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France

POPULATION

65,630,692 (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.)

RELIGIONS

Roman Catholic 83%-88%, Protestant 2%, Jewish 1%, Muslim 5%-10%, unaffiliated 4% overseas departments: Roman Catholic, Protestant, Hindu, Muslim, Buddhist, pagan
> source

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FrancePrinter-icon

Europe and Russia

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 of 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 during the nineteenth century, laïcité was established under the Third Republic and codified with the 1905 Law on the Separation of Church and State. The 1958 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 have come to comprise an increasing number 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.

ESSAYS ON FRANCE

Religion and Politics until the French Revolution
The Third Republic and the 1905 Law of Laïcité
Secular National Identity and the Growth of Islam
Contemporary Affairs
Religious Freedom in France
Religion in the French Constitution