France is an independent nation in Western Europe and the center of a large overseas administration. It is the third largest European nation after Russia and Ukraine.
In ancient times France was part of the Celtic territory known as Gaul or Gallia. Its present name is derived from the Latin Francia, meaning “country of the Franks,” a Germanic people who conquered the area during the 5th century, at the time of the fall of the Western Roman Empire. It became a separate country in the 9th century.
Since 17th century, France has played a major role in European and world events. In the 20th century, it has experienced numerous crises, including the devastation of two world wars, political and social upheavals, and the loss of a large empire in Indochina, Algeria, and West and Equatorial Africa. It has, however, survived and emerged from the ruins of World War II to become an important world supplier of agricultural and industrial products and a major partner in the European Community.