POPULATION65,630,692 (July 2012 est.), note: the above figure is for metropolitan France and five overseas regions; the metropolitan France population is 62,814,233
GDP PER CAPITA$35,600 (2011 est.)
RELIGIONSRoman Catholic 83%-88%, Protestant 2%, Jewish 1%, Muslim 5%-10%, unaffiliated 4% overseas departments: Roman Catholic, Protestant, Hindu, Muslim, Buddhist, pagan
ALSO IN EUROPE AND RUSSIAAlbania
AT THE CENTER
Masha Goncharova on Preserving Russian Culture Through Education and Religion in France (Full Screen)
French religious policy is based on the concept of laïcité, a strict separation of church and state under which public life is considered completely secular. France was historically regarded as the “eldest daughter” of the Roman Catholic Church. The French Revolution (1789) saw a radical shift in the status of the Church with the launch of a brutal de-Christianization campaign. After the back and forth of Catholic royal and secular republican governments over the 19th century, laïcité was established under the Third Republic and codified with the 1905 Law on the Separation of Church and State. The constitution of the Fifth Republic (1958) guarantees freedom of religion. Today, most French citizens still identify as Catholics, although church attendance is very low. Through immigration, mainly from North Africa, Muslims now comprise about 10% of the French population. French Muslims have faced problems balancing their religious obligations with laïcité; a 2004 law on conspicuous religious symbols prohibits students and teachers from wearing Muslim headscarves in public schools.