Paris is the capital and largest city of France. It is situated on the river Seine, in northern France, at the heart of the Île-de-France region. As of January 2008 the city of Paris, within its administrative limits largely unchanged since 1860, has an estimated population of 2,2 mln and a metropolitan population of 12 mln, and is one of the most populated metropolitan areas in Europe. Paris was the largest city in the Western world for about 1,000 years, prior to the 19th century, and the largest in the entire world between the 16th and 19th centuries. Paris is today one of the world's leading business and cultural centres, and its influences in politics, education, entertainment, media, fashion, science, and the arts all contribute to its status as one of the world's major global cities. It hosts the headquarters of many international organizations such as UNESCO, the OECD, the International Chamber of Commerce or the European Space Agency. Paris is considered one of the greenest and most liveable cities in Europe. It is also one of the most expensive. Paris and the Paris Region produce more than a quarter of the gross domestic product of France. According to 2008 estimates, the Paris agglomeration is Europe's biggest or second biggest city economy and the sixth largest in the world. The Paris region is the first in Europe in terms of research and development capability and expenditure and through its 17 universities and 55 grandes écoles has the highest concentration of higher education students in the European Union. With about 42 million tourists annually in the city and its suburbs, Paris is the most visited city in the world. The city and its region contain 3,800 historical monuments and four UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
The Eiffel Tower is a puddle iron lattice tower located on the Champ de Mars in Paris. Built in 1889 as the entrance arch to the 1889 World's Fair, it has become both a global cultural icon of France and one of the most recognizable structures in the world. The tower is the tallest building in Paris and the most-visited paid monument in the world; millions of people ascend it every year. It is named after the engineer Gustave Eiffel, whose company designed and built the tower. The tower stands 320 metres tall, about the same height as an 81-story building. During its construction, the Eiffel Tower surpassed the Washington Monument to assume the title of the tallest man-made structure in the world, a title it held for 41 years, until the Chrysler Building in New York City was built in 1930. However, because of the addition, in 1957, of the antenna atop the Eiffel Tower, it is now taller than the Chrysler Building. Not including broadcast antennas, it is the second-tallest structure in France, after the Millau Viaduct. The tower has three levels for visitors. Tickets can be purchased to ascend, by stairs or lift, to the first and second levels. The walk from ground level to the first level is over 300 steps, as is the walk from the first to the second level. The third and highest level is accessible only by lift - stairs exist but they are not usually open for public use. Both the first and second levels feature restaurants. The tower has become the most prominent symbol of both Paris and France, often in the establishing shot of films set in the city.
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