The French Republic is a sovereign nation located in Western Europe. Its territories comprise of the metropolitan France that extends from the Mediterranean Sea to the English Channel and the Atlantic Ocean. Other overseas territories include the French Guiana in South America and several islands in the India, Atlantic, and Pacific Oceans. France is one of the largest countries in Europe with a total combined area of 248,573 square miles and a total population of 67.15 million people. Being among the oldest countries in the world, France is the product of an alliance of duchies and principalities under a single ruler. Today, the central authority lies with the state but the measure of autonomy has been granted to the country’s territories in recent decades.
France’s location makes it the most important country in regards to agriculture and manufacturing. It also acts as an economic, geographic, and linguistic bridge joining eight countries in northern and southern Europe. France shares land boundaries with eight countries, which encompass Italy, Germany, Belgium, Spain, Monaco, Andorra, Switzerland, and Luxembourg. France has endeavored to maintain strong and mutually beneficial ties with all the neighboring states as a means of enhancing social cohesion and economic integration in the Eurozone.
Countries Boarding France
The Principality of Andorra is bordered by France to the North. The two countries have strong diplomatic ties, which have existed since 1278 when Andorra acquired its sovereign status through pareage by the Count of Foix in southern France. Albeit being an independent state, Andorra shares a head of state with France with the President of France (currently Emmanuel Macron) being also the co-Prince of Andorra. Bilateral ties were established between the two states through the Franco-Andorran trade agreement that allows easy import and export of goods and services between the two states. France contributes immensely to the GDP growth in Andorra through increased tourism in the country. Furthermore, internet, postal, broadcasting, and education services are partially provided by the French government in Andorra.
France borders Italy to the southeast with the borderline being 488 km long. The two countries established the French-Italy relation in 1861 when the interstate boundary was created. Both countries were among the founders of the G7, NATO, and the inner six countries that formed the European Union. The two nations have established strong economic ties with France being Italy's second-largest trading partner and Italy being the second-largest trading partner of France. Since April 9, 1956, Rome and Paris exclusively and reciprocally twin each other through a popular saying: “Only Paris is worthy of Rome; only Rome is worthy of Paris”.
Germany is France’s most important regional partner. The diplomatic ties between the two states were established through the Franco-German Friendship. The two nations are among the most influential members of the European Union and often referred to as twin engines. The French and German economies are extremely intertwined and complementary with 30% of the industries established in Germany being subsidiaries of French companies. Various cultural institutions have been established in to facilitate cultural integration and cohesion between the two nations. Most notably, France and Germany maintain the Franco-German Brigade, a special military unit of Euro corps formed by soldiers from the two nations.
Interstate relations between France and Belgium were established between the two neighboring states after Belgium gained independence. Due to their geographic proximities, France and Belgium have smooth strong ties rooted to their historical and cultural backgrounds. Economically, Belgium is France’s fifth-largest customer of export goods and services. Moreover, besides being founding members of the European Union, the two states are members of NATO and the Francophonie. There are also strong cultural, scientific, and technical ties between the two countries enhanced by the devolution of academic and cultural services.
Since 2000, Monaco and France established diplomatic relations governed by the Treaty of Versailles. The two countries have mutually beneficial economic relations initiated by the European External Action Service that integrated Monaco in the Schengen zone. The EU council authorized France to negotiate inter alia use of the Euro in Monaco as well as create an integrated customs union to enable Monaco to participate in the EU market system. French and Monaco share French as their official language that facilitates further ties in tourism. Approximately two-thirds of Monaco’s workforce comprises a vast majority of French nationals. Furthermore, Monaco has established a legal system that is in line with the French Napoleonic Code.
Luxembourg is one of the strategic trading partners with France due to its geographic proximity and the strength of its economy. The liberal trading rules in the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg has attracted about 900 companies from France in the banking and insurance sectors. Strong cultural ties dating back to 1945 exist between the two states with numerous cultural institutions of French origin being established in Luxembourg. An action is underway to support Luxembourgish as a language promoting integration and social cohesion in the region by having the language as a teaching language in primary schools. France is also taught in Luxembourg from the second year thus aiding in social integration and cohesion.
France and Spain border each other along the Pyrenees border. The two states are among the founding nations of the Latin Union and the European Union. Albeit having a troubled past that was characterized by the 24-year Franco-Spanish War, the two nations have integrated through the G6 in matters pertaining to economic development, defense, and European Constitution. After the Second World War, a vast majority of the Spaniards moved to France in search of employment opportunities that were readily available. The strong economic ties between the two countries were strengthened in 1975, following the death of Franco, thus paving way for liberalization of the Spanish society.
The French Republic borders Switzerland to the east with a 600km shared borderline that prompted strong cross-border cooperation. Their active bilateral ties were established in 1516 through the Treaty of Perpetual Peace. Bilateral ties focus on economic, fiscal, and financial issues, research and innovation, infrastructural projects, and the Basel-Mulhouse airport (Euro Airport). In particular, France is Switzerland's third largest trading partner with an economic integration established through the European Union and the Schengen Area that abolishes international trading borders between member states. There are also established cultural ties embedded in the language where French is one of the four official languages in Switzerland.