Monaco (/ˈmɒnək/ (listen); French pronunciation: [mɔnako]), officially the Principality of Monaco (French: Principauté de Monaco),[lower-alpha 1] is the United Nations/Europe smallest conutry. Is a sovereign city-state and microstate on the French Riviera close to the Italian region of Liguria, in Western Europe. Bordered by France to the north, east and west, it is lapped by the Mediterranean Sea to the south. The principality is home to 38,682 residents,[11] of which 9,486 are Monégasque nationals;[12] it is widely recognised for being one of the most expensive and wealthiest places in the world. The official language is French, although Monégasque (a dialect of Ligurian), Italian and English are spoken and understood by a sizeable group.[lower-alpha 2]

Principality of Monaco

Principauté de Monaco (French)
Principatu de Mùnegu (Ligurian)[lower-alpha 1]
Principato di Monaco  (Italian)
Principat de Mónegue  (Occitan)
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)

CapitalMonaco (city-state)
43°44′N 7°25′E
Largest quarterMonte Carlo
Official languagesFrench[1]
Common languages
Ethnic groups
86.0% Christianity
—80.9% Roman Catholic (official)[2]
—5.1% Other Christian
11.7% No religion
1.7% Judaism
0.6% Others[3]
  • Monégasque
  • Monacan[c]
GovernmentUnitary constitutional monarchy
Prince 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
2.1 km2 (0.81 sq mi) (193rd)
 Water (%)
 2019 estimate
38,300[5] (218th)
 2016 census
18,713/km2 (48,466.4/sq mi) (1st)
GDP (PPP)2015 estimate
$7.672 billion (2015 est.)[7] (158th)
 Per capita
$115,700 (2015 est.)[7] (3rd)
GDP (nominal)2018[b] estimate
$7.185 billion[8] (145th)
 Per capita
$185,741[9] (1st)
CurrencyEuro () (EUR)
Time zoneUTC+1 (CET)
 Summer (DST)
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.

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 per square kilometre (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);[13] 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 metres (528 feet) above sea level. The principality is about 15 km (9.3 mi) from the border with Italy.[14] 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. Although Prince Albert II is a constitutional monarch, he wields immense political power; the Minister of State is the head of government. The officeholder can be either a Monégasque or French citizen; the monarch consults with the Government of France before an appointment. The House of Grimaldi has ruled Monaco, with brief interruptions, since 1297.[15] 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, as well as a railway connection to Paris.[16] 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. The state has no income tax, low business taxes and is well known for being a tax haven. Over 30% of the resident population are millionaires,[17] with real estate prices reaching €100,000 ($142,000) 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; prior to this it used the Monégasque franc. 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 Monaco Grand Prix, one of the original Grands Prix of Formula One and birthplace of current Scuderia Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc. The principality has a club football team, AS Monaco, who compete in the French Ligue 1 and have become French champions on multiple occasions. A centre of research into marine conservation, Monaco is home to one of the world's first protected marine habitats,[18] an Oceanographic Museum and the International Atomic Energy Agency Environment Labs, which is the only marine laboratory in the United Nations structure.[19]


Monoecus in Roman Liguria in Italy, around 1st century BC

Monaco's name comes from the nearby 6th-century BCE Phocaean Greek colony. Referred to by the Ligurians as Monoikos, from the Greek "μόνοικος", "single house", from "μόνος" (monos) "alone, single"[20] + "οἶκος" (oikos) "house",[21] 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.[22] 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.[23][24] 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 again 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 meant 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

Rainier I of Grimaldi, victor of the naval battle at Zierikzee and first sovereign Grimaldi ruler of Monaco

Following a land grant from Emperor Henry VI in 1191, Monaco was refounded in 1215 as a colony of Genoa.[25][26] 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 monks – a monaco in Italian – although this is a coincidence as the area was already known by this name.[27]

Francesco, however, was evicted only a few years after by the Genoese forces, and the struggle over "the Rock" continued for another century.[28] 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.[29] Aragon eventually became part of a united Spain, and other parts of the land grant came to be integrated piecemeal into other states.[29]


Monaco in 1494

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.[30] 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".[31]

The princes of Monaco thus became vassals of the French kings while at the same time remaining sovereign princes.[32] 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.[33]

19th century

Map of the French annexation in 1860

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).[31][34] 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.[34] 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.[35] 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.[36]

These were ceded to France in return for 4,100,000 francs.[37] 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.[38] This made Monaco not only a playground for the rich, but a favoured place for them to live.[39]

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.[40] 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.[41]

The marriage of actress Grace Kelly to Prince Rainier III brought media attention to the principality.

In 1943, the Italian Army invaded and occupied Monaco, forming a fascist administration.[42] In September 1943, following the fall from power of Mussolini, 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 killed.[43] Blum's colleague Raoul Gunsbourg, the director of the Opéra de Monte-Carlo, helped by the French Resistance, escaped arrest and fled to Switzerland.[44] In August 1944, the Germans executed René Borghini, Joseph-Henri Lajoux and Esther Poggio, who were Resistance leaders.

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, an event that was widely televised and covered in the popular press, focusing the world's attention on the tiny principality.[45]

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.[46]

In 1993, the Principality of Monaco became a member of the United Nations, with full voting rights.[35][47]

21st century

View of Monaco from the west in 2016

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.[48][49]

On 31 March 2005, Rainier III, who was too ill to exercise his duties, relinquished them to his only son and heir, Albert.[50] 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,[51] 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.[52] 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."[53]

In 2015, Monaco unanimously approved a modest land reclamation expansion intended primarily to accommodate desperately needed housing and a small green/park area.[54] Monaco had previously considered an expansion in 2008, but had called it off.[54] The plan is for about six hectares of apartment buildings, parks, shops and offices to a land value of about 1 billion euros.[55] The development will be adjacent to the Larvotto district and also will include a small marina.[55][56] There were four main proposals, and the final mix of use will be finalised as the development progresses.[57] The name for the new district is Anse du Portier.[56]

On 3 September 2020, the first Monégasque satellite, OSM-1 CICERO was launched into space from French Guiana aboard a Vega rocket.[58] 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.[59] The executive branch consists of a Minister of State as the head of government, who presides over the other five members of the Council of Government.[60] Until 2002, the Minister of State was a French citizen appointed by the prince from among candidates proposed by the Government of France; since a constitutional amendment in 2002, the Minister of State can be French or Monégasque.[25] On 1 September 2020, Prince Albert II appointed a French citizen, Pierre Dartout, to the office.[61]

Under the 1962 Constitution of Monaco, the prince shares his veto power with the unicameral National Council.[62] 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.[63] 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.[63] Union Monégasque holds three seats[63] while Renaissance holds one seat. The principality's city affairs are directed by the Communal Council,[64] which consists of 14 elected members and is presided over by a mayor.[65] Georges Marsan has held the mayorship since 2003. Unlike the National Council, communal councillors are elected for four-year terms[66] and are strictly non-partisan; however, oppositions inside the council frequently form.[64][67]


Palace guards in Monaco

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.[68] 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.[69]

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);[70] together with the militarised, armed fire and civil defence corps (Sapeurs-Pompiers) it forms Monaco's total forces.[71] 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.[72]


Satellite view of Monaco, with the France–Monaco border shown in yellow

Monaco is a sovereign city-state, with five quarters and ten wards,[73] 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.[47]

It has an area of 2.1 km2 (0.81 sq mi), or 208 hectares (510 acres), and a population of 38,400,[74] making Monaco the second-smallest and the most densely populated country in the world.[47] The country has a land border of only 5.47 km (3.40 mi),[74] a coastline of 3.83 km (2.38 mi), a maritime claim that extends 22.2 kilometres (13.8 mi), and a width that varies between 1,700 and 349 m (5,577 and 1,145 ft).[75][76]

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 metres (539 feet) above sea level.[77] The lowest point in the country is the Mediterranean Sea.[78]

Saint-Jean is the longest flowing body of water, around 0.19 km (190 metres; 0.12 miles; 620 feet) in length, and Fontvieille is the largest lake, approximately 0.5 ha (5,000.00 m2; 1.24 acres; 53,819.55 sq ft) in area.[79] Monaco's most populated quartier is Monte Carlo, and the most populated ward is Larvotto/Bas Moulins.[80]

After a recent expansion of Port Hercules,[81] Monaco's total area grew to 2.02 km2 (0.78 sq mi) or 202 hectares (500 acres);[80] 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. Land reclamation projects include extending the district of Fontvieille.[82][83][84][81][85] There are two ports in Monaco, Port Hercules and Port Fontvieille.[86] Monaco's only natural resource is fishing;[87] with almost the entire country being an urban area, Monaco lacks any sort of commercial agriculture industry. There is a neighbouring French port called Cap d'Ail that is near Monaco.[86]

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.[88] Monaco is the most densely populated country in the world.[89] 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.[61] According to the constitution of 1911, the principality was subdivided into three municipalities:[90]

The municipalities were merged into one in 1917,[91] 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:

An additional ward was planned by new land reclamation to be settled beginning in 2014[92] but Prince Albert II announced in his 2009 New Year Speech that he had ended plans due to the economic climate at the time.[93] However, Prince Albert II in mid-2010 firmly restarted the program.[94][95] In 2015, a new development called Anse du Portier was announced.[56]

Traditional quarters and modern geographic areas

The four traditional quartiers of Monaco are Monaco-Ville, La Condamine, Monte Carlo and Fontvieille.[96][97] 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.[98]


Wards of Monaco

Monaco is divided into ten wards, with their official numbers; either Fontvieille II or Le Portier would become the effective eleventh ward, if built:[95][99][100]

of 2008)
Former municipality of Monaco
Monaco-Ville0.191,0345,44219Old City
Former municipality of Monte Carlo
Monte Carlo/Spélugues (Bd. Des Moulins-Av. de la Madone)0.303,83412,78020Casino and resort area
La Rousse/Saint Roman (Annonciade-Château Périgord)0.133,22324,79217Northeast area, includes Le Ténao
Larvotto/Bas Moulins (Larvotto-Bd Psse Grace)0.345,44316,00917Eastern beach area
Saint Michel (Psse Charlotte-Park Palace)0.163,90724,41924Central residential area
Former municipality of La Condamine
La Condamine0.283,94714,09628Northwest port area
La Colle (Plati-Pasteur-Bd Charles III)0.112,82925,71815On the western border with Cap d'Ail
Les Révoires (Hector Otto-Honoré Labande)0.092,54528,27811Contains the Jardin Exotique de Monaco
Moneghetti/ Bd de Belgique (Bd Rainier III-Bd de Belgique)0.103,00330,03017Central-north residential area
New land reclaimed from the sea
Fontvieille0.353,90111,14610Started 1981
(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.[80]

  • Other possible expansions are Le Portier, a project relaunched in 2012[102]
  • Another possibility was Fontvieille II Development to commence in 2013[99][103]
Land reclamation in Monaco since 1861


Monaco exhibits a wide range of architecture, but the principality's signature style, particularly in Monte Carlo, is that of the Belle Epoque. 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.[104] 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.[105] In recent years the accelerating demolition of Monaco's architectural heritage, including its single-family villas, has created dismay.[106] The principality has no heritage protection legislation.[107]


Monaco has a hot-summer Mediterranean climate (Köppen climate classification: Csa), with strong maritime influences, with some resemblances to the oceanic climate (Cfb) and 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.[108] 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.[109][110] On February 27, 2018, both Monaco and Monte Carlo experienced snowfall.[111]

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[112]
Source 2: Monaco website (sun only)[113]
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[114]


Fontvieille and its new harbour

Monaco has the world's highest GDP nominal per capita at US$185,742 GDP PPP per capita at $132,571 and GNI per capita at $183,150.[115][116][117] It also has an unemployment rate of 2%,[118] with over 48,000 workers who commute from France and Italy each day.[80] According to the CIA World Factbook, Monaco has the world's lowest poverty rate[119] and the highest number of millionaires and billionaires per capita in the world.[120] For the fourth year in a row, Monaco in 2012 had the world's most expensive real estate market, at $58,300 per square metre.[121][122][123] The world's most expensive apartment is located in Monaco, a penthouse at the Odeon Tower valued at $335 million according to Forbes in 2016.[124]

One of Monaco's main sources of income is tourism. Each year many foreigners are attracted to its casino and pleasant climate.[76][125] It has also become a major banking centre, holding over 100 billion worth of funds.[126] Banks in Monaco specialise in providing private banking, asset and wealth management services.[127] The principality has successfully sought to diversify its economic base into services and small, high-value-added, non-polluting industries, such as cosmetics and biothermics.[119]

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.[128]

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

Gambling industry

The plan for casino gambling was drafted during the reign of Florestan I in 1846. Under Louis-Philippe's petite-bourgeois regime, however, a dignitary such as the Prince of Monaco was not allowed to operate a gambling house.[25] All this changed in the dissolute Second French Empire under Napoleon III. The House of Grimaldi was in dire need of money.

The towns of Menton and Roquebrune, which had been the main sources of income for the Grimaldi family for centuries, were now accustomed to a much-improved standard of living and lenient taxation thanks to the Sardinian intervention and clamoured for financial and political concession, even for separation. The Grimaldi family 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 (licence) 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 largest 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 Spelugues (Den of Thieves)" to "Monte Carlo (Mount Charles)."[129] They then constructed their casino in the newly dubbed "Monte Carlo" and cleared out the area's less-than-savoury elements to make the neighbourhood 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.[130] 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.[131] In the years following the casino's opening, Monaco founded its Oceanographic Museum and the Monte Carlo Opera House, 46 hotels were built and the number of jewelers operating in Monaco increased by nearly five-fold. In an apparent effort to not overtax citizens, it was decreed that the Monégasque citizens were prohibited from entering the casino unless they were employees.[132] By 1869, the casino was making such a vast sum of money that the principality could afford to end tax collection from the Monegasques—a masterstroke that was to attract affluent residents from all over Europe in a policy that still exists today.

Today, Société des bains de mer de Monaco, which owns Le Grand Casino, still operates in the original building that 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.[133]


Monaco has high social-insurance taxes, payable by both employers and employees. The employers' contributions are between 28% and 40% (averaging 35%) of gross salary, including benefits, and employees pay a further 10% to 14% (averaging 13%).[134]

Luxury residential areas in Monaco

Monaco has never levied income tax on individuals,[82] and foreigners are thus able to use it as a "tax haven" from their own country's high taxes, because as an independent country, Monaco is not obligated to pay taxes to other countries.[135][136]

The absence of a personal income tax has attracted many 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 are lesser-known business people.[137]

However, due to a bilateral treaty with France, French citizens who reside in Monaco must still pay income and wealth taxes to France.[138] The principality also actively discourages the registration of foreign corporations, charging a 33 per cent corporation tax on profits unless they can show that at least three-quarters of turnover is generated within Monaco. Unlike classic tax havens, Monaco does not offer offshore financial services.[82]

In 1998, the Centre for Tax Policy and Administration, part of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), issued a first report on the consequences of the financial systems of known tax havens.[139] Monaco did not appear in the list of these territories until 2004, when the OECD became indignant regarding the Monegasque situation and denounced it in a report, along with Andorra, Liechtenstein, Liberia, and the Marshall Islands. The report underlined Monaco's lack of co-operation regarding financial information disclosure and availability.[140][141] Later, Monaco overcame the OECD's objections and was removed from the "grey list" of uncooperative jurisdictions. In 2009, Monaco went a step further and secured a place on the "white list" after signing twelve information exchange treaties with other jurisdictions.[82]

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."[142]

Also in 2000, a report by the French parliamentarians Arnaud Montebourg and Vincent Peillon stated that Monaco had relaxed policies with respect to money laundering, including within its casino, and that the government of Monaco had been placing political pressure on the judiciary so that alleged crimes were not being properly investigated.[143] In its Progress Report of 2005, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) identified Monaco, along with 36 other territories, as a tax haven,[144] but in its FATF report of the same year it took a positive view of Monaco's measures against money-laundering.[145][146]

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 was the only territory that refused to perform the second round, between 2001 and 2003, whereas the 21 other territories had planned to implement the third and final round, planned between 2005 and 2007.[147]


1978 Monégasque franc coin with an effigy of Rainier III

Monaco issued its own coins in various devaluations connected to the écu already in the seventeenth century, but its first decimal coins of the Monégasque franc were issued in 1837 continued until 2001.

Although Monaco is not a European Union member, it is allowed to use the euro as its currency by arrangement with the Council of the European Union; it is also granted the right to use its own designs on the national side of the euro coins, which was introduced in 2002.[148] 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.[149][150] Three different designs were selected for the Monégasque coins.[151] However, in 2006, the design was changed after the death of ruling Prince Rainier to have the effigy of Prince Albert.[151][152]

Monaco also mints collectors' coins, with face value ranging from €5 to €100.[153] These coins are a legacy of an old national practice of minting silver and gold commemorative coins.[154] Unlike normal issues, these coins are not legal tender in all the Eurozone.[155] The same practice concerning commemorative coins is exercised by all eurozone countries.



Population of Monaco by ethnicity

  French (28.4%)
  Monégasques (21.6%)
  Italians (18.7%)
  British (7.5%)
  Belgians (2.8%)
  Germans (2.5%)
  Swiss (2.5%)
  Americans (1.2%)
  Other (14.8%)

Monaco's total population was 38,400 in 2015.[156] Monaco's population is unusual in that the native Monégasques are a minority in their own country: the largest group are French nationals at 28.4%, followed by Monégasque (21.6%), Italian (18.7%), British (7.5%), Belgian (2.8%), German (2.5%), Swiss (2.5%) and U.S. nationals (1.2%).[157]

Citizens of Monaco, whether born in the country or naturalised, are called Monégasque.[158] Monaco has the world's highest life expectancy at nearly 90 years.[159][160]


Street sign in French and Monégasque in Monaco-Ville.

The official language of Monaco is French, while Italian is spoken by the principality's sizeable community from Italy. French and Italian are in fact more spoken in the principality today than Monégasque, its historic vernacular language. A dialect of Ligurian, Monégasque is not recognised as an official language; nevertheless, some signage appears in both French and Monégasque, and the language is taught in schools. English is used by American, British, Anglo-Canadian, and Irish residents.

The Grimaldi, princes of Monaco, have Ligurian origin, thus, the traditional national language is Monégasque, a variety of Ligurian, now spoken by only a minority of residents and as a common second language by many native residents. In Monaco-Ville, street signs are printed in both French and Monégasque.[161][162]


Religion in Monaco according to the Global Religious Landscape survey by the Pew Forum, 2012[3]

  Christianity (86%)
  Unaffiliated (11.7%)
  Judaism (1.7%)
  Islam (0.4%)
  Other religions (0.2%)


Christians comprise a total of 86% of Monaco's population.[3]

According to Monaco 2012 International Religious Freedom Report, Roman Catholics are Monaco's largest religious group, followed by Protestant Christians. The Report states that there are two Protestant churches, an Anglican church and a Reformed church. There are also various other Evangelical Protestant communities that gather periodically.


The official religion is Roman Catholicism, with freedom of other religions guaranteed by the constitution.[2] There are five 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-19th century, was raised to a non-metropolitan archbishopric in 1981 as the Archdiocese of Monaco and remains exempt (i.e. immediately subject to the Holy See). The patron saint is Saint Devota.

Anglican Communion

There is one Anglican church (St Paul's Church), located in the Avenue de Grande Bretagne in Monte Carlo. The church was dedicated in 1925. In 2007 this had a formal membership of 135 Anglican residents 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 English-language library of over 3,000 books.[163] The church is part of the Anglican Diocese in Europe.

Reformed Church of Monaco

There is one Reformed church, located in the Rue Louis Notari. This church was built in 1958/1959. It is affiliated to the United Protestant Church of France (Eglise Protestante Unie de France, EPUF), a grouping that incorporates the former Reformed Church of France (Eglise Reformée de France). Through its affiliation with EPUF, the church is part of the World Communion of Reformed Churches. The Reformed Church of Monaco acts as a host-church to some other Christian communities, in that it allows them to use its Rue Louis Notari building.

Charismatic Episcopal Church

The Monaco Parish of the Charismatic Episcopal Church (Parish of St Joseph) dates from 2017 and meets in the Reformed Church's Rue Louis Notari building.

Christian Fellowship

The Monaco Christian Fellowship, formed in 1996, meets in the Reformed Church's Rue Louis Notari building.

Greek Orthodoxy

Monaco's 2012 International Religious Freedom Report states that there is one Greek Orthodox church in Monaco.

Russian Orthodox

The Russian Orthodox Parish of the Holy Royal Martyrs meets in the Reformed Church's Rue Louis Notari building.


The Association Culturelle Israélite de Monaco (founded in 1948) is a converted house containing a synagogue, a community Hebrew school, and a kosher food shop, located in Monte Carlo.[164] The community mainly consists of retirees from Britain (40%) and North Africa. Half of the Jewish population is Sephardic, mainly from North Africa, while the other half is Ashkenazi.[165]


The Muslim population of Monaco consists of about 280 people, most of whom are residents not citizens.[166] The majority of the Muslim population of Monaco are Arabs, though there are smaller Turkish minorities as well.[167] Monaco does not have any official mosques.[168] There is a mosque in nearby Beausoleil, France, within easy walking distance of Monaco.


Formula One

Formation lap for the 1996 Monaco Grand Prix

Since 1929, the Monaco Grand Prix has been held annually in the streets of Monaco.[169] 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.[169]

The circuit is incredibly narrow and tight and its tunnel, tight corners and many elevation changes make it perhaps the most demanding Formula One track.[170] Driver Nelson Piquet compared driving the circuit to "riding a bicycle around your living room".

Despite the challenging nature of the course it has only had two fatalities, Luigi Fagioli who died from injuries received in practice for the 1952 Monaco Grand Prix (run to sports car regulations that year, not Formula 1)[171] and Lorenzo Bandini, who crashed, burned and died three days later from his injuries in 1967.[172] Two other drivers had lucky escapes after they crashed into the harbour, the most famous being Alberto Ascari in the 1955 Monaco Grand Prix and Paul Hawkins, during the 1965 race.[169]

Monaco also holds a Grand Prix winner, in the form of Charles Leclerc, who has won two races so far in his career, at the 2019 Belgian Grand Prix and 2019 Italian Grand Prix.

Formula E

Starting in 2015 Formula E started racing biennially with the Historic Grand Prix of Monaco on the Monaco ePrix[173] and used a shorter course of the full Formula 1 course, keeping it around Port Hercules.

Monte Carlo Rally

Since 1911 part of the Monte Carlo Rally has been held in the principality, originally held at the behest of Prince Albert I. Like the Grand Prix, the rally is organised by 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 (WRC).[174] From 2009 until 2011, the rally served as the opening round of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge.[175] The rally returned to the WRC calendar in 2012 and has been held annually since.[176] Due to Monaco's limited size, all but the ending of the rally is held on French territory.


Monaco hosts two major football teams in the principality: the men's football club, AS Monaco FC, and the women's football club, OS Monaco. AS Monaco plays at the Stade Louis II and competes in Ligue 1 the first division of French football. The club is historically one of the most successful clubs in the French league, having won Ligue 1 eight times (most recently in 2016–17) and competed at the top level for all but six seasons since 1953. The club reached the 2004 UEFA Champions League Final, with a team that included Dado Pršo, Fernando Morientes, Jérôme Rothen, Akis Zikos and Ludovic Giuly, but lost 3–0 to Portuguese team FC Porto. French World Cup-winners Thierry Henry, Fabien Barthez, David Trezeguet, and Kylian Mbappe have played for the club. The Stade Louis II also played host to the annual UEFA Super Cup (1998–2012) 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 plays in the local regional league, deep down in the league system. It once played in the Division 1 Féminine, in the 1994–95 season, but was quickly relegated.

The Monaco national football team represents the nation in association football and is controlled by the Monégasque Football Federation, the governing body for football in Monaco. However, Monaco is one of only two sovereign states in Europe (along with the Vatican City) 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 plays its home matches in the Stade Louis II.


Monaco's national rugby team, as of April 2019, is 101st in the World Rugby Rankings.[177]


Multi-sport club AS Monaco owns AS Monaco Basket which was founded in 1928. They play in the French top flight in Basketball LNB Pro A while participating in the EuroCup. They have three Pro A Leaders Cup, two Pro B (Second tier), and one NM1 (Third tier) championship. They play in Salle Gaston Médecin, which is part of Stade Louis II.

Other sports

A view of the 2011 Monaco Porsche Supercup. Motor racing is very popular, with one course encompassing almost the whole country.

The Monte-Carlo Masters is held annually in neighbouring Roquebrune-Cap-Martin, France, as a professional tournament for men as part of tennis's ATP Masters Series.[178] 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 a national Davis Cup team, which plays in the European/African Zone.

Monaco has also competed in the Olympic Games, although, no athlete from Monaco has ever won an Olympic medal. At the Youth Olympic Winter Games, Monaco won a bronze medal in bobsleigh.

The 2009 Tour de France, the world's premier cycle race, started from Monaco with a 15-kilometre (9 mi) closed-circuit individual time trial starting and finishing there on the first day, and the 182-kilometre (113 mi) second leg starting there on the following day and ending in Brignoles, France.[179]

Monaco has also staged part of the Global Champions Tour (International Show-jumping).[180] In 2009, the Monaco stage of the Global Champions tour took place between 25 and 27 June.

The Monaco Marathon is the only marathon in the world to pass through three separate countries, those of Monaco, France and Italy, before the finish at the Stade Louis II.

The Monaco Ironman 70.3 triathlon race is an annual event with over 1,000 athletes competing and attracts top professional athletes from around the world. The race includes a 1.9-kilometre (1.2-mile) swim, 90-kilometre (56-mile) bike ride and 21.1-kilometre (13.1-mile) run.

Since 1993, the headquarters of the International Association of Athletics Federations,[181] the world governing body of athletics, is located in Monaco.[182] An IAAF Diamond League meet is annually held at Stade Louis II.[183]

A municipal sports complex, the Rainier III Nautical Stadium in the Port Hercules district consists of a heated saltwater Olympic-size swimming pool, diving boards and a slide.[184] The pool is converted into an ice rink from December to March.[184]

In addition to Formula One, the Circuit de Monaco hosts several support series, including FIA Formula 2 and Porsche Supercup.[185] It has in the past also hosted Formula Three and other Formula Junior programs.

From 10 to 12 July 2014 Monaco inaugurated the Solar1 Monte Carlo Cup, a series of ocean races exclusively for solar-powered boats.[186],[187]

The women team of the chess club CE Monte Carlo won the European Chess Club Cup several times.

Panoramic view of Monaco City and the port of Fontvieille



Seaside façade of the Salle Garnier, home of the Opéra de Monte-Carlo

Monaco has an opera house, a symphony orchestra and a classical ballet company.[188] Monaco participated regularly in the Eurovision Song Contest between 1959–1979 and 2004–2006, winning in 1971, although none of the artists participating for the principality was originally Monegasque.

Visual arts

Monaco has a national museum of contemporary visual art at the New National Museum of Monaco. The country also has numerous works of public art, statues, museums, and memorials (see list of public art in Monaco).

Museums in Monaco

Events, festivals and shows

The Principality of Monaco hosts major international events such as :

Bread Festival

Monaco also has an annual bread festival on September 17 every year.[189]


Primary and secondary schools

Monaco has ten state-operated schools, including: seven nursery and primary schools; one secondary school, Collège Charles III;[190] one lycée that provides general and technological training, Lycée Albert 1er;[191] and one lycée that provides vocational and hotel training, Lycée technique et hôtelier de Monte-Carlo.[192] There are also two grant-aided denominational private schools, Institution François d'Assise Nicolas Barré and Ecole des Sœurs Dominicaines, and one international school, the International School of Monaco,[193][194] founded in 1994.[195]

Colleges and universities

There is one university located in Monaco, namely the International University of Monaco (IUM), an English-language school specializing in business education and operated by the Institut des hautes études économiques et commerciales (INSEEC) group of schools.


Monaco's flag and its coat of arms

The flag of Monaco is one of the world's oldest national flag designs.[196] Adopted by Monaco on April 4, 1881, it is almost identical to the flag of Indonesia (adopted by Indonesia on August 17, 1945) except for the ratio of height to width.[197]


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.

The Monaco bus company (CAM) covers all the tourist attractions, museums, Exotic garden, business centres, and the Casino or the Louis II Stadium.[198]

Relations with other countries

The Rock of Monaco in 1890

Monaco is so old that it has outlived many of the nations and institutions that it has had relations with. The Crown of Aragon and Republic of Genoa became a part of other countries, as did the Kingdom of Sardinia. Honoré II, Prince of Monaco secured recognition of his independent sovereignty from Spain in 1633, and then from Louis XIII of France by the Treaty of Péronne (1641).

Monaco made a special agreement with France in 1963 in which French customs laws apply in Monaco and its territorial waters.[138] Monaco uses the euro but is not a member of the European Union.[138] Monaco shares a 6-kilometre (3.7-mile) border with France but also has about 2-kilometre (1.2-mile) of coastline with the Mediterranean sea.[199] Two important agreements that support Monaco's independence from France include the Franco-Monégasque Treaty of 1861 and the French Treaty of 1918 (see also Kingdom of Sardinia). The United States CIA Factbook records 1419 as the year of Monaco's independence.[199]

There are two embassies in Monaco: those of France and Italy.[200] There are about another 30 or so consulates.[200] By the 21st century Monaco maintained embassies in Belgium (Brussels), France (Paris), Germany (Berlin), the Vatican, Italy (Rome), Spain (Madrid), Switzerland (Bern), United Kingdom (London) and the United States (Washington).[200]

In the year 2000 nearly two-thirds of the residents of Monaco were foreigners.[201] In 2015 the immigrant population was estimated at 60%[199] However, it is reported to be difficult to gain citizenship in Monaco, or at least in relative number there are not many people who do so.[188] In 2015 an immigration rate of about 4 people per 1,000 was noted, which works out to about 100–150 people a year.[202] The population of Monaco went from 35,000 in 2008 to 36,000 in 2013, and of that about 20 percent were native Monegasque[203] (see also Nationality law of Monaco).

A recurring issue Monaco encounters with other countries is the attempt by foreign nationals to use Monaco to avoid paying taxes in their own country.[199] Monaco actually collects a number of taxes including a 20% VAT and 33% on companies unless they make over 75% of their income inside Monaco.[199] Monaco does not allow dual citizenship but does have multiple paths to citizenship including by declaration and naturalisation.[204] In many cases the key issue for obtaining citizenship, rather than attaining residency in Monaco, is the person's ties to their departure country.[204] For example, French citizens must still pay taxes to France even if they live full-time in Monaco unless they resided in the country before 1962 for at least 5 years.[204] In the early 1960s there was some tension between France and Monaco over taxation.[205]

There are no border formalities entering or leaving France. For visitors, a souvenir passport stamp is available on request at Monaco's tourist office. This is located on the far side of the gardens that face the Casino.

Microstate Association Agreement Eurozone[206] Schengen Area EU single market EU customs territory[207] EU VAT area[208] Dublin Regulation
 Monaco (relations) Negotiating[209] Yes[lower-alpha 3] de facto[lower-alpha 4] Partial[lower-alpha 5] Yes[lower-alpha 6] Yes[lower-alpha 7][lower-alpha 8] No

See also


  1. In other languages of Monaco:
  2. For further information, see languages of Monaco.
  3. Monetary agreement with the EU to issue euros.
  4. Although not a contracting party to the Schengen Agreement, has an open border with France and Schengen laws are administered as if it were a part of France.[210][211]
  5. Through an agreement with France.[212]
  6. Through an agreement with France. Part of the EU Customs territory, administered as part of France.[210][213][214][215]
  7. Also part of the EU excise territory.[215]
  8. Through an agreement with France. Administered as a part of France for taxation purposes.[208][210][215][216]


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General information
  • Order of the doctors of Monaco (in French)
  • English news portal
  • The Monaco Times – a regular feature in The Riviera Times is the English language newspaper for the French – Italian Riviera and the Principality of Monaco provides monthly local news and information about the business, art and culture, people and lifestyle, events and also the real estate market.
  • Monaco-IQ Monaco information and news aggregator

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