Monaco officially the Principality of Monaco, is a sovereign city state, located on the French Riviera in Western Europe.

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Monaco i/ˈmɒnəkoʊ/, officially the Principality of Monaco (French: Principauté de Monaco (French pronunciation: ​[prɛ̃.si.po.te.d(ə).mɔ.na'ko]) ; 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. 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 is only 13 km (8.1 mi) north east of Nice, France.[7] It has an area of 1.98 km2 (0.76 sq mi), and a population of 36,371,[3] making Monaco the second smallest, and the most densely populated country in the world.[8] 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 1.7 km (1.1 mi), and 349 metres (382 yards).[9][10] 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.[11] Monaco's most populated Quartier is Monte Carlo, and the most populated Ward is Larvotto/Bas Moulins.[12] After a recent expansion of Port Hercules,[13] Monaco's total area is 2.05 km2 (0.79 sq mi),[12] with new plans to extend the district of Fontvieille, with land reclaimed from the Mediterranean Sea.[14][15][16][17]

Monaco is a principality governed under a form of constitutional monarchy, with Prince Albert II as head of state.[18] Even though Prince Albert II is a constitutional monarch, he still has immense political power.[19] The House of Grimaldi have ruled Monaco, with brief interruptions, since 1297.[20] The official language is French, but Monégasque, , 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 UN voting member in 1993, after much political debate.[8] Despite Monaco's independence and separate foreign policy, its defence is the responsibility of France.[21] However, Monaco does maintain two small military units, totaling 263 officers and men, the Corps des Sapeurs-Pompiers de Monaco, and the Compagnie des Carabiniers du Prince.[22][23]

Economic development was spurred in the late 19th century with a railroad line to France, and the opening of the first casino, Monte Carlo.[24] Since then, the principality's mild climate, splendid scenery, and gambling facilities have made Monaco world-famous as a tourist and recreation center for the rich and famous.[10][25] However, in more recent years Monaco has become a major banking center holding over €100 billion worth of funds,[26] and has successfully sought to diversify its economy into the services and small, high-value-added, nonpolluting industries.[27] The state has no income tax and low business taxes, and is well known for being a tax haven.[28] Monaco boasts the world's highest GDP nominal per capita at $153,177,[4] GDP PPP per capita at $132,571,[4] and GNI per capita at $183,150.[29][30][31] Monaco also has the world's highest life expectancy at nearly 90 years,[32] and the lowest unemployment rate at 0%,[33] with over 48,000 workers who commute from France and Italy each day.[12][34] For the third year in a row, Monaco in 2011 had the world's most expensive real estate market, at $65,600 per square metre.[35][36] According to the CIA World Factbook, Monaco has the world's lowest poverty rate,[27] and the highest number of millionaires and billionaires per capita in the world.[37][38]


Early history

The Palace and a tower

The Cathedral of Monaco

The Place d'Armes with modern buildings

Statue of François Grimaldi, "il Malizia" ("the Cunning"), disguised as a monk with a sword under the cloak of his habit in front of the Prince's Palace of Monaco.

Monaco's name comes from the 6th century BC nearby Phocaean Greek colony. Referred to the Ligurians as Monoikos, from the Greek "μόνοικος", "single house", from "μόνος" (monos) "alone, single"[39] + "οἶκος" (oikos) "house",[40] 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.[41] 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.[42][43]

Following a land grant from Emperor Henry VI in 1191, Monaco was refounded in 1215 as a colony of Genoa.[44][45] Monaco was first ruled by a member of the House of Grimaldi in 1297, when Francesco Grimaldi, known as "Il Malizia" (translated from 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 , although this is a coincidence as the area was already known by this name.[46] Francesco, however, was evicted only a few years afterwards by the Genovese forces, and the struggle over "the Rock" continued for another century.[47][48]

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.[49] 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".[50] The princes of Monaco thus became vassals of the French kings while at the same time remaining sovereign princes.[51] As successive princes and their families spent most of their lives in Paris, and through marriages with French nobilities, the House of Grimaldi, though in origin, became thoroughly French in character.[52] The principality continued its existence as a protectorate of France until the French Revolution.[53]

In 1793, Revolutionary forces captured Monaco and it remained under direct French control until 1814, when the Grimaldis returned to the throne.[50] The principality was reestablished that year, only to be designated a protectorate of the Kingdom of Sardinia by the Congress of Vienna in 1815.[54] 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.[55] 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.[56] These were ceded to France in return for 4,100,000 francs.[57] The transfer and Monaco's sovereignty was recognized by the Franco- 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.[58] This made Monaco not only a playground for the rich, but a favored place for them to live.[59]

20th century

Until the Revolution of 1910 forced the adoption of the 1911 constitution, the princes of Monaco were absolute rulers.[60] 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- Treaty was signed, providing for limited French protection over Monaco. The treaty, endorsed in 1919 by the Treaty of Versailles, established that international policy would be aligned with French political, military, and economic interests, and resolved the Monaco Succession Crisis.[61]

In 1943, the army invaded and occupied Monaco, setting up a Fascist administration.[52] Shortly thereafter, following the collapse of Mussolini, the German Wehrmacht occupied Monaco and the Nazi deportation of the Jewish population began. René Blum (Paris, 13 March 1878 – Auschwitz, 30 April 1943), 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, hence he was then transported to the Auschwitz concentration camp, where he was later killed.[62] Blum's colleague Raoul Gunsbourg, the director of the Opéra de Monte-Carlo, helped by the French Resistance, escaped arrest and fled to Switzerland.[63]

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.[64]

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.[55] 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 defense, however, is still the responsibility of France.[65]

On 31 March 2005, Prince Rainier III, too ill to exercise his duties, relinquished them to his only son and heir, Prince Albert II.[66] 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.[67]

Following a period of official mourning, Prince Albert II formally assumed the princely crown on 12 July 2005,[68] 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 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.[69]


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

Monaco is a sovereign city state, with 5 Quartiers, 10 Wards,[70] located on the French Riviera in .[71] 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 is only 13 km (8.1 mi) south east of Nice, France.[8] Its area is 1.98 km2 (0.76 sq mi) or 198 ha (490 acres), and a population of 36,371,[3] making Monaco the second smallest and the most densely populated country in the world.[8] Having 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 1.7 km (1.1 mi), and 349 meters (382 yards), Monaco is unique.

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, it is 161 meters (528 feet) above sea level.[11] While the lowest point in the country is the Mediterranean Sea, at sea level.[72][73] 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.[74] Monaco's most populated Quartier is Monte Carlo, and the most populated Ward is Larvotto/Bas Moulins.[12] After a recent expansion of Port Hercules,[13] Monaco's total area is 2.05 km2 (0.79 sq mi) or 205 ha (506 acres),[12] with new plans to extend the district of Fontvieille, with land reclaimed from the Mediterranean Sea.[14][15] There are two ports in Monaco, Hercules and Fontvieille, as well the neighboring French port of Cap d'Ail.[75] Monaco's only natural resource is fishing,[76] with almost the entire country being an urban area, Monaco lacks any sort of commercial agriculture industry.[77]


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.[78] 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/86 °F are rare) as the atmosphere is temperate because of constant sea breezes. On the other hand, the nights are very mild, this is 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.[79][80]

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
Precipitation mm (inches) 82.7
Avg. 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[81]


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.[82] 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 .[44] However, Prince Albert II appointed, on 3 March 2010, the Frenchman Michel Roger as Minister of State.[83]

Under the 1962 constitution, the prince shares his veto power with the unicameral National Council.[84] The 24 member National Council are elected for five-year terms; 16 are chosen through a majority electoral system and 8 by proportional representation.[85] 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.[85] The only other party represented in the National Council is the right-wing Rally and Issues for Monaco (REM), which holds just three seats.[85] The principality's city affairs are directed by the Communal Council, which consists of fourteen elected members and is presided over by the mayor. As with the National Council UPM holds the majority with ten seats, while REM holds two seats, and the rest are independent.[86]

Administrative divisions


Wards of Monaco

Monaco is the second smallest country (by size) in the world; only Vatican City is smaller.[87][88] Monaco is also the world's second smallest monarchy,[89] and is the most densely populated country in the world.[90] The state consists of only one municipality (commune).[91] 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.[83] According to the constitution of 1911, the principality was subdivided into three municipalities:[92]

  • Monaco-Ville, the old city on a rocky promontory extending into the Mediterranean, known as the Rock of Monaco, or simply Le Rocher (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 Quartiers thereafter.[93]

  • Fontvieille was added as a fourth ward, a newly constructed area reclaimed 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 harbour is Fontvieille, with the "Rock of Monaco" (the old town, fortress, and Palace) jutting out between the two harbours; to the left with the high-rise buildings is 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;[94] but Prince Albert II announced in his 2009 New Year Speech that he had ended plans due to the current economic climate.[95] However, Prince Albert II in mid 2010 firmly restarted the program.[96][97]

Traditional quarters and modern geographic areas

The four traditional Quartiers of Monaco are: Monaco-Ville, La Condamine, Monte Carlo and Fontvieille.[98][99] 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.[100]


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:[101] [97][102]

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[101]
11(1) Le Portier 0.05(1) - 4(1) Project relaunched in 2012[103]
10 Monaco[104][12] 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.[12]


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.[105] Its police includes a specialist unit which operates patrol and surveillance boats.[106]

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),[107] and which together with the militarized, armed fire and civil defence Corps (Sapeurs-Pompiers) forms Monaco's total public forces.[108] 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.


Fontvieille and its new harbour.

One of Monaco's main sources of income is tourism. Each year many are attracted to its casino and pleasant climate. Monaco's own citizens are not allowed to gamble in the casino. In 2001, a major new construction project extended the pier used by cruise ships in the main harbour. The principality has successfully sought to diversify into services and small, high-value-added, non-polluting industries, such as cosmetics and biothermics.

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 franc. Monaco has acquired the right to mint euro coins with designs on its national side.

Gambling industry

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.[44] All this changed in the dissolute Second French Empire under Napoleon III. The House of Grimaldi was in dire need to generate cash. Menton and Roquebrune, which had been main source of income for the Grimaldis for centuries, now accustomed to much improved standard of living and lenient taxation thanks to Sardinian intervention, 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 (license) 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 biggest 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 sprang up and the number of jewelers operating in Monaco increased by nearly 500 percent. By 1869, the casino was making such a vast sum of money that the principality could afford not to collect tax 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 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]

Tax haven

Monaco levies no income tax on individuals.[114] 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 less well-known business people.[38][115] This applies to all residents of Monaco of any nationality except French citizens whose residency started after 1957. These French citizens still must pay French income tax.

Monte Carlo Casino

In 1998, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) issued a first report on the consequences of the tax havens' financial systems.[116] Monaco did not appear in the list of these territories until 2004, when OECD became indignant regarding the 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.[117][118]

In 2000, a report by the French parliamentarians, Arnaud Montebourg and Vincent Peillon, alleged that Monaco had lax 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.[119]

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."[120] The Principality is no longer blamed in the 2005 FATF report, as well as all other territories.[121][122] However, since 2003, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has identified Monaco, along with 36 other territories, as a tax haven.[123]

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 is the only territory that refuses to perform the second round, initially forecast between 2001 and 2003, whereas the 21 other territories are implementing the third and last round, planned between 2005 and 2007.[124]

However, Monaco has high social insurance taxes payable by both employer and employee. The employer's contribution is between 28%–40% (averaging 35%) of gross salary including benefits and the employee pays a further 10%–14% (averaging 13%).[125]


In Monaco, the euro was introduced in 2002, having been preceded by the franc.[126] 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.[127][128] Three different designs were selected for the coins.[129] However, In 2006, the design was changed after the death of ruling Prince Rainier to have the effigy of Prince Albert.[129][130]

Monaco also has a rich and valuable collection of collectors' coins, with face value ranging from €5 to €100.[131] These coins are a legacy of an old national practice of minting silver and gold commemorative coins.[132][133] Unlike normal issues, these coins are not legal tender in all the Eurozone. For instance, a commemorative coin cannot be used in any other country.[134] The same practice concerning commemorative coins is exercised with all eurozone countries. Commemorative coins are legal tender only in their country of issue, unlike normal circulation coins, which are accepted in all euro-zone countries.

Sport and entertainment

Formula One

Formation lap for the 1996 Monaco Grand Prix

Since 1955, the Monaco Grand Prix has been held annually in the streets of Monaco.[135] 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.[135] The circuit has many elevation changes and tight corners, along with a tunnel. This together with being incredibly narrow and tight makes it perhaps the most demanding Formula One track.[136] Only two drivers have ever crashed into the harbor, the most famous being Alberto Ascari in the 1955 Monaco Grand Prix, just four days before losing his life at Monza. The other was Paul Hawkins, during the 1965 Monaco Grand Prix.[135]

Monte Carlo Rally

The Monte Carlo Rally has been held since 1911, having originally been held at the behest of Prince Albert I, and is considered to be like the principality's Grand Prix, organised by the 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.[137] From 2009 until 2011, the rally served as the opening round of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge, having most recently been run on the 19–22 January 2011 in celebration of the event's centenary.[138]

2012 marked the return of the Monte Carlo Rally to the WRC calendar with the event taking place from the 20–22 January 2012.[139]


Monaco hosts two major football teams in the principality; men's football club AS Monaco FC, and women's football club OS Monaco. AS Monaco plays at the Stade Louis II, and competes in the Ligue 2, the second 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 Marcelo Gallardo, Jürgen Klinsmann, Oliver Bierhoff, George Weah, John Collins, Fernando Morientes, Thierry Henry, Fabien Barthez, Rafael Márquez, Javier Saviola, Akis Zikos, David Trezeguet, John Arne Riise, Patrice Evra, Shabani Nonda, Emmanuel Adebayor, Eiður Guðjohnsen, Jan Koller, Victor Ikpeba, Park Chu-Young and Mahamadou Diarra.

The club reached the 2004 UEFA Champions League Final, led by the likes of Dado Pršo, Fernando Morientes, Jérôme Rothen, Akis Zikos, and Ludovic Giuly, losing 3–0 to Portuguese team F.C. Porto. The Stade Louis II also plays host to the annual UEFA Super Cup, which is played 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, however once played in the Division 1 Féminine in the 1994–95 season, but were 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 Football Federation, the governing body for football in Monaco. However, Monaco is the only sovereign state in Europe 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 play their home matches in the Stade Louis II.


Monaco's national rugby team, as of March 2012, is 90th in the International Rugby Board rankings.[140]

Other sports

View of the Port of Hercules, La Condamine, Monaco

View of Monte Carlo

The Monte-Carlo Masters is currently held annually in neighbouring Roquebrune-Cap-Martin, France, as a professional tournament for men as part of tennis' ATP Masters Series.[141] 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 2008, no athlete from Monaco has ever won an Olympic medal.

In 2009, the Tour de France, the world's premier bicycle race, started from Monaco with a 15 km closed-circuit individual time trial starting and finishing there on the first day (4 July) and the 182 km second leg starting there on the following day and ending in Brignoles, France.[142]

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.[143] 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. The 2010 event took place on 21 March. Runners complete the race by returning to 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 swim, 90 km bike ride and 21.1 km run.

Since 1993, the headquarters of the International Association of Athletics Federations,[144] the world governing body of athletics, is located in Monaco.[145] An IAAF Diamond League meet is annually held at Stade Louis II.[146]


Primary and secondary schools

Monaco has ten state-operated schools, including: seven nursery and primary schools; one secondary school, Collège Charles III;[147] one lycée that provides general and technological training, Lycée Albert 1er;[148] and one lycée that provides vocational and hotel training, Lycée technique et hôtelier de Monte-Carlo.[149] There are also two grant-aided denominational private schools, including Institution François d'Assise Nicolas Barré and Ecole des Sœurs Dominicaines, and one international school, the International School of Monaco.[150]

Colleges and universities

There is one university located in Monaco:

  • International University of Monaco


Sunset in Monte Carlo.

Monaco's population is unusual in that the native Monegasques are a minority in their own country comprising 21.6% of the population. The largest group are French nationals at 28.4%, followed by (21.6%), (18.7%), British (7.5%), Belgian (2.8%), German (2.5%), Swiss (2.5%) and US nationals (1.2%).[151]

Naturalized citizens of Monaco are called Monacans, while is the proper term for describing someone who was born in Monaco.[152]


The official language of Monaco is French, while is spoken by the principality's sizable community from Italy. is used by American, British, Canadian, and Irish residents. The traditional national language is Monégasque, now spoken by only a minority of residents. It resembles Ligurian, which is spoken in Genoa. In Monaco-Ville, street signs are printed in both French and Monégasque.[153][154]


Religion in Monaco (2012)[155][note 2]
Christianity 83.2%
No Religion 12.9%
Judaism 2.9%
Islam 0.8%
Others/unspecified 0.5%

Roman Catholic

Saint Nicholas Cathedral, Monaco

The official religion is Roman Catholicism, with freedom of other religions guaranteed by the constitution.[155] There are five Roman Catholic parish churches in Monaco and one cathedral, which is the seat of the archbishop of Monaco. The diocese, which has existed since the mid-nineteenth century, was raised to an archbishopric in 1981 as the Archdiocese of Monaco. The patron saint is Saint Devota.

Monaco has a total of 83.2% Christian.[155]


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 -language library of over 3,000 books.[156] 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.[157] The community (approximately 1,000) mainly consists of retired Jews from Britain (40%) and North Africa.[158] Two thirds of the Jewish population there are Sephardic, mainly from North Africa, while the other third is Ashkenazi.[159]


The flag of Monaco is one of the world's oldest national flag designs. The flag of Monaco is identical to the flag of Indonesia, except for the ratio of height to width.[160]


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

More information

Borders WithFrance
Coastline4.1 km
Coordinates43 44 N, 7 24 E
Ethnic GroupFrench 47%
Ethnic GroupMonegasque 16%
Ethnic GroupItalian 16%
Ethnic Groupother 21%
Female Life Expectancy93.77 years (2012 est.)
Female Median Age51 years (2012 est.)
Fertility Rate1.51 children born/woman (2012 est.)
GDP$5.47 billion (2010 est.)
GDP$5.337 billion (2009 est.)
GDP$6.03 billion (2008 est.)
GDP Growth2.5% (2010 est.)
GDP Growth-11.5% 2009
Government typeconstitutional monarchy
Highest PointMont Agel 140 m
Land Area2 sq km
Land boundary4.4 km
LanguageFrench (official)
LocationWestern Europe, bordering the Mediterranean Sea on the southern coast of France, near the border with Italy
Lowest PointMediterranean Sea 0 m
Male Life Expectancy85.74 years
Male Median Age48.9 years
NationalityMonegasque(s) or Monacan(s)
Population Growth-0.066% (2012 est.)
Roadways77 km
Terrainhilly, rugged, rocky
Total Area2 sq km
Total Life Expectancy89.68 years
Total Median Age49.9 years
Water Area0 sq km


  1. For further information see languages of Monaco.
  2. Percentage based on a 35,000 person population.


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Neighboring countries

Important people