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Gaul was then a prosperous country, of which the southernmost part was heavily subject to Greek and Roman cultural and economic influences.
Around 125 BC, the south of Gaul was conquered by the Romans, who called this region Provincia Nostra ("Our Province"), which over time evolved into the name Provence in French.
The overseas territories include French Guiana in South America and several islands in the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian oceans.
During the Renaissance, French culture flourished and a global colonial empire was established, which by the 20th century would be the second largest in the world.
In the late 18th century, the French Revolution overthrew the absolute monarchy, established one of modern history's earliest republics, and saw the drafting of the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, which expresses the nation's ideals to this day.
These cities were built in traditional Roman style, with a forum, a theatre, a circus, an amphitheatre and thermal baths.
The Gauls mixed with Roman settlers and eventually adopted Roman culture and Roman speech (Latin, from which the French language evolved).
Following liberation in 1944, a Fourth Republic was established and later dissolved in the course of the Algerian War.