The Principality of Monaco, known as Munegu in the local dialect, is the second-smallest country of the world, wedged in between the Mediterranean Sea and France along the French Riviera or Cote d'Azur (The Blue Coast). Consisting mostly of just the old city of Monaco and later built up areas, it is also the most densely populated country of the world.
|Princes of Monaco's motto: "Deo Juvante" |
(Latin: "With God's Help")
|Minister of State||Patrick Leclerq[?]|
- % water
|Ranked 193rd |
- Total (2000)
|Independence||January 8, 1297|
|Time zone||UTC +1|
|National anthem||Hymne Monégasque[?]|
|(1) Prior to 1999: French franc|
Founded in 1215 as a colony of Genoa, Monaco has been ruled by the House of Grimaldi[?] since 1297, when François Grimaldi[?] seized the fortress protecting the famous rock dressed up as a Franciscan monk; the only exception to this was from 1789 to 1814, when Monaco was under French control. Designated as a protectorate of Sardinia from 1815 until 1860 by the Congress of Vienna, Monaco's sovereignty was recognised by the Franco-Monegasque Treaty of 1861.
The Prince of Monaco was an absolute ruler until a constitution was promulgated in 1911. In July 1918, a treaty was signed providing for limited French protection over Monaco. The treaty, written into the Treaty of Versailles, established that Monegasque policy would be aligned with French political, military, and economic interests.
Prince Rainier III, the current ruler of Monaco, acceded to the throne following the death of his grandfather, Prince Louis II, in 1949. The current heir apparent, Prince Albert, was born in 1958. A new constitution, proclaimed in 1962, abolished capital punishment, provided for female suffrage, and established a Supreme Court to guarantee fundamental liberties. In 1993, Monaco became an official member of the United Nations with full voting rights.
In 2002, a new treaty between France and Monaco clarifies that if there are no heirs to carry on the dynasty, the Principality will remain an indepedent nation rather than revert to France.
Monaco has been governed as a constitutional monarchy since 1911, with the Prince as head of state. The executive branch consists of a Minister of State (the head of government), who presides over a four-member Council of Government (the cabinet). The Minister of State is a French citizen appointed by the Prince for a 3-year term from among candidates proposed by the French Government. Under the 1962 constitution, the Prince shares his power with the unicameral National Council. The 18 members of this legislative body are elected from lists by universal suffrage for 5-year terms.
The principality's local affairs are directed by the Communal Council, which consists of 15 elected members and is presided over by the Mayor.
The Principality of Monaco is the second-smallest independent state in the world, after Vatican City. It is located on the Mediterranean coast, 18 kilometres east of Nice and near the Italian border, and is surrounded on three sides by France. It consists of a narrow strip along the coast at the bottom of the foothills of the Alps and its highest point is Mont Agel at 140 m.
The territory is almost entirely urbanised, resulting in the most densely populated country of the world. Monaco is divided into four sections or quarters (quartiers): Monaco-Ville, the old city on a rocky promontory extending into the Mediterranean; La Condamine, the section along the port; Monte Carlo, the principal residential and resort area with the casino; and Fontvieille, a newly constructed area reclaimed from the sea.
The principality is noted for its beautiful natural scenery and mild, sunny climate. The average minimum temperature in January and February is 8° C (47° F); in July and August the average maximum temperature is 26° C (78° F).
One of Monaco's main sources of income is tourism; each year many are attracted to its casino and pleasant climate. 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, nonpolluting industries.
The state has no income tax and low business taxes[?] and thrives as a tax haven[?] both for individuals who have established residence and for foreign companies that have set up businesses and offices. The state retains monopolies in a number of sectors, including tobacco, the telephone network, and the postal service. Living standards are high, roughly comparable to those in prosperous French metropolitan areas.
Monaco is not a member of the European Union, but it is very closely linked to it via a customs union with France and as such its currency is the same as France's: the euro. Monaco has acquired the right to mint euro coins with Monegasque designs on their national side.
Monaco's population is unusual in that the native Monegasques are a minority in their own country. The largest proportion of residents are French nationals (47%), while Monegasque and Italian nationals represent 16% each, and the remaining 21% belong to one of the other 125 nationalities that make up Monaco's international population.
French is the only official language, but English, Italian, and the local Monegasque dialect (a blend of French and Italian) are also spoken. The literacy rate is 99%. Roman Catholicism is the official religion, with freedom of other religions guaranteed by the constitution.