Well. I'm still (slightly nervously) waiting to hear about my host family. However, I do have a pre-departure orientation on May 6th, and I have some homework to do for that. I'm supposed to bring a few facts about my host country along with me to share. I'll share some important/fun facts while I'm researching.
Here are some of the basics (area/population is for metropolitan France, which doesn't include the regions of French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Martinique, or Reunion):
Country: French Republic (short form: France)
Area: 547,030 sq. km
Population: over 60 million!
Nationality: French (gasp!)
Country Dialing Code: 33
National Holiday: Fete de la Federation (July 14 - also called "Fete Nationale" or "quatorze juillet")
President Jaques Chirac, since May 17, 1995
-last election held in 2002
-next election: first round April 22, 2007 (changed from a 7-yr term to a 5-yr term in October of 2000)
In the first round, which took place yesterday, Nicolas Sarkozy, a leader of the UMP (Union for a Popular Majority) party (right-wing), received 31.11% of the vote, while Segolene Royal, of the Socialist party, received 25.94%. Royal is the first woman ever to get on the 2nd round ballot.
-second round May 6, 2007
Prime Minister: Dominique de Villepin
Foreign Minister: Phillippe Douste-Blazy
Ambassador to the United States: Jean-David Levitte
Ambassador to the United Nations: Jean-Marc Rochereau de la Sabliere
Religion: Roman Catholic 86%
That's about all I have time for today. I'll spend some time over the next couple of weeks finding some fun facts and I'll update you soon. Unfortunately, many things are region-specific, but I'll find something!
P.S. Here are the web sites that I used: