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Monaco is a sovereign state with its own red and white flag and squeezes into 1.95 sq km, making it the world’s second smallest country. It lies between the Alps and the Mediterranean Sea with the Italian Riviera to the East and the French Riviera to the West. Monaco is divided into four areas: Monaco-Ville (the old city), Monte-Carlo (business and recreation), Fontvieille (recreation and light industry) and the Condamine (port quarter). This country is essentially one town which is a resort for tourists and a tax haven for businesses and with its wonderful location and climate remains the world’s most densely populated independent country.
Monaco is not part of the EU however due to its close ties with France it participates in the EU customs territory and there are no border formalities crossing to and from France. Officially, Monaco is a constitutional monarchy and principality, with Prince Albert II as head of state. The House of Grimaldi has ruled Monaco since 1297, although the state’s sovereignty was officially recognised in the Franco-Monegasque Treaty which was signed in 1861. Despite being independent, Monaco’s defence is the responsibility of France.
Monaco is famous for its glamorous Monte Carlo casino, Formula One cars roaring through the streets during Grand Prix, and the glamorous lives of its royal family, the Grimaldis.