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Geography of France


The terrain is mostly flat plains or gently rolling hills in the north and west and mountainous in the south (including the Pyrenees) and the east (the highest points being in the Alps).

Elevation extremes:

Irrigated land: 26,420 km² (2007)

Total renewable water resources: 211 km3 (2011)

Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural): 31.62 km3/yr (19%/71%/10%) (512.1 m3/yr per capita) (2009)

Coal, iron ore, bauxite, zinc, uranium, antimony, arsenic, potash, feldspar, fluorspar, gypsum, timber, fish, gold

Flooding, avalanches, midwinter windstorms, drought, forest fires in the south near the Mediterranean

Deforestation (major forest damage occurred as a result of severe December 1999 windstorm); air pollution from industrial and vehicle emissions; water pollution from urban wastes, deserttification, agricultural runoff. Much pollution in Paris, the capital.

An open grassland during the Pleistocene Ice Age, France gradually became forested as the glaciers retreated starting in 10,000 BC. Clearing of the primeval forests began in Neolithic times, but they were still fairly extensive until major clearing began in medieval times.

By the 15th century, France had largely been denuded of its forests and was forced to rely on Scandinavia and their North American colonies for lumber. Significant remaining forested areas are in the Gascony region and north in the Alsace-Ardennes area. The Ardennes Forest was the scene of extensive fighting in both world wars.

In prehistoric times, France was home to large predatory animals such as wolves and brown bears, as well as herbivores such as elk. The larger fauna have disappeared outside of the Pyrenees Mountains where bears live as a protected species. Smaller animals include martens, wild pigs, foxes, weasels, bats, rodents, rabbits, and assorted birds.


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Wikipedia

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