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Principality of Monaco
Principauté de Monaco (French)
Prinçipatu de Múnegu (Ligurian)
Motto: "Deo Juvante" (Latin)
(English: "With God's Help")
Anthem: Hymne Monégasque
(English: "Hymn of Monaco")
Location of Monaco (green) in Europe (green & dark grey)
Location of Monaco (green)

in Europe (green & dark grey)

CapitalMonaco (city-state)
43°43′52″N 07°25′12″E / 43.73111°N 7.42000°E / 43.73111; 7.42000Coordinates: 43°43′52″N 07°25′12″E / 43.73111°N 7.42000°E / 43.73111; 7.42000
Largest quarterMonte Carlo
Official languagesFrench[1]
Common languages
Ethnic groups
  • Monégasque
  • Monacan[c]
GovernmentUnitary parliamentary semi-constitutional monarchy
• Monarch
Albert II
Pierre Dartout
LegislatureNational Council
• House of Grimaldi (under the sovereignty of the Republic of Genoa)
8 January 1297
• from the French Empire
17 May 1814
• from occupation of the Sixth Coalition
17 June 1814
2 February 1861
5 January 1911
• Total
2.02 km2 (0.78 sq mi) (194th)
• Water (%)
• 2019 estimate
Steady 38,300[5] (190th)
• 2016 census
• Density
18,713/km2 (48,466.4/sq mi) (1st)
GDP (PPP)2015 estimate
• Total
Increase $7.672 billion (2015 est.)[7] (168th)
• Per capita
Increase $115,700 (2015 est.)[7] (3rd)
GDP (nominal)2019[b] estimate
• Total
Increase $7.424 billion[8] (159th)
• Per capita
Increase $190,513[9] (2nd)
CurrencyEuro () (EUR)
Time zoneUTC+1 (CET)
• Summer (DST)
Date formatdd/mm/yyyy
Driving sideright[10]
Calling code+377
ISO 3166 codeMC
  1. ^ Government offices are however, located in the Quartier of Monaco-Ville.
  2. ^ GDP per capita calculations include non-resident workers from France and Italy.
  3. ^ Monacan is the term for residents.

Monaco (/ˈmɒnək/ (listen); French pronunciation: ​[mɔnako]), officially the Principality of Monaco (French: Principauté de Monaco; Ligurian: Prinçipatu de Múnegu; Occitan: Principat de Mónegue), is a sovereign city-state and microstate on the French Riviera a few kilometres west of the Italian region of Liguria, in Western Europe, on the Mediterranean Sea. It is bordered by France to the north, east and west. The principality is home to 38,682 residents,[11] of whom 9,486 are Monégasque nationals;[12] it is widely recognised as one of the most expensive and wealthiest places in the world.[13][14] The official language of the principality is French. In addition, Monégasque (a dialect of Ligurian), Italian and English are spoken and understood by many residents.[a]

With an area of 2.1 km2 (0.81 sq mi), it is the second-smallest sovereign state in the world, after Vatican City. Its 19,009 inhabitants /km2 (49,230/sq mi) make it the most densely-populated sovereign state in the world. Monaco has a land border of 5.47 km (3.40 mi) and the world's shortest coastline of approximately 3.83 km (2.38 mi);[15] it has a width that varies between 1,700 and 349 m (5,577 and 1,145 ft). The highest point in the state is a narrow pathway named Chemin des Révoires on the slopes of Mont Agel, in the Les Révoires ward, which is 161 m (528 ft) above sea level. The principality is about 15 km (9.3 mi) from the border with Italy.[16] Its most populous ward is Larvotto/Bas Moulins with a population of 5,443 as of 2008. 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).

The principality is governed under a form of constitutional monarchy, with Prince Albert II as head of state, who wields immense political power despite his constitutional status. The prime minister, who is the head of government, can be either a Monégasque or a French citizen; the monarch consults with the Government of France before an appointment. Key members of the judiciary in Monaco are detached French magistrates.[17] The House of Grimaldi has ruled Monaco, with brief interruptions, since 1297.[18] The state's sovereignty was officially recognised by the Franco-Monégasque 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 state's first casino, the Monte Carlo Casino, and a railway connection to Paris.[19] 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. Monaco is famous as a tax haven: the principality has no personal income tax and low business taxes. Over 30% of the residents are millionaires,[20] with real estate prices reaching €100,000 ($116,374) per square metre in 2018.

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; before, it used the Monegasque franc, which was pegged, and exchangeable with, the French franc until 1 January 2002. Monaco joined the Council of Europe in 2004 and is a member of the Organisation internationale de la Francophonie (OIF). It is also the host of the annual street circuit motor race, the Monaco Grand Prix, one of the original Grands Prix of Formula One. The local motorsports association gives name to the Monte Carlo Rally, hosted in January in the French Alps. The principality has a club football team, AS Monaco, which competes in the French Ligue 1 and have become French champions on multiple occasions, and a basketball team, which plays in the EuroLeague. A centre of research into marine conservation, Monaco is home to one of the world's first protected marine habitats,[21] an Oceanographic Museum, and the International Atomic Energy Agency Environment Labs, which is the only marine laboratory in the United Nations structure.[22]


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"[23] + "οἶκος" (oikos) "house".[24] According to an ancient myth, Hercules passed through the Monaco area and turned away the previous gods.[25] As a result, a temple was constructed there. Because this "House" of Hercules was the only temple in the area, the city was called Monoikos.[26][27] 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 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 resulted in 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.

Arrival of the Grimaldi family

Following a grant of land from Emperor Henry VI in 1191, Monaco was refounded in 1215 as a colony of Genoa.[28][29] Monaco was first ruled by a member of the House of Grimaldi in 1297, when Francesco Grimaldi, known as "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 friars – a monaco in Italian – although this is a coincidence as the area was already known by this name.[30]

Francesco, however, was evicted only a few years after by the Genoese forces, and the struggle over "the Rock" continued for another century.[31] 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 lost Monaco in conflict with the Crown of Aragon over Corsica.[32] Aragon eventually became part of a united Spain, and other parts of the land grant came to be integrated piecemeal into other states.[32]


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.[33] In the 1630s, he sought French protection against the Spanish forces and, in 1642, was received at the court of Louis XIII as a "duc et pair étranger".[34]

The princes of Monaco thus became vassals of the French kings while at the same time remaining sovereign princes.[35] 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.[36]

19th century

In 1793, Revolutionary forces captured Monaco and until 1814 it was occupied by the French (in this period much of Europe had been overrun by the French armies under the command of Napoleon Bonaparte).[34][37] The principality was reestablished in 1814 under the Grimaldis, only to be designated a protectorate of the Kingdom of Sardinia by the Congress of Vienna in 1815.[37] Monaco remained in this position until 1860 when, by the Treaty of Turin, the Sardinian forces pulled out of the principality; the surrounding County of Nice (as well as Savoy) was ceded to France.[38] Monaco became a French protectorate once again.

Before this time there was unrest in Menton and 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.[39]

These were ceded to France in return for 4,100,000 francs.[40] The transfer and Monaco's sovereignty were recognised by the Franco-Monégasque 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.[41] This made Monaco not only a playground for the rich, but a favoured place for them to live.[42]

20th century

The Mayor of Monaco announcing concessions, ending the absolute monarchy of Prince Albert I
in 1910

Until the Monégasque Revolution of 1910 forced the adoption of the 1911 Constitution of Monaco, the princes of Monaco were absolute rulers.[43] 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, a new Franco-Monégasque Treaty was signed, providing for limited French protection over Monaco. The treaty, endorsed in 1919 by the Treaty of Versailles, established that Monégasque international policy would be aligned with French political, military and economic interests. It also resolved the Monaco succession crisis.

In 1943, the Italian Army invaded and occupied Monaco, forming a fascist administration.[44] In September 1943, after Mussolini's fall from power, the German Wehrmacht occupied Italy and Monaco, and the Nazi deportation of the Jewish population began. René Blum, the prominent French Jew who founded the Ballet de l'Opéra in Monte Carlo, was arrested in his Paris home and held in the Drancy deportation camp outside the French capital before being transported to Auschwitz, where he was later murdered.[45] Blum's colleague Raoul Gunsbourg, the director of the Opéra de Monte-Carlo, helped by the French Resistance, escaped arrest and fled to Switzerland.[46] In August 1944, the Germans executed René Borghini, Joseph-Henri Lajoux and Esther Poggio, who were Resistance leaders.

Rainier III, succeeded to the throne on the death of his grandfather, Prince Louis II, in 1949, and then ruled until 2005. On 19 April 1956, Prince Rainier married the American actress Grace Kelly, an event that was widely televised and covered in the popular press, focusing the world's attention on the tiny principality.[47]

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 citizens. The 2014 film Grace of Monaco is loosely based on this crisis.[48]

In 1993, the Principality of Monaco became a member of the United Nations, with full voting rights.[38][49]

21st century

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.[50][51]

On 31 March 2005, Rainier III, who was too ill to exercise his duties, relinquished them to his only son and heir, Albert.[52] 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,[53] 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.[54] 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."[55]

In 2015, Monaco unanimously approved a modest land reclamation expansion intended primarily to accommodate desperately needed housing and a small green/park area.[56] Monaco had previously considered an expansion in 2008, but had called it off.[56] The plan is for about six hectares (15 acres) of apartment buildings, parks, shops and offices to a land value of about 1 billion euros.[57] The development will be adjacent to the Larvotto district and also will include a small marina.[57][58] There were four main proposals, and the final mix of use will be finalised as the development progresses.[59] The name for the new district is Anse du Portier.[58]

On 29 February 2020, Monaco announced its first case of COVID-19, a man who was admitted to the Princess Grace Hospital Centre then transferred to Nice University Hospital in France.[60][61] The virus was confirmed to have reached Monaco on 29 February 2020.

On 3 September 2020, the first Monégasque satellite, OSM-1 CICERO, was launched into space from French Guiana aboard a Vega rocket.[62] The satellite was built in Monaco by Orbital Solutions Monaco.

Panoramic view of Monaco from the Tête de Chien
(Dog's Head) high rock promontory



Monaco has been governed under a constitutional monarchy since 1911, with the Sovereign Prince of Monaco as head of state.[63] The executive branch consists of a Prime Minister as the head of government, who presides over the other five members of the Council of Government.[64] Until 2002, the Prime Minister was a French citizen appointed by the prince from among candidates proposed by the Government of France; since a constitutional amendment in 2002, the Prime Minister can be French or Monégasque.[28] On 1 September 2020, Prince Albert II appointed a French citizen, Pierre Dartout, to the office.[65]

Under the 1962 Constitution of Monaco, the prince shares his veto power with the unicameral National Council.[66] 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.[67] All legislation requires the approval of the National Council, which is dominated by the conservative Rally and Issues for Monaco (REM) party which holds 20 seats.[67] Union Monégasque holds three seats[67] while Renaissance holds one seat. The principality's city affairs are directed by the Communal Council,[68] which consists of 14 elected members and is presided over by a mayor.[69] Georges Marsan has been mayor since 2003. Unlike the National Council, communal councillors are elected for four-year terms[70] and are strictly non-partisan; however, oppositions inside the council frequently form.[68][71]

Members of the judiciary of Monaco are appointed by the Sovereign Prince. Key positions within the judiciary are held by French magistrates, proposed by the Government of France. Monaco currently has three examining magistrates.[72]


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 38,000 people) and police presences in the world.[73] Its police includes a special unit which operates patrol and surveillance boats jointly with the military. Police forces in Monaco are commanded by a French officer.[74]

There is also a small military force. This consists of a bodyguard unit for the prince and his palace in Monaco-Ville called the Compagnie des Carabiniers du Prince (Prince's Company of Carabiniers);[75] together with the militarised, armed fire and civil defence corps (Sapeurs-Pompiers) it forms Monaco's total forces.[76] 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 non-commissioned officers 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.[77]


Monaco is a sovereign city-state, with five quarters and ten wards,[78] located on the French Riviera in Western Europe. It is bordered by France's Alpes-Maritimes department on three sides, with one side bordering the Mediterranean Sea. Its centre is about 16 km (9.9 mi) from Italy and only 13 km (8.1 mi) northeast of Nice.[49]

It has an area of 2.1 km2 (0.81 sq mi), or 208 ha (510 acres), and a population of 38,400,[79] making Monaco the second-smallest and the most densely populated country in the world.[49] The country has a land border of only 5.47 km (3.40 mi),[79] a coastline of 3.83 km (2.38 mi), a maritime claim that extends 22.2 km (13.8 mi), and a width that varies between 1,700 and 349 m (5,577 and 1,145 ft).[80][81]

The highest point in the country is at the access to the Patio Palace residential building on the Chemin des Révoires (ward Les Révoires) from the D6007 (Moyenne Corniche street) at 164.4 m (539 ft) above sea level.[82] The lowest point in the country is the Mediterranean Sea.[83]

Saint-Jean brook is the longest flowing body of water, around 0.19 km (190 m; 0.12 mi; 620 ft) in length, and Fontvieille is the largest lake, approximately 0.5 ha (5,000 m2; 0 acres; 54,000 sq ft) in area.[84] Monaco's most populated quartier is Monte Carlo, and the most populated ward is Larvotto/Bas Moulins.[85]

After a recent[when?] expansion of Port Hercules,[86] Monaco's total area grew to 2.08 km2 (0.80 sq mi) or 208 ha (510 acres);[85] subsequently, new plans have been approved to extend the district of Fontvieille by 0.08 km2 (0.031 sq mi) or 8 ha (20 acres), with land reclaimed from the Mediterranean Sea. Land reclamation projects include extending the district of Fontvieille.[87][88][89][86][90] There are two ports in Monaco, Port Hercules and Port Fontvieille.[91] There is a neighbouring French port called Cap d'Ail that is near Monaco.[91] Monaco's only natural resource is fishing;[92] with almost the entire country being an urban area, Monaco lacks any sort of commercial agriculture industry.

Panoramic view of La Condamine and Monte Carlo

Administrative divisions

In the centre is La Condamine. At the right with the smaller harbour is Fontvieille, with The Rock (the old town, fortress, and Palace) jutting out between the two harbours. At the left are the high-rise buildings of La Rousse/Saint Roman

Monaco is the second-smallest country by area in the world; only Vatican City is smaller.[93] Monaco is the most densely populated country in the world.[94] 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.[65] According to the constitution of 1911, the principality was subdivided into three municipalities:[95]

The municipalities were merged into one in 1917,[96][how?] 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.

Subsequently, three additional wards were created, however all of them were dissolved in 2013:

Most of Saint Michel became part of Monte Carlo again in 2013. La Colle and Les Révoires were merged the same year as part of a redistricting process, where they became part of the larger Jardin Exotique ward. An additional ward was planned by new land reclamation to be settled beginning in 2014[97] but Prince Albert II announced in his 2009 New Year Speech that he had ended plans due to the economic climate at the time.[98] However, Prince Albert II in mid-2010 firmly restarted the programme.[99][100] In 2015, a new development called Anse du Portier was announced.[58]

Traditional quarters and modern geographic areas

The four traditional quartiers of Monaco are Monaco-Ville, La Condamine, Monte Carlo and Fontvieille.[101] However, the suburb of Moneghetti, the high-level part of La Condamine, is generally seen today as an effective fifth Quartier of Monaco, having a very distinct atmosphere and topography when compared with low-level La Condamine.[102]


For town planning purposes, a sovereign ordinance in 1966 divided the principality into reserved sectors, "whose current character must be preserved", and wards. The number and boundaries of these sectors and wards have been modified several times. The latest division dates from 2013 and created two reserved sectors and seven wards. A new 6-hectare district, Le Portier, is currently being built on the sea.

Wards Area
in m² in %
Reserved Sectors
Monaco-Ville Reserved Sectors 196,491 9,7 %
Ravin de Sainte-Dévote Reserved Sectors 23,485 1,2 %
La Condamine Quartier ordonnancé 295,843 14,6 %
Fontvieille Quartier ordonnancé 329,516 16,3 %
Larvotto Quartier ordonnancé 217,932 10,8 %
Jardin Exotique Quartier ordonnancé 234,865 11,6 %
Les Moneghetti Quartier ordonnancé 115,196 5,7 %
Monte-Carlo Quartier ordonnancé 436,760 21,5 %
La Rousse Quartier ordonnancé 176,888 8,7 %
Total 2,026,976 100,0 %

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.[85]


Monaco exhibits a wide range of architecture, but the principality's signature style, particularly in Monte Carlo, is that of the Belle Époque. It finds its most florid expression in the 1878–9 Casino and the Salle Garnier created by Charles Garnier and Jules Dutrou. Decorative elements include turrets, balconies, pinnacles, multi-coloured ceramics, and caryatids. These were blended to create a picturesque fantasy of pleasure and luxury, and an alluring expression of how Monaco sought and still seeks, to portray itself.[106] This capriccio of French, Italian, and Spanish elements were incorporated into hacienda villas and apartments. Following major development in the 1970s, Prince Rainier III banned high-rise development in the principality. His successor, Prince Albert II, overturned this Sovereign Order.[107] In recent years[when?] the accelerating demolition of Monaco's architectural heritage, including its single-family villas, has created dismay.[108] The principality has no heritage protection legislation.[109]


Temperature change in Monaco since 1901 in the context of global warming

Monaco has a hot-summer Mediterranean climate (Köppen climate classification: Csa), with strong maritime influences, with some resemblances to the humid subtropical climate (Cfa). As a result, it has balmy warm, dry summers and mild, rainy winters. The winters are very mild considering the city's latitude, being as mild as locations located much further south in the Mediterranean Basin.[110] 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 greater than 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.[111][112] On 27 February 2018, both Monaco and Monte Carlo experienced snowfall.[113]

Climate data for Monaco (1981–2010 averages, extremes 1966–present)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 19.9
Average high °C (°F) 13.0
Daily mean °C (°F) 10.2
Average low °C (°F) 7.4
Record low °C (°F) −3.1
Average precipitation mm (inches) 67.7
Average precipitation days (≥ 1.0 mm) 6.0 4.9 4.5 7.3 5.5 4.1 1.7 2.5 5.1 7.3 7.1 6.5 62.4
Mean monthly sunshine hours 149.8 158.9 185.5 210.0 248.1 281.1 329.3 296.7 224.7 199.0 155.2 136.5 2,574.7
Source 1: Météo France[114]
Source 2: Monaco website (sun only)[115]
Climate data for Monaco
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average sea temperature °C (°F) 13.4
Source: Weather Atlas[116]