• The French Revolution begins and the First Republic, a constitutional monarchy, is established.

  • Napoleon Bonaparte crowns himself the emperor of the First French Empire and proceeds to conquer most of continental Europe. Napoleon reigns until he is defeated at the Battle of Waterloo.

  • The Franco-Prussian War ends with a French defeat and the concession of Alsace-Lorraine. France suffers economically from the loss of valuable iron ore deposits and iron and steel making plants.
  • World War I devastates the French economy, resulting in the death of 1.3 million Frenchmen and the destruction of much of north-east France.

  • The Treaty of Versailles officially ends the war, giving Alsace-Lorraine back to France and forcing Germany to pay enormous reparations.

  • During World War II, Germany occupies much of France. General de Gaulle establishes a government-in-exile in London.

  • A constitutional referendum establishes the Fourth Republic, beginning a period of economic reconstruction and independence for many French colonies.
  • France joins other European nations, including West Germany, in forming the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC).

  • The union of the countries in the ECSC leads to the formation of the European Economic Community (EEC).
  • de Gaulle returns to power and creates the Fifth Republic, which is still in place today.

  • France signs the Maastricht Treaty, which forms the European Union.

  • The Euro replaces the Franc as the national currency.

  • France announces it will inject 10.5 billion euros into the country's six largest banks in order to shore up its financial sector.
  • The French government announces public spending cuts of 45 billion euros to reduce the high level of public debt.

  • France enters its second recession in four years.

  • Following labor reforms in 2017, rail workers announce a three-month strike. This is the first major challenge to these laws that made it easier to hire and fire workers.


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