France, Western Europe's largest country, has traditionally served as a crossroads between the continent's northern and southern areas. In the north, it borders Germany and Belgium; in the west, the Atlantic Ocean; and in the south, the Pyrenees Mountains and Spain.
France is the agricultural hub of Europe, with wide fertile plains dominating most of the north and west. France's southern heartland is dominated by the huge, wooded plateau of the Massif Central, a series of old mountains and extinct volcanoes.
France is one of the world's oldest nations and Europe's most ethnically diverse country. France has long been a world leader in practically every facet of culture, including gastronomy, winemaking, politics, philosophy, music, art, cinema, fashion, literature, and sports, thanks to these deep and broad influences.
France has enough land space to support a diverse range of flora and animals. More than a quarter of the nation is covered with forest, with the other half consisting of rural or farming.
Deer and wild boar live in lowland woods, while rare chamois antelope, ibex, brown bears, and alpine hares live in the Alps and Pyrenees woodlands, among many more species. Millions of migrating African birds, including flamingos, vultures, egrets, and bee-eaters, halt along the Mediterranean coast.
The French government has pledged to protect open areas and the wildlife that inhabits them. National or regional parklands and natural reserves have been established in around 10% of the country.