The history of France is a long one--much longer than that of Canada or the United States. In early times, when Native Americans were somewhat peacefully living in the Americas, France was already embattled in the Norman Conquest and in the 100 Years' War. In more modern history, it resembles the rest of the Western World: World War I and World War II both had significant impacts, and like Canada and the United States, there was a fight for independence in the 18th century.
France's Revolution was a different sort of revolution; the people did not fight as a colony against a ruling country, but the French people fought against their own government. The start of the French Revolution was due to an array of unfavorable conditions in 18th Century France. The people were so unhappy with the way the country was run, and with the way the government was spending money on frivolities, that they revolted. The French Revolution was a difficult time in French history, especially the Reign of Terror; however, at the end of the Revolution, France emerged a stronger and more stable country, largely due to the role of Napoleon Bonaparte.
France's history is intertwined with the literature, drama, art, and musical scenes of France. A few key French writers were responsible for some of the revolutionary ideas that brought the people of France into an uprising. All in all, many threads of history (political, art, literary, and more) contributed to create what is now considered to be the history of France.
Modern France plays an important role in Europe in the 21st century. After English, French is the second official language of the European Union. France and the French language play important roles in Europe and in the world because of their contributions to European and world history in the past. Understanding this long and sometimes difficult history of France enables one to better understand modern France and its role in Europe and the world.