Officially the Principality of Monaco (French: Principauté de Monaco (French pronunciation: [pʁɛ̃sipote də mɔnako]); Monégasque: Principatu de Múnegu; Italian: Principato di Monaco; Occitan: Principat de Mónegue), is a sovereign city-state, located on the French Riviera in Western Europe. It is bordered by France on three sides; one side borders the Mediterranean Sea. Monaco has an area of 2.02 km2 (0.78 sq mi) and a population of 36,371; Monaco 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.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 still has immense political power. The House of Grimaldi have 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 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 its first casino, Monte Carlo, and a railway connection to Paris. Since then, the principality’s mild climate, splendid scenery, and gambling facilities have contributed to Monaco’s status as a premier tourist destination and recreation center for the rich and famous. However, in more recent years Monaco has become a major banking center and has successfully sought to diversify its economy into the 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. Monaco joined the Council of Europe in 2004.
Monaco’s name comes from the 6th century BC nearby Phocaean Greek colony. Referred to by theLigurians 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.
Following a land grant from Emperor Henry VI in 1191, Monaco was refounded in 1215 as a colony ofGenoa. 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. Francesco, however, was evicted only a few years afterwards by the Genovese forces, and the struggle over “the Rock” continued for another century.
In 1419, the Grimaldis purchased Monaco from the crown of Aragon and became the official and undisputed rulers of “the Rock of Monaco”, and in 1612 Honore II began to style himself “Prince” of Monaco. In the 1630s, Honore II sought French protection against the Spanish forces and was eventually, in 1642, received at the court of Louis XIII as “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 Grimaldis returned to the throne. The principality was reestablished that year, 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. 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) which had been ruled by the Grimaldis for over 500 years. These were ceded to France in return for 4,100,000 francs. The transfer and Monaco’s sovereignty was 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. This made Monaco not only a playground for the rich, but a favored 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 Grimaldis and Albert I soon suspended it.
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, setting up 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 Paris, thence he was then 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.
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.
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.
In 1963, a crisis developed when Charles de Gaulle blockaded Monaco, angered by its status as a tax haven for wealthy French. The 2014 movie “Grace of Monaco” is loosely based on this crisis.
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, Prince Rainier III, too ill to exercise his duties, relinquished them to his only son and heir, Prince Albert II. Prince Rainier died on 6 April 2005 after a reign of 56 years. His son Prince Albert II succeeded him and was thereafter titled 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 Levée, held on 18 November 2005, at the historic Prince’s Palace in Monaco-Ville.