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Using le, la, l', les with continents, countries & regions names (definite articles)

We know that countries, continents, regions and states have genders in French. See Continents, countries, regions & states are masculine, feminine or plural (gender).

Now look at these sentences:

La France est un merveilleux pays.France is a wonderful country.

J'adore le Portugal et l'Italie.I love Portugal and Italy.

Les Etats-Unis sont un immense pays.The United States is a huge country.

Il adore l'Europe.He loves Europe.

Je déteste la Californie ou la Provence.I hate California or Provence.

Notice that in French, countries/continents/states/regions are used with the definite article le, la, l' or les, when used in general statements, unlike in English.

ATTENTION:
When talking about going to or from a country, you won't use the definite article.
See Using en with feminine countries and au(x) with masculine countries to say in or to (prepositions).

NOTE that cities do not use articles:

J'aime Paris et Londres.I love Paris and London.

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Learn more about these related French grammar topics

Examples and resources

La France est un merveilleux pays.France is a wonderful country.
Les Etats-Unis sont un immense pays.The United States is a huge country.
La France est un beau paysFrance is a beautiful country 
J'aime Paris et Londres.I love Paris and London.
Le Pays de Galles, l'Écosse, l'Angleterre et l'Irlande du Nord font partie du Royaume-Uni.Wales, Scotland, England and Northern Ireland are part of the United Kingdom.
Il adore l'Europe.He loves Europe.
Je déteste la Californie ou la Provence.I hate California or Provence.
J'adore le Portugal et l'Italie.I love Portugal and Italy.
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