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France History: Part III

World War I meant great losses for France's troops and army. The northeast of France had been reduced to ruins, although despite this France became one of Europes main powers. Beginning in 1919, France's objective was to keep Germany away from its territory and an elaborate system of border defences and alliances was created. But unfortunately this was not enough and on May 10, 1940 at the beginning of World War II, the Nazis attacked and occupied Paris, the Italians joining with German troops. On July 10, 1940 the Vichy Government was established. In August of 1944, France was finally liberated by the Allied armies and a transitorial government headed by Charles de Gaulle was established. The Fourth Republic was born on 24 December, 1946. France joined NATO in 1949.

But in May 1968 many violent student protests and factory workers strikes brought down the government of Charles de Gaulle. The next year de Gaulle's policies were modified by his sucessor Georges Pompidou with a policy of a classical laissez-faire in relation to domestic economic affairs. The conservative, pro-business climate contributed to the election of Valéry Giscard d'Estaing as President in 1974.

The winner of the 1981 presidential election was the socialist François Mitterrand. The first two years of government created a 12% rate of inflation and the devaluation of the Franc. In 1995 the neo-Gaullist Jacques Chirac was elected. French leaders are increasingly tying the future of France to the continued development of the European Union. France is one of the founding members of the European Union, and has the largest land area of all members. During President Mitterrand's tenure he stressed the importance of European integration and advocated the ratification of the Maastricht Treaty on European economic and political union which France's electorate narrowly passed in September 1992.

Nowadays France is a developed country with the sixth-largest economy in the world. Its main ideals are expressed in the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen. France is also a founding member of the United Nations, and a member of the Latin Union, the Francophonie, and G8. It is one of the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council wielding veto power, and it is also an acknowledged nuclear power. It is considered as one of the post World War II great powers. France is the most popular international tourist destination in the world, receiving over 75 million foreign tourists annually.


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