Looking at the Land

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France is the second largest country in Europe. Although it is smaller than Manitoba, France is twice as large as Germany or the United Kingdom. Many people describe France as a hexagon, or a six-sided shape, with three land sides and three water sides. Anne-Marie and her family live on a farm in eastern France, on the longest of the land sides.

Like Canada, France has many different landforms. The Alps and the Pyrenees are the highest mountains in France. The Pyrenees, which are in southwestern France, form the border between France and Spain. A mountainous area called the Massif Central (mah sef' sahn) trahl') covers much of south-central France. The Atlantic coast is the lowest part of the country. The rest of France is made up of plains, plateaus and river valleys.

Most people in France live in towns and cities along the rivers or in the northeast of France. Far fewer people live along the Atlantic coast and in the Massif Central, which has fewer people per square kilometre than any other region of France. The total population of France is about 55 million.

Farms cover more than half of France, mainly in the north, in the east and along the Mediterranean Sea. Forests cover almost one quarter of France.

France has three main types of climate. The south coast has a Mediterranean climate, with hot, dry summers and generally sunny winters. The marine west coast climate on the west coast brings mild winters, cool suiim1ers and frequent rain and mist. Much of the rest of France has a continental climate, which means cold winters and warm summers. The amount of rain and snow varies.