Founded in 1215 as a colony of Genoa, Monaco has been ruled by the House of Grimaldi since 1297, except when under French control from 1789 to 1814. Designated as a protectorate of Sardinia from 1815 until 1860 by the Treaty of Vienna, Monaco's sovereignty was recognized by the Franco-Monegasque Treaty of 1861. The Prince of Monaco was an absolute ruler until a constitution was promulgated in 1911.
In July 1918, a treaty was signed providing for limited French protection over Monaco. The treaty, written into the Treaty of Versailles, established that Monegasque policy would be aligned with French political, military, and economic interests.
Prince Rainier III, the current ruler of Monaco, acceded to the throne following the death of his grandfather, Prince Louis II, in 1949. The current heir apparent, Prince Albert, was born in 1958.
A new constitution, proclaimed in 1962, abolished capital punishment, provided for female suffrage, and established a Supreme Court to guarantee fundamental liberties.
In 1993, Monaco became an official member of the United Nations with full voting rights.
Monaco has been governed as a constitutional monarchy since 1911, with the Prince as chief of state. The executive branch consists of a Minister of State (head of government), who presides over a four-member Council of Government (cabinet). The Minister of State, who is a French citizen appointed by the Prince for a 3-year term from among several senior French civil servants proposed by the French Government, is responsible for foreign relations. As the Prince's representative, the Minister of State also directs the executive services, commands the police, and presides (with voting powers) over the Council of Government. The three other members of the Council are responsible for financial and economic affairs, internal affairs, and public works and social affairs, respectively.
Under the 1962 constitution, the Prince shares his power with the unicameral National Council. The 18 members of this legislative body are elected from lists by universal suffrage for 5-year terms. If the Prince dissolves the National Council, new elections must be held within 3 months. Usually meeting twice annually, the Council votes on the budget and endorses laws proposed by the Prince.
Ordinances passed by the National Council are debated in the Council of Government, as are the ministerial decrees signed by the Minister of State. Once approved, the ordinances must be submitted to the Prince within 80 days for his signature, which makes them legally enforceable. If he does not express opposition within 10 days of submission, they become valid.
Legal power is invested in the Prince, who delegates legal procedures to the various courts, which dispense justice in his name. The independence of the judges is guaranteed by the constitution. The Supreme Court is composed of five chief members and two assistant judges named by the Prince on the basis of nominations by the National Council and other government bodies. The Supreme Court is the highest court for judicial appeals and also interprets the constitution when necessary. Monaco's legal system, closely related to that of France, is patterned after the Napoleonic Code.
The principality's local affairs (i.e., the administration of the four quarters of Monaco-Ville, La Condamine, Monte Carlo, and Fontvieille) are directed by the Communal Council, which consists of 15 elected members and is presided over by the Mayor.
Chief of State -- Prince Rainier III
Minister of State -- Michel Leveque
Council of Government
Interior -- Jean Aribaud
Finance and Economic Affairs -- Henri Fissore
Public Works and Social Affairs -- Michel Sosso
National Council President -- Jean-Louis Campora
President of Supreme Court -- Rene-Jean Dupuy
Director of Judicial Services -- Noel Musieux
Monaco, located on the Mediterranean coast, has an economy primarily geared toward finance, commerce, and tourism. Low taxes have drawn many foreign companies to Monaco and account for around 50% of the $586 million annual government income (1997). Similarly, tourism accounts for close to 25% of the annual revenue, as the Principality of Monaco also has been a major center for tourism ever since its famed casino was established in 1856.
Customs, postal services, telecommunications, and banking in Monaco are governed by an economic and customs union with France. Although Monegasque coins are minted and circulated, the official currency is the euro (as of January 1999).
Though official economic statistics are not published, 1994 estimates place the national product at $788 million and the per capita income at $25,000. The unemployment rate is low, at 3.1% (1994).
Monaco is noted for its activity in the field of marine sciences. Its Oceanographic Museum, formerly directed by Jacques Cousteau, is one of the most renowned institutions of its kind in the world. Monaco imports and exports products and services from all over the world. There is no commercial agriculture in Monaco.
Monaco actively participates in the United Nations, which it joined in 1993. Monaco also is a member of many international and intergovernmental organizations, including Interpol, UNESCO, and WHO. The International Hydrographic Bureau (IHB)is headquartered in Monaco.
The Principality of Monaco is a sovereign and independent state, linked closely to France by the Treaty of 1918, the text of which has international recognition because it is confirmed by Article 436 of the Treaty of Versailles of 1919, which instituted a contractual, bilateral, and reciprocal regime between the two states. The foreign policy of Monaco is one illustration of this accord: France has agreed to defend the independence and sovereignty of Monaco, while the Monegasque Government has agreed to exercise its sovereign rights in conformity with French interests. Since then, the relations between the sovereign states of France and Monaco have been further defined in the Treaty of 1945 and the Agreement of 1963.
Although not a member of the European Union (EU), Monaco is closely associated with the economic apparatus of the EU through its customs union with France and its reliance upon the French franc (euro as of January 1999) as its official currency.
Monaco has 10 diplomatic missions in Western Europe and a permanent representation at the United Nations. It maintains honorary consulates in 106 cities in 45 countries. Sixty-one countries have consulates general, consulates, or honorary consulates in or accredited to Monaco.
The United States and Monaco enjoy excellent relations, which both countries seek to maintain and strengthen. From 1956 until her death in 1982, the American Grace Kelly was married to Prince Rainier III. The United States does not have a diplomatic mission located in Monaco. The U.S. Consul General in Marseille, France, is formally accredited to Monaco.
Consul General (Marseille, France)-- Joyce Leader
The U.S. Consulate General at Marseille is located at 12 Boulevard Paul Peytral, 13286 Marseille Cedex (tel. -(4)-91-54-92-00).
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