B1 Intermediate US 415 Folder Collection
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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,
and Réunion 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.
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 Nice Côte 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 lake Léman. 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)

(Little man)

In Reunion or Mayotte, they might say:
(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

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.

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.

And of course, what's an episode about
France without mentioning anything about:

Kings Louis the 15th and 16th,
Joan of Arc and Napoleon.

In a simple way of putting it, French
culture is very vibrant and proud.

The French love where they've come
from and how they go about doing things.

The Catholic church once played
a major role and to this day,

even as a secular state with
dwindling church attendees,

many French people still in the very
least identify nominally as Catholic.

Mostly for a cultural thing. It's just their
history and they don't want to toss it away.

They also love taking breaks and getting their sleep.
On average, the French get
about 8.83 hours of sleep every day.

More than any other country in the developed world.
And they also have some of the shortest work weeks with only about six to seven hours on average a day.
And that's enough for them. It's not uncommon to see people taking time off in the middle of the day,
early evening just to relax and take a nap.
They even have a word for it.

"L'heure de l'apéro".
Which literally translates to "the hour of the aperitif".
People can also claim state pension at age 62 making
it one of the lowest retirement ages in the world.

And of course, the sport French
people rank highest in the world:

going on strike.
I mean, the last thing you wanna do is interrupt
a Frenchman's nap during a six hour shift

with "corporate policy changes".
Yep, the world can be a cruel, cruel place.
Let's see how France survives in the jungle.

♫ ♫ ♫
- Friendzone -
When it comes to France, they don't discriminate.
They hate everyone equally.

No but seriously, France has their eyes on a few
people and when they see what they like,

they cling on and make you a treasure.
First of all, the Francophone nations and
Latin-based former Roman legacy nations

generally get the high seats. Especially their neighbors like: Switzerland, Luxembourg, Italy and Spain.
Québec, Canada is to France kinda
like what the USA is to the UK.

They adore each other, they love each other's accents
but they love making fun of each other
even more, even though they are really close.

Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia are
the closest African nations

as they make up the largest
African immigrant demographics.

Followed by Sub-Saharan African countries like Cameroon and Côte d'Ivoire. (Or Ivory Coast)
For France, Japan is seen as like the epitome of exoticism. Similar to themselves, the Japanese
have a rich culture of noble tradition,
things like castles, attire and food.

Likewise, Japan sort of shares
the same mutual fascination

and see France as like its
European alternate universe twin.

There's no two countries that like to poke fun of and borderline harass each other with the French,
as the UK and the USA. As historical rivals with the UK (I mean, they did have a hundred year war with them)
And the USA busting their chops
about World War II all the time.

All sides like to satirize each other in
cartoons and media all the time.

Nonetheless, they are actually really close.
The UK and France have been crossing borders

and intermarrying for centuries.
Commerce and student exchanges are high.

And the US was helped by the French
during the Revolutionary War

and they even gave the Statue of Liberty as a present.
So, fellow Americans, thank France for
Lady Liberty, okay? It was a kind gesture.

France's best friends though, would
probably be Germany and Belgium.

It's kinda funny because historically, the only country
that was consistently an opponent
of France was Germany.

Ever since the split Charlemagne's Empire
in three, most of Europe's history

was driven by the overarching rivalry between
variations of France and all variations of Germany.

Including the Holy Roman Empire, the Teutonic Order, Prussia and of course, the Third Reich.
But the plot twist was the creation of the EU.
Following Robert Schuman's speech that states explicitly that for Europe to even hope to work,
the millennia-old rivalry between France
and Germany has to be resolved for good.

Ever since 1950, France and Germany have taken
a lot of political inspiration off of each other.

Heads of states have visited each
other on numerous occations

and both countries have been the biggest
advocates for the survival of the Union.

And Belgium is like their little brother that moved out
and got a Dutch-speaking roommate

and visits France every so often to
raid their fridge and do their laundry.

In conclusion!
Many have known the French to be an intrepid, boisterous, yet charming breed of people
...maybe with a little bit of an attitude,
but hey, you try living in an area

annoying loud tourists coming
by in doves, every single day. 24/7,

trampling your gardens, eating your food wrong
and demanding you cater their needs

all without even attempting to say a little "merci."
Ah France, I feel for you.
Stay tuned. France's rich, former, little colony,
Gabon is coming up next!

♫ ♫ ♫
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Geography Now! France

415 Folder Collection
Elma Kung published on September 19, 2017
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