Hotel de Paris- Courtesy of Anne Giles
Hotel de Paris- Courtesy of Anne Giles
Hotel de Paris - Courtesy of Anne Giles
Hotel de Paris - Courtesy of Anne Giles

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


Principality of Monaco (French: Principauté de Monaco (French pronunciation: [prɛ̃sipoted(ə) mɔnaˈko]); 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. It has an area of 2.02 km2 (0.78 sq mi), and a population of 36,371, making Monaco the second smallest, and the most densely populated, country in the world. Monaco has a land border of only 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 (5,600 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 district, 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. Monaco is known for its land reclamation, which has increased its size by an estimated 20%.

Monaco is a principality governed under a form of constitutional monarchy, with Prince Albert II as head of state. Even though Prince Albert II is a constitutional monarch, he still has immense political power.[10] The House of Grimaldi have ruled Monaco, with brief interruptions, since 1297.[11] The official language is French, but Monégasque, Italian, and English are widely spoken and understood.[note 1] 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 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 its first casino, Monte Carlo, and a railway connection to Paris.[12] Since then, the principality's mild climate, splendid scenery, and gambling facilities have made Monaco world-famous as a tourist destination and recreation centre 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.

History of Monaco

The Place d'Armes in La Condamine
Statue of François Grimaldi, "il Malizia" ("the Cunning"), disguised as a monk with a dagger hidden under the cloak of his habit

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"[13] + "οἶκος" (oikos) "house",[14] 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.[15] 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.[16][17]

Following a land grant from Emperor Henry VI in 1191, Monaco was refounded in 1215 as a colony of Genoa.[18][19] 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.[20] Francesco, however, was evicted only a few years afterwards by the Genovese forces, and the struggle over "the Rock" continued for another century.[21]

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.[22] 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".[23] The princes of Monaco thus became vassals of the French kings while at the same time remaining sovereign princes.[24] As successive princes and their families spent most of their lives in Paris, and through marriages with French and Italian nobilities, the House of Grimaldi, though is Italian.[25] The principality continued its existence as a protectorate of France until the French Revolution.[26]

In 1793, Revolutionary forces captured Monaco and it remained under direct French control until 1814, when the Grimaldis returned to the throne.[23] The principality was reestablished that year, only to be designated a protectorate of the Kingdom of Sardinia by the Congress of Vienna in 1815.[27] 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.[28] 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.[29] These were ceded to France in return for 4,100,000 francs.[30] 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.[31] This made Monaco not only a playground for the rich, but a favored place for them to live.[32]

20th century

Until the Monegasque Revolution of 1910 forced the adoption of the 1911 constitution, the princes of Monaco were absolute rulers.[33] The new constitution, however, barely reduced the autocratic rule of the Grimaldis and in any case 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.[34]

In 1943, the Italian army invaded and occupied Monaco, setting up a Fascist administration.[25] 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.[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]

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.[28][38] 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.[39][40]

On 31 March 2005, Prince Rainier III, too ill to exercise his duties, relinquished them to his only son and heir, Prince Albert II.[41] 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,[42] 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 Monegasque 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.[43]


Monaco has been governed under a constitutional monarchy since 1911, with the Sovereign Prince of Monaco as head of state.[44] The executive branch consists of a Minister of State as the head of government, who presides over a five-member Council of Government.[45] 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.[18] However, Prince Albert II appointed, on 3 March 2010, the Frenchman Michel Roger as Minister of State.[46]

Under the 1962 constitution, the prince shares his veto power with the unicameral National Council.[47] The 24 member National Council are elected for five-year terms; 16 are chosen through a majority electoral system and 8 by proportional representation.[48] All legislation requires the approval of the National Council, which is currently dominated by the central-right Union of Monaco (UPM), who hold twenty-one seats.[48] The only other party represented in the National Council is the right-wing Rally and Issues for Monaco (REM), which holds just three seats.[48] The principality's city affairs are directed by the Communal Council,[49] which consists of fourteen elected members and is presided over by a mayor.[50] Unlike the National Council, councillors are elected for four-year terms,[51] and are strictly non-partisan, however, oppositions inside the council frequently form.[49][52]

Administrative divisions

Wards of Monaco

Monaco is the second smallest country (by size) in the world; only Vatican City is smaller.[53] Monaco is also the world's second smallest monarchy,[54] and is the most densely populated country in the world.[55] 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.[46] According to the constitution of 1911, the principality was subdivided into three municipalities:[56]

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 "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;[57] but Prince Albert II announced in his 2009 New Year Speech that he had ended plans due to the current economic climate.[58] However, Prince Albert II in mid-2010 firmly restarted the program.[59][60]

Traditional quarters and modern geographic areas

The four traditional Quartiers of Monaco are: Monaco-Ville, La Condamine, Monte Carlo and Fontvieille.[61][62] 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.[63]


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:[60][64][65]

No. Ward Area
of 2008)
Former municipality of Monaco
05 Monaco-Ville 0.19 1,034 5597 19 Old City
Former municipality of Monte Carlo
01 Monte Carlo/Spélugues (Bd. Des Moulins-Av. de la Madone) 0.30 3,834 10779 20 Casino and resort area
02 La Rousse/Saint Roman (Annonciade-Château Périgord) 0.13 3,223 30633 17 Northeast area, includes Le Ténao
03 Larvotto/Bas Moulins (Larvotto-Bd Psse Grace) 0.34 5,443 16570 17 Eastern beach area
10 Saint Michel (Psse Charlotte-Park Palace) 0.16 3,907 26768 24 Central residential area
Former municipality of La Condamine
04 La Condamine 0.28 3,947 16213 28 Northwest port area
07 La Colle (Plati-Pasteur-Bd Charles III) 0.11 2,829 15005 15 On the western border with Cap d'Ail
08 Les Révoires (Hector Otto-Honoré Labande) 0.09 2,545 33203 11 Contains the Jardin Exotique de Monaco
09 Moneghetti/ Bd de Belgique (Bd Rainier III-Bd de Belgique) 0.10 3,003 28051 17 Central-north residential area
New land reclaimed from the sea
06 Fontvieille 0.35 3,901 10156 10 Started 1981
11(1) Fontvieille II 0.08(1) - 6(1) Development to commence in 2013[64]
11(1) Le Portier 0.05(1) - 4(1) Project relaunched in 2012[66]
10 Monaco[67][68] 2.05 35,352 16217 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.[67]


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 the largest police force (515 police officers for 35,000 people) and police presence in the world.[69] Its police includes a specialist unit which operates patrol and surveillance boats.[70]

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),[71] and which together with the militarized, armed fire and civil defence Corps (Sapeurs-Pompiers) forms Monaco's total public forces.[72] 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.[73]


Satellite view of Monaco, with the Monegasque-French border shown in yellow
Elevation profile of Monaco

Monaco is a sovereign city state, with 5 Quartiers and 10 Wards,[74] 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 (5,600 and 1,145 ft).[75][76]

The highest point in the country is a narrow pathway named Chemin des Révoires on the slopes of Mont Agel, in the Les Révoires district, 161 metres (528 feet) above sea level.[77] The lowest point in the country is the Mediterranean Sea, at sea level.[78] 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.[79] Monaco's most populated Quartier is Monte Carlo, and the most populated Ward is Larvotto/Bas Moulins.[67] After a recent expansion of Port Hercules,[80] Monaco's total area grew to 2.02 km2 (0.78 sq mi) or 202 hectares (500 acres),[67] 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 by .[81][82][83][80][84] There are two ports in Monaco, Hercules and Fontvieille, as well as the neighboring French port of Cap d'Ail.[85] Monaco's only natural resource is fishing;[86] with almost the entire country being an urban area, Monaco lacks any sort of commercial agriculture industry.


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.[87] 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