What’s the first thing that comes to your mind at that instance the name Monaco is mentioned? Some will immediately think of some rich and obscure European country. To others, it is one of Europe’s top entertainment destination. Meanwhile, racing enthusiasts and sports fanatics will no doubt associate the word to Formula One, owing to the fact that the country hosts the Monaco Grand Prix, one of the most important racing events in the world.
These are all but hints of what the country is about. Knowing these alone creates no more than stereotypes instead of the actual picture of this splendid city state. Below are some facts to help you brush off your own stereotypical depiction and see the country for what it truly is.
- Where is Monaco?
For those who have a hard time finding Monaco in the map, the city state is actually located somewhere south of France and is very close to Italy, divided only by a 16 km French corridor. The region the country is in is called the French Riviera or Cote d’Azur, which includes the Mediterranean coasts of France’s south-eastern corner.
- Monaco is the second smallest country in the world.
Monaco’s land area is approximately 2.05 km2, which is less than a square mile. This makes the city state around the same size as New York’s Central Park, a few times larger than the Vatican City, and a lot smaller than every other country. This rather small and limited land area is shared by 35,986 residents, awarding the Principality the title of being most densely populated country, apart from being the second smallest.
- Monaco is ruled by the House of Grimaldi and is only independent in 1861.
Traditionally, the Principality of Monaco was ruled by princes of the Grimaldi lineage. The dynasty was established by Francois Grimaldi in 1297 after his cunning takeover of the fortress on the Rock of Monaco, continuing to the present with only a few brief interruptions. Despite this, the Principality was ruled in succession by Genoa, France and Sardinia, and only became truly independent in 1861.
- Traditionally, Monacans are neither French nor Italian.
The citizens of Monaco are known as Monegasques. The native ones are descendants of settlers from Rhaetia, a region that once existed in Central Europe. Ironically, actual Monegasques comprise only a little over 20% of Monaco’s total number of residents. The rest are foreigners from France, Italy, UK and other countries.
- Best of all, Monaco has no income tax.
The Monacan government does not gather income tax from its citizens. This made Monaco a popular tax haven for the wealthy, who will be obliged to pay at least five-digit figures as state contribution elsewhere. Despite the lack of taxes, Monaco offers top-notch standards of living to all its residents. This is exemplified by its large yet effective police force, as well as some amenities that come for free.
These are all but a short summary of Monaco as a whole. Still, the best way to see the big picture of the Principality is to wander into it, then enjoy a nice, one-of-a-kind visit.