire, Seine, Meuse and Rhone

  • entangle the entire country, north to south, east to west.

  • Allowing an abundance of irrigated crop fields to exist in nearly every corner of the country.

  • Now and on top of that, the fact that the country does not have any major fault lines.

  • They enjoy nice oceanic European climate and they don't suffer regularly from any major natural catastrophes.

  • Most of the country is made up of arable flat plains or small rolling green hills

  • that are just BEGGING for cultivation. And voilà! You have an agricultural gold mine.

  • In fact, out of every country in the EU,

  • France reportedly has the highest quality of soil performance and resilience

  • and only a few spots like in the Caucasus region

  • and parts of Eastern Europe and Southern Russia rank higher.

  • So, there you go! Food heaven.

  • In the south, you reach the mountainous regions of France including the Pyrenees,

  • along the border with Spain, the Massif Central plateaus.

  • (one of the most geologically studied places in Europe due to its strange formation),

  • the Alps all along the borders with Italy and Switzerland.

  • By the way, Switzerland was all like: "I'm not gonna share lakeman. IT'S MINE!"

  • And that's how Geneva was born.

  • The highest point in France (let alone all of the EU) is Mont Blanc

  • found in the French Alps along the border with Italy.

  • Only second in height to the Caucasus mountains in all of Europe.

  • If you consider the Caucasus region a part of Europe.

  • Some people don't but that's just... that's another story.

  • France is a cornucopia of produce, dairy and meat. Every region has their own specialty.

  • But two things are everywhere: cheese and wine.

  • The French are the largest consumers of cheese

  • with over twelve hundred different varieties found all over the country.

  • The French also have a larger range of unconventionally consumed meat products.

  • Most countries stick with beef, chicken, pork, maybe lamb or goat and fish.

  • However, the French aren't satisfied with just that.

  • Other animals like pheasant, duck, goose, quail, rabbit, venison,

  • veal, horse, frogs and snails are consumed regularly.

  • Speaking of which, the national animal is the Gallic rooster which is why you might

  • typically see a lot of roosters on French affiliated symbols.

  • In fact, France is one of the most entomophagous (that's insect eating) countries in Europe

  • as about seven hundred million snails are estimated to be consumed every year by the French.

  • Especially in Burgundy, the largest snail producing region in France.

  • Unfortunately, due to the fact that the French are the highest consumers of raw or mildly cooked red meat,

  • a huge portion of the population is either exposed or chronically infected by the Toxoplasma gondii parasite.

  • That disputably, over half the population is suspected to have.

  • This little guy eventually finds its way into your brain,

  • changes people's behaviors into being either more caring or aggressive and suspicious.

  • Look it up. I'm not even joking.

  • The Alps are famous for their charcuterie and fondue, Brittany for its crepes, Chantal for its chestnuts,

  • Dijon for its mustard, L'Aveuron for aligot, Reims for its champagne and then we get to Bordeaux.

  • Now, first of all, every region of France likes to claim that they have the best wine however,

  • it's widely known that Bordeaux is disputably the home of the largest wine vineyards in the world,

  • pumping out over half a billion liters of wine a year.

  • The French take their produce maintenance very seriously and became the first country in the world

  • to ban supermarkets from throwing away or destroying unsold food since February of 2016.

  • All businesses must donate wastage to either charities or food banks.

  • To combat crop wastage on farms, France has even opened up ugly fruit or vegetables shops

  • in which, you can buy disfigured produce for thirty percent off.

  • Other than food stuffs though, main exports are:

  • aircraft, chemicals, machinery, iron and steel, electronics, motor vehicles and pharmaceuticals.

  • Of course, the overseas territories and regions also have climates and topographies that are completely different.

  • The Caribbean islands and Guiana enjoy a warm Caribbean tropical climate.

  • Guiana being a part of the Amazon,

  • having one of the highest forest covered densities in the world at over 95%.

  • With over eleven hundred species of birds and reptiles and mammals found in it.

  • Reunion and Mayotte off the coast of Africa have deep jungle ravines and a common volcanic activity going on.

  • The Scattered Islands are mostly uninhabited sandbanks and lagoons

  • with nothing more than just a few trees and shrubs.

  • The Southern Antarctic islands are rocky and desolate with few grasses and vegetation.

  • Kerguelen has these cabbage looking things going on.

  • And these islands typically freeze over in the winter with penguins stampeding off the coasts.

  • New Caledonia and French Polynesia are tropical Pacific islands that enjoy an abundance of

  • rich, unspoiled, thick jungle brush and colorful flowers.

  • And of course, Adélie Land is like all ice and Antarctica.

  • All right, we've discussed borders, boundaries, mountains, food, volcanoes.

  • Now, let's talk about who's running the entire show.

  • ♫ ♫ ♫

  • - Demographics -

  • France is a country of people that are very, very intent on making sure that you know they are French.

  • First of all! The country has about 67 million people

  • and is the second largest in Europe after Germany, making 13% of the EU alone.

  • About 85% of the population is white, 10% are North-African, mostly from the Maghreb regions,

  • A little over 5% are black and a little less than 2% are Asian.

  • The currency is the Euro, they use the type 'C', 'E', 'F' outlets and they drive on the right side of the road.

  • Which makes things interesting when their neighbors from the UK come across the channel.

  • Now, let's talk about the white people. Most white French people have some or partial Celtic or Gaulish origins

  • as historically, the Gauls inhabited most of the centralized regions of modern-day France.

  • That means genetically, the French and British have a lot more in common than they think.

  • Of course, an admixture of Latin and Germanic roots also applies

  • as all the people groups have their stake of claim in France as well.

  • The name France even came from the Germanic "Frank" tribe.

  • French is of course the official language, however, regional dialects do exist

  • but for the most part, they do pretty well on making sure everyone speaks it.

  • Granted, the linguistic zones we mentioned before each have their own flag still cling on to their mother tongue.

  • And sometimes you can even find street signs written in these languages.

  • For example, Breton, a Celtic based language related to Welsh and Irish found in Brittany,

  • Basque in the Basque country, Occitan in Occitania.

  • Corsicans have like this strange half-French, half-Italian hybrid thing going on.

  • Keep in mind though, most of the languages spoken in the linguistic zones are kind of dying out

  • and only the older generation really retains daily conversation in those languages.

  • Outside of Metropolitan France, the overseas departments and territories each speak French

  • but in addition have their own creoles or dialects.

  • For example in the Caribbean, Martinique and Guadeloupe might say:

  • "Sa ka maché?" (How are you?)

  • "Tou Boneman" (All is well)

  • "Tilmal" (Little man)

  • In Reunion or Mayotte, they might say:

  • "Koiffé?" (What are you doing?)

  • "Koman ilé?" (How are you doing?)

  • "A ou?" (...And you?)

  • France is the most visited country in the world as more people than the entire population of France

  • visit France annually at about 80 million.

  • Culture wise, there's too much to discuss. I mean, we're talking millennia of

  • tribes, wars, empires, heroes, villains, artists, poets, architects,

  • kings, queens, guillotines, revolutions, inventions, music, dance, clothing, fashion, cinema,

  • cuisine, discoveries, victories, losses, folklore, science, literature, medicine

  • and BAGUETTES!

  • To cover it all, we would need a whole separate YouTube channel. But for what it's worth.

  • Since the Middle Ages, France has been able to show time after time again

  • that it has been a global force to be reckoned with.

  • I mean, the French at one point in time had the second largest empire in the world,

  • spanning across virtually every region on every continent.

  • One thing you have to understand is that in a fast-growing Anglophone driven, global economy,

  • France is very, very firmly intent on preserving the French language and culture.

  • The governmentally sanctioned Académie française has aimed at doing this since 1634.

  • They do things like, somewhat unsuccessfully, banning foreign words such as:

  • blog, hashtag, parking, e-mail and weekend.

  • In addition, the French media's top regulators the CSA and CNC have strictly enforced policies

  • that require all music on private radio to be at least of 40% French origin and 70% in the French language

  • between the hours of 8AM to 8PM, and half of the music quota must be less than six month old.

  • EVERYTHING. MUST. BE. FRENCH.

  • France is of course home to a plethora of notable figures in every field of academia and athleticism.

  • I mean, they have almost seventy Nobel Peace Prize winners including:

  • famous chemists Pierre and Marie Curie.

  • (Few people know that they had a daughter who also became a notable scientist)

  • Other scientists, writers and philosophers like:

  • Decartes, Pascal, Baudelaire, Flaubert, Pasteur, Châtelet, Mouton.

  • (Who, by the way, invented the Metric system!)

  • Musicians like: Ramleau, Lully, Debussey, Jaques Brel, Edith Piaf.

  • Of course, we can't forget the fashion icons: Louis Vuitton, Coco Chanel and Christian Dior.

  • I mean, it's no secret, France is often touted as the fashion capital of the world.

  • Artists like: Monet, Cezanne, Renoir, Degas, Manet and Gauguin.