Country Information (5)
France, officially "French Republic," is about 80% the size of Texas. Except for extreme northern France, the country may be described as four river basins and a plateau. Three of the streams flow west – the Seine into the English Channel, the Loire into the Atlantic, and the Garonne into the Bay of Biscay. The Rhone flows south into the Mediterranean. It is bordered by seven countries – Spain and Andorra in the south-west, Switzerland and Italy in the south-east, and Germany, Luxembourg, and Belgium in the north-east.
Since 1972 France has been administratively divided into 22 regions, many of which correspond to the nation's historical provinces. France also has a number of overseas departments, territories, and countries which, legally, are part of the French Republic. In the late 1990s there were 40 French cities that had more than 100,000 inhabitants, but only Paris exceeded one million. Total population is 60,656,178, according to the 2005 estimate. About 75% of the population live in urban areas. The mingling of peoples over the centuries as well as immigration in the 20th century has given France great ethnic diversity. A large influx of predominantly North African immigrants has had a great effect on the cities, especially Paris and Marseille.
French is the nation's language. There are also a number of regional dialects, which are largely declining in usage. Roman Catholicism is by far the largest religion in France, although only an estimated 5% are churchgoers. With growing immigration from Asia, Turkey, and North Africa, France also has a large Muslim population, estimated at 3 to 5 million. Separation of church and state was made final by law in 1905. The educational level in France is high. The literacy rate is 99%, according to the 1980 estimate.
France is one of the world's major economic powers. Agriculture plays a larger role than in the economies of most other industrial countries. A large proportion of the value of total agricultural output derives from livestock (cattle, hogs, poultry, and sheep). France's leading industries produce machinery, chemicals, automobiles, metals, aircraft, electronics equipment, and foods (especially cheese). Tourism is an important industry, and Paris is famous for its luxury goods.
The Little Prince
Story (1943) written by Antoine de Saint-Exupery
Film (2004) directed by Francesca Zambello; Runtime 88 min.; In English
The Little Prince
is a well-known fascinating tale about the magical little boy who learns little wisdoms of life on the Earth.
During the World War I, a French pilot experiences an airplane crash in the Sahara Desert, where he is trapped while repairing his plane. One day he encounters the little prince, who tells the pilot (the pilot acts as a narrator in the story) about his wanderings to different planets. The little prince also describes his own tiny planet, where he used to watch out for the seeds of baobabs, and where he has had a capricious rose. It is because of a misunderstanding with that rose that the little prince has had to leave his planet. Here, on the Earth, he hopes to understand "a great many things" he considers necessary for living. The pilot first is puzzled and sometimes irritated by the unusual child, who demands different drawings from him. But, eventually he realizes how awfully sincere and true the little prince is. He comes to understand that everything that the boy is saying makes a lot of sense. The little prince finds what he was looking for – a real friend – the fox, whom he tames. The fox teaches the prince that "it is only with the heart that one can see rightly." Finally, the little prince decides to return to his rose on his planet, for whom he feels responsible. However, the snake confuses the prince saying that only with its bite can the prince go to heaven again, and it bites him. To the narrator's relief, he does not find the body of the little prince, and we are left with the impression that the boy with the hair of "the color of the wheat fields" has left for his planet.
Theme of Responsibility
The theme of responsibility runs through the whole story. The responsibility demanded by relationships with others leads to the understanding and appreciation of one's responsibility to the world in general. The relationship of the little prince with the rose drives almost all the endeavors the prince undertakes in the story: he leaves his planet because of the rose; he wanders from one planet to another in search of the truth, so he can understand his rose better; then, with the help of the fox, he realizes that the rose is really special for him, because it is in her that he invested himself. The little prince discovers the nature of real love, the source of which becomes the sense of responsibility he experiences toward his beloved rose. The fox also teaches the prince that friendship is really unique, and once you befriend someone you become responsible for that person forever.