France 1848-1870
the Economy
France 1890-1914
the Economy
France 1870-1890
Domestic Policy
France 1870-1890
Intellectual Life

France 1870-1890 : the Economy

The FRANCO-GERMAN WAR of 1870/1871 not only was costly in terms of human lives and destruction. France had to cede ALSACE-LORRAINE and to agree to pay REPARATIONS of 5 billion gold Franc. This was to burden the French economy for several years to come. In addition, the suppression of the PARIS COMMUNE added to France's troubles.
The world economy entered the SECOND INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION. The French railway net expanded from 15,544 km in 1870 to 33,280 km in 1890. France's population rose slightly from 36.87 million in 1870 to 38.38 million in 1890 (much less than that of other European countries over the same period). The growing industries increasingly depended on the supply of raw materials and on secure markets. As the international competition for both increased, so did support for a expansionist colonial policy. France pursued a policy of aggressive colonial expansion in Africa and Indochina.
The LATIN MONETARY UNION (founded in 1865) continued, France being its leading member (the others including Belgium, Switzerland, Italy, Austria-Hungary etc.) Exchange rates of member nations were fixed. In 1876 France, deviating from a combined Gold-Silver Standard, based her currency on the GOLD STANDARD (Belgium, Switzerland, Italy - other key Latin Monetary Union members - had already done so in 1873).
In the 1880es France turned to PROTECTIONISM, for the benefit of French agriculture and industry. France's growing COLONIAL EMPIRE eas to secure both foreign markets and raw materials for France's industry.
In 1874 the UNIVERSAL POSTAL UNION was founded at a Paris conference, her two official languages being French and English. In 1875 the METER CONFERENCE was held in Paris; here the metric system was internationally accepted. In 1889 another WORLD EXHIBITION was held in Paris.

Latin Monetary Union, from Columbia Encyclopedia
The Bimetallic Standard, from Francois Micheloud's Homepage
Gold and Silver Standards. Stable Prices, 1815-1914 : France, from Hugo S. Cunningham
DOCUMENTS Coins issued 1870-1890. from Numismatique-Histoire
REFERENCE Colin Heywood, The Development of the French Economy, 1750-1914, Cambridge : UP 1995, 74 pp., KMLA Lib. Call Sign 330.944 H622d
Jean-Marie Mayeur and Madeleine Reberioux, The Third Republic from its Origins to the Great War 1871-1914, (Fr. Or. 1973, Eng. Trsl. 1984), Cambridge UP 1994, KMLA Lib. Call Sign 944.081 M468t

This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted in 2001, last revised on March 30th 2007

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