From the 19th to the 20th centuries, the French colonial empire was the second-largest colonial empire in the world only following the British Empire; it stretched over 13.5 million km2 (5.2 million sq mi) of land at its height in the 1920s and 1930s.
The current border of France is bearing traces of the country’s past colonial history.
Nowadays France has boundaries with 11 nations, totalling 4,176 kilometres (2,595 mi).
The most amazing fact is that France has the longest border with Brazil!
The lengths of the borders that France shares with different nations:
1. Brazil – 730 km (453.60 mi)
2. Belgium – 659 km (409.48 mi)
3. Spain – 623 km (387.11 mi)
4. Switzerland – 573 km (356.05 mi)
5. Suriname – 520 km (323.11 mi)
6. Italy – 515 km (320.01 mi)
7. Germany – 448 km (278.37 mi)
8. Luxemburg – 73 km (45.36 mi)
9. Andorra – 57 km (35.42 mi)
10. Netherlands – 13 km (8.08 mi)
11. Monaco – 4 km (2.49 mi)
Some sections of the state border of France are very unusual.
For instance, the Bidasoa Rhine is the state border between France and Spain. On this river, you can see the Pheasant island, which switches sovereignty between France and Spain every six months.
The border between France and the Netherlands is unusual too.
Saint Martin is an island in the northeast Caribbean, about 300 km (190 mi) east of Puerto Rico. The 87-square-kilometre (34 sq mi) island is split approximately 60/40 between France (53 km2, 20 sq mi) and the Netherlands (34 km2, 13 sq mi). Still, the two parts are roughly equivalent in population, with insignificantly more people residing on the Dutch side.
On 1 January 2009, the population of the whole island was 77,741 inhabitants, with 36,824 living on the French side and 40,917 on the French side.
The island was divided between two countries in 1648.
Below is the map showing the nearest country border to everywhere in metropolitan France
For overseas territories of France the closest countries will be:
-Guadeloupe: partly Antigua and Barbuda (northeast), Montserrat (the UK, northwest) and Dominica (south).
- Martinique: partly Dominica (north) and St. Lucia (south)
- Guyane: partly Suriname (west) and Brazil (east)
- Réunion: Mauritius
- Mayotte: Comoros