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The Principality of Monaco or Monaco (French: Principauté de Monaco or Monaco; Monegasque: Munegu or Principatu de Munegu) is a city state and the second-smallest country in the world (after the Vatican City), located between the Mediterranean Sea and France along the French Riviera or Côte d'Azur (The Blue Coast). Consisting mostly of the old city of Monaco and later built-up areas, it is also the most densely populated independent country in the world1. It is one of the European microstates.

Principauté de Monaco
Flag of Monaco Coat of Arms of Monaco
(Flag) (Coat of Arms)
Motto: Deo Juvante
(Latin: With God's Help)
Anthem: Hymne Monégasque
Location of Monaco
Capital Monaco1
43°44′ N 7°24′ E
Largest city Monaco1
Official languages French
Government Constitutional monarchy
Albert II
Jean-Paul Proust
-beginning of rule
by House of Grimaldi
 • Total
 • Water (%)
2 km² (192nd)
 • 2005 est.
 • 2000 census
 • Density
32,409 (188th)
16,620/km² (1st)
 • Total
 • Per capita
2000 estimate
$870 million (177th)
$27,000 (24th)
Currency Euro (EUR)
Time zone
 • Summer (DST)
Internet TLD .mc
Calling code +377
1Monaco is a city-state.



Main article: History of Monaco

Monaco derives its name from the nearby Greek colony, Monoikos, founded in the 6th century BC by the Phoceans. According to an ancient myth, Hercules passed through the Monaco area. A temple was constructed there by Phoceans, the temple of Hercules Monoikos (Μόνοικος means single house or single temple).

Memorial of François Grimaldi guised as a monk with a sword under his frock
Memorial of François Grimaldi guised as a monk with a sword under his frock

Monaco was re-founded in 1215 as a colony of Genoa. Monaco has been ruled by the House of Grimaldi since 1297, when François Grimaldi (aka: Malizia) seized the fortress protecting the famous rock while dressed up as a Franciscan monk (monaco in Italian); the only exception to this was from 1793 to 1814, when Monaco was under French control. Designated as a protectorate of Sardinia from 1815 until 1860 by the Congress of Vienna, Monaco's sovereignty was recognised by the Franco-Monegasque Treaty of 1861.

The Prince of Monaco was an absolute ruler until a constitution was promulgated in 1911. In July 1918, a treaty was signed providing for limited French protection over Monaco. The treaty, written into the Treaty of Versailles, established that Monegasque policy would be aligned with French political, military, and economic interests.

Prince Rainier III acceded to the throne following the death of his grandfather, Prince Louis II, in 1949. A new constitution, proclaimed in 1962, abolished capital punishment, provided for female suffrage, and established a Supreme Court to guarantee fundamental liberties. In 1993, Monaco became an official member of the United Nations with full voting rights.

In 2002, a new treaty between France and Monaco clarifies that if there are no heirs to carry on the dynasty, the Principality will remain an independent nation rather than revert to the French. Monaco's military defence, however, is still the responsibility of France.

Prince Albert, Marquis of Baux took over the royal duties on 31 March 2005 because his father Prince Rainier III was too ill to exercise his royal functions. On 6 April 2005 Prince Rainier died and Prince Albert succeeded him as Albert II of Monaco. Prince Albert II of Monaco formally became the ruler of Monaco on July 12, 2005 in a celebration that began with a solemn Mass at the cathedral where his father, Rainier III, was buried three months before after a reign of 56 years. His accession to the throne is a two-step event with another ceremony expected to draw heads of state planned for November 19, 2005.

See: List of the Princes of Monaco


Main article: Politics of Monaco

Monaco has been governed as a constitutional monarchy since 1911, with the Prince as head of state. The executive branch consists of a Minister of State (the head of government), who presides over a four-member Council of Government (the cabinet). The Minister of State is a French citizen appointed by the Prince from among candidates proposed by the French Government. Under the 1962 constitution, the Prince shares his power with the unicameral National Council (parliament). The 24 members of this legislative body are elected from lists by universal suffrage for 5-year terms.

The principality's local affairs are directed by the Communal Council, which consists of 15 elected members and is presided over by the Mayor.


Main article: Geography of Monaco

Map of Monaco
Map of Monaco

The Principality of Monaco is the second-smallest independent state in the world, after Vatican City. It is located on the Mediterranean coast, 18 kilometres east of Nice and near the Italian border, and is surrounded on three sides by France. It consists of a narrow strip along the coast at the bottom of the foothills of the Alps and its highest point is "Le Rocher" at 140 m.

Monaco is divided into seven sections or quarters (quartiers): Monaco-Ville, the capital, the old city on a rocky promontory extending into the Mediterranean; La Condamine, the section along the port; Monte Carlo, the principal residential and resort area with the casino; Fontvieille, a newly constructed area reclaimed from the sea; Moneghetti, on the western border with Cap d`Ail; Larvotto - Tenao includes the beach area to the east of the principality. Saint Roman is the easternmost tip, bordering the Tenao.

The principality is noted for its beautiful natural scenery and mild, sunny climate. The average minimum temperature in January and February is 8 °C (47 °F); in July and August the average maximum temperature is 26 °C (78 °F).


Monaco city and harbour view
Monaco city and harbour view
The casino in Monaco
The casino in Monaco

Main article: Economy of Monaco

One of Monaco's main sources of income is tourism; each year many are attracted to its casino and pleasant climate. In 2001, a major new construction project extended the pier used by cruise ships in the main harbour. The Principality has successfully sought to diversify into services and small, high-value-added, non-polluting industries.

The state has no income tax for individuals. The state retains monopolies in numerous sectors, including tobacco and the postal service. The telephone network used to be owned by the state. Now Monaco Telecom is 49% owned by Cable and Wireless, 45% by the state and 6% by Compagnie Monégasque de Banque, but is still a monopoly. Living standards are high, roughly comparable to those in prosperous French metropolitan areas.

The lack of personal income tax has led to a considerable number of wealthy "tax refugee" residents from European countries, who earn the majority of their income from activity outside Monaco; celebrities like Formula One drivers attract most of the attention but the majority of them are businesspeople.

In 2000 a report by French parliamentarians Arnaud Montebourg and Vincent Peillon alleged that Monaco has lax policies with respect to money laundering, including within its famed casino, and that the government of Monaco puts political pressure on the judiciary so that alleged crimes are not properly investigated. In response, the government of Monaco ordered reports to OECD and FATF. These reports revealed most of these allegations to be untrue.

Monaco is not a member of the European Union, but is very closely linked to it via a customs union with France and as such its currency is the same as France's: the euro. Monaco has acquired the right to mint euro coins with Monegasque designs on their national side.


View on Monacoville
View on Monacoville

Main article: Demographics of Monaco

Monaco has the distinction of being the most densely-populated country in the world 1 (see List of countries by population density). It has the largest police force and police presence in the world, both per capita and per area.

Monaco's population is unusual in that the native Monegasques are a minority in their own country. The largest proportion of residents are French nationals (47%), while Monegasque and Italian nationals represent 16% each, and the remaining 21% belong to one of the other 125 nationalities that make up Monaco's international population.

French is the only official language, but English, Italian, and the local Monegasque language (a descendant of Genoese) are also spoken. The literacy rate is 99%. Roman Catholicism is the official religion, with freedom of other religions guaranteed by the constitution.


Main article: Culture of Monaco


  1. Although Macau is more densely populated, by virtue of the fact that Macau is not a sovereign state, Monaco is the most densely populated sovereign state in the world.

See also

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