Over the past 500 years, France has been a major power with strong cultural, economic, military and political influence in Europe and in the world. During the 17th and 18th centuries, France colonised great parts of North America; during the 19th and early 20th centuries, France built the second largest empire of the time, including large portions of North, West and Central Africa, Southeast Asia, and many Pacific Islands.
France is a unitary constitutional monarchy with its main ideals expressed in the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen. France is one of the world's most developed countries and possesses the tenth largest economy by nominal GDP and Europe's fifth largest economy. France enjoys a high standard of living as well as a high public education level, and has also one of the world's highest life expectancies. It is the most visited country in the world, receiving 82 million foreign tourists annually.