The Principality of Monaco is the second tiniest state in the world, only 2.02 km² with a population estimated at about 33,000. Monaco is situated in South Western Europe, surrounded on three sides by France with a coastal outlet onto the North Central Mediterranean Sea. The city center is only 16 km away from the Italian border to the northeast.
Prince Albert II is the head of state, which is a constitutional monarchy and principality. Monaco has been ruled by the royal family, the House of Grimaldi, continuously since 1297, but the state’s sovereignty was only recognized officially by the Franco-Monegasque Treaty of 1861. Although an independent state Monaco’s defense is the responsibility of France.
For the most part the main source of income for Monaco is tourism. The city is known for its pleasant climate, beautiful beaches and elegant casino. Interestingly the citizens of Monaco themselves are not allowed to patronize the world renown casino; it is strictly a tourist destination. About 10 years ago, in 2001 Monaco extended the pier used by cruise ships in the main harbor, and the country has successfully been diversifying into other areas of commerce, included services as well as high-value-added, clean industries like biothermics and cosmetics.
Monaco does not have a central bank or its own currency. Before the euro was introduced Monaco’s legal tender was issued by France. Coins issued by Monaco at that time were legal tender only within its borders. Today the euro is the currency of Monaco.
Governor of the European Central Bank (ECB): Jean-Claude Trichet