A map of France France is the largest country in Western Europe. Its landscapes vary enormously, from the gently rolling farmland of the north to the dramatic peaks of the Alps in the southeast and Pyrenees in the south. A rugged highland region, the Massif Central, lies in the centre of the country. France started building an overseas empire in the 17th century; by the end of 19th century it was second only to the British Empire in size. Today, France is made up of “Metropolitan France” (European France and the island of Corsica) and five overseas territories: French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Martinique, Réunion and Mayotte.
Apart from the hills of Brittany, most of northern and western France is flat or gently undulating. Winding across this rich agricultural land are the Seine and Loire rivers and their tributaries. The temperate climate, with warm summers and cool, rainy winters, is good for the lush pastures and orchards of Brittany and Normandy. France’s capital, Paris, is situated in north-central France, astride the River Seine.
People in northern and southern France speak slightly different dialects (spoken forms) of French. Roughly, those north of the River Loire speak a dialect known as “langue d’oil”, while those to the south of the Loire speak “langue d’oc”.
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