Paris – France, Europe
Paris is the capital and largest city in France, situated on the river Seine, in northern France, at the heart of the Île-de-France region (or Paris Region, French: Région parisienne). The city of Paris, within its administrative limits largely unchanged since 1860, has an estimated population of 2,211,297 (January 2008), but the Paris metropolitan area has a population of 11,899,544 (January 2008), and is one of the most populated metropolitan areas in Europe. Paris was the largest city in the Western world for about 1,000 years, prior to the 19th century, and the largest in the entire world between the 16th and 19th centuries.
Paris is today one of the world’s leading business and cultural centres, and its influences in politics, education, entertainment, media, fashion, science, and the arts all contribute to its status as one of the world’s major global cities. In 2009 and 2010 Paris was ranked among the three most important and influential cities in the world, among the first three “European cities of the future” – according to research published by the Financial Times — and among the top ten most liveable cities in the world, according to the British review Monocle. Paris also ranked among the ten greenest European cities in 2010. Paris hosts the headquarters of many international organizations such as UNESCO, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) and the informal Paris Club.
Paris and the Paris Region, with €552.1 billion in 2009, produce more than a quarter of the gross domestic product of France. According to 2008 estimates, the Paris agglomeration is, slightly after London, Europe’s second biggest city economy and the sixth largest in the world. The Paris Region hosts 37 of the Fortune Global 500 companies in several business districts, notably La Défense, the largest dedicated business district in Europe. According to the latest survey from Economist Intelligence Unit in 2010, Paris is the world’s most expensive city in which to live. With about 28 million tourists per year (42 in the whole Paris Region), of which 17 million are foreign visitors, Paris is the most visited city in the world. The city and its region contain 3,800 historical monuments and four UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
It is considered that the name of the Parisii tribe comes from the Celtic Gallic word parisio meaning “the working people” or “the craftsmen.”
Since the mid-19th century, Paris has been known as Paname ([panam]) in the Parisian slang called argot. The singer Renaud repopularized the term amongst the young generation with his 1976 album Amoureux de Paname (“In love with Paname”).
Paris has many nicknames, but its most famous is “La Ville-Lumière” (“The City of Light” or “The Illuminated City”), a name it owes first to its fame as a centre of education and ideas during the Age of Enlightenment, and later to its early adoption of street lighting.
Paris’ inhabitants are known in English as “Parisians” and in French as Parisiens. Parisians are often pejoratively called Parigots, a term first used in 1900 by those living outside the Paris region.
Paris is located in the north-bending arc of the river Seine and includes two islands, the Île Saint-Louis and the larger Île de la Cité, which form the oldest part of the city. Overall, the city is relatively flat, and the lowest point is 35 m (115 ft) above sea level. Paris has several prominent hills, of which the highest is Montmartre at 130 m (427 ft).
Paris has the typical Western European oceanic climate which is affected by the North Atlantic Current. Over a year, Paris’ climate can be described as mild and moderately wet.
Paris is the head of barge and ship navigation on the Seine and is the fourth most important port in France (after Marseille, Le Havre, and Dunkerque). The Loire, Rhine, Rhone, Meuse and Scheldt rivers can be reached by canals connecting with the Seine. Paris is also a major rail, highway, and air transportation hub. Three international airports, Orly, Roissy and le Bourget, serve the city. The city’s subway system, the métro, was opened in 1900.