France, officially the French Republic (French: République française, French pronunciation: [ʁepyblik fʁɑ̃sɛz]), is a country whose metropolitan territory is located in Western Europe and that also comprises various overseas islands and territories located in other continents. Metropolitan France extends from the Mediterranean Sea to the English Channel and the North Sea, and from the Rhine to the Atlantic Ocean. French people often refer to Metropolitan France as L’Hexagone (The “Hexagon”) because of the geometric shape of its territory. France is a unitary semi-presidential republic. Its main ideals are expressed in the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen.
Metropolitan France is bordered by Andorra, Belgium, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, Monaco, Spain and Switzerland. France's overseas departments and collectivities also share land borders with Brazil and Suriname (bordering French Guiana), and the Netherlands Antilles (bordering Saint-Martin). France is linked to the United Kingdom by the Channel Tunnel, which passes underneath the English Channel.
France has been one of the world's foremost powers for centuries. During the 17th and 18th centuries, France colonized much of North America; during the 19th and early 20th centuries, France built one of the largest colonial empires of the time, including large portions of North, West and Central Africa, Southeast Asia, and many Pacific islands. Today, France is a developed country, possessing the sixth (nominal GDP) or eighth (PPP) largest economy in the world. It is the most visited country in the world, receiving 82 million foreign tourists annually. France is one of the founding members of the European Union, and has the largest land area of all members. France is a founding member of the United Nations, and a member of the Francophonie, the G8, NATO, and the Latin Union. It is one of the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council and a nuclear power with active warheads and nuclear power plants.