23 September 2009
Monaco, officially the Principality of Monaco (French: Principauté de Monaco; Monégasque: Principatu de Múnegu; Italian: Principato di Monaco; Occitan: Principat de Mónegue), is a small sovereign city-state located in South Western Europe on the northern central coast of the Mediterranean Sea, having a land border on three sides only with France, and being about 16 km (9.9 mi) away from Italy. Its size is just under 2 km² with an estimated population of almost 33,000. Monaco is the world's most densely populated sovereign country, and the world's smallest French-speaking country. An average person takes only 56 minutes to walk across the width of the country. Monaco is the name of the country as well as the name of its only and capital city. It is often regarded as a tax haven, and many of its inhabitants are wealthy and from foreign countries, making up a majority of the population, at around 84%. Monaco is a constitutional monarchy and principality, with Prince Albert II as head of state. The House of Grimaldi has ruled Monaco since 1297, and the state's sovereignty was officially recognized by the Franco-Monegasque Treaty of 1861. Despite being independent, Monaco's defense is the responsibility of France.