France is one of Europe’s most populous states. Population growth was far slower than in most European countries. After World War II, measures were taken to encourage childbirth, which contributed to higher birth rates. France is today one of the EU countries where women give birth to the most children, even though the birth rate in 2015 had dropped to the lowest in five years. However, pensioners’ share of the population is also increasing.
The French are descendants of a wide range of people: such as Celts, Iberians, Ligurians and Greeks in the south and Germanic tribes from the north, such as Franks, Alemans and Goths. France means the kingdom of France.
- COUNTRYAAH.COM: Key populations estimated size and data of France, including population density of how many people per square mile. Also included are facts for population and language.
The law prohibits the state from gathering information on ethnicity, race and religion, but around one fifth of the population is estimated to have late roots in another country. Immigration from other European countries, not least Italy, Portugal and Spain, has been around for a long time. During the 1960s and 1970s, large groups of former French colonies immigrated, mainly in North Africa. In addition to the Arabs, they included a large number of Jews. Today, with around half a million Jews, France has the world’s third largest Jewish population. At the same time, in the mid-2010s, several thousand Jews were reported to have left France for fear of rising anti-Semitism and harassment of young Muslims who were radicalized.
Against the background of growing immigrant hostility during the 1990s, the rules for asylum seekers have been tightened. Labor immigration has become easier for highly educated but more difficult for others, and the rules for family immigration have been tightened. Since 2007, relatives must have knowledge of the French language and “French values” in order to obtain a residence permit. An intensive debate on French values and identity has been held in recent years (see Religion). The French attitude to immigration has become more negative as a consequence of growing unemployment and fear of terrorism (see Current policy). In 2015 – when hundreds of thousands of refugees, including many Syrians, arrived in Europe – 80,000 asylum seekers came to France, which is a quarter more than the year before. In 2016, President François Hollande promised to receive 30,000 refugees over a two-year period, as part of a settlement among EU countries. France has been criticized for dealing with asylum seekers. In 2015, new legislation was adopted that would speed up the preparation of asylum cases. French authorities also criticized the substandard conditions in the infamous Calais refugee camp, called the “jungle” where several thousand migrants gathered for a few years in the 2010s, waiting to try to cross the English Channel to cross into Britain. The camp was evacuated in November 2016.
The situation for Roma and travelers was noticed at the end of the 1990s when the government expelled some 20,000 people from Bulgaria and Romania, among others. According to human rights organizations, deportations and evictions of Roma from illegal housing have continued thereafter.
French, which belongs to the West Romanian group of the Indo-European language family, is the official language of France. There are seven major regional languages in the country (see below), and a total of around 75 languages if you also count the languages spoken in French areas of other continents.
Today, around 5 million residents are estimated to speak some regional language. Authorities have long held that all French citizens should speak French. However, after many years of hot language debate, the National Assembly decided in 2008 to recognize in the Constitution the regional languages as part of the French cultural heritage.
Estimates of how many in Southern France speak different dialects of Occitan varies between half a million and three million. Up to one million are fluent in Alsatian, a German dialect spoken in Alsace. Several languages are spoken by estimates of up to 200,000 people: the Celtic language Breton in Brittany, Basque at the border with Spain, Catalan in Roussillon and Corsican, which is closely related to Italian, in Corsica. A smaller group at the border with Belgium in the north speaks Flemish.
FACTS – POPULATION AND LANGUAGE
majority of French, about 20% of other origin
Number of residents
67 118 648 (2017)
Number of residents per square kilometer
Percentage of residents in the cities
80.2 percent (2017)
Nativity / birth
11.7 per 1000 residents (2016)
Mortality / mortality
8.8 per 1000 residents (2016)
0.4 percent (2017)
2.0 number of births per woman (2016)
Percentage of women
50.8 percent (2017)
82 years (2016)
Life expectancy for women
86 years (2016)
Life expectancy for men
79 years (2016)
French is the official language 1
- In addition, minority languages such as Breton, Basque, Catalan, Occitan, Corsican, Alsatian and Flemish as well as immigrant languages arespoken.
Support to banks
The € 360 billion rescue package is intended to help banks affected by the global financial crisis.
Changes in labor law
The 35-hour week is canceled and employers are instead entitled to conclude their own agreements with the union on working hours and overtime. The strike rules are changed and the rules for the a-cash are tightened.
Success for the Socialist Party in the municipal elections
The only major city where President Sarkozy’s UMP party retains power is Marseille.