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This article is about the city-state. For other uses, see Monaco (disambiguation).
Principality of Monaco
Principauté de Monaco [a]
Flag Coat of arms
Motto: "Deo Juvante" (Latin)
"With God's Help"
Anthem: Hymne Monégasque
English: Monégasque Anthem
Location of  Monaco  (green)in Europe  (dark grey)  –  [Legend]
Location of  Monaco  (green)

in Europe  (dark grey)  –  [Legend]

Capital Monaco[a][1][2]
43°43′N 7°25′E / 43.717°N 7.417°E / 43.717; 7.417
Largest Quartier Monte Carlo
Official languages French[3]
Common languages
Ethnic groups
Religion Roman Catholicism
  • Monégasque
  • Monacan[c]
Government Unitary parliamentary Constitutional monarchy
 -  Monarch Albert II
 -  Minister of State Michel Roger
 -  President of the National Council Laurent Nouvion (REM)
Legislature National Council
 -  House of Grimaldi 1297 
 -  Franco-Monegasque Treaty 1861 
 -  Constitution 1911 
 -  Total 2.02 km2 (248th)
0.78 sq mi
 -  Water (%) negligible[4]
 -  2011 estimate 36,371[5] (217th)
 -  2008 census 35,352[4]
 -  Density 18,005/km2 (1st)
49,217/sq mi
GDP (PPP) 2010[b] estimate
 -  Total $4.694 billion[6][7] (156th)
 -  Per capita $132,571[6][7] (1st)
GDP (nominal) 2010[b] estimate
 -  Total $5.424 billion[6] (148th)
 -  Per capita $153,177[6] (1st)
Currency Euro () (EUR)
Time zone CET (UTC+1)
 -  Summer (DST) CEST (UTC+2)
Drives on the right[8]
Calling code +377
ISO 3166 code MC
Internet TLD .mc
a. ^ Monaco is a city-state. However, government offices are located in the Quartier of Monaco-Ville.
b. ^ GDP per capita calculations include non-resident workers from France and Italy.
c. ^ Monacan is the term for residents.

Monaco (Listeni/ˈmɒnək/; French: [monako]), officially the Principality of Monaco (French: Principauté de Monaco),[a] is a sovereign city-state and microstate, located on the French Riviera in Western Europe. France borders the country on three sides while the other side borders the Mediterranean Sea. Monaco has an area of 2.02 km2 (0.78 sq mi) and a population of about 36,371; it is the second smallest and the most densely populated country in the world. Monaco has a land border of 4.4 km (2.7 mi), a coastline of 4.1 km (2.5 mi), and a width that varies between 1,700 and 349 m (5,577 and 1,145 ft). The highest point in the country is a narrow pathway named Chemin des Révoires on the slopes of Mont Agel, in the Les Révoires Ward, which is 161 metres (528 feet) above sea level. Monaco's most populous Quartier is Monte Carlo and the most populous Ward is Larvotto/Bas Moulins. Through land reclamation, Monaco's land mass has expanded by twenty percent. Although small, Monaco is very old and quite well known, especially because of its status as a playground for the rich and famous; which themselves become a spectacle for tourists and an economic engine in the Mediterranean. In 2014 it was noted about 30% percent of the population were millionaires, similar to Zürich or Geneva.[9]

Monaco is a principality governed under a form of constitutional monarchy, with Prince Albert II as head of state. Although Prince Albert II is a constitutional monarch, he wields immense political power. The House of Grimaldi have ruled Monaco, with brief interruptions, since 1297.[10] The official language is French, but Monégasque, Italian, and English are widely spoken and understood.[b] The state's sovereignty was officially recognized by the Franco-Monegasque Treaty of 1861, with Monaco becoming a full United Nations voting member in 1993. Despite Monaco's independence and separate foreign policy, its defense is the responsibility of France. However, Monaco does maintain two small military units.

Economic development was spurred in the late 19th century with the opening of the country's first casino, Monte Carlo, and a railway connection to Paris.[11] Since then, Monaco's mild climate, splendid scenery, and upscale gambling facilities have contributed to the principality's status as a premier tourist destination and recreation center for the rich and famous. In more recent years, Monaco has become a major banking center and has successfully sought to diversify its economy into services and small, high-value-added, non-polluting industries. The state has no income tax, low business taxes, and is well known for being a tax haven.

Monaco is not formally a part of the European Union (EU), but it participates in certain EU policies, including customs and border controls. Through its relationship with France, Monaco uses the euro as its sole currency (prior to this it used the Monégasque franc). Monaco joined the Council of Europe in 2004.


Main article: History of Monaco
Buildings in Monaco, 2008

Monaco's name comes from the 6th century BC nearby Phocaean Greek colony. Referred to by the Ligurians as Monoikos, from the Greek "μόνοικος", "single house", from "μόνος" (monos) "alone, single"[12] + "οἶκος" (oikos) "house",[13] which bears the sense of a people either settled in a "single habitation" or of "living apart" from others. According to an ancient myth, Hercules passed through the Monaco area and turned away the previous gods.[14] As a result, a temple was constructed there, the temple of Hercules Monoikos. Because the only temple of this area was the "House" of Hercules, the city was called Monoikos.[15][16] It ended up in the hands of the Holy Roman Empire, which gave it to the Genoese. An ousted branch of Genoese family, the Grimaladis, fought for it for a hundred years with them before really gaining control. Though the Republic of Genoa would last until the 19th century, they let the Grimaldis to keep Monaco, and, likewise, both France and Spain left it alone for hundreds of years. France did not annex it until the French Revolution, but after the defeat of Napoleon it was put under the care of the Kingdom of Sardinia. In the 19th-century, when Sardinia became a part of Italy, the region came under French influence again but France allowed it to remain independent. Like France, Monaco was over-run by the Axis powers during World War II and for a short time was administered by Italy, then the Third Reich, before finally being liberated. Although the occupation lasted for just a short time, it meant the deportation of the Jewish population and execution of several resistance members from Monaco. Since then Monaco has been independent but has taken some steps towards integration with the European Union.

Arrival of the Grimaldis[edit]

Statue of François Grimaldi, "il Malizia" ("the Cunning"), disguised as a monk with a dagger hidden under the cloak of his habit. However, he was ousted by the Genoese just four years later. The Grimaldis purchased Monaco from the Crown of Aragon in 1419.
Monaco in the Republic of Genoa, 1494.
Monaco in the Republic of Genoa, 1796.

Following a land grant from Emperor Henry VI in 1191, Monaco was refounded in 1215 as a colony of Genoa.[17][18] Monaco was first ruled by a member of the House of Grimaldi in 1297, when Francesco Grimaldi, known as "Il Malizia" (translated from Italian either as "The Malicious One" or "The Cunning One"), and his men captured the fortress protecting the Rock of Monaco while dressed as a Franciscan monk – a Monaco in Italian, although this is a coincidence as the area was already known by this name.[19] Francesco, however, was evicted only a few years afterwards by the Genovese forces, and the struggle over "the Rock" continued for another century.[20] The Grimaldis were Genoese, and the whole thing was something of a family feud. However, the Genoese had other battles to fight and in the late 1300s Genoa was in a big fight with Crown of Aragon over Corisca.[21] The Crown of Aragon eventually became a part of Spain through marriage (see modern day Catalan) and other parts drifted into various pieces of other kingdoms and nations.[21]


In 1419, the Grimaldis purchased Monaco from the Crown of Aragon and became the official and undisputed rulers of "the Rock of Monaco". In 1612 Honoré II began to style himself "Prince" of Monaco.[22] In the 1630s, he sought French protection against the Spanish forces and was eventually, in 1642, received at the court of Louis XIII "Duc et Pair Etranger".[23] The princes of Monaco thus became vassals of the French kings while at the same time remaining sovereign princes.[24] Though successive princes and their families spent most of their lives in Paris, and intermarried with French and Italian nobilities, the House of Grimaldi is Italian. The principality continued its existence as a protectorate of France until the French Revolution.[25]

Map of Europe. French Empire shown as bigger than present day France as it included parts of present-day Netherlands and Italy.
First French Empire at its greatest extent in 1811
  French Empire
  French satellite states
  Allied states

In 1793, Revolutionary forces captured Monaco and it remained under direct French control until 1814, when the Grimaldis returned to the throne.[23][26]

19th century[edit]

French annexation of Nice in 1860. However, Monaco was allowed to remain independent

Between 1793 and 1814 Monaco was occupied by French (in this period much of Europe had been overrun by French under command of Napoleon)[23][26] The principality was reestablished in 1814 only to be designated a protectorate of the Kingdom of Sardinia by the Congress of Vienna in 1815.[26] Monaco remained in this position until 1860 when, by the Treaty of Turin, the Sardinian forces pulled out of the principality and the surrounding county of Nice (as well as Savoy) was ceded to France.[27] Monaco became a French protectorate once again. Prior to this time there was unrest in Menton and Roquebrune, where the townspeople had become weary of heavy taxation by the Grimaldis. They declared their independence, hoping for annexation by Sardinia; France protested. The unrest continued until Charles III gave up his claim to the two mainland towns (some 95% of the principality at the time) that had been ruled by the Grimaldis for over 500 years.[28] These were ceded to France in return for 4,100,000 francs.[29] The transfer and Monaco's sovereignty were recognized by the Franco-Monegasque Treaty of 1861. In 1869, the principality stopped collecting income tax from its residents—an indulgence the Grimaldis could afford to entertain thanks solely to the extraordinary success of the casino.[30] This made Monaco not only a playground for the rich, but a favored place for them to live.[31]

20th century[edit]

Monaco circa 1900
Mayor of Monaco announcing concessions ending absolute monarchy of Prince Albert I in 1910

Until the Monegasque Revolution of 1910 forced the adoption of the 1911 constitution, the princes of Monaco were absolute rulers.[32] The new constitution, however, barely reduced the autocratic rule of the Grimaldis and Prince Albert I soon suspended it during World War I.

In July 1918, the Franco-Monegasque Treaty was signed, providing for limited French protection over Monaco. The treaty, endorsed in 1919 by the Treaty of Versailles, established that Monegasque international policy would be aligned with French political, military, and economic interests, and resolved the Monaco Succession Crisis.[33]

In 1943, the Italian Army invaded and occupied Monaco, forming a fascist administration.[34] Shortly thereafter, following the collapse of Mussolini, the German Wehrmacht occupied Monaco and the Nazi deportation of the Jewish population began. René Blum, the prominent French Jew who founded the Ballet de l'Opera in Monte Carlo, was arrested in his Paris home and held in the Drancy deportation camp outside the French capital before being transported to the Auschwitz concentration camp, where he was later killed.[35] Blum's colleague Raoul Gunsbourg, the director of the Opéra de Monte-Carlo, helped by the French Resistance, escaped arrest and fled to Switzerland.[36] In August 1944, the Germans executed René Borghini, Joseph-Henri Lajoux and Esther Poggio, who were Resistance leaders.

Grace Kelly brought attention to Monaco through her marriage to Prince Rainier III

Rainier III, who ruled until 2005, succeeded to the throne following the death of his grandfather, Prince Louis II, in 1949. On 19 April 1956, Prince Rainier married the American actress Grace Kelly; the event was widely televised and covered in the popular press, focusing the world's attention on the tiny principality.[37]

A 1962 amendment to the constitution abolished capital punishment, provided for women's suffrage, and established a Supreme Court of Monaco to guarantee fundamental liberties. In 1993, the Principality of Monaco became a member of the United Nations, with full voting rights.[27][38]

In 1963, a crisis developed when Charles de Gaulle blockaded Monaco, angered by its status as a tax haven for wealthy French. The 2014 film Grace of Monaco is loosely based on this crisis.[39]

21st century[edit]

Elevation profile of Monaco

In 2002, a new treaty between France and Monaco specified that, should there be no heirs to carry on the Grimaldi dynasty, the principality would still remain an independent nation rather than revert to France. Monaco's military defence, however, is still the responsibility of France.[40][41]

On 31 March 2005, Rainier III, who was too ill to exercise his duties, relinquished them to his only son and heir, Albert.[42] He died six days later, after a reign of 56 years, with his son succeeding him as Albert II, Sovereign Prince of Monaco.

Following a period of official mourning, Prince Albert II formally assumed the princely crown on 12 July 2005,[43] in a celebration that began with a solemn Mass at Saint Nicholas Cathedral, where his father had been buried three months earlier. His accession to the Monégasque throne was a two-step event with a further ceremony, drawing heads of state for an elaborate reception, held on 18 November 2005, at the historic Prince's Palace in Monaco-Ville.[44]

On August 27, 2015, Albert II apologized for Monaco's role in facilitating the deportation of a total of 90 Jews and resistance fighters, of whom only nine survived. "We committed the irreparable in handing over to the neighboring authorities women, men and a child who had taken refuge with us to escape the persecutions they had suffered in France," Albert said at a ceremony in which a monument to the victims was unveiled at the Monaco cemetery. "In distress, they came specifically to take shelter with us, thinking they would find neutrality."[45]

In 2015, Monaco unanimously approved a modest land reclamation expansion intended primarily for some desperately needed housing and a small green/park area.[46] Monaco had previously considered an expansion in 2008, but called it off.[46] The plan is for about six hectares of apartment buildings, parks, shops, and offices for about 1 billion euros for the land.[47] The development will be adjacent to the Larvotto district and also plans a small marina.[47][48] There were four main proposals, and the final mix of use will be finalized as the development progresses.[49] The name for the new district, Anse du Portier.[48]


Main article: Politics of Monaco

Monaco has been governed under a constitutional monarchy since 1911, with the Sovereign Prince of Monaco as head of state.[50] The executive branch consists of a Minister of State as the head of government, who presides over a five-member Council of Government.[51] Until 2002, the Minister of State was a French citizen appointed by the prince from among candidates proposed by the French government; since a constitutional amendment in 2002, the Minister of State can be French or Monegasque.[17] However, Prince Albert II appointed, on 3 March 2010, the Frenchman Michel Roger as Minister of State.[52]

Under the 1962 constitution, the prince shares his veto power with the unicameral National Council.[53] The 24 members of the National Council are elected for five-year terms; 16 are chosen through a majority electoral system and 8 by proportional representation.[54] All legislation requires the approval of the National Council, which is currently dominated by the conservative Rally and Issues for Monaco (REM) party, who hold twenty seats.[54] Union Monégasque holds three seats[54] while Renaissance holds one seat. The principality's city affairs are directed by the Communal Council,[55] which consists of fourteen elected members and is presided over by a mayor.[56] Unlike the National Council, councillors are elected for four-year terms,[57] and are strictly non-partisan, however, oppositions inside the council frequently form.[55][58]

Administrative divisions[edit]

Wards of Monaco

Monaco is the second smallest country (by area) in the world; only Vatican City is smaller.[59] Monaco is also the world's second smallest monarchy,[60] and is the most densely populated country in the world.[61] The state consists of only one municipality (commune). There is no geographical distinction between the State and City of Monaco, although responsibilities of the government (state-level) and of the municipality (city-level) are different.[52] According to the constitution of 1911, the principality was subdivided into three municipalities:[62]

The municipalities were merged into one in 1917, after accusations that the government was acting according to the motto "divide and conquer," and they were accorded the status of Wards or Quartiers thereafter.

  • Fontvieille, was added as a fourth ward, a newly constructed area claimed from the sea in the 1970s;
  • Moneghetti, became the fifth ward, created from part of La Condamine;
  • Larvotto, became the sixth ward, created from part of Monte Carlo;
  • La Rousse/Saint Roman (including Le Ténao), became the seventh ward, also created from part of Monte Carlo.
Directly ahead is La Condamine, to the right with the smaller harbor is Fontvieille, with "The Rock" (the old town, fortress, and Palace) jutting out between the two harbors; to the left with the high-rise buildings is La Rousse/Saint Roman

Subsequently, three additional wards were created:

An additional ward was planned by new land reclamation to be settled beginning in 2014;[63] but Prince Albert II announced in his 2009 New Year Speech that he had ended plans due to the current economic climate.[64] However, Prince Albert II in mid-2010 firmly restarted the program.[65][66] In 2015, a new development called Anse du Portier was announced.[48] (Le Portier)

Traditional quarters and modern geographic areas[edit]

The four traditional Quartiers of Monaco are: Monaco-Ville, La Condamine, Monte Carlo and Fontvieille.[67][68] However, the suburb of Moneghetti, the high-level part of La Condamine, is generally seen today as an effective fifth Quartier of the Monaco, having a very distinct atmosphere and topography when compared with low-level La Condamine.[69]


Currently Monaco is subdivided into ten wards, with their official numbers; either Fontvieille II or Le Portier, would become the effective eleventh ward, if built:[66][70][71]

Ward Area
of 2008)
Former municipality of Monaco
Monaco-Ville 0.19 1,034 5442 19 Old City
Former municipality of Monte Carlo
Monte Carlo/Spélugues (Bd. Des Moulins-Av. de la Madone) 0.30 3,834 12780 20 Casino and resort area
La Rousse/Saint Roman (Annonciade-Château Périgord) 0.13 3,223 24792 17 Northeast area, includes Le Ténao
Larvotto/Bas Moulins (Larvotto-Bd Psse Grace) 0.34 5,443 16009 17 Eastern beach area
Saint Michel (Psse Charlotte-Park Palace) 0.16 3,907 24419 24 Central residential area
Former municipality of La Condamine
La Condamine 0.28 3,947 14096 28 Northwest port area
La Colle (Plati-Pasteur-Bd Charles III) 0.11 2,829 25718 15 On the western border with Cap d'Ail
Les Révoires (Hector Otto-Honoré Labande) 0.09 2,545 28278 11 Contains the Jardin Exotique de Monaco
Moneghetti/ Bd de Belgique (Bd Rainier III-Bd de Belgique) 0.10 3,003 30030 17 Central-north residential area
New land reclaimed from the sea
Fontvieille 0.35 3,901 11146 10 Started 1981
Monaco[72][73] 2.05 33,666 16422 178  
(1) Not included in the total, as it is only proposed

Note: for statistical purposes, the Wards of Monaco are further subdivided into 178 city blocks (îlots), which are comparable to the census blocks in the United States.[72]

See also List of sovereign states and dependent territories by population density


Palace guard in Monaco, just before the Changing of the Guard

The wider defence of the nation is provided by France. Monaco has no navy or air force, but on both a per-capita and per-area basis, Monaco has one of the largest police forces (515 police officers for 35,000 people) and police presences in the world.[76] Its police includes a specialist unit which operates patrol and surveillance boats.[77]

There is also a small military force. This consists of a bodyguard unit for the Prince and the palace in Monaco-Ville called the Compagnie des Carabiniers du Prince (Prince's Company of Carabiniers), which is equipped with modern weapons such as M16A2 rifles and 9 mm pistols (Glock 17),[78] and which together with the militarized, armed fire and civil defence Corps (Sapeurs-Pompiers) forms Monaco's total public forces.[79] The Compagnie des Carabiniers du Prince was created by Prince Honoré IV in 1817 for the protection of the Principality and the Princely family. The company numbers exactly 116 officers and men; while the NCOs and soldiers are local, the officers have generally served in the French Army. In addition to their guard duties as described, the Carabiniers patrol the Principality's beaches and coastal waters.[80]


Satellite view of Monaco, with the Monégasque-French border shown in yellow

Monaco is a sovereign city state, with 5 Quartiers and 10 Wards,[81] located on the French Riviera in Western Europe. It is bordered by France on three sides, with one side bordering the Mediterranean Sea. Its center is about 16 km (9.9 mi) from Italy and only 13 km (8.1 mi) northeast of Nice, France.[38] It has an area of 2.02 km2 (0.78 sq mi) or 202 hectares (500 acres) and a population of 36,371,[5] making Monaco the second smallest and the most densely populated country in the world.[38] The country has a land border of only 4.4 km (2.7 mi), a coastline of 4.1 km (2.5 mi), a maritime claim that extends 22.2 kilometres (13.8 mi), and a width that varies between 1,700 and 349 m (5,577 and 1,145 ft).[82][83]

The highest point in the country is at the access to the Patio Palace residential building (Jardin Exotique district) from the D6007 (Moyenne Corniche street) at 164.4 metres (539 feet) above sea level.[84] The lowest point in the country is the Mediterranean Sea, at sea level.[85] Saint-Jean is the longest flowing body of water, around 0.19 km (0.12 miles) in length, and Fontvieille is the largest lake, approximately 0.5 ha (1.24 acres) in size.[86] Monaco's most populated Quartier is Monte Carlo, and the most populated Ward is Larvotto/Bas Moulins.[72] After a recent expansion of Port Hercules,[87] Monaco's total area grew to 2.02 km2 (0.78 sq mi) or 202 hectares (500 acres);[72] consequently, new plans have been approved to extend the district of Fontvieille by 0.08 km2 (0.031 sq mi) or 8 hectares (20 acres), with land reclaimed from the Mediterranean Sea. Current land reclamation projects include extending the district of Fontvieille.[88][89][90][87][91] There are two ports in Monaco, Hercules and Port Fontvieille[92] Monaco's only natural resource is fishing;[93] with almost the entire country being an urban area, Monaco lacks any sort of commercial agriculture industry. There is a neighboring French port called Cap d'Ail that is near Monaco.[92]

Land reclamation in Monaco since 1861


Monaco has a warm-summer Mediterranean climate (Köppen climate classification: Csa), which is influenced by the oceanic climate and the humid subtropical climate. As a result, it has warm, dry summers and mild, rainy winters.[94] Cool and rainy interludes can interrupt the dry summer season, the average length of which is also shorter. Summer afternoons are infrequently hot (indeed, temperatures > 30 °C or 86 °F are rare) as the atmosphere is temperate because of constant sea breezes. On the other hand, the nights are very mild, due to the fairly high temperature of the sea in summer. Generally, temperatures do not drop below 20 °C (68 °F) in this season. In the winter, frosts and snowfalls are extremely rare and generally occur once or twice every ten years.[95][96]

Climate data for Monaco
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 12.3
Daily mean °C (°F) 10.2
Average low °C (°F) 8.1
Average precipitation mm (inches) 82.7
Average precipitation days 6.8 6.4 6.1 6.3 5.2 4.1 1.9 3.1 4.0 5.8 7.0 6.0 62.7
Mean monthly sunshine hours 148.8 152.6 201.5 228.0 269.7 297.0 341.0 306.9 240.0 204.6 156.0 142.6 2,668.7
Source: Monaco website[97]


Main article: Economy of Monaco
Fontvieille and its new harbour

Monaco boasts the world's highest GDP nominal per capita at US$153,177, GDP PPP per capita at $132,571 and GNI per capita at $183,150.[6][98][99] It also has an unemployment rate of 2%,[100] with over 48,000 workers who commute from France and Italy each day.[72] According to the CIA World Factbook, Monaco has the world's lowest poverty rate[101] and the highest number of millionaires and billionaires per capita in the world.[102][103] For the fourth year in a row, Monaco in 2012 had the world's most expensive real estate market, at $58,300 per square metre.[104][105][106]

One of Monaco's main sources of income is tourism. Each year many foreigners are attracted to its casino (where citizens are denied entry) and pleasant climate.[83][107] It has also become a major banking center, holding over 100 billion worth of funds.[108] The principality has successfully sought to diversify its economic base into services and small, high-value-added, non-polluting industries, such as cosmetics and biothermics.[101]

The state retains monopolies in numerous sectors, including tobacco and the postal service. The telephone network (Monaco Telecom) used to be fully owned by the state; it now owns only 45%, while the remaining 55% is owned by both Cable & Wireless Communications (49%) and Compagnie Monégasque de Banque (6%). It is still, however, a monopoly. Living standards are high, roughly comparable to those in prosperous French metropolitan areas.[109]

Monaco is not a member of the European Union. However, it is very closely linked via a customs union with France and, as such, its currency is the same as that of France, the euro. Before 2002, Monaco minted its own coins, the Monegasque franc. Monaco has acquired the right to mint euro coins with Monegasque designs on its national side.

Gambling industry[edit]

The plan for casino gambling was mooted during the reign of Florestan I in 1846. Under Louis-Philippe's petite-bourgeois regime, however, a dignitary such as a Prince of Monaco was not allowed to operate a gambling house.[17] All this changed in the dissolute Second French Empire under Napoleon III. The House of Grimaldi was in dire need of money. The towns of Menton and Roquebrune, which had been the main sources of income for the Grimaldis for centuries, were now accustomed to a much improved standard of living and lenient taxation thanks to Sardinian intervention and clamored for financial and political concession, even for separation. The Grimaldis hoped the newly legal industry would help alleviate the difficulties they faced, above all the crushing debt the family had incurred, but Monaco's first casino would not be ready to operate until after Charles III assumed the throne in 1856.

The grantee of the princely concession (licence) was unable to attract enough business to sustain the operation and, after relocating the casino several times, sold the concession to French casino magnates François and Louis Blanc for 1.7 million francs. The Blancs had already set up a highly successful casino (in fact the largest in Europe) in Bad-Homburg in the Grand Duchy of Hesse-Homburg, a small German principality comparable to Monaco, and quickly petitioned Charles III to rename a depressed seaside area known as "Les Spelegures (Den of Thieves)" to "Monte Carlo (Mount Charles)."[110] They then constructed their casino in the newly dubbed "Monte Carlo" and cleared out the area's less-than-savory elements to make the neighborhood surrounding the establishment more conducive to tourism.

The Blancs opened Le Grand Casino de Monte Carlo in 1858 and the casino benefited from the tourist traffic the newly built French railway system created.[111] Due to the combination of the casino and the railroads, Monaco finally recovered from the previous half-century of economic slump and the principality's success attracted other businesses.[112] In the years following the casino's opening, Monaco founded its Oceanographic Museum and the Monte Carlo Opera House, 46 hotels were built and the number of jewelers operating in Monaco increased by nearly five-fold. By 1869, the casino was making such a vast sum of money that the principality could afford to end tax collection from the Monegasques — a master stroke that was to attract affluent residents from all over Europe.

Today, Société des bains de mer de Monaco, which owns Le Grand Casino, still operates in the original building that the Blancs constructed and has since been joined by several other casinos, including the Le Casino Café de Paris, the Monte Carlo Sporting Club & Casino and the Sun Casino. The most recent addition in Monte Carlo is the Monte Carlo Bay Casino, which sits on 4 hectares of the Mediterranean Sea and, among other things, offers 145 slot machines, all equipped with "ticket-in, ticket-out" (TITO); it is the first Mediterranean casino to use this technology.[113]


Residential area in Monaco

Some have tried to use Monaco as a "tax haven" from their own country's taxes. However, Monaco as an independent country is not obligated pay taxes to other countries. Monaco levies no income tax on individuals subject to some conditions.[114][115] The absence of a personal income tax in the principality has attracted to it a considerable number of wealthy "tax refugee" residents from European countries who derive the majority of their income from activity outside Monaco; celebrities such as Formula One drivers attract most of the attention, but the vast majority of them are lesser-known business people.[103][116] Citizens of France are not included in the no personal income tax rule.[117]

In 1998, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) issued a first report on the consequences of the tax havens' financial systems.[118] Monaco did not appear in the list of these territories until 2004, when OECD became indignant regarding the Monegasque situation and denounced it in its last report, as well as Andorra, Liechtenstein, Liberia and the Marshall Islands, underlining its lack of co-operation regarding financial information disclosure and availability.[119][120]

In 2000, a report by the French parliamentarians, Arnaud Montebourg and Vincent Peillon, alleged that Monaco had relaxed policies with respect to money laundering, including within its famed casino, and that the government of Monaco had been placing political pressure on the judiciary, so that alleged crimes were not being properly investigated.[121]

In 2000, the Financial Action Task Force on Money Laundering (FATF) stated: "The anti-money laundering system in Monaco is comprehensive. However, difficulties have been encountered with Monaco by countries in international investigations on serious crimes that appear to be linked also with tax matters. In addition, the FIU of Monaco (SICCFIN) suffers a great lack of adequate resources. The authorities of Monaco have stated that they will provide additional resources to SICCFIN."[122] The Principality is no longer blamed in the 2005 FATF report, as well as all other territories.[123][124] However, since 2003, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has identified Monaco, along with 36 other territories, as a tax haven.[125]

The Council of Europe also decided to issue reports naming tax havens. Twenty-two territories, including Monaco, were thus evaluated between 1998 and 2000 on a first round. Monaco was the only territory that refused to perform the second round, between 2001 and 2003, whereas the 21 other territories had planned implementing the third and final round, planned between 2005 and 2007.[126]

Monaco has high social insurance taxes payable by both employers and employees. The employers' contributions are between 28%–40% (averaging 35%) of gross salary including benefits, and employees pay a further 10%–14% (averaging 13%).[127]


1978 Monégasque franc coin with an effigy of Rainier III

Of interest to numismatists, in Monaco the euro was introduced in 2002, having been preceded by the Monégasque franc.[128] In preparation for this date, the minting of the new euro coins started as early as 2001. Like Belgium, Finland, France, the Netherlands, and Spain, Monaco decided to put the minting date on its coins. This is why the first euro coins from Monaco have the year 2001 on them, instead of 2002, like the other countries of the Eurozone that decided to put the year of first circulation (2002) on their coins.[129][130] Three different designs were selected for the Monégasque coins.[131] However, In 2006, the design was changed after the death of ruling Prince Rainier to have the effigy of Prince Albert.[131][132]

Monaco also has a rich and valuable collection of collectors' coins, with face value ranging from €5 to €100.[133] These coins are a legacy of an old national practice of minting silver and gold commemorative coins.[134][135] Unlike normal issues, these coins are not legal tender in all the Eurozone.[136] The same practice concerning commemorative coins is exercised by all eurozone countries.


Monaco's population is unusual in that the native Monegasques are a minority in their own country: the largest group are French nationals at 28.4%, followed by Monegasque (21.6%), Italian (18.7%), British (7.5%), Belgian (2.8%), German (2.5%), Swiss (2.5%) and U.S. nationals (1.2%).[137]

Citizens of Monaco, whether born in the country or naturalized, are called Monegasque.[138] Monaco has the world's highest life expectancy at nearly 90 years.[139]


Main article: Languages of Monaco

The official language of Monaco is French, while Italian is spoken by the principality's sizeable community from Italy. English is used by American, British, Canadian, and Irish residents. The traditional national language is Monégasque, now spoken by only a minority of residents and as a common second language by many native residents. It is a Romance language and resembles Ligurian, which is spoken in Genoa. In Monaco-Ville, street signs are printed in both French and Monégasque.[140][141]


Religion in Monaco (2012)[142][c]
No Religion

Roman Catholic[edit]

The official religion is Roman Catholicism, with freedom of other religions guaranteed by the constitution.[142] There are five Roman Catholic parish churches in Monaco and one cathedral, which is the see of the archbishop of Monaco.

The diocese, which has existed since the mid-nineteenth century, was raised to a non-metropolitan archbishopric in 1981 as the Archdiocese of Monaco and remains exempt (i.e. immediately subject to the Holy See). The patron saint is Saint Devota.

Christians comprise a total of 83.2% of Monaco's population.[142]


There is one Anglican church (St. Paul's Church), located in the Avenue de Grande Bretagne in Monte Carlo. In 2007 this had a formal membership of 135 Anglicans resident in the principality, but was also serving a considerably larger number of Anglicans temporarily in the country, mostly as tourists. The church site also accommodates an English-language library of over 3,000 books.[143] The church is part of the Anglican Diocese in Europe.


The Association Culturelle Israélite de Monaco (founded 1948) is a converted house containing a synagogue, a community Hebrew school, and a kosher food shop, located in Monte Carlo.[144] The community mainly consists of retired Jews from Britain (40%) and North Africa. Two-thirds of the Jewish population is Sephardic, mainly from North Africa, while the other third is Ashkenazi.[145]


The Muslim population of Monaco consists of about 280 people, most of whom are exclusively residents, not citizens.[146] The majority of the Muslim population of Monaco are Arabs, though there are smaller Turkish and Iranian minorities as well.[147] Monaco does not have any mosques.[148]


Formula One[edit]

Main article: Monaco Grand Prix
Formation lap for the 1996 Monaco Grand Prix

Since 1929, the Monaco Grand Prix has been held annually in the streets of Monaco.[149] It is widely considered to be one of the most prestigious automobile races in the world. The erection of the Circuit de Monaco takes six weeks to complete and the removal after the race takes another three weeks.[149] The circuit is incredibly narrow and tight and its tunnel, tight corners and many elevation changes make it perhaps the most demanding Formula One track.[150] Driver Nelson Piquet compared driving the circuit to "riding a bicycle around your living room".

Despite the challenging nature of the course it has only had one fatality, Lorenzo Bandini, who crashed, burned and died three days later from his injuries in 1967.[151] Two other drivers had lucky escapes after they crashed into the harbour, the most famous being Alberto Ascari in the 1955 Monaco Grand Prix and Paul Hawkins, during the 1965 race.[149]

Monte Carlo Rally[edit]

Since 1911 part of the Monte Carlo Rally has been held in the principality, originally held at the behest of Prince Albert I. Like the Grand Prix, the rally is organised by Automobile Club de Monaco. It has long been considered to be one of the toughest and most prestigious events in rallying and from 1973 to 2008 was the opening round of the World Rally Championship (WRC).[152] From 2009 until 2011, the rally served as the opening round of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge.[153] The rally returned to the WRC calendar in 2012 and has been held annually since.[154]


Monaco hosts two major football teams in the principality: the men's football club AS Monaco FC and the women's football club OS Monaco. AS Monaco plays at the Stade Louis II and competes in Ligue 1, the first division of French football. The club is historically one of the most successful clubs in France. However, it suffered relegation in the 2010–11 season. Because of the popular appeal of living in Monaco and the lack of income tax, many international stars have played for the club, such as French World Cup-winners Thierry Henry, Fabien Barthez and David Trezeguet. The club reached the 2004 UEFA Champions League Final, with a team that included Dado Pršo, Fernando Morientes, Jérôme Rothen, Akis Zikos and Ludovic Giuly, but lost 3–0 to Portuguese team F.C. Porto. The Stade Louis II also played host to the annual UEFA Super Cup (1998-2012) between the winners of the UEFA Champions League and the UEFA Europa League.

The women's team, OS Monaco, competes in the women's French football league system. The club currently plays in the local regional league, deep down in the league system. It once played in the Division 1 Féminine, in the 1994–95 season, but was quickly relegated. Current French women's international goalkeeper Sarah Bouhaddi had a short stint at the club before going to the Clairefontaine academy.

The Monaco national football team represents the nation in association football and is controlled by the Monégasque Football Federation, the governing body for football in Monaco. However, Monaco is one of only two sovereign states in Europe (along with Vatican City) that is not a member of UEFA and so does not take part in any UEFA European Football Championship or FIFA World Cup competitions. The team plays their home matches in the Stade Louis II.


Main article: Rugby union in Monaco

Monaco's national rugby team, as of October 2013, is 91st in the International Rugby Board rankings.[155]

Other sports[edit]

View of Port of Hercules, in the La Condamine district

The Monte-Carlo Masters is held annually in neighbouring Roquebrune-Cap-Martin, France, as a professional tournament for men as part of tennis' ATP Masters Series.[156] The tournament has been held since 1897. Golf's Monte Carlo Open was also held at the Monte Carlo Golf Club at Mont Agel in France between 1984 and 1992. Monaco has also competed in the Olympic Games, although, as of 2012, no athlete from Monaco has ever won an Olympic medal.

The 2009 Tour de France, the world's premier bicycle race, started from Monaco with a 15 km (9 mi) closed-circuit individual time trial starting and finishing there on the first day, and the 182 km (113 mi) second leg starting there on the following day and ending in Brignoles, France.[157]

Monaco also stage part of the Global Champions Tour (International Show-jumping). Acknowledged as the most glamorous of the series, Monaco will be hosting the world's most celebrated riders, including Monaco's own Charlotte Casiraghi, in a setting facing out over the world's most beautiful yachts, and framed by the Port Hercule and Prince's palace.[158] In 2009, the Monaco stage of the Global Champions tour took place between 25–27 June.

The Monaco Marathon is the only marathon in the world to pass through three separate countries, those of Monaco, France and Italy, before the finish at the Stade Louis II.

The Monaco Ironman 70.3 triathlon race is an annual event with over 1000 athletes competing and attracts top professional athletes from around the world. The race includes a 1.9 km (1.2 mi) swim, 90 km (56 mi) bike ride and 21.1 km (13.1 mi) run.

Since 1993, the headquarters of the International Association of Athletics Federations,[159] the world governing body of athletics, is located in Monaco.[160] An IAAF Diamond League meet is annually held at Stade Louis II.[161]

A municipal sports complex, the Rainier III Nautical Stadium in the Port Hercules district consists of a heated saltwater Olympic-size swimming pool, diving boards, and a slide.[162] The pool is converted into an ice rink from December to March.[162]

From 10–12 July 2014 Monaco inaugurated the Solar1 Monte Carlo Cup, a series of ocean races exclusively for solar powered boats.[163],[164]


A view of the 2011 Monaco Porsche Supercup. Auto-racing is very popular, with one course encompassing almost the whole country


Main article: Music of Monaco

Monaco has an opera house, a symphony orchestra and a classical ballet company.[165]


Primary and secondary schools[edit]

Monaco has ten state-operated schools, including: seven nursery and primary schools; one secondary school, Collège Charles III;[166] one lycée that provides general and technological training, Lycée Albert 1er;[167] and one lycée that provides vocational and hotel training, Lycée technique et hôtelier de Monte-Carlo.[168] There are also two grant-aided denominational private schools, Institution François d'Assise Nicolas Barré and Ecole des Sœurs Dominicaines, and one international school, the International School of Monaco.[169][170]

Colleges and universities[edit]

There is one university located in Monaco, namely the International University of Monaco (IUM), an English-language school specializing in business education and operated by the Institut des hautes études économiques et commerciales (INSEEC) group of schools.


Main article: Flag of Monaco
Monaco's flag and Coat of arms

The flag of Monaco is one of the world's oldest national flag designs.[citation needed] The flag of Monaco is almost identical to the flag of Indonesia, except for the ratio of height to width.[171]


Main article: Transport in Monaco
Further information: Rail transport in Monaco

The Monaco-Monte Carlo station is served by the SNCF, the French national rail system. The Monaco Heliport provides helicopter service to the closest airport, Côte d'Azur Airport in Nice, France.

Panoramic view of La Condamine, Monaco

Relations with other countries[edit]

Le Rocher in 1890

Monaco is so old that is has out-lived many of the nations and institutions that it has had relations with. The Crown of Aragon and Republic of Genoa became a part of other countries, as did the Kingdom of Sardinia. Honoré II, Prince of Monaco secured recognition of his independent sovereignty from Spain in 1633, and then from Louis XIII of France by the Treaty of Péronne (1641).

Monaco made a special agreement with France in 1963 in which French custom laws apply in Monaco in and territorial waters.[172] Also French citizens are exempted from Monaca's lack of personal income tax.[172] Monaco uses the Euro but is not a full member of the European Union.[172] Monaco shares a 6 km border with France but also has about 2 km of coastline with the Mediterranean sea.[173] Two important agreements that support Monaco's independence from France include the Franco-Monegasque Treaty of 1861, and another treaty in 1918 (About 1918 treaty). See also Kingdom of Sardinia The United States CIA factbook records 1419 as the year of Monaco's independence.[173]

There are two "full" embassies in Monaco;France and Italy.[174] There is about another thirty or so consulates.[174] By the 21st century Monaco maintained embasssies in Belgium (Brussels), France (Paris), Germany (Berlin), The Vatican, Italy (Rome), Spain (Madrid), Switzerland (Bern), United Kingdom (London), and the United States (Washington).[174]

See also List of diplomatic missions in Monaco (the ones in Monaco) and List of diplomatic missions of Monaco (The ones of Monaco)

In the year 2000 nearly two-thirds (2/3) of the residents of Monaco were foreigners[175] In 2015 the immigrant population was estimated at 60%[173] However, it is reported to be difficult to gain citizenship in Monaco, or least in relative number there is not many people who do so.[176] In 2015 an immigration rate of about 4 people per 1000 was noted, which works out to something like 100-150 people a year.[177] The population of Monaco went from 35,00 in 2008 to 36,000 in 2013, and of that about 20 percent were native Monegasque.[178] (see also Nationality law of Monaco)

The common issue Monaco has with other countries is if the foreigner tries to use Monaco to avoid paying taxes in their own country.[173] Monaco actually collects a number of taxes including a 20% VAT and 33% on companies unless they make over 75% of their income inside Monaco.[173] Monaco does not allow dual-citizenship, but does have multiple paths to citizenship including by declaration and naturalization.[179] In many cases the key issues for citizens is not attaining residency in Monaco, but their ties to their departure country.[179] For example, French citizens must still pay taxes to France even if they live full-time in Monaco unless they resided in the country before 1962 for at least 5 years.[179] In the early 1960s there was some tension between France and Monaco over taxation.[180]

There are no border formalities entering or leaving to France. For visitors a souvenir passport stamp is available on request at Monaco's tourist office. This is located on the far side of the gardens that face the Casino.

Microstates Association Agreement Eurozone[181] Schengen Area EU single market EU customs territory[182] EU VAT area[183] Dublin Regulation
 Monaco (relations) Negotiating[184] Yes[d] de facto[e] Partial[f] Yes[g] Yes[h][i] No

See also Monaco–European Union relations


Monaco, at times a protectorate and titling itself as principality has at times been dominated by nearby states even though the Republic of Genoa is long gone. It could be compared to Liechtenstein or San Marino, both land-locked and in Europe. An alternative may be the island nations of the Americas and Pacific such as Saint Kitts and Nevis, Dominica, Palau, or even Nauru. In Asia some comparison could be drawn to Macau (Chinese) or Singapore, especially in regards to land reclamation and tourism. In the Mediterranean, there is some similarities to ports like Gibraltar or Ceuta, and of course Monaco can be compared to the even smaller Vatican City with which its shares link with Catholicism. It has become increasingly impacted by France, and may end up being absorbed like the once independent Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg. Another comparison may be drawn to Africa's Gambia, a coastal country surrounded by Senegal and another is Andorra which is also a principality, but sandwiched between Spain and France.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b In other languages of Monaco:
  2. ^ For further information, see languages of Monaco.
  3. ^ Percentage based on a 35,000 person population.
  4. ^ Monetary agreement with the EU to issue euros.
  5. ^ Although not a contracting party to the Schengen Agreement, has an open border with France and Schengen laws are administered as if it were a part of France.[185][186]
  6. ^ Through an agreement with France.[187]
  7. ^ Through an agreement with France. Part of the EU Customs territory, administered as part of France.[185][188][189][190]
  8. ^ Also part of the EU excise territory.[190]
  9. ^ Through an agreement with France. Administered as a part of France for taxation purposes.[183][185][190][191]


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External links[edit]

General information

Coordinates: 43°44′N 7°25′E / 43.733°N 7.417°E / 43.733; 7.417