Monaco -- Geography --
Official Name: Principality of Monaco
Capital City: Monaco
Languages: French (official), English
Official Currency: Euro,
Religions: Catholic, others
Land Area: 1.95 sq km
Landforms: Very hilly, rugged and rocky
Monaco -- History --
Archaeological evidence displayed in Monaco’s Museum of Prehistoric Anthropology indicates the presence of Stone Age settlements in Monaco. The ancient Phoenicians, a Mediterranean seafaring people, probably visited Monaco’s shores. The area was subsequently inhabited by the ancient Greeks, and later it prospered under the rule of the Romans. For much of the Middle Ages, Monaco shared the history of the region of Provence in France.
In 1297 Monaco was acquired by the house of Grimaldi, a family from Genoa. The principality was closely allied with Spain from 1524 until 1642, when it became a protectorate of France. In 1793, during the French Revolution, France seized Monaco and the Grimaldi monarchy was deposed. The Congress of Vienna in 1814 restored the Grimaldis to power, and Monaco was made a protectorate of the Kingdom of Sardinia. The Franco-Monegasque treaty signed in 1861 restored Monaco’s sovereignty. In 1865 a customs union was established between Monaco and France.
Monaco’s development as a popular resort area dates from the 1860s, when the famously baroque casino was established in Monte Carlo. Prince Albert I, who reigned from 1889 until 1922, founded the Oceanographic Museum in 1910. The princes of Monaco ruled as absolute monarchs until 1911, when Monaco adopted its first constitution. The constitution established an elected assembly to share power with the prince. In 1918 Monaco entered a treaty with France that assigned France limited responsibility for protecting Monaco. The treaty also stipulated that Monaco would lose its independence and be incorporated into France if the reigning Grimaldi prince died without leaving an heir.
In 1949 Prince Rainier III assumed the throne. His 1956 marriage to the American film actress Grace Kelly focused international attention on Monaco. The marriage reinforced Monaco’s glamorous image and helped turn the tiny principality into a leading destination for wealthy tourists. Princess Grace died following an automobile accident in 1982 near Monte Carlo.
In 1962 Monaco proclaimed a new, more liberal, constitution that abolished capital punishment, extended suffrage to female citizens, and created a new, more powerful assembly elected by native Monegasques. Also in 1962, serious disagreements with France over customs and taxes led to the signing of a new agreement designed to limit the principality’s status as a tax haven for wealthy foreign residents and international corporations.
In 2002, due to Prince Rainier’s fragile health and the bachelor status of his son Prince Albert, Monaco amended its law of succession. The amendment aims to keep the Grimaldi family on the throne, even if Prince Albert fathers no male heirs, by putting Prince Rainier’s daughters, and the daughters’ children as well, in the line of succession.
Monaco -- Economy --
One of Monaco's main sources of income is tourism; each year many are attracted to its casino and pleasant climate. In 2001, a major new construction project extended the pier used by cruise ships in the main harbour. The Principality has successfully sought to diversify into services and small, high-value-added, non-polluting industries such as cosmetics and biothermics.
As being a world leader in glamour and money, Monaco is one of the most expensive places on Earth. The principality is often regarded as a tax haven, and most of its inhabitants are mainly millionaires from other countries. The glamour and prestige associated with Monaco and its style-conscious people can be seen in the number of high class cars, designer fashion boutiques such as Chanel, trendy restaurants, and its royal family, especially since the marriage of Prince Rainier to Grace Kelly, later HSH Princess Grace of Monaco.
The state has no income tax for individuals. The state retains monopolies in numerous sectors, including tobacco and the postal service. The telephone network used to be owned by the state; now, Monaco Telecom is 49% owned by Cable and Wireless, 45% by the state and 6% by Compagnie Monegasque de Banque, but it is still a monopoly. Living standards are high, roughly comparable to those in prosperous French metropolitan areas.
The lack of personal income tax has led to a considerable number of wealthy "tax refugee" residents from European countries, who earn the majority of their income from activity outside Monaco; celebrities like Formula One drivers attract most of the attention but the majority of them are business people.
In 2000 a report by French parliamentarians Arnaud Montebourg and Vincent Peillon alleged that Monaco has lax policies with respect to money laundering, including within its famed casino, and that the government of Monaco puts political pressure on the judiciary so that alleged crimes are not properly investigated. In response, the Government of Monaco ordered reports to OECD and the Financial Action Task Force on Money Laundering. These reports revealed most of these allegations to be untrue.
Monaco is not a member of the European Union, but is very closely linked to it via a customs union with France and as such its currency is the same as France's: the euro. Monaco has acquired the right to mint euro coins with Monegasque designs on their national side.
Monaco's major exports are ceramics, metal works, textiles, plastics, and instruments.
Monaco -- Culture --
Oceanographic Museum is a museum in Monaco-Ville, Monaco. It was founded in 1910 by Monaco's biggest reformator, Prince Albert I.
The museum houses various species of sea animals (sea stars, seahorses, turtles, jellyfish, crabs, lobsters, rays, sharks, sea urchins, sea cucumbers, eels, cuttlefish etc.). The museum's holdings also include a great variety of sea related objects, including model ships, sea animal skeletons, tools, weapons, etc.
Monaco -- Political system, law and government --
Monaco has been governed as a constitutional monarchy since 1911, with the Sovereign Prince of Monaco as head of state. The executive branch consists of a Minister of State (the head of government), who presides over a four-member Council of Government (the cabinet). The Minister of State is a French citizen appointed by the Prince from among candidates proposed by the French Government. Under the 1962 constitution, the Prince shares his power with the unicameral National Council (parliament). The 24 members of this legislative body are elected from lists by universal suffrage for five-year terms.
The principality's local affairs are directed by the Communal Council, which consists of 15 elected members and is presided over by the Mayor.
Monaco received its first ambassador from abroad on the 16 February, 2006, from France. This is despite having had representation abroad and in the United Nations for many years.