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Paris is the capital city of France and a French département. Situated on the banks of the river Seine in north-central France, it is also the capital of the Île-de-France région (also known as "Paris Region"), which encompasses Paris and its suburbs. Paris had an estimated mid-2004 population of 2,144,700. The Paris urban area, extending well beyond the city boundaries, has today an estimated population of 9.93 million

The Paris metropolitan area (including satellite towns) stood at 11.5 million in 1999 and is one of the most populated metropolitan areas in Europe. The Paris region is France's most dynamic centre of economic activity. It produces more than a quarter of France's wealth, with a GDP of €478.7 billion (US$595.3 billion) in 2005. With La Défense, the largest purpose-built business district in Europe, the Paris urban area (unité urbaine) also hosts the head offices of almost half of the major French companies, as well as the offices of major international firms.

Paris is a leading cultural, business and political centre and has an influence in fashion, gastronomy and the arts. It is regarded as one of the major global cities with the headquarters of international organisations such as UNESCO, the OECD, the ICC, or the informal Paris Club. The city, which is renowned for its defining neo-classical architecture, hosts many museums and galleries and has an active nightlife.

The most recognisable symbol of Paris is the 324 metre (1,063 ft) Eiffel Tower on the banks of the Seine. Dubbed "the City of Light" (la Ville Lumière) since the 19th century, Paris is regarded by many as one of the most beautiful and romantic cities in the world. It is also the most visited city in the world with more than 30 million foreign visitors per year.