Water pollution, air pollution, agricultural runoff, acid rain.
Exclusive economic zone
In Europe: 334,604 km2 (129,191 sq mi) All overseas territories: 11,691,000 km2 (4,514,000 sq mi)
A topographic map of the Republic, excluding all the overseas departments and territories
Simplified physical map
The geography of France consists of a terrain that is mostly flat plains or gently rolling hills in the north and west and mountainous in the south (including the Massif Central and the Pyrenees) and the east (the highest points being in the Alps). Metropolitan France has a total size of 551,695 km2 (213,011 sq mi) (Europe only). It is the third largest country in Europe by area (after Russia and Ukraine) and the largest in Western Europe.
The subalpine oceanic climate (Cfc) is found at the foot of all the mountainous regions of France. Summers are short, cool and wet, while winters are moderately cold and damp. No major cities are affected by this climate.
The warm-summer humid continental climate (Dfb) is found in all the mountainous regions of the Northern half of France between 500 and 1,000 metres a.s.l. Summers are pleasantly warm and wet, while winters are very cold and snowy. Cities affected by this climate: Chamonix, Mouthe. In January 1985, in Mouthe, the temperature has dropped under −41 °C.
The alpine tundra climate (ET) is found in all the mountainous regions of France, generally above 2,000 or 2,500 metres a.s.l. Summers are chilly and wet, while winters are extremely cold, long and snowy. Mountains affected by this climate: Aiguilles-Rouges, Aravis, the top of Crêt de la neige (rare, altitude 1,718 m) and the top of Grand-Ballon (rare, altitude 1,423 m).
The region that now comprises France consisted of open grassland during the Pleistocene Ice Age. France gradually became forested as the glaciers retreated starting in 10,000 BC, but clearing of these primeval forests began in Neolithic times. These forests were still fairly extensive until the medieval era.
In prehistoric times, France was home to large predatory animals such as wolves and brown bears, as well as herbivores such as elk. The larger fauna have disappeared outside the Pyrenees Mountains where bears live as a protected species. Smaller animals include martens, wild pigs, foxes, weasels, bats, rodents, rabbits, and assorted birds.
By the 15th century, France had largely been denuded of its forests and was forced to rely on Scandinavia and their North American colonies for lumber. Significant remaining forested areas are in the Gascony region and north in the Alsace-Ardennes area. The Ardennes Forest was the scene of extensive fighting in both world wars.
The north central part of this region is dominated by the Paris Basin, which consists of a layered sequence of sedimentary rocks. Fertile soils over much of the area make good agricultural land. The Normandy coast to the northwest is characterized by high, chalk cliffs, while the Brittany coast (the peninsula to the west) is highly indented where deep valleys were drowned by the sea, and the Biscay coast to the southwest is marked by flat, sandy beaches.
A recent global remote sensing analysis suggested that there were 1,433 km² of tidal flats in France, making it the 23rd ranked country in terms of tidal flat area.
France has several levels of internal divisions. The first-level administrative division of Integral France is regions. Besides this the French Republic has sovereignty over several other territories, with various administrative levels.
Metropolitan (i.e. European) France is divided into 12 régions and 1 territorial collectivity, Corsica. However, Corsica is referred to as a region in common speech. These regions are subdivided into 96 départements, which are further divided into 320 arrondissements, which are further divided into 1,995 cantons, which are further divided into 34,836 communes (as of 1/1/2021).
Five overseas regions (régions d'outre-mer, or ROM): Guadeloupe, French Guiana, Martinique, Mayotte, and Réunion, with identical status to metropolitan regions. Each of these overseas regions also being an overseas département (département d'outre-mer, or DOM), with the same status as a département of metropolitan France. This double structure (région/département) is new, due to the recent extension of the regional scheme to the overseas départements, and may soon transform into a single structure, with the merger of the regional and departmental assemblies. Another proposed change is that new départements are created such as in the case of Réunion, where it has been proposed to create a second département in the south of the island, with the région of Réunion above these two départements.
One overseas "country" (pays d'outre-mer, or POM): French Polynesia. In 2003 it became an overseas collectivity (or COM). Its statutory law of 27 February 2004 gives it the particular designation of overseas country inside the Republic (or POM), but without legal modification of its status.
One uninhabited island in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Mexico which belongs directly to the central State public land and is administered by the high-commissioner of the French Republic in French Polynesia: Clipperton.
Exclusive economic zone: 334,604 km2 (129,191.3 sq mi) only in Europe. 11,691,000 km2 (4,513,920.3 sq mi) including all overseas territories. The 200 nmi (370.4 km; 230.2 mi) does not apply to the Mediterranean Sea
Continental shelf: 200 metres (660 ft) depth or to the depth of exploitation