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MONTECARLO, MONACO

I traveled to Monaco with the college when I was sixteen.

Monaco is on the northern coast of the Mediterranean Sea and is completely enclosed by France. Monaco is often regarded as a tax haven, and many of its inhabitants are wealthy and from foreign countries (including France), although they are not a majority.

Monaco is a Constitutional Monarchy and Principality with Prince Albert II as head of state. The Grimaldi family has ruled over Monaco since 1292 and the state's sovereignty was officially recognised by the Franco-Monegasque Treaty of 1861. Despite being independent, Monaco’s defence is still the responsibility of France.

Monaco is the world’s second most densely populated country, surpassed only by the Macau Special Administrative Region in southeast China. Monaco is also the smallest French-speaking country.

Monaco's name comes from the nearby Phocaean Greek colony, in the 6th century, which referred to the Ligurians as Monoikos, , which bears the sense of a people either settled in a "single habitation" or of "living apart" from others. Another Greek word etymologically related to the name of this principality is μόνaκος which means "alone" from which the word monastery and monasticism are derived. 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 1228 as a colony of Genoa. Monaco has been ruled by the House of Grimaldi since 1297, when Francesco Grimaldi ("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 he was dressed as a Franciscan monk - a Monaco in Italian, although this is a coincidence as the area was already known by this name.

In 1793, French Revolutionary forces captured Monaco, and it remained under French control until 1814. 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, Sardinia ceded to France the surrounding county of Nice (as well as Savoy). During this time there was unrest in the towns of Menton and Roquebrune, which declared independence, hoping for annexation by Sardinia. The unrest continued until the ruling prince gave up his claim to the two towns (some 95% of the country), and they were ceded to France in return for four million francs. This transfer and Monaco's sovereignty was recognised by the Franco-Monegasque Treaty of 1861.

Until the adoption of the 1911 constitution, the princes of Monaco were absolute rulers. In July 1918, a treaty was signed providing for limited French protection over Monaco. The treaty, part of the Treaty of Versailles, established that Monegasque international policy would be aligned with French political, military, and economic interests.

In 1943, the Italian army invaded and occupied Monaco, setting up a Fascist administration. Shortly thereafter, following Mussolini's collapse in Italy, the Nazi German Wehrmacht occupied Monaco and began the deportation of the Jewish population. The prominent French Jew René Blum (Paris, 13 March 1878 – Auschwitz, 30 April 1943), 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, France whence he was then shipped to the Auschwitz concentration camp, where he was killed.

Rainier III who ruled until 2005, acceded to the throne following the death of his grandfather, Prince Louis II, in 1949. On April 19, 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 new constitution in 1962, 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 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. Albert II is the son of the late Princess Grace, known prior to her marriage to Prince Rainer III in 1956 as Grace Kelly.


March 1998

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