With a GDP of almost 2 trillion USD, France is the fifth largest economy in the world in terms of GDP (behind the United States, Japan, China and Germany). France's economic strength acquired a boost of sorts after the Second World War, which continued through to the 1980s (when industrial reforms were introduced). This led to France's transition from a government-controlled economy to one that is governed by market mechanisms.
The economy of France has grown at an average of 3%, similar to other developed economies in Europe. Though significant liberalization measures exist in France, the government continues to regulate and control major industrial sectors. In fact, one of the peculiar characteristics of the French economy for many visitors from America and other European countries is the level of state control on many economic sectors that have been privatized in other countries already.
France maintains a strong presence in some sectors, particularly power, public transport and defense industries. Agriculture is also a leading powerhouse sector in France's economic growth and this sector has helped France take the leading position in agricultural production in the European Union.
France is credited with nearly a third of all cultivable land in Europe. Large tracts of wheat farms characterize France's crop cultivation. France is also popular as the wine capital of the world.
Livestock farming is an important source of agricultural income. Cattle are raised mainly in the north and west; pigs and chickens are raised throughout the country. Beef, pork, cheese and other milk products are major export products. France's agricultural exports mainly involve neighboring countries such as Germany, the UK, Spain and Italy.
France's energy production and consumption is driven by nuclear power plants. Nearly 80% of the country's energy needs are met by nuclear power.
France is credited to be the third largest weapons supplier in the world. Several firms that make private arms and weapons cater to the French army. It has also maintained successful weapons trade with countries such as the United Arab Emirates, Brazil, Greece, India, Pakistan, Taiwan and Singapore.
France is one of the largest producers of steel and aluminum in Europe. Other major industries include mechanical and electrical engineering, chemicals, and textiles and metallurgy.
French brands such as Airbus, Mirage, Concorde, Renault, Peugeot and Citroen have made a significant impact globally. French locomotives, turbines, electronics equipment, nuclear power plants and submarines, and television systems are famous for their innovative design and engineering.
An array of chemicals, including perfumes, pharmaceuticals, nitric acid, sulfuric acid and fertilizers, are also produced. The French textile and garment industry has long been known for its fashion and high-style appeal, although recently the industry has lost many former markets to lower-priced imports from countries with cheaper labor costs.
Income from tourism accounts for 6% of the French GDP and attracts close to 80 million visitors a year, making it the leading tourist destination in the world. With its mix of historical monuments and museums, Paris is the world's most visited city. Other French attractions include mountain ranges, long coastlines and regions with rich historical heritage.
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