Often considered one of the most romantic languages in the world, French is a key component in the history of literature. French literature began with poetry some time in the middle ages, during which period, drama, satire and poetry of love and war were popular. During the Renaissance, French literature was embellished with creative, lyrical works that went on to dominate literature across the rest of Europe between the 15th and 17th centuries.
French literature has also had a lasting impact on modern literature, owing to revolutionary figures such as the 19th century writers Honore de Balzac and Marcel Proust. For those who don't speak the language, it is possible to get an idea of the literature of France in English adaptations of French works.
One of the Romance languages of Europe, French has its roots in Latin. Gaulish was originally spoken in France but following the capture of the region by the Romans, the area adopted the tongue of its invaders. Elements of Gaulish remained in the language, however, and the dialect slowly transformed into French.
French, of course, is traditionally associated with France, however, the country in which the language is most widely used is the Democratic Republic of Congo, which has nearly 68,000,000 French speakers. The language is also used in other countries in Africa, including Senegal and Cameroon, as well as in parts of Canada, Europe and South America.