Monaco Fact File
Official name Principality of Monaco
Form of government Constitutional monarchy with single legislative body (National Council)
Area 1.9 sq km (0.7 sq miles)
Time zone GMT + 1 hour
Projected population 2015 37,000
Population density 16,920.5 per sq km (45,714.3 per sq mile)
Life expectancy 79.1
Infant mortality (per 1,000) 5.7
Official language French
Other languages Italian, English, Monegasque
Literacy rate 99 %
Religions Roman Catholic 95 %, other 5 %
Ethnic groups French 47%, Monegasque 16% Italian 16%, other 21 %
Economy Tourism and services 90%, industry 10%
GNP per capita US$ 27,000
Climate Temperate, with mild, wet winters and hot, dry summers
Highest point Mt Agel 140 m (459 ft)
Map reference Page 291
Monaco, the world's smallest independent nation after the Vatican City, sits on the Mediterranean coast in the far southeast corner of France. Except for its coastline, it is completely surrounded by French territory. In the thirteenth century the Genoese built a fortress there and in 1297 members of the Grimaldi family of Genoa established themselves as rulers. Grimaldi princes retained control for almost 500 years, until 1792, when an uprising deposed the reigning prince and declared the state a republic. France annexed Monaco the following year but in 1815, after the Congress of Vienna, it was placed under the protection of Sardinia. France annexed most of Monaco, including Menton, in 1848. In 1861, the Grimaldis were restored as rulers of less than half their former territory, governing under French protection. In 1911 democratic government was introduced by Prince Albert of Monaco. An 18-member National Council is elected every five years, but the head of government is selected by the monarch from a list drawn up by the French government. The present monarch, Prince Rainier III, is a descendant of the Grimaldis. He achieved fame in 1956 for his much-publicized marriage to the American film actress Grace Kelly.
Occupying the lower slopes of the Maritime Alps, Monaco is hilly and rugged. It is densely populated, mainly by foreign nationals. In the southwest is the industrial district of Fontvieille, which consists partly of land reclaimed from the sea. Further east is the old town of Monaco-Ville, where the royal palace is situated. La Condamine, the banking, commercial, and fashionable residential center, overlooks a sheltered harbor. Northeast of La Condamine is Monte Carlo, with its casino, luxury hotels, and apartment blocks.
Apart from pharmaceutical, food processing, and other light industries in Fontvieille, Monaco thrives on its attractions as a tourist haven. The major drawing card is the state-run casino, from which the citizens of Monaco are banned. Until 1962, Monaco's status as a tax haven attracted many wealthy French businesses. The people of Monaco still pay no income tax, but foreigners now do, though at quite favorable rates.
View of Monte Carlo, Monaco (below). An alpine vegetable farm in Switzerland (above center). View of Zurich, Switzerland (right page below). The Wetterhorn Mountain near Crindelwald in the Bernese Oberland, Switzerland (right page bottom).