Although the first traces of life in Monaco date back to around 300,000 years before Christ, the modern history of Principality has been marked by the famous Grimaldi family, which has ruled the Monaco since the 18th century. Monaco regained its independence in 1814, before signing a treaty with France more than a century later in 1918, under which the Monegasque sovereignty was finally recognised as independent. However, in the event the current dynasty should end, the territory would become part of the French State. What’s more, the red and white flag of the city-state dates back to 15th century, making it one of the oldest flags in the world.
A constitutional monarchy since 1911, Monaco has an executive branch currently headed by the Sovereign Prince Albert II, a descendant of the Grimaldi family and son of Prince Rainier III. Appointed by the Prince is the Minister of State, presently Serge Telle, who presides over a six-member Council of Government. According to the 1962 Constitution, the Prince shares legislative power with the National Council. Local affairs, for their part, are the responsibility of the Communal Council. The Principality of Monaco is also a member of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Francophone and the International Organisation of the Francophone.
The Principality of Monaco has 37,308 inhabitants, making it the most densely populated state in the world with 19,009 inhabitants per km2. Another interesting fact is that Monegasques are a minority in their own State. With a population of 9,326 inhabitants, they only account for about a quarter of the population. The other largest community is the French, again with a quarter of the population, with Italians (21.9 per cent) and British (7.5 per cent) coming up close behind. The rest of the population is divided among nearly 140 nationalities. Also, French is the official language of Monaco. All official documents of political and judicial institutions are published in that language.
The Principality is situated on the French Riviera, halfway between the city of Nice and Italy. The second smallest independent state after the Vatican, Monaco’s territory covers an overall area of just 2.02 km2. In recent years, large-scale works have enabled the Monegasque territory to extend itself further. Monaco is made up of several districts, including the mythical Monte Carlo, Fontvieille and La Condamine. Additionally, the altitude of the Principality does not exceed 70 metres, with the Palace Square sitting at 62 metres—although the slopes of Mount Angel rise to 164 metres above sea level.
Most of Monaco’s income is derived from services, Monegasque VAT and trade, as well as real estate and tourism. Since 1 January 1999, the euro has been the official currency of the Principality, succeeding the Monegasque franc. Monaco is one of the five landlocked, non-European Union micro-States authorised to use the euro. In 2018, Monaco’s GDP crossed the 6 billion euros mark for the first time to reach 6.09 billion, compared with 5.69 billion euros in 2017.