Paris

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Paris, the capital of France, is located in northern France on both banks of the Seine River, 145 km (90 mi) from the river's mouth on the English Channel. A total of 2,135,300 (2002) inhabitants live in Paris proper, and almost 11 million persons (1999) live in greater Paris (the Ile-de-France region), which is one of Europe's largest metropolitan areas. A city of world importance and the business, historic, intellectual, diplomatic, religious, educational, artistic, and tourist center of France, Paris owes its prosperity in large part to its favorable position on the Seine, which has been a major commercial artery since the Roman period.











Paris is the head of barge and ship navigation on the Seine and is the fourth most important port in France (after Marseille, Le Havre, and Dunkerque). The Loire, Rhine, Rhône, Meuse, and Scheldt rivers can be reached by canals connecting with the Seine, and a large amount of the imports and exports of the city are transported via water. Total freight carried to and from the port annually amounts to 43 million U.S. tons. Paris is also a major rail, highway, and air transportation hub. Two international airports, Orly and Charles de Gaulle, as well as Le Bourget (for domestic flights), serve the city. De Gaulle ranks as the fifth busiest international airport in the world and Orly as the seventh.

The city's subway system, the Métro, was opened on July 19, 1900, its first line being from Porte de Vincennes to Porte Maillot. Engineer Fulgence Bienvenüe oversaw the construction phase, while architect Hector Guimard designed the decorative Art Nouveau entrances. The system boasts 199 km (124 miles) of track and 15 lines. There are 368 stations (not including RER stations), 87 of these being interchanges between lines. A total of 3500 cars transport roughly 6 million people per day, while the system itself employs 15,000 employees (1989 statistics). Every building in Paris is within 500 meters (3/10 mile) of a métro station. The Réseau Express Régional (RER), inaugurated in the 1960s, connects the city with its outlying suburbs.



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