Monaco facts for kids

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Europe location MCO
Map showing where Monaco is in the world
Flag of Monaco
The flag of Monaco

Monaco is the second smallest country in the world; about 34,000 people live there. It is near southeastern France, on the Mediterranean Sea in Western Europe. French is the most common language spoken in Monaco. The head of state is Prince Albert II; the government and the prince share power. Tourism is the main industry. People in Monaco pay no income tax.

Monte Carlo, famous for its casino, is in the northeast of the country. Monaco is famous for two car races: the Monte Carlo Rally and the Monaco Grand Prix.

A sovereign and independent state, the Principality of Monaco has borders on its landward side with several communes of the French Department of the Alpes-Maritimes; from west to east these are Cap d`Ail, la Turbie, Beausoleil and Roquebrune Cap Martin. Seawards, Monaco faces the Mediterranean.

The population of the Principality consists of 29,972 inhabitants, 5,070 of whom are Monégasques, 12,047 French and 5,000 Italian (according to the last official census in 1990).

Its surface area is 195 hectares, of which nearly 40 were recovered from the sea during the last twenty years.

It lies in a narrow coastal strip which sometimes rises straight upwards with its highest point at 163 meters. Its width varies between 1050 meters and only 350 meters. Its coastline is 4100 meters long.

The Principality has only one commune, Monaco, whose limits are the same as those of the state.

Monaco is made of four districts: Monaco-Ville (historic seat of the Principality, on the rock where the Prince Palace stands), Monte-Carlo (the district surrounding its Casino), La Condamine (around Port Hercule), and Fontvielle (the new industrial area built on ground reclaimed from the sea (22ha)).

History

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The Palace and a tower
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The Cathedral of Monaco

Monaco's name comes from the 6th century BC nearby Phocaean Greek colony. Referred to the Ligurians as Monoikos, from the Greek "μόνοικος", "single house", from "μόνος" (monos) "alone, single" + "οἶκος" (oikos) "house", 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. 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.

Following a land grant from Emperor Henry VI in 1191, Monaco was re-founded in 1215 as a colony of Genoa. Monaco was first ruled by a member of the House of Grimaldi in 1297, when Francesco Grimaldi, known as "Il 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 a Franciscan monk – a Monaco in Italian, although this is a coincidence as the area was already known by this name. Francesco, however, was evicted only a few years afterwards by the Genovese forces, and the struggle over "the Rock" continued for another century.

In 1419, the Grimaldis purchased Monaco from the crown of Aragon and became the official and undisputed rulers of "the Rock of Monaco", and in 1612 Honore II began to style himself "Prince" of Monaco. In the 1630s, Honore II sought French protection against the Spanish forces and was eventually, in 1642, received at the court of Louis XIII as "Duc et Pair Etranger". The princes of Monaco thus became vassals of the French kings while at the same time remaining sovereign princes. As successive princes and their families spent most of their lives in Paris, and through marriages with French nobilities, the House of Grimaldi, though Italian in origin, became thoroughly French in character. The principality continued its existence as a protectorate of France until the French Revolution.

In 1793, Revolutionary forces captured Monaco and it remained under direct French control until 1814, when the Bourbons returned to the throne. The principality was re-established that year, only to be designated a protectorate of the Kingdom of Sardinia by the Congress of Vienna in 1815. Monaco remained in this position until 1860 when, by the Treaty of Turin, the Sardinian forces pulled out of the principality and the surrounding county of Nice (as well as Savoy) was ceded to France. Monaco became a French protectorate once again. Prior to this time there was unrest in Menton and Roquebrune where the townspeople had become weary of heavy taxation by the Grimaldis. They declared their independence, hoping for annexation by Sardinia. France protested. The unrest continued until Charles III gave up his claim to the two mainland towns (some 95% of the principality) that the Grimaldis had ruled for over 500 years. These were ceded to France in return for 4,100,000 francs. The transfer and Monaco's sovereignty was recognised by the Franco-Monegasque Treaty of 1861. In 1869, the principality stopped collecting income tax from its residents - an indulgence the Grimaldis could afford to entertain thanks solely to the extraordinary success of the casino. This made Monaco not only a playground for the rich, but a favored place for them to live.

20th century

Monaco Place d Armes
The Place d'Armes with modern buildings

Until the Monegasque Revolution of 1910 forced the adoption of the 1911 constitution, the princes of Monaco were absolute rulers. The long overdue constitution, however, barely reduced the autocratic rule of the Grimaldis and in any case Albert I soon suspended it. In July 1918, the Franco-Monegasque Treaty was signed, providing for limited French protection over Monaco. The treaty, endorsed in 1919 by the Treaty of Versailles, established that Monegasque international policy would be aligned with French political, military, and economic interests, and resolved the Monaco Succession Crisis.

In 1943, the Italian army invaded and occupied Monaco, setting up a Fascist administration. Shortly thereafter, following the collapse of Mussolini, the German Wehrmacht occupied Monaco and the Nazi deportation of the Jewish population began. René Blum (Paris, 13 March 1878 – Auschwitz, 30 April 1943), the prominent French Jew who founded the Ballet de l'Opera in Monte Carlo, was arrested in his Paris home and held in the Drancy deportation camp outside Paris, whence he was then transported to the Auschwitz concentration camp, where he was killed. Blum's colleague Raoul Gunsbourg, the director of the Opéra de Monte-Carlo, helped by the French Resistance, escaped arrest and fled to Switzerland.

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; the event was widely televised and covered in the popular press, focusing the world's attention on the tiny principality.

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 1993, the Principality of Monaco became a member of the United Nations, with full voting rights. 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.

On 31 March 2005, Prince Rainier III, too ill to exercise his duties, relinquished them to his only son and heir, Prince Albert Alexandre Louis. Prince Rainier died on 6 April 2005, after a reign of 56 years, and his son by Princess Grace succeeded 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, 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 Monegasque throne was a two-step event, with a further ceremony, drawing heads of state for an elaborate levée, held on 19 November 2005 at the historic Prince's Palace in Monaco-Ville.

Law and government

Albert II Monaco (2008)
Albert II, the Prince of Monaco

Monaco has been governed under a constitutional monarchy since 1911, with the Sovereign Prince of Monaco as monarch. The executive branch consists of a Minister of State (the head of government), who presides over a five-member Council of Government. Until 2002, the Minister of State was a French citizen appointed by the prince from among candidates proposed by the French government; since a constitutional amendment in 2002, the Minister of State can be French or Monegasque. However, Prince Albert II appointed, on 3 March 2010, the Frenchman Michel Roger as Minister of State.

Under the 1962 constitution, the prince shares his power with the unicameral National Council (parliament). The twenty-five 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 fifteen elected members and is presided over by the mayor.

Geography

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Satellite view of Monaco, with the Monégasque-French border shown in yellow

Monaco is a sovereign city state, with five quartiers and ten wards, located on the French Riviera in Western Europe. It is bordered by France's Alpes-Maritimes département on three sides, with one side bordering the Mediterranean Sea. Its center is about 16 km (9.9 mi) from Italy and only 13 km (8.1 mi) northeast of Nice, France. It has an area of 2.02 km2 (0.78 sq mi), or 202 hectares (500 acres), and a population of 38,400, making Monaco the second-smallest and the most densely populated country in the world. The country has a land border of only 5.47 km (3.40 mi), 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).

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. The lowest point in the country is the Mediterranean Sea.

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. Monaco's most populated quartier is Monte Carlo, and the most populated ward is Larvotto/Bas Moulins.

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

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Panoramic view of La Condamine and Monte Carlo

Architecture

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Saint Nicholas Cathedral, Monaco

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 including turrets, balconies, pinnacles, multi-coloured ceramics and caryatids and borrowed and blended to create a picturesque fantasy of pleasure and luxury, and an alluring expression of how Monaco sought, and still seeks, to portray itself. This capriccio of French, Italian and Spanish elements was incorporated into hacienda villas and apartments. Following major development in the 1970s, Prince Rainier III banned high-rise development in the principality. However, his successor, Prince Albert II, overturned this Sovereign Order. In recent years the accelerating demolition of Monaco's architectural heritage, including its single-family villas, has created dismay. The principality currently has no heritage protection legislation.

Climate

Monaco has a hot-summer Mediterranean climate (Köppen climate classification: Csa), which is influenced by oceanic climate and humid subtropical climate. As a result, it has warm, dry summers and mild, rainy winters. 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.

Language

The official language of Monaco is French, while Italian is spoken by the principality's sizeable community from Italy. Thus, French and Italian supplants Monegasque, the vernacular language of the Monegasques, which is not recognized as an official language; 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.

Sports

Formula One

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Formation lap for the 1996 Monaco Grand Prix

Since 1929, the Monaco Grand Prix has been held annually in the streets of Monaco. 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. 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. 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 one fatality, Lorenzo Bandini, who crashed, burned and died three days later from his injuries in 1967. 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.

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 organized 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). From 2009 until 2011, the rally served as the opening round of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge. The rally returned to the WRC calendar in 2012 and has been held annually since. Due to Monaco's limited size, all but the ending of the rally is held on French territory.

Football

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Stade Louis II, home of AS Monaco FC

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. Many international stars have played for the club, such as French World Cup-winners Thierry Henry, Fabien Barthez, David Trezeguet, and Kylian Mbappe. 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 currently 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. Current French women's international goalkeeper Sarah Bouhaddi had a short stint at the club before going to the INF Clairefontaine academy.

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 three sovereign states in Europe (along with the United Kingdom and 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.

Rugby

Monaco's national rugby team, as of October 2013, is 91st in the International Rugby Board rankings.

Other sports

2011 Monaco Porsche Supercup
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. 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 also competed in the Olympic Games, although, no athlete from Monaco has ever won an Olympic medal.

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.

Monaco also stage part of the Global Champions Tour (International Show-jumping). Acknowledged as the most glamorous of the series, Monaco will be hosting the world's most celebrated riders, including Monaco's own Charlotte Casiraghi, in a setting facing out over the world's most beautiful yachts, and framed by the Port Hercules and Prince's palace. In 2009, the Monaco stage of the Global Champions tour took place between 25–27 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, the world governing body of athletics, is located in Monaco. An IAAF Diamond League meet is annually held at Stade Louis II.

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. The pool is converted into an ice rink from December to March.

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

Hafen und Felsen von Monaco-La Turbie
Panoramic view of the Monaco City and of the port of Fontvieille

Culture

Music

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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.

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

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Oceanographic Museum, Monaco
  • Monaco Top Cars Collection
  • Napoleon Museum (Monaco)
  • Oceanographic Museum

Events, festivals and shows

The Principality of Monaco hosts major international events such as :

  • International Circus Festival of Monte-Carlo
  • Mondial du Théâtre
  • Monte-Carlo Television Festival

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