France is a country of diverse practices both socially and economically. Business customs and practices emphasize formality level and courtesy. These are what form the basis in communication and how people relate in France while doing business. Trust as usual is always earned. The creations of individual business alliances work on well in France. Business can still go on even if one party does not know French. However, a long term-business relationship can be demonstrated through the knowledge of a number of major phrases (Freedman, 2004). The manner of communication in France is usually based on social status, part of origin and level of education. Business is always done openly and through direct questioning.
There is usually no fear in making probing enquiries. Formal communication is done through writing. Secretaries are expected to make meeting schedules and pass on information from business colleagues in the French set up. Appointments are crucial should be done at least two weeks earlier. They can be made either by telephone or through writing. The common vacation is either in August or July. Therefore, no business meetings are expected during this time. Meetings discuss matters and not meant for decision making. The French have no appreciation for hyperbole. Therefore exaggerated claims should be avoided. Other important aspects in business include: maintaining direct contact of the eye while talking, avoiding tactics of high pressure, and stylish and understated business dress depending on company personality (Hargreaves, 2007). The exchange of business cards is also expected.
On a different note, religion in France is primarily Catholicism. All the same, religion is not valued as is the case in many other nations of the world. Conflicts have been there concerning religion ever since the establishment of France. Therefore, France is one such country where there is freedom of thought. This also includes the whole concept of religion. The republic is founded on the freedom of conscience which was enforced back in the 1880s. These Jules Ferry Laws of the 1880s saw the separation of the State and the Church in 1905. These values and practices have been upheld to date. Despite having many faithful, Catholicism is not the religion of the State of France (Freedman, 2004). This was however the case the times preceding 1789 where the religion of the many of the French remained to be the State religion. Generally, there is a low observance of religion in modern France. Roman Catholic forms about 85%, Protestants 2%, Jewish 1%, Muslim 8% while those not affiliated to any religion form 4% of the French people.
Apart from that, the living conditions in France are relatively fair. Like in many other European Countries, there is a universal health care in France. This is largely funded by the government through a national insurance on health. It is considered one of the best systems of health care in the world. About 11% of GDP is used on health care. Government funded agencies expend about 75% on health. France can be said to have been going through an emerging baby boom. This is due to the increase in fertility rate as well as in births. About 2 children are born to each woman in metropolitan France as well as the overseas department accounting fro the total fertility rate. The average age of women having their first child is about 30 years. France has a total population of about 65 Million with the people aged 15 to 64 forming 65% of the population whereas the other groups almost sharing the remaining percentage. There are no extreme differences in the ratio of women to men at different groups.
The ration varies from 1 to 0.7 amongst the groups. The infant mortality rate is 3.3 deaths per 1000 live births; for men, it is 3.63 while that of women accounts for 2.98 deaths per 1000 live births. The life expectancy in total is 81 years at birth; for men, it is about 78 years while for women is about 85 years at birth. The prevalence of HIV/AIDS amongst adults was 0.7% as at 2007. However, people living with HIV/AIDS were about 150,000 people in 2007. There has been an increasing trend in the population of France. However, the participation in labor force is low. Unemployment has all through been 10% from the early 1990s. The concept of urbanization has been increasing steadily. The average standard of living in France is one of the biggest in the universe.
It would be true to say that France is actually more classic than the countries in Northern Europe though lesser than Great Britain. Even though poverty of money affects about 10% of the total households, about 30% of the households find life and other things a humiliating affair. Poverty is thus multifaceted in France: issues balancing the budget, low resources of money and low conditions of living affecting different poor populations (Hargreaves, 2007). The households that are hit by poverty of any kind comprise people with low education level who can hardly find employment. Single people, the aging population and lone parent households, particularly single men happen to be the most vulnerable together with households having health issues.
That aside, the official language in France is French. About 88% of the people living in France speak French. Even those who speak minor languages also have the ability to speak French. The minority languages do not have a legal recognition. Only a minority 3% speak dialects of German. This is mainly in Moselle and Alsace-Lorraine eastern provinces. About 90,000 people speak Flemish in the northeast. This accounts for only 0.2% of the people. About 1.7% of the population near the border to Italy speaks Italian. About 0.1% of the population speaks Basque and this is mainly along the Spanish-French border (Hargreaves, 2007).
Another 0.4% of the population speaks Catalan dialects in the French Pyrenees. This is about 260,000 people. Breton and Celtic language is also found in the North West part of France where it is spoken by a 1.2% of the population in France (Freedman, 2004). Despite having French as the official language, there are also other minority languages. Generally, these are the encounters that a visitor will have in matters of business, religion, living conditions and the language of the people of France.