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The culture and history of France and of the French people has been shaped by geography, by profound historical events, and by foreign and internal forces and groups. France, and in particular Paris, has played an important role as a center of high culture and of decorative arts since the 17th century, first in Europe, and from the 19th century on, world wide. From the late 19th century, France has also played an important role in cinema, fashion and cuisine. Much like the US, France is home to mountains, beaches, farmland and everything in between. Each part has its own identity (and food), and yet forms a cohesive whole. Whatever you are looking for, you will likely find it in France.