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Monaco (mŏnˈəkō, mōnäˈkō, Fr. mônäkōˈ), officially Principality of Monaco, independent principality (2015 est. pop. 38,000), c.370 acres (150 hectares), on the Mediterranean Sea, an enclave within Alpes-Maritimes dept., SE France, near the Italian border. It consists of four adjoining quarters—La Condamine, the business district; Monte Carlo, the site of the famous casino; Monaco-Ville, the capital, atop a rocky promontory; and Fontvieille, an area of light industry built largely on reclaimed land.

Land and People

Monaco's beautiful location, natural harbor, exceptionally mild climate, and gambling tables in Monte Carlo make it one of the best-known resorts of the Riviera. Almost half of the mainly Roman Catholic population are French, while about 16% are citizens of Monaco and an equal number are Italian. French is the official language, but English, Italian, and Monegasque (a Romance dialect similar to Provençal) are also widely spoken.

The casino contains a theater, which houses the Monte Carlo Opera. Monaco has a 16th-century palace, a 19th-century cathedral in the Byzantine style, and a noted oceanographic museum, founded in 1910 by Prince Albert I. Auto racing is popular, and Monaco is home to both the Monte Carlo Rally and the Monaco Grand Prix. The Monte Carlo Open is a major professional tennis tournament.


Monaco has a customs union with France, and its currency is interchangeable with the French. Excise, stamp, transfer, and estate taxes are an important source of state revenue. Contrary to popular belief, the gambling casino (which is managed as a concession by a private corporation) accounts for only a small portion of government revenue, although it contributes greatly to the economy by attracting tourists. In addition to tourism and the foreign businesses attracted to Monaco by low corporate taxes, shipping and the manufacture of perfumes, pharmaceuticals, processed food, and precision instruments are also important.


Monaco is governed under the constitution of 1962. The heredity monarch is the head of state. The minister of state, selected by the monarch from three candidates nominated by France, is the head of goverment. The unicameral legislature is the National Council, which is elected by universal suffrage every five years. The monarch may initiate legislation, but all laws must be approved by the National Council.

By a treaty of 1918, the succession to the throne must be approved by the French government. A law had long stipulated that should the throne become vacant for any reason, including the death of a Grimaldi ruler without a direct blood heir, Monaco would become an autonomous state under French protection. In 2002 the constitution was amended so that any sibling of a ruler who died without issue could inherit the throne.


Probably settled by Phoenicians in ancient times, Monaco was annexed by Marseilles and Christianized in the 1st cent. A.D. In the 7th cent. it was part of the kingdom of the Lombards, and in the 8th cent. of the kingdom of Arles. It was under Muslim domination (8th cent.) after the Saracens invaded France.

Monaco was ruled by the Genovese Grimaldi family from the 13th cent. In 1731 the male line died out, but the French Goyon-Matignon family, which succeeded by marriage, assumed the name Grimaldi. Monaco was under Spanish protection from 1542 to 1641, under French protection from 1641 to 1793, annexed to France in 1793, and under Sardinian protection from 1815 to 1861. The districts of Menton and Roquebrune (long part of Monaco) were incorporated (1848) into Sardinia, which in turn ceded them to France in 1860.

Monaco again came under French protection in 1861. In the late 1800s income from gambling by very wealthy visitors became Monaco's primary source of revenue. Until 1911, when the first constitution was promulgated, the prince was an absolute ruler. Rainier III, succeeded his grandfather, Louis II, as ruler of Monaco in 1949. In 1956, Rainier married Grace Kelly (1929–82), an American motion-picture actress, and a male heir, Albert, was born in 1958. Rainier worked to diversify Monaco's economy and make Monaco attractive to middle-class tourists.

In 1962 serious economic disagreements arose between France and Monaco, and new fiscal agreements (1963) severely curtailed the right of French citizens to use Monaco as a tax haven. The Monaco government also came into conflict with Aristotle Onassis, who owned majority interests in most businesses there; Monaco purchased his interests in 1967. Relations with France again became acrimonious in 2000 when Monaco was accused of being a center for money-laundering and France threatened to force the principality to tighten the regulation of its banks. Rainier died in 2005 and was succeeded as ruler by his son, Albert II.

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



a state in southern Europe on the Mediterranean coast, surrounded by France. Area, 1.5 sq km. Population, about 25,000 (1973), including 4,500 subjects of Monaco (Monégasques) and more than 15,000 French citizens, Italians, and other resident nationals. The official language is French, and the religion Catholicism. The Gregorian calendar is used. Monaco consists of three merged administrative district-cities—Monaco (the capital), Monte Carlo, and La Condamine.

Monaco is a principality, a constitutional monarchy whose present constitution was adopted on Dec. 17, 1962. The head of state, the prince, exercises legislative power jointly with the 18-member National Council, which is elected for five years. All citizens who have reached the age of 21 have the right to vote. Executive power is held by the Council of the Crown, which is headed by the minister of state. The judicial system consists of a court of the first instance, a justice of the peace, and appellate courts. With certain exceptions, French law is applied.

Between the tenth and first centuries B.C. there were Phoenician, and later, Greek colonies on the territory of Monaco. In the first century B.C. the territory fell under Roman rule. Later, it was seized by the Arabs, and in the second half of the llth century by the Genoese, who built a fortress on the site of present-day Monaco in 1215. In 1419 the Grimaldi family of Genoa established their power in Monaco, which became an independent principality under the protection of Genoa. Although formally it retained its autonomy, from 1524, Monaco was under the dominion of the Spanish monarchy. In 1605, Spanish troops occupied the principality. In 1641 the people of Monaco rebelled against Spanish rule, and the principality came under the protection of France. As a result of the Great French Revolution, the princely regime in Monaco was overthrown, and in 1793, Monaco’s territory was annexed by France. The Treaty of Paris of 1814 restored the Principality of Monaco, and according to the decision of the Congress of Vienna (1814–15), it became a protectorate of the Kingdom of Sardinia.

The Revolution of 1848 overthrew the princely regime in Monaco. In 1849 the monarchy was reestablished, but the Sardinian protectorate was eliminated. In 1861, Prince Charles III sold France the rights to the cities of Menton and Roquebrune and agreed in essence to a French protectorate. A tariff union was established with France in 1865. In 1861 the Frenchman Maurice Blanc was granted a concession to open a gambling house in Monaco. The Société des Bains de Mer, the international joint-stock company that owned Blanc’s gambling house, built a complex of casinos in Monte Carlo (1861–1910; French architect C. Gamier). After the completion of the railroad between France and Monaco (1868), the Monte Carlo Casino became world-famous and became one of Monaco’s main sources of income. The Oceanographic Museum, which has become an international research center, was founded in 1899.

The first constitution, which provided for the formation of the elected National Council (parliament), went into effect in 1911. Relations with France are regulated by a series of agreements. In 1951, Monaco and France signed a mutual aid convention regarding tariff collection, taxes, the postal service, and television, for example. Prince Rainier III, who came to power in 1949, dissolved the National Council and suspended the constitution in 1959, and in December 1962 a new constitution was promulgated. In the spring of 1962 a conflict with France arose over Monaco’s refusal to introduce certain changes in taxation, and French authorities imposed a tariff cordon on the boundary with Monaco. On May 18, 1963, France and Monaco signed an agreement which included, in particular, a convention providing for the institution in Monaco of an income tax modeled on French principles. However, the Monegasques, as well as French people who had resided in Monaco for more than five years and companies in which Monacan capital exceeded 25 percent of the total, were exempted from the tax.

Located in Monaco is one of Europe’s most powerful medium-wave radio stations, Radio Monte Carlo. There is also a television station. Monaco is the headquarters for many international organizations, including the International Hydrographic Bureau and the International Academy of Tourism. It is also a popular site for international meetings, particularly on oceanography.

Monaco is a tourist center and an internationally famous health resort on the Cote d’Azur. From 500,000 to 700,000 tourists come to the principality every year. The state’s main sources of income are tourism, health resorts, the gambling houses in Monte Carlo and elsewhere, and postage stamps. The Société des Bains de Mer (under government control since 1967) owns Monaco’s hotels and entertainment and bathing establishments. Monaco has a food industry, light industry, and a building materials industry. Faience and majolica are produced, and souvenirs are manufactured. The monetary unit is the French franc.

In the 1969–70 school year 1,446 students were enrolled in the principality’s five-year elementary schools, and 1,847 students in the seven-year secondary schools. A third of the students attend private schools. The vocational-technical schools have an enrollment of 330, and the Academy of Music in the city of Monaco has an enrollment of 400.



the capital of the principality of Monaco. Port and resort on the Mediterranean. Population, about 2,000 (1961).

The historical center of Monaco is the prince’s palace (13th-19th centuries). Among the city’s more recent buildings is the Neo-Romanesque cathedral (1874–98, architect C. Lenormand). The Palace Library has more than 120,000 volumes. The Oceanographic Museum (founded in 1899; present building constructed in 1910), which is the research headquarters of the international Institute of Oceanography in Paris, includes a large aquarium and a library (more than 30,000 volumes). Also located in Monaco is the Museum of Prehistoric Anthropology. Documents dating from as early as the 13th century and specimens of Monaco’s money dating from 1640 are kept in the archive at the palace.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


Official name: Principality of Monaco

Capital city: Monaco

Internet country code: .mc

Flag description: Two equal horizontal bands of red (top) and white; similar to the flag of Indonesia which is longer and the flag of Poland which is white (top) and red

Geographical description: Western Europe, bordering the Mediterranean Sea on the southern coast of France, near the border with Italy

Total area: 0.8 sq. mi. (1.95 sq. km.)

Climate: Mediterranean with mild, wet winters and hot, dry summers

Nationality: noun: Monegasque(s) or Monacan(s); adjective: Monegasque or Monacan

Population: 32,671 (July 2007 CIA est.)

Ethnic groups: French 47%, Monegasque 16%, Italian 16%, other 21%

Languages spoken: French (official), English, Italian, Mon­egasque

Religions: Roman Catholic 90%, other 10%

Legal Holidays:

All Saints' DayNov 1
Assumption DayAug 15
Christmas DayDec 25
Easter MondayApr 25, 2011; Apr 9, 2012; Apr 1, 2013; Apr 21, 2014; Apr 6, 2015; Mar 28, 2016; Apr 17, 2017; Apr 2, 2018; Apr 22, 2019; Apr 13, 2020; Apr 5, 2021; Apr 18, 2022; Apr 10, 2023
Immaculate ConceptionDec 8
Labor DayMay 1
National DayNov 19
New Year's DayJan 1
St. Devote's DayJan 27
Holidays, Festivals, and Celebrations of the World Dictionary, Fourth Edition. © 2010 by Omnigraphics, Inc.


a principality in SW Europe, on the Mediterranean and forming an enclave in SE France: the second smallest sovereign state in the world (after the Vatican); consists of Monaco-Ville (the capital) on a rocky headland, La Condamine (a business area and port), Monte Carlo (the resort centre), and Fontvieille, a light industrial area. Language: French. Religion: Roman Catholic. Currency: euro. Pop.: 34 000 (2003 est.). Area: 189 hectares (476 acres)
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
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