Monaco is a tiny, hilly wedge driven into the French Mediterranean coast; it is 9 mi east of Nice, France.
The Phoenicians, and after them the Greeks, had a temple on the Monacan headland honoring Hercules. The principality took its name from Monoikos, the Greek surname for this mythological hero. After being independent for 800 years, Monaco was annexed to France in 1793 and placed under Sardinia's protection in 1815. By the Franco-Monegasque treaty of 1861, Monaco went under French guardianship but continued to be independent. A treaty made with France in 1918 contained a clause providing that, in the event that the male Grimaldi dynasty should die out, Monaco would become an autonomous state under French protection.
Monaco has a tourist business that attracts as many as 1.5 million visitors a year and is famous for its beaches and casinos, especially world-famous Monte Carlo. It had gaming tables as early as 1856.
Prince Rainier Marries Grace Kelly
Prince Rainier III, born on May 31, 1923, succeeded his grandfather, Louis II, on the latter's death, on May 9, 1949. Rainier was married, in 1956, to American actress Grace Kelly and they subsequently had three children. Their son, Prince Albert Louis Pierre (b. 1958) was heir to the throne. Immensely popular, Princess Grace died on Sept. 14, 1982, of injuries sustained in a car accident near Monte Carlo. She was 52.
Tax Disputes and United Nations Accession
Monaco's practice of providing a tax shelter for French businessmen resulted in a 1962 dispute between the countries. A compromise was reached by which French citizens with less than five years' residence in Monaco were taxed at French rates, and taxes were imposed on Monegasque companies doing more than 25% of their business outside the principality. The country was admitted to the UN in May 1993, making it the smallest country represented.
Monaco celebrated the 700th anniversary of the Grimaldi reign in 1997. In 2002, the constitution was revised to ensure that the Grimaldis retain the throne even if Crown Prince Albert has no heir. On April 6, 2005, Prince Rainier, Europe's longest-reigning monarch, died, and Prince Albert II succeeded him.
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