Country profile - Distinguishing factors (France)
France comprises a mainland area located in the western part of continental Europe, plus the island of Corsica in the Mediterranean Sea and several overseas territories in North and South America, the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean. Covering a total area of 543 965 km2, mainland France is the largest country in the European Union. Together with the overseas departments, France covers 632 834 km2. The other overseas communities and New Caledonia cover 22 481 km2.
Mainland France borders on the North Sea to the north, the English Channel to the northwest, the Atlantic Ocean to the west and the Mediterranean to the southeast. The southern and eastern borders are marked by mountain ranges.
The structure of mainland France is marked by a variety of geological and mountainous features. The great sedimentary basins in the west and north of France are the continuation of the vast plains of northern Europe. The predominant geological features southeast of a line running from Bayonne to Metz are crystalline limestone mountain ranges that culminate at Mont Blanc, the summit of the alpine system. To the southeast, the continental coastline and Corsica establish France firmly among the Mediterranean countries.