Pollution and smoke get caught up in a swirl of clouds off on the coasts of Spain bottom center), France (center), the United Kingdom (top center), and Ireland (under cloud at top left) in this true-color Aqua MODIS image acquired on March 22, 2003. The smoke and pollution appear as a grayish haze concentrated west of France.
Despite the haze lying over the region, cloudy green and tan swirls of sediment and microscopic marine life are visible in the waters of the Atlantic (left), the English Channel (between France and England), and in the Celtic (south of Ireland), Irish Sea (east of Ireland), and North Sea (east of England).
The metropolitan area of France extends from the Mediterranean Sea to the English Channel and the North Sea, and from the Rhine to the Atlantic Ocean. It is bordered by Belgium, Luxembourg and Germany to the northeast, Switzerland and Italy to the east, and Andorra and Spain to the south. The overseas territories include French Guiana in South America and several islands in the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian oceans. The country’s 18 integral regions (five of which are situated overseas) span a combined area of 643,801 square kilometres (248,573 sq mi) and a total population of 67.02 million (as of July 2019). France is a unitary semi-presidential republic with its capital in Paris, the country’s largest city and main cultural and commercial centre. Other major urban areas include Lyon, Marseille, Toulouse, Bordeaux, Lille and Nice.