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Paris

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  Summary  

Paris is the capital of and largest city in France. It is situated on the river Seine, in northern France, at the heart of the Île-de-France region (or Paris Region, Région parisienne). The city of Paris, within its administrative limits largely unchanged since 1860, has an estimated population of 2,211,297 , but the Paris metropolitan area has a population of 12,089,098, , and is one of the most populated metropolitan areas in Europe. Paris was the largest city in the Western world for about 1,000 years, prior to the 19th century, and the largest in the entire world between the 16th and 19th centuries.

Paris is today one of the world's leading business and cultural centres, and its influences in politics, education, entertainment, media, fashion, science, and the arts all contribute to its status as one of the world's major global cities.<ref name="http://www.knightfrank.com/wealthreport/">The Wealth Report 2010 | Knight Frank | Citi Private Bank. Knight Frank. Retrieved on 2010-12-16.</ref> It hosts the headquarters of many international organizations such as UNESCO, the OECD, the International Chamber of Commerce or the informal Paris Club. Paris is considered one of the greenest<ref name="http://www.citymayors.com/environment/greenest-cities-europe.html">Greenest cities in Europe. City Mayors (2010-03-03). Retrieved on 2010-12-16.</ref> and most liveable cities in Europe. It is also one of the most expensive.

Paris and the Paris Region, with €552.1 billion (US$768.9 billion) in 2009, produce more than a quarter of the gross domestic product of France. According to 2008 estimates, the Paris agglomeration is Europe's biggest or second biggest city economy and the sixth largest in the world. The Paris Region hosts the headquarters of 33 of the Fortune Global 500 companies, the highest such concentration in Europe, hosted in several business districts, notably La Défense, the largest dedicated business district in Europe. The Paris region has the highest concentration of higher education students in the European Union, is the first in Europe in terms of research and development capability and expenditure and is considered one of the best cities in the world for innovation. With about 42 million tourists annually in the city and its suburbs, Paris is the most visited city in the world. The city and its region contain 3,800 historical monuments and four UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

  History  

 Origins

The earliest archaeological signs of permanent settlements in the Paris area date from around 4200 BC. The Parisii, a sub-tribe of the Celtic Senones, inhabited the area near the river Seine from around 250 BC. The Romans conquered the Paris basin in 52 BC, with a permanent settlement by the end of the same century on the Left Bank Sainte Geneviève Hill and the Île de la Cité. The Gallo-Roman town was originally called Lutetia, but later Gallicised to Lutèce. It expanded greatly over the following centuries, becoming a prosperous city with a forum, palaces, baths, temples, theatres, and an amphitheatre.

The collapse of the Roman empire and the 5th-century Germanic invasions sent the city into a period of decline. By AD 400, Lutèce, largely abandoned by its inhabitants, was little more than a garrison town entrenched into a hastily fortified central island. The city reclaimed its original appellation of "Paris" towards the end of the Roman occupation.

 Merovingian and Feudal Eras

The Paris region was under full control of the Germanic Franks by the late 5th century. The Frankish king Clovis the Frank, the first king of the Merovingian dynasty, made the city his capital from 508. The late 8th century Carolingian dynasty displaced the Frankish capital to Aachen; this period coincided with the beginning of Viking invasions that had spread as far as Paris by the early 9th century.

Repeated invasions forced Parisians to build a fortress on the Île de la Cité. One of the most remarkable Viking raids was on 28 March 845, when Paris was sacked and held ransom, probably by Ragnar Lodbrok, who left only after receiving a large bounty paid by the crown. The weakness of the late Carolingian kings of France led to the gradual rise in power of the Counts of Paris; Odo, Count of Paris, was elected king of France by feudal lords, and the end of the Carolingian empire came in 987 when Hugh Capet, count of Paris, was elected king of France. Paris, under the Capetian kings, became a capital once more.

 Middle Ages to 19th century


Paris's population was around 200,000 when the Black Death arrived in 1348, killing as many as 800 people a day; and 40,000 died from the plague in 1466. During the 16th and 17th centuries, plague visited the city for almost one year out of three. Paris lost its position as seat of the French realm during occupation of the English-allied Burgundians during the Hundred Years' War, but regained its title when Charles VII of France reclaimed the city from English rule in 1436. Paris from then on became France's capital once again in title, but France's real centre of power would remain in the Loire Valley until King Francis I returned France's crown residences to Paris in 1528.

During the French Wars of Religion, Paris was a stronghold of the Catholic party. In August 1572, under the reign of Charles IX, while many noble Protestants were in Paris on the occasion of the marriage of Henry of Navarre – the future Henry IV – to Margaret of Valois, sister of Charles IX, the St. Bartholomew's Day massacre occurred; begun on 24 August, it lasted several days and spread throughout the country.

In 1590 Henry IV unsuccessfully laid siege to the city in the Siege of Paris. During the Fronde, Parisians rose in rebellion and the royal family fled the city . King Louis XIV then moved the royal court permanently to Versailles, a lavish estate on the outskirts of Paris, in 1682. A century later, Paris was the centre stage for the French Revolution, with the Storming of the Bastille on 14 July 1789 and the overthrow of the monarchy in September 1792.

 19th century

Paris was occupied by Russian and Allied armies upon Napoleon's defeat on the 31 March 1814; this was the first time in 400 years that the city had been conquered by a foreign power. The ensuing Restoration period, or the return of the monarchy under Louis XVIII (1814–1824) and Charles X, ended with the July Revolution Parisian uprising of 1830. The new 'constitutional monarchy' under Louis-Philippe ended with the 1848 "February Revolution" that led to the creation of the Second Republic.

Throughout these events, cholera epidemics in 1832 and 1849 ravaged the population of Paris; the 1832 epidemic alone claimed 20,000 of the population of 650,000.

The greatest development in Paris's history began with the Industrial Revolution creation of a network of railways that brought an unprecedented flow of migrants to the capital from the 1840s. The city's largest transformation came with the 1852 Second Empire under Napoleon III; his préfet, Baron Haussmann, levelled entire districts of Paris' narrow, winding medieval streets to create the network of wide avenues and neo-classical façades that still make up much of modern Paris; the reason for this transformation was twofold, as not only did the creation of wide boulevards beautify and sanitize the capital, it also facilitated the effectiveness of troops and artillery against any further uprisings and barricades for which Paris was so famous.

The Second Empire ended in the Franco-Prussian War (1870–1871), and a besieged Paris under heavy bombardment surrendered on 28 January 1871. The discontent of Paris' populace with the new armistice-signing government seated in Versailles resulted in the creation of the Paris Commune government, supported by an army created in large part of members of the city's former National Guard that would both continue resistance against the Prussians and oppose the army of the "Versaillais" government. The Paris Commune ended with the Semaine Sanglante ("Bloody Week"), during which roughly 20,000 "Communards" were executed before the fighting ended on 28 May 1871. The ease with which the Versaillais army overtook Paris owed much to Baron Haussmann's renovations.

France's late 19th-century Universal Expositions made Paris an increasingly important centre of technology, trade, and tourism. Its most famous were the 1889 Exposition universelle to which Paris owes its "temporary" display of architectural engineering progess, the Eiffel Tower, a structure that remained the world's tallest building until 1930; the 1900 Universal Exposition saw the opening of the first Paris Métro line.

 20th century
During World War I, Paris was at the forefront of the war effort, having been spared a German invasion by the French and British victory at the First Battle of the Marne in 1914. In 1918–1919, it was the scene of Allied victory parades and peace negotiations. In the inter-war period, Paris was famed for its cultural and artistic communities and its nightlife. The city became a gathering place of artists from around the world, from exiled Russian composer Stravinsky and Spanish painters Picasso and Dalí to American writer Hemingway.


On 14 June 1940, five weeks after the start of the Battle of France, an undefended Paris fell to German occupation forces. The Germans marched past the Arc de Triomphe on the 140th anniversary of Napoleon's victory at the Battle of Marengo. German forces remained in Paris until the city was liberated in August 1944 after a resistance uprising, two and a half months after the Normandy invasion. Central Paris endured World War II practically unscathed, as there were no strategic targets for Allied bombers . Also, German General von Choltitz did not destroy all Parisian monuments before any German retreat, as ordered by Adolf Hitler, who had visited the city in 1940.

In the post-war era, Paris experienced its largest development since the end of the Belle Époque in 1914. The suburbs began to expand considerably, with the construction of large social estates known as cités and the beginning of the business district La Défense. A comprehensive express subway network, the RER, was built to complement the Métro and serve the distant suburbs, while a network of freeways was developed in the suburbs, centred on the Périphérique expressway encircling the city.

Since the 1970s, many inner suburbs of Paris have experienced deindustrialization, and the once-thriving cités have gradually become ghettos for immigrants and oases of unemployment. At the same time, the city of Paris (within its Périphérique expressway) and the western and southern suburbs have successfully shifted their economic base from traditional manufacturing to high-value-added services and high-tech manufacturing, generating great wealth for their residents whose per capita income is among the highest in Europe. The resulting widening social gap between these two areas has led to periodic unrest since the mid-1980s, such as the 2005 riots which were concentrated for the most part in the northeastern suburbs.

Diana, Princess of Wales, died at the Pitié-Salpêtrière Hospital in Paris on 31 August 1997, after a car crash in the Pont de l'Alma tunnel.

 21st century


In order to alleviate social tensions in the inner suburbs and revitalise the metropolitan economy of Paris, several plans are currently underway. The office of Secretary of State for the Development of the Capital Region was created in March 2008 within the French government. Its office holder, Christian Blanc, is in charge of overseeing President Nicolas Sarkozy's plans for the creation of an integrated Grand Paris ("Greater Paris") metropolitan authority , as well as the extension of the subway network to cope with the renewed growth of population in Paris and its suburbs, and various economic development projects to boost the metropolitan economy, such as the creation of a world-class technology and scientific cluster and university campus on the Saclay plateau in the southern suburbs.

In parallel, President Sarkozy also launched in 2008 an international urban and architectural competition for the future development of metropolitan Paris. Ten teams, which bring together architects, urban planners, geographers, and landscape architects, will offer their vision for building a Paris metropolis of the 21st century in the Kyoto Protocol era and will make a prospective diagnosis for Paris and its suburbs that will define future developments in Greater Paris for the next 40 years. The goal is not only to build an environmentally sustainable metropolis but also to integrate the inner suburbs with the central City of Paris through large-scale urban planning operations and iconic architectural projects.

Meanwhile, in an effort to boost the global economic image of metropolitan Paris, several skyscrapers have been approved since 2006 in the business district of La Défense, to the west of the city proper, and are scheduled to be completed by the early 2010s. Paris authorities also stated publicly that they are planning to authorise the construction of skyscrapers within the city proper by relaxing the cap on building height for the first time since the construction of the Tour Montparnasse in the early 1970s.

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Whole or part of the information contained in this card come from the Wikipedia article "Parigi", licensed under CC-BY-SA full list of contributors here.