France is affectionately referred to as "the Hexagon" for its overall shape.

French history goes back to the Gauls, a Celtic tribe which inhabited the area circa 300BC until being conquered by Julius Caesar.

The Franks were the first tribe to adopt Catholic Christianity after the Roman Empire collapsed. France became an independent location in the Treaty of Verdun in (843 AD), which divided up Charlemagne's Carolingian Empire into several portions.

The French monarchy reached its zenith during the reign of Louis XIV, the Sun King, who stood for seventy-two years as the Monarch of all Monarchs. His palace of Versailles and its Hall of Mirrors are a splendid treasure-trove of Baroque art.

The French Revolution ended the rule of the monarchy with the motto "Liberty, Equality, Fraternity!" On July 14th, 1789 angry mobs stormed La Bastille prison and began the Revolution in which Louis XVI, his wife Marie-Antoinette and thousands of others met the guillotine.

One decade after the revolution, Napolean Bonaparte seized control of the Republic and named himself Emperor. His armies conquered most of Europe and his Napoleonic Code became a lasting legal foundation for concepts of personal status and property.

During the period of colonization France controlled the largest empire in the world, second only to Britain.

France is one of the founding members of the European Union and the United Nations, as well as one of the nuclear armed nations of the world.

Text by Steve Smith.

carlos martin
Louvre Museum Pyramid in Paris
Rami Saarikorpi
Light is here
Fabien Darrouzet
Pano 360° - Suisse 2013
zeljko soletic
Mona Lisa, Room 6, Denon
zeljko soletic
Young couple and Pont Alexandre III
zeljko soletic
Place du Théâtre Français
Anthony Brenelière
Arbre de la sorcière à Treillières
Anthony Brenelière
Domain du Haut-Gesvres à Treillières
Rami Saarikorpi
UNESCO rooftop
Mark Fink
Porte Cailhau Vr Bordeaux France
Vil Muhametshin
Père Lachaise Cemetery, Paris
dieter kik
Buchen im Herbst Allee du Bourdonnel Quimper
Andrea Biffi
Martin Broomfield
Chartres Cathedral
Romain Calvetti
Parvis du Sacre Coeur, Paris
Florian Knorn
World Cup 2010 - Public Viewing in Paris
Andrea Biffi
Saint-Séverin ambulatory
Andrea Biffi
Martin Broomfield
Notre Dame, the Seine, a bride and her scooter. Paris
Martin Broomfield
Waterfall and Bridge, Ribaute