Humans have been living in France for an estimated 1.8 million years. There are many cave drawings in France from the Paleolithic era. The first colony in France was founded by Greeks in 600 BC in the modern city Marseille, then known as Massalia.
The spread of Gallic Celtic tribes in France occurred between the third and fifth century BC, when the borders of modern-day state map of France were mostly defined.
The Franks, a Germanic pagan tribe that gave France its name, settled in Gaul and took it over, dividing the region into four parts for the sons of Frankish King Clovis I. These kingdoms were later reunited by Charlemagne (Charles the Great).
France played a major role during the Crusades between 1095 and 1291.
From 1337 to 1453, the Hundred Years' War was fought between France and England. Between the years 1648 and 1653, France witnessed a series of civil wars. Known as Fronde, these civil wars were fought in the midst of the Franco Spanish War, which began in 1635 and lasted till 1659.
During the period of European exploration, France established colonies in the New World. The Seven Years War (1756-1763) in the New World resulted in the loss of New France territories to Britain, under the rule of Louis XV. As a result, France was a major ally of American colonists seeking independence from Britain during the American Revolution, leading to the 1783 Treaty of Paris.
The French Revolution took place from around 1789 to 1799, culminating in the storming of the Bastille on July 14, 1789, which ended France's absolute monarchy and replaced it with a constitutional monarchy. The French Revolutionary wars began in 1792, the same year France became a republic. King Louis XVI was executed in 1793 for treason, as was his wife Marie Antoinette.
Napoleon Bonaparte took over the Republic in 1799, eventually becoming Emperor. The French empire led by Napoleon began conquering Europe, until his defeat in 1815.
During the nineteenth century, France became the second largest colonial power of all times, with colonies in North America, Southeast Asia, North, West & Central Africa, Caribbean, and Pacific Islands. Many of these colonies are still part of the Republic of France. France was an integral part in both World War I and World War II, and was a founding member of NATO in 1949.