23 pages, no figure. Proceedings of "Philosophical Aspects of Modern Cosmology" held in Granada, Spain, 22-23 Sept. 2011. Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics (2013); doi:10.1016/j.shpsb.2013.02.002We review the observational foundations of the $\Lambda$CDM model, considered by most cosmologists as the standard model of cosmology. The Cosmological Principle, a key assumption of the model is shown to be verified with increasing accuracy. The fact that the Universe seems to have expanded from and hot and dense past is supported by many independent probes (galaxy redshifts, Cosmic Microwave Background, Big-Bang Nucleosynthesis and reionization). The explosion of detailed observations in the last few decades has allowed for precise measurements of the cosmological parameters within Friedman-Lemaître-Robertson-Walker cosmologies leading to the $\Lambda$CDM model: an apparently flat Universe, dominated by a cosmological constant, whose matter component is dominantly dark. We describe and discuss the various observational probes that led to this conclusion and conclude that the $\Lambda$CDM model, although leaving a number of open questions concerning the deep nature of the constituents of the Universe, provides the best theoretical framework to explain the observations
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