This principality on the northern shores of the Mediterranean Sea between Italy and France is the second smallest sovereign “state” after Vatican City, measuring two km2 with a population of 37 000 and density of 18 500 per km2 which represents the highest population density in the world.
The Grimaldi family founded it in 1297, when the first Grimaldi disguised as a monk, stormed the Italian fort and overcame all sentinels. The principality has been ruled by the family ever since. Monaco has now an agreement with France for military protection.
Monaco is a tax-free jurisdiction, except for businesses and hidden consumption taxes.
Because of the tax-free and very low business tax regimen, status many international businesses maintain head offices in Monaco.
The climate is mild with warm winters and the principality offers many luxury hotels for gamblers. The Casino, managed by a French company, is very formal, and only tourists have access to it. The casino generates approximately five per cent of the total GDP of Monaco which is in excess of $ 150 000 per capita (2012 figures).
Real estate is very expensive ($ 58 000 per metre2) and most, if not all, are high-rise to compensate for the limited land available. Unsuccessful efforts were made to add land by filling the sea, to gain additional territory.
Monaco has no airport. The nearest international airport is in Nice, France approximately 40 Kms. from Monaco. Despite this millions of people visit Monaco for recreation, meetings, and conventions.
You can travel by train, or helicopter, boat, bus or drive. Driving into Monaco is an absolute revelation of concrete towers that greet you everywhere.
The dominant religion is Roman Catholic, with a sprinkling of Anglicans, and Jews.
Once in Monaco, you are best advised to explore the city on foot, and visit the Palace Princier, Monaco Ville (old town), La Condamine for high-end merchandise and luxury goods shopping, Jardine Exotique, The Monaco Opera House, Marlborough Fine Art gallery, The Prince’s Car Collection, and The Grand Casino. French, and Monegasque are the official languages although most people speak English.
Monaco is the playground of the rich and famous with a marina for their luxury yachts.
Understandably accommodation is very expensive, but you can book a hotel room in Ventimiglia (Italy) or just next to Monaco itself, for a fraction of the cost in Monaco itself, and then commute. The trip from Italy or France will cosy a few Euros and take no more than 30 minutes.
Needless to say all food has to be imported either from France or Italy and tends to be expensive. You can eat inexpensively by choosing small eateries, and sandwich shops, but if you wish to dine in class there is no shortage of very fine restaurants.
Monaco is well worth a visit. You can visit Nice in France, and other nearby town, and Ventimiglia on the Ligurian coast in Italy.