Although ultimately a
victor in World Wars I and II, France suffered extensive losses in its
empire, wealth, manpower, and rank as a dominant nation-state.
Nevertheless, France today is one of the most modern countries in the
world and is a leader among European nations. Since 1958, it has
constructed a presidential democracy resistant to the instabilities
experienced in earlier parliamentary democracies. In recent years, its
reconciliation and cooperation with Germany have proved central to the
economic integration of Europe, including the introduction of a common
exchange currency, the euro, in January 1999. The language spoken in
France is French
, yet there are
also many local dialects.