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Monaco (; French pronunciation: [mɔnako]), officially the Principality of Monaco (French: Principauté de Monaco), is a sovereign city-state, country, and microstate on the French Riviera in Western Europe. France borders the country on three sides while the other side borders the Mediterranean Sea. Monaco is about 15 km (9.3 mi) from the state border with Italy.
|Largest Quartier||Monte Carlo|
|Government||Unitary parliamentary constitutional monarchy|
• Minister of State
• House of Grimaldi(under the sovereignty of the Republic of Genoa)
• from the French Empire
|17 May 1814|
• from occupation of the Sixth Coalition
|17 June 1814|
• Franco-Monegasque Treaty
|2.2 km2 (0.85 sq mi) (194th)|
• Water (%)
• 2015 estimate
• 2016 census
|18,713/km2(48,466.4/sq mi) (1st)|
|GDP (nominal)||2017 estimate|
• Per capita
|Currency||Euro (€) (EUR)|
|Time zone||UTC+1 (CET)|
• Summer (DST)
|ISO 3166 code||MC|
Monaco has an area of 2.020 km2(0.780 sq mi), making it the second-smallest country in the world after the Vatican. Its population as of 2018 is 38,682. With 19,009 inhabitants per square kilometre (49,230/sq mi), it is the most densely-populated sovereign state in the world. Monaco has a land border of 5.47 km (3.40 mi), the world’s shortest coastline of approximately 3.83 km (2.38 mi) (regardless of the coastline paradox), 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 20 percent; in 2005, it had an area of only 1.974 km2 (0.762 sq mi). Monaco is known to be the most expensive and the wealthiest place on Earth, Vatican City excluded, due to its tax laws. In 2014, it was noted that about 30% of the population was made up of millionaires.
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 has ruled Monaco, with brief interruptions, since 1297. The official language is French, but Monégasque, Italian, and English are widely spoken and understood.
The state’s sovereignty was officially recognised 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 defence 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. Since then, Monaco’s mild climate, scenery, and gambling facilities have contributed to the principality’s status as a tourist destination and recreation centre for the rich.
In more recent years, Monaco has become a major banking centre and has sought to diversify its economy into the services sector 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. It is also the host of the annual street circuit motor race Monaco Grand Prix, one of the original Grands Prix of Formula One. The principality has a club football team, AS Monaco, who have become French champions on multiple occasions.
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. It is a member of the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie (OIF).
Monaco’s name comes from the nearby 6th-century BC Phocaean Greek colony. Referred to by the Ligurians as Monoikos, from the Greek “μόνοικος”, “single house”, from “μόνος” (monos) “alone, single” + “οἶκος” (oikos) “house”,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.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. It ended up in the hands of the Holy Roman Empire, which gave it to the Genoese. An ousted branch of a Genoese family, the Grimaldi, contested it for a hundred years before actually gaining control.
Though the Republic of Genoa would last until the 19th century, they allowed the Grimaldi family 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 overrun by the Axis powers during the Second World War 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. It has taken some steps towards integration with the European Union.
Following a land grant from Emperor Henry VI in 1191, Monaco was refounded in 1215 as a colony of Genoa. 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 Franciscan monks—a monaco in Italian, although this is a coincidence as the area was already known by this name.Francesco, however, was evicted only a few years afterwards by the Genoese forces, and the struggle over “the Rock” continued for another century.
The Grimaldi family was Genoese and the struggle was something of a family feud. However, the Genoese became engaged in other conflicts, and in the late 1300s Genoa became involved in a conflict with the Crown of Aragon over Corsica.The Crown of Aragon eventually became a part of Spain through marriage (see modern day Aragon) and other parts drifted into various pieces of other kingdoms and nations.
In 1419, the Grimaldi family 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.In the 1630s, he sought French protection against the Spanish forces and, in 1642, was received at the court of Louis XIII “Duc et Pair Etranger”.
The princes of Monaco thus became vassals of the French kings while at the same time remaining sovereign princes. 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.
In 1793, Revolutionary forces captured Monaco and it remained under direct French control until 1814, when the Grimaldi family returned to the throne.
Between 1793 and 1814 Monaco was occupied by the French (in this period much of Europe had been overrun by the French under command of Napoleon). The principality was reestablished in 1814 only to be designated a protectorate of the Kingdom of Sardinia by the Congress of Vienna in 1815.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. Monaco became a French protectorate once again.
Before this time there was unrest in Mentonand Roquebrune, where the townspeople had become weary of heavy taxation by the Grimaldi family. They declared their independence, hoping for annexation by Sardinia. France protested. The unrest continued until Charles III of Monaco gave up his claim to the two mainland towns (some 95% of the principality at the time) that had been ruled by the Grimaldi family for over 500 years.
These were ceded to France in return for 4,100,000 francs. The transfer and Monaco’s sovereignty were recognised by the Franco-Monegasque Treaty of 1861. In 1869, the principality stopped collecting income tax from its residents—an indulgence the Grimaldi family could afford to entertain thanks solely to the extraordinary success of the casino. This made Monaco not only a playground for the rich, but a favoured place for them to live.
Until the Monegasque Revolution of 1910 forced the adoption of the 1911 constitution, the princes of Monaco were absolute rulers. The new constitution, however, barely reduced the autocratic rule of the Grimaldi family and Prince Albert I soon suspended it during the First World War.
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.
In 1943, the Italian Army invaded and occupied Monaco, forming a fascist administration. 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.
Blum’s colleague Raoul Gunsbourg, the director of the Opéra de Monte-Carlo, helped by the French Resistance, escaped arrest and fled to Switzerland. In August 1944, the Germans executed René Borghini, Joseph-Henri Lajoux and Esther Poggio, who were Resistance leaders.
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.
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 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.
In 1993, the Principality of Monaco became a member of the United Nations, with full voting rights.
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.
On 31 March 2005, Rainier III, who was too ill to exercise his duties, relinquished them to his only son and heir, Albert. 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, 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.
On 27 August 2015, Albert II apologised for Monaco’s role during World War II 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 neighbouring 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.”
In 2015, Monaco unanimously approved a modest land reclamation expansion intended primarily for some desperately needed housing and a small green/park area. Monaco had previously considered an expansion in 2008, but called it off.
The plan is for about six hectares of apartment buildings, parks, shops and offices for about 1 billion euros for the land.The development will be adjacent to the Larvotto district and also will include a small marina. There were four main proposals, and the final mix of use will be finalised as the development progresses. The name for the new district is Anse du Portier.
Monaco has been governed under a constitutional monarchy since 1911, with the Sovereign Prince of Monaco as head of state. The executive branch consists of a Minister of State as the head of government, who presides over a five-member Council of Government.
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. However, Prince Albert II appointed, on 3 March 2010, the Frenchman Michel Roger as Minister of State.
Under the 1962 constitution, the prince shares his veto power with the unicameral National Council. 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.
All legislation requires the approval of the National Council, which is currently dominated by the conservative Rally and Issues for Monaco (REM) party which holds 20 seats.Union Monégasque holds three seats while Renaissance holds one seat. The principality’s city affairs are directed by the Communal Council,which consists of 14 elected members and is presided over by a mayor.
Unlike the National Council, councillors are elected for four-year terms,and are strictly non-partisan; however, oppositions inside the council frequently form.
Monaco is the second-smallest country by area in the world; only Vatican City is smaller.Monaco is also the world’s second-smallest monarchy, and is the most densely populated country in the world. The state consists of only one municipality(commune), the Municipality of Monaco.
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.According to the constitution of 1911, the principality was subdivided into three municipalities:
- Monaco-Ville, the old city on a rocky promontory extending into the Mediterranean, known as the Rock of Monaco, or simply “The Rock”;
- Monte Carlo, the principal residential and resort area with the Monte Carlo Casino in the east and northeast;
- La Condamine, the southwestern section including the port area, Port Hercules.
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 Quartiersthereafter.
- 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.
Subsequently, three additional wards were created:
- Saint Michel, created from part of Monte Carlo;
- La Colle, created from part of La Condamine;
- Les Révoires, also created from part of La Condamine.
An additional ward was planned by new land reclamation to be settled beginning in 2014 but Prince Albert II announced in his 2009 New Year Speech that he had ended plans due to the current economic climate. However, Prince Albert II in mid-2010 firmly restarted the program. In 2015, a new development called Anse du Portier was announced.
Traditional quarters and modern geographic area
The four traditional Quartiers of Monaco are Monaco-Ville, La Condamine, Monte Carlo and Fontvieille.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.
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
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.
- Other possible expansions are Le Portier, a project relaunched in 2012
- Another possibility was Fontvieille II Development to commence in 2013
- 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 about 36,000 people) and police presences in the world. Its police includes a special unit which operates patrol and surveillance boats.
- 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 weapons such as M16A2 rifles and 9 mm pistols (Glock 17),and which together with the militarised, armed fire and civil defence Corps (Sapeurs-Pompiers) forms Monaco’s total public forces.
- 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.
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