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Paris is the capital and most populous city of France. It is situated on the River Seine, in the north of the country, at the heart of the Île-de-France region. Within its administrative limits (the 20 arrondissements), the city had 2,234,105 inhabitants in 2009 while its metropolitan area is one of the largest population centres in Europe with more than 10 million inhabitants.

An important settlement for more than two millennia, by the late 12th century Paris had become a walled cathedral city that was one of Europe's foremost centers of learning and the arts and the largest city in the Western world until the turn of the 18th century. Paris was the focal point for many important political events throughout its history, including the French Revolution. Today it is one of the world's leading business and cultural centers, and its influence in politics, education, entertainment, media, science, fashion and the arts all contribute to its status as one of the world's major cities. The city has one of the largest GDPs in the world, €607 billion as of 2011, and as a result of its high concentration of national and international political, cultural and scientific institutions is one of the world's leading tourist destinations. The Paris Region hosts the world headquarters of 30 of the Fortune Global 500 companies in several business districts, notably La Défense, the largest dedicated business district in Europe.

Centuries of cultural and political development have brought Paris a variety of museums, theatres, monuments and architectural styles. Many of its masterpieces such as the Louvre and the Arc de Triomphe are iconic buildings, especially its internationally recognized symbol, the Eiffel Tower. Long regarded as an international center for the arts, works by history's most famous painters can be found in the Louvre, the Musée d'Orsay and its many other museums and galleries. Paris is a global hub of fashion and has been referred to as the "international capital of style", noted for its haute couture tailoring, its high-end boutiques, and the twice-yearly Paris Fashion Week. It is world renowned for its haute cuisine, attracting many of the world's leading chefs. Many of France's most prestigious universities and Grandes Écoles are in Paris or its suburbs, and France's major newspapers Le Monde, Le Figaro, Libération are based in the city, and Le Parisien in Saint-Ouen near Paris.

Paris is home to the association football club Paris Saint-Germain FC and the rugby union club Stade Français. The 80,000-seat Stade de France, built for the 1998 FIFA World Cup, is located in Saint-Denis. Paris hosts the annual French Open Grand Slam tennis tournament on the red clay of Roland Garros. Paris played host to the 1900 and 1924 Summer Olympics, the 1938 and 1998 FIFA World Cup, and the 2007 Rugby World Cup. The city is a major rail, highway, and air-transport hub, served by the two international airports Paris-Charles de Gaulle and Paris-Orly. Opened in 1900, the city's subway system, the Paris Métro, serves 9 million passengers daily. Paris is the hub of the national road network, and is surrounded by three orbital roads: the Périphérique, the A86 motorway, and the Francilienne motorway in the outer suburbs.

GeographyEdit

Paris is located in northern central France. By road it is 280 miles (450.62 kilometers) south-east of London, 178 miles (286.46 kilometers) south of Calais, 190 miles (305.78 kilometers) south-west of Brussels, 481 miles (774.09 kilometers) north of Marseilles, 239 miles (384.63 kilometers) north-east of Nantes, and 84 miles (135.18 kilometers) south-east of Rouen. 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. The river's mouth on the English Channel (La Manche) is about 233 miles (374.98 kilometers) downstream of the city, established around 7600 BC. The city is spread widely on both banks of the river. Overall, the city is relatively flat, and the lowest point is 115 feet (35.05 meters) above sea level. Paris has several prominent hills, the highest of which is Montmartre at 427 feet (130.15 meters). Montmartre gained its name from the martyrdom of Saint Denis, first bishop of Paris, atop the Mons Martyrum, "Martyr's mound", in 250.

Excluding the outlying parks of Bois de Boulogne and Bois de Vincennes, Paris covers an oval measuring about 34 square miles (88.06 km2) in area, enclosed by the 22 miles (35.41 kilometers) ring road, the Boulevard Périphérique. The city's last major annexation of outlying territories in 1860 not only gave it its modern form but also created the 20 clockwise-spiralling arrondissements (municipal boroughs). From the 1860 area of 30 square miles (77.7 km2), the city limits were expanded marginally to 33.6 square miles (87.02 km2) in the 1920s. In 1929, the Bois de Boulogne and Bois de Vincennes forest parks were officially annexed to the city, bringing its area to about 41 square miles (106.19 km2). The metropolitan area of the city is 890 square miles (2,305.1 km2).

ClimateEdit

Paris has a typical Western European oceanic climate (Köppen climate classification: Cfb) which is affected by the North Atlantic Current. The overall climate throughout the year is mild and moderately wet. Summer days are usually warm and pleasant with average temperatures between 15 and 25 °C (59 and 77 °F), and a fair amount of sunshine. Each year, however, there are a few days when the temperature rises above 32 °C (90 °F). Longer periods of more intense heat sometimes occur, such as the heat wave of 2003 when temperatures exceeded 30 °C (86 °F) for weeks, reached 40 °C (104 °F) on some days and seldom cooled down at night.

Spring and autumn have, on average, mild days and fresh nights but are changing and unstable. Surprisingly warm or cool weather occurs frequently in both seasons. In winter, sunshine is scarce; days are cool, nights cold but generally above freezing with low temperatures around 3 °C (37 °F). Light night frosts are however quite common, but the temperature will dip below −5 °C (23 °F) for only a few days a year. Snow falls every year, but rarely stays on the ground. The city sometimes sees light snow or flurries with or without accumulation.

Paris has an average annual precipitation of 652 mm (25.7 in), and experiences light rainfall distributed evenly throughout the year. However the city is known for intermittent abrupt heavy showers. The highest recorded temperature is 40.4 °C (104.7 °F) on July 28th, 1947, and the lowest is −23.9 °C (−11.0 °F) on December 10th, 1879.

Sister/Twin CitiesEdit

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