The purity of the language is officially protected by the Académie Française established by Cardinal Richelieu in the seventeenth century, whose forty members rule over the inclusion of new words in the language.
In 1966, the government instituted a further safeguard by establishing a commission on the French language whose role is to discourage borrowings from English and franglais (the combination of the two languages).
France takes a highly assimilationist approach to its immigrant populations.
The social position of Beurs (the children of North African immigrants) is an ongoing issue.
Known as the tricoleur, the flag is blue, white, and red.
White is associated with monarchy, red with the republic, and blue with Charlemagne, Clovis, and other early rulers.
The most recent update of national language policy regarding education came in 1995, permitting the teaching of regional languages at the primary and secondary levels. The nation historically has been divided into two linguistic regions: that of the langue d'oeil to the north and that of the langue d'oc to the south.
National identity is closely identified with the French language.
While tied to the mainland of Europe, the country is open to the Atlantic to the west.
It also has coasts on the Mediterranean Sea to the south and the English Channel to the north.