Situated on a narrow coastal strip, nestling between the sea and the mountains, the Principality of Monaco is an independent sovereign state, officially recognized such by the Franco-Monegasque Treaty of 1861. Monaco, both the name of the country and the city, is famous as a tax haven, and wealthy foreigners make up the majority of the population.

Monaco is the second smallest country (by size) in the world, just one square mile; Vatican City is the smallest. Monaco also has the world's second smallest monarchy, and yet one of the most densely populated countries in the world. It is comprised of four traditional quarters, or districts: Monaco-Ville, Monte Carlo, La Condamine, and Fontvieille.

Monaco-Ville ~ The old city on a rocky promontory extending into the
Mediterranean, known as the Rock of Monaco, or simply Le Rocher (the Rock);
where the palace is located.

Monte Carlo ~ the principal residential and resort area,
including the famous Monte Carlo Casino

La Condamine ~ the second oldest quarter in Monaco, includes Port Hercule

Fontvieille ~ an area reclaimed from the sea; newly constructed in the 1970s,
it is the newest of the traditional quarters.

The Monaco Grand Prix Formula One race course

Since 1929, the Monaco Grand Prix has been held annually in the streets of Monaco.
It is widely considered to be one of the most prestigious automobile races in the world. The circuit is incredibly narrow and tight, with many elevation changes and tight corners,
along with a tunnel, making it perhaps the most demanding Formula One track.

The Grimaldi Dynasty

The Prince's Palace ~ located on "The Rock" in Monaco-Ville

Although the Principality's history dates back to ancient times, it has been particularly well known since the 13th-century, when the Grimaldi family seized the fortress of Monaco in 1297. Some 700 years later, the Grimaldis continue to reign over “the Rock.”

Prince Rainier III and Princess Grace (1956)

In April 1956, American actress Grace Kelly married Rainier III, Prince of Monaco. Following the death of Prince Rainer III, in April 2005, his son Prince Albert II became the new monarch. Prince Albert II will wed former South African swimmer Charlene Wittstock during a civil marriage ceremony on July 2nd, 2011, followed by the religious ceremony on July 3rd.

The changing of the sentinels at the Prince's Palace in Old Monaco

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