Geography of Monaco

Learn About the World's Second Smallest Country

Monaco Flag
The Monaco flag has two equal horizontal bands of red (top) and white; similar to the flag of Indonesia which is longer and the flag of Poland which is white (top) and red. Source: CIA World Factbook, 2007

Population: 32,965 (July 2009 estimate)
Capital: Monaco
Area: 0.77 square miles (2 sq km)
Bordering Country: France
Coastline: 2.55 miles (4.1 km)
Highest Point: Mont Agel at 460 feet (140 m)
Lowest Point: Mediterranean Sea

Monaco is a small European country located between southeastern France and the Mediterranean Sea. It is considered the second smallest country in the world (after Vatican City) by area. Monaco has only one official city which is its capital and is famous as being a resort area for some of the world's richest people. Monte Carlo, an administrative area of Monaco, is the country's most famous area due to its location on the French Riviera, its casino, the Monte Carlo Casino, and several beach and resort communities.

History of Monaco

Monaco was first founded in 1215 as a Genoan colony. It then came under the control of the House of Grimaldi in 1297 and remained independent until 1789. In that year, Monaco was annexed by France and was under French control until 1814. In 1815, Monaco became a protectorate of Sardinia under the Treaty of Vienna.

It remained a protectorate until 1861 when the Franco-Monegasque Treaty established its independence but it remained under the guardianship of France.

Monaco's first constitution was put into effect in 1911 and in 1918 it signed a treaty with France which stated that its government would support French military, political and economic interests and that if the Grimaldi dynasty (which still controlled Monaco at the time) were to die out, the country would remain independent but be under French protection.

Throughout the mid 1900s, Monaco was controlled by Prince Rainier III (who took over the throne on May 9, 1949). Prince Rainier is most famous for his marriage to American actress Grace Kelly in 1956 who was killed in a car accident near Monte Carlo in 1982.

In 1962, Monaco established a new constitution and in 1993 it became a member of the United Nations. It then joined the Council of Europe in 2003. In April 2005, Prince Rainier III died. He was the longest serving monarch in Europe at the time.

In July of the same year his son, Prince Albert II ascended the throne.

Government of Monaco

Monaco is considered a constitutional monarchy and its official name is the Principality of Monaco. It has an executive branch of government with a chief of state (Prince Albert II) and a head of government. It also has a legislative branch with a unicameral National Council and a judicial branch with a Supreme Court.

Monaco is also divided into four quarters for local administration. The first of these is Monaco-Ville which is the old city of Monaco and sits on a headland in the Mediterranean. The other quarters are La Condamine on the country's port, Fontvieille, which is a newly build area, and Monte Carlo which is Monaco's largest residential and resort area.

Economics and Land Use in Monaco

A large part of Monaco's economy is focused on tourism as it is a popular European resort area. In addition, Monaco is also a large banking center, has no income tax and has low taxes for its businesses. Industries other than tourism in Monaco include construction and industrial and consumer products on a small scale.

There is no large scale commercial agriculture in the country.

Geography and Climate of Monaco

Monaco is the world's second smallest country by area and is surrounded on three sides by France and on one by the Mediterranean Sea. It is located only 11 miles (18 km) from Nice, France and is close to Italy as well. Most of Monaco's topography is rugged and hilly and its coastal portions are rocky.

Monaco's climate is considered Mediterranean with hot, dry summers and mild, wet winters. The average low temperature in January 47°F (8°C) and the average high temperature in July is 78°F (26°C).

More Facts about Monaco

• Monaco is one of the most densely populated countries in the world
• Locals from Monaco are called Monégasques
• Monégasques are not allowed to enter Monte Carlo's famous Monte Carlo Casino and visitors must show their foreign passports upon entry
• The French make up the largest part of Monaco's population


Central Intelligence Agency. (2010, March 18). CIA - The World Factbook - Monaco.

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Infoplease. (n.d.). Monaco: History, Geography, Government, and Culture - Retrieved from:

United States Department of State. (2010, March). Monaco (03/10). Retrieved from: