France has been one of the world's foremost powers since the latter half of the 17th century. In the 18th & 19th centuries, France built one of the largest colonial empires of the time, stretching across West Africa and Southeast Asia, prominently influencing the cultures & politics of the regions. France is a developed country, with the sixth (nominal GDP) or eighth (PPP) largest economy in the world. It is the most visited country in the world, receiving 82 million foreign tourists annually. France is one of the founding members of the European Union, and has the largest land area of all members.