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Demographics of France

Since prehistoric times, France has been a crossroads of trade, travel, and invasion. Three basic European ethnic stocks--Celtic, Latin, and Germanic (Frankish)--have blended over the centuries to make up its present population. France's birth rate was among the highest in Europe from 1945 until the late 1960s. Since then, its birth rate has fallen but remains higher than that of most other west European countries. Traditionally, France has had a high level of immigration. About 90% of the people are Roman Catholic, less than 2% are Protestant, and about 1% are Jewish. More than 1 million Muslims immigrated in the 1960s and early 1970s from North Africa, especially Algeria. At the end of 1994, there were about 5 million persons of Muslim descent living in France.

Education is free, beginning at age 2, and mandatory between ages 6 and 16. The public education system is highly centralized. Private education is primarily Roman Catholic. Higher education in France began with the founding of the University of Paris in 1150. It now consists of 69 universities and special schools, such as the Grandes Ecoles[?], technical colleges, and vocational training institutions.

The French language derives from the vernacular Latin spoken by the Romans in Gaul, although it includes many Celtic and Germanic words. French has been an international language for centuries and is a common second language throughout the world. It is one of five official languages at the United Nations. In Africa, Asia, the Pacific, and the West Indies, French has been a unifying factor, particularly in those countries where it serves as the only common language among a variety of indigenous languages and dialects.

Population: 59,329,691 (July 2000 est.)

Age structure:
0-14 years: 19% (male 5,719,502; female 5,448,608)
15-64 years: 65% (male 19,345,269; female 19,322,902)
65 years and over: 16% (male 3,849,783; female 5,643,627) (2000 est.)

Population growth rate: 0.38% (2000 est.)

Birth rate: 12.27 births/1,000 population (2000 est.)

Death rate: 9.14 deaths/1,000 population (2000 est.)

Net migration rate: 0.66 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2000 est.)

Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.68 male(s)/female
total population: 0.95 male(s)/female (2000 est.)

Infant mortality rate: 4.51 deaths/1,000 live births (2000 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 78.76 years
male: 74.85 years
female: 82.89 years (2000 est.)

Total fertility rate: 1.75 children born/woman (2000 est.)

Nationality:
noun: Frenchman(men), Frenchwoman(women)
adjective: French

Ethnic groups: Celtic and Latin with Teutonic, Slavic, North African, Indochinese, Basque minorities

Religions: Roman Catholic 90%, Protestant[?] 2%, Jewish 1%, Muslim (North African workers) 1%, unaffiliated 6%

Languages: French (only official language), Occitan, Alsatian (German), Basque, Breton, Catalan, Corsican, Flemish (Dutch).

Literacy:
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 99%
male: 99%
female: 99% (1980 est.)

See also : France



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