Intro and Geography
The Principality of Monaco is the second-smallest independent state in the world, after the Holy See (Vatican City). It is located on the Mediterranean coast, 18 kilometers (11 mi.) east of Nice, France, and is surrounded on three sides by France (Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur Région of France). It consists of a narrow strip along the coast at the bottom of the foothills of the Alps and its highest point is “Le Rocher” at 141 meters (459 ft). There are no rivers in Monaco. Monaco is a narrow coastal strip. Its physical geography includes a long beach and steep cliffs that rise vertically upwards to heights of 63 meters (206 ft) above sea level. Land boundaries run for 4.4km. Coastline is 4.1km long. The map of The Principality of Monaco is shown below.
Monaco is divided into four sections: Monaco-Ville, the old city on a rocky promontory extending into the Mediterranean; La Condamine, the section along the port; Monte-Carlo, the principal residential and resort area; and Fontvieille, a newly constructed area reclaimed from the sea.
The principality is noted for its natural scenery and mild, sunny climate. The average minimum temperature in January and February is 8 °C (47 °F); in July and August the average maximum temperature is 26 °C (78 °F).
Area: 1.95 km2. (0.8 mi2); (about the size of New York City’s Central Park)
Population: 32,409 (July 2005) (Monaco is the world’s most densely populated country).
Ethnic make-up: around 7,000 (16%) of the total population are Monegasques, 11,000 (47%) French, 7,000 (16%) Italian, 8,000 (21%) other.
Terrain: Hilly, rugged, rocky.
Climate: Mediterranean (with mild, wet winters and warm, dry summers).
Official languages: French and Monegasque.
Languages spoken Italian and English are widely spoken and understood. The traditional Monegasque language is spoken by the older generation of Monegasques and is taught in schools. Ligurian and Occitan are also spoken.
Capital: Monaco doesn’t have an official capital. Monaco-Ville is the city where the government offices are placed (estimated population 1,400 in 2003). Also, Monaco-Ville is main financial centre. Geographic coordinates: 43°44?N, 7°24?E.
Other main cities: Monte Carlo – most populated (population 15,400), La Condamine (population 14,600).
Monaco also boasts more millionaires per capita than any other country, and is the world’s smallest French-speaking sovereignty.
Economy Monaco enjoys a small, open and diversified economy based on tourism, the convention business, banking and insurance, but with a significant industrial sector. Monaco has a customs union with France. State income is derived from estate taxes (55 per cent from VAT), excise, postage stamps, transfer, and public monopolies. 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 (gambling revenue accounts for 4.35 per cent of total income), although it contributes greatly to the economy by attracting tourists. Monegasques are not admitted to the gambling tables. 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 doesn’t have any natural resources.
The standard of living is high, with per capita income of US$ 22,500. Although Monaco is not a member of the EU, France’s membership gives it access to the European marketplace. In 2002, along with France, Monaco adopted the euro as its official currency. Exchange rates: euros per US dollar – 0.751484 (March 16, 2007), 0.8054 (2004), 0.886 (2003), 1.0626 (2002), 1.1175 (2001), 1.0854 (2000). The late Prince Rainier endeavored to broaden the base of the local economy, notably with the Fontvieille development of 22ha of reclaimed land to the west of the old town, which is now a centre for light industry and low-cost housing. Monaco’s total area has been increased by one-tenth by this project. The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) named Monaco as one of five countries as uncooperative tax havens, the others being Andorra, Liberia, Liechtenstein and the Marshall Islands. Monaco is diversifying into the knowledge-based industry, aiming to become a European leader in multimedia, the Internet and telecommunications. External trade Monaco imports and exports products and services from all over the world and is heavily dependent upon imports from France. EU rules of free circulation of goods apply.
There is full customs integration with France, which collects and rebates Monegasque trade duties. Monaco also participates in EU market system through customs union with France Farming. There is no commercial agriculture in Monaco. Around 200 firms employing 4,000 people typically account for about 33 per cent of GDP. Main products are cosmetics, healthcare, pharmaceuticals, precision instruments, glass, plastics, electrical goods, electronics, textiles and food processing. Also important are construction and public works.
Tourism contributes around 25 per cent of GDP. Monaco attracts around 260,000 tourists annually. Most visitors are day trippers. The casino and the annual Grand Prix motor race are major attractions. The oceanographic museum, formerly directed by Jacques Cousteau, is one of the most renowned institutions of its kind in the world. Monaco is expanding its conference and exhibition activities to enhance its appeal to the business travel market.
Total expenditure on health was 7.6 per cent of GDP in 2001, of which government spending was 56.1 per cent. By 2002, 99 per cent of infants aged less than one year had been immunized against measles. Infant mortality rate: 4.0 per 1,000 live births (World Bank)
Banking and insurance
There are nearly 50 banks and around 20 other financial institutions catering to 130,000 clients worth US$ 78 billion. In addition to commercial and retail services, Monaco has in recent decades increasingly provided private banking and wealth management services. Monaco’s banking system operates under French banking law and is subject to regulation by the Banque de France. Monaco’s reputation as a tax haven with a secretive banking system has made enemies in other jurisdictions, which accuse Monaco of abetting money-laundering and tax evasion. Monaco has been resistant to pressure to be more rigorous and transparent in its dealings, but does take action against money-laundering under existing legislation. In addition, mutual assistance agreements to exchange information on money-laundering have been concluded since 2001 with several countries, including France, Spain, Belgium, and Switzerland. Monaco was obliged to accede to the EU Savings Tax Directive, which took effect in July 2005. Under the withholding tax option, Monaco’s banks and financial institutions will automatically deduct tax, initially 15 percent rising to 35 percent by 2011, from income earned on interest and other savings of EU citizens and transfer it to the national tax departments. Monaco will be able to retain its banking secrecy by being allowed to withhold information on non-residents’ savings. Monaco has also agreed to supply information on tax fraud, for criminal or civil trials, and notify EU member states about additional malpractices. Monaco does not have a central bank, but monetary links to France have included acceptance of French currency and subsequently the euro as legal tender, while financial institutions located in Monaco have access to the Banque de France on the similar terms to French banks.
People and Daily Life
Due to the warm and mild climate no warm clothes are required during winter, but a raincoat and umbrellas are necessary. A dress style in Monaco is similar to continental Europe.
While the main industry of Monaco is tourism the cities are built up with hotels, predominantly of four-star and luxury rate. The urban natives live in villas, mansions, dingle-family houses or multistorey houses. The local economy grows due to the works carried out on such projects as the construction of a new jetty beside the present harbor and the creation of Fontvieille II, which will provide an inexpensive housing for Monaco citizens. Living on yachts is quite common thing in Monaco. There are no villages or country-sides.
Religions and races
Roman Catholicism is the official religion (over the 90%), with freedom of other religions guaranteed by the constitution. Other religions practiced are Anglicanism, Baha’i, Judaism, and Protestantism. Unfortunately, it there is no official data about the race composition of the Monaco’s habitants, but it can be assumed, that the majority is Caucasian.
Fixed dates are 1 Jan (New Year’s Day), 26– 27 Jan (Feast of St Devote), 1 May (Labor Day), 15 Aug (Assumption Day), 1 Nov (All Saints’ Day), 19 Nov (National Day/Fête du Prince), 8 Dec (Immaculate Conception), 25 Dec (Christmas Day).
Variable dates are Easter Monday, Ascension Day, White Monday, Corpus Christ (May/Jun).
The most popular holiday for all Christians, and Monaco people are not exception, is Christmas. Every nation has own national customs and traditions for this holiday. In Monaco, Christmas Eve is the occasion when all the members of a family would gather at their parent’s homes to perform, as a preliminary act to the evening meal, the rite of the olive branch. Before sitting down, the youngest of the guests, or the oldest, soaked an olive branch in a glass of old wine. He approached the fireplace where a great fire of pine and laurel branches burned and with his little branch traced the sign of the Cross while pronouncing a few words on the virtues of the olive tree, a source of all kinds of good things. After this, everybody in turn would wet his lips in the glass of wine serving as an aperitif. Dinner would traditionally consist of an enormous “brandamincium”, a Monegasque dish of salt cod pounded with garlic, oil and cream, surrounded by “cardun” cardoon in white sauce; “barba-giuan”, literally “Uncle John”, stuffed fritters and “fougasses”, flat crunchy biscuits sprinkled with sugared aniseed colored red and white, flavored with several drops of rum and orange-flower water. On the table covered with a splendid cloth lay a round loaf of bread “u pan de Natale” (the Christmas loaf) on which four walnuts formed a Cross surrounded by several olive twigs. During Christmas time today in Monaco, one can still find “barba-giuan”, “fougasses” and “u pan de Natale” at some of the bakeries in the Principality. In addition, many Monegasques enjoy Midnight Mass at the Cathedral. (http://travelvideo.tv)
Despite its small size Monaco has numerous places that attract the most exquisite tourists. One of the places worthy visiting in Monaco is Jardin Exotique or Tropical Garden. It is located on a slope above Fontvieille. There one can see a magnificent unique collection of tropical and sub-tropical steppe and desert plants. What attracts the most of travelers is the variety of cacti and other succulent plants originating from different sides of the world including Mexico, Southwest US, Central and Southern America and from Southern and Eastern Africa. The vast and variable collection of plants ensures the year round blooming of the garden. The garden gives a spectacular view of the Monaco and of the Italian and French Riviera. The visit to the Tropical Garden also includes the visit to the Observatory’s Grotto which is by the way included into the entrance fee. The grotto is also a kind of garden but this time not of plants and flowers, it is a garden multitude of formations such as stalagmites, stalactites, columns which can reach to 48 – 90 meters in depth. Thanks to the mild climate of Monaco one can feel perfectly comfortable at any time of year. It is very rare that temperature in winter is below zero. There are also no warnings against particular places in Monaco, as this country is distinguished for its low rates of crime.
If I were asked what event is the most exciting in Monaco I would name, of course, Formula One race, The Monaco Grand Prix. Run since 1929, it is widely considered to be one of the most important and prestigious automobile races in the world. Its history, the spectacle of the event, and the glamour associated with it result in the race being considered “the jewel of the Formula One crown”. The race is held on a narrow course laid out in the streets of Monaco, whose many elevation changes and tight corners make it one of the most demanding tracks in Formula One. Here I want present the following words about The Monaco Grand Prix:
“great motor race is the sum of all its parts. That includes the location, the atmosphere, the glamour, the history, the peoples. Monaco is arguably the most glamorous place in the world. Beautiful people roam the streets, which themselves twist and turn, climb and fall, on the semi-mountainous territory. Almost everywhere you look a dramatic vista awaits, none more than the harbor itself, with the Royal Palace as backdrop. This, after all, was the home of the late Princess Grace and still is home to Prince Rainier, who hands out the trophies.
The Casino, the Sporting Club with its famed disco, dozens of friendly bistros and fine restaurants, beckon the visitor. If you buy a seat on the circuit’s fastest section, you’ll be facing the sterns of magnificent yachts whose international owners have purchased the right, at great expense, to back onto the race course. Just prior to that, following the left turn at Casino Square and a downhill plunge past the Hotel Mirabeau, the cars race through a curving tunnel at over 140 mph, going from bright sun to deep shadow and out into the sun again, reaching 174 mph before the tight right-hander around the swimming pool.” (http://cars.about.com)
After these words it is very difficult to resist the temptation to visit the Monaco Grand Prix.
Monaco. (2007). In Britannica Book of the Year, 1995. Retrieved March 19, 2007, from Encyclopædia Britannica Online: http://www.britannica.com/eb/article-9111769
Monaco. (2004) The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition. New York: Columbia University Press.
Monaco (2007) Retrieved March 19, 2007, from Geography About http://geography.about.com/library/cia/blcmonaco.htm
“The Principality of Monaco Gets Into The Holiday Spirit With Special Hotel Deals” (2007) Retrieved March 19, 2007, from Travel Video.TV http://travelvideo.tv/news/more.php?id=345_0_1_0_M51
“The World’s Greatest Motor Race” (2007) Retrieved March 19, 2007, from Cars About (http://cars.about.com/od/alternativetransport/a/monaco_gp.htm)