France - History
In ancient times France was part of the Celtic territory known as Gallia. Its present name is derived from the Latin Francia, meaning "country of the Franks," a Germanic people who conquered the area during the 5th century, at the time of the fall of the Western Roman Empire. It became a separate country in the 9th century. Since the 17th century, France has played a major role in world events. In the 20th century, it has experienced numerous crises, including the devastation of two world wars, political and social upheavals, and the loss of a large empire in Indochina, Algeria, and West and Equatorial Africa. It has survived and emerged from the ruins of World War II to become an important world supplier of agricultural and industrial products and a major partner in the EUROPEAN COMMUNITY.
Jacques Chirac's reign as French president finally came to an end on 16 May 2007 with the ruling party's Nicolas Sarkozy winning a decisive victory in the second round of the presidential election. He won 53% of the vote, finishing six points ahead of his Socialist rival, Segolene Royal. Sarkozy then almost immediately appointed his right-hand man and moderate conservative senator Francois Fillon as prime minister.