Hey guys, so once again thanks to a scheduling problem, we will be filming here in my office for the next two episodes. Alright so today we cover Monaco! There’s an old Monaco joke: All the billionaires are too scared to go out of their houses without bodyguards. Why? Because there’s too many millionaires on the street.
It’s time to learn Geography… NOW!!! Everybody I’m your host Barbs.
Casino Royale Formula One Grand Prix Grace Kelly marrying the prince... Man a lot of American women get to be princesses. Many of you may have had a surface level introduction to this minute yet flourishing principality on the Mediterranean. Yet what does Monaco really like?
Well let’s dissect all two square kilometers of it, shall we? Now let me put it this way: I love microstates because it’s like “Well everyone is often the vast open fields trying to dig for gold, you find this one small little shack making tons of money because they’re the ones selling all the shovels.” First of all, Monaco is a micro city-state located in Western Europe nuzzled all around by France with a four kilometer coast along the Mediterranean. You can literally walk across the entire nation in less than an hour oh and the country is shaped like a praying giraffe.
Monaco is only about 2 square kilometers in area making it the second smallest country in the world after the Vatican. You can literally fit the entire country inside Central Park in New York City and still have some space left over. The country is divided into ten wards including a new one created from reclaimed land called Fontvielle.
The entire country in itself acts as its own capital. However the government of 24 council members meets at the National Council building twice a year to discuss budget whereas the prince and his family live in the Prince’s Palace just a few blocks away. Wait but if it’s so small, can you fly there? Why thank you for asking that question that I wrote on the teleprompter, Ken. Technically, No.
The country has no airports. Obviously, I mean some airports have runways that are longer the entire length of Monaco. However the closest international airport would be France’s Nice Côte d’Azur International only about 5 miles away to the west.
Otherwise to get in Monaco, there are 4 general ways: technically you can fly into Monaco into the International heliport connected with Nice’s Airport. The flight only takes 7 minutes long, it has eight helicopter landing pads and on peak times you can see passengers arrive every 20 minutes. You can sail into the country with a boat and dock at either Port Hercules or port Font-Vielle. These options are pretty pricey though so if you’re on a budget, you can also drive in by car by any of the neighboring French towns that surround like Beausoleil. Otherwise, you can take the route 100 bus line from Nice, it only cost €1.50 or you can take the €22 shuttle from Nice Airport. And finally, if trains are your thing, multiple lines end up at the Monaco train station conveniently located straight up in the middle of the country.
Now Monaco is kind of like that bag from Mary Poppins, you know it’s not that big but once you open it up, like an entire circus comes out. Oh and Monaco has a circus. Besides to see our endless and despite the limit in space, they keep growing like literally, they’ve been reclaiming land from the sea for over a hundred years. The largest projects happening in the 60s and 70s for Monte Carlo Casino and the port Font Vielle and now they are embarking on a 1.2 billion dollar extension called Le Portier. This will host new homes and businesses Netherlands: Nice! High five!
Sure that water was boss. UAE: Cute. And speaking of high prices.
As of right now, Monaco has the world’s highest real estate value on the market with over forty five thousand dollars per square… wait for it… METER!!! Wait, so wait. You’re telling me that a square centimeter would be about $450?
Technically, yeah… but… Yeah still can’t afford that. Me neither! High FIVE!!! Yeah, Ken’s gonna show up a lot in this episode because everybody else kind of bailed on me today. “Whatever keeps me employed!”
This also means that Monaco has kind of started to build upwards with high-rise buildings popping up more and more in the past few decades. At 49 stories, the tallest building, the Tour Odeon was completed in 2015 and more are planned. Otherwise, some of the top notable sites of the country might include places like: Fort Antoine The Yacht fishing club Larvotto beach The Oceanographic musuem Tons of gardens like these Tons of museums like these The top car collection The Prince’s Palace of course Saint Nicholas Cathedral The Monte Carlo Opera And of course everybody knows that during racing season, the entire country pretty much transforms into a racing circuit. It’s the second most visited circuit in Formula One Racing Of course, don’t forget the casinos, Monte Carlo. However keep in mind, the citizens of Monaco may enter but they are not allowed to gamble at the rich casino.
I mean go figure, what better way to ensure your citizens keep their wealth than by restricting them from losing it all, right? And speaking of national monetary interests: (Physical Geography) Now this is gonna be pretty interesting because you would think “Monaco is so small, how on earth could they have any natural resources or landscape”? Well they kind of do and don’t. First of all The country is located on the eastern portion of the larger French Riviera Region or the “Côte d’Azur”, a hilly river concentrated area in the South of France next to the Mediterranean right at the beginning of the larger Alps mountain range.
The temperature is generally enjoyable year round with mild wet winters and pleasant warm summers. The highest point can be found at the Chemin de Revoires on the French border which is basically just the side of a hill that extends further up into France and this building with a nice pool basically sits on top of it. I guess. Alright, triple shot of espresso break.
Usually is the part where Noah comes in and explains things but he literally texted me and said: “He had a car accident, he won’t be able to make it” so I guess I kind of have to do this… Wait, can I do it? No Um but you told me I could be the Islands Guy Monaco is not an island, Ken.
Yeah but Micronesia was an island and I didn’t do any of that… The country doesn’t have any rivers and although there are a ton of pools, there are no natural lakes. However, the country’s main water source comes from six natural underground springs. The nation has virtually no natural resources other than fish off the sea and there’s almost no commercial agriculture.
Almost because this lady is the only fruit and vegetable gardener in the entire nation as she cultivates 1400 square meters in the country at the foot of Bodhi on tower. Speaking of which, Food! Most people in Monaco will tell you Barbajuan, a sort of fried ravioli dish and Soccca, a fried chickpea crepe are definitely national favorites. There’s also Fougasse, the largest one in the world served at Prince Albert’s wedding back in 2011. Otherwise it’s funny because Monaco’s economy is entirely based off of the business and service sector. Foreign businesses account for about three-quarters of the entire nations registry.
Why so many? Because they’re a tax haven like so many other microstates? Because they’re a tax haven like so many other microstates.
Monaco has no income tax, property tax, or capital gain tax which allows people to keep all of their earnings and business taxes are generally very low which entices a lot of tycoons. They do however have to pay 19.6% value-added tax on goods and services though. And obviously everything has to be imported. If you’re a French Monegasque citizens, it’s a little different.
It kind of goes like this: France, Hey, your French citizens are making quite a bit of money Monaco: Yeah. I know right, great people. France: Yeah, but you know what to avoid tax evasion, if they make a quarter of their revenue outside of your country, then I get to keep some of their taxes.
Monaco: Isn’t that gonna complicate things more? France: Need I remind you whose army protects you? Hmm Monaco: Only if they haven’t resided in Monaco for over five years France: Deal. Pfff. Just work in the UK for less than 90 days as a non-resident and then come back.
And that’s how the investigations led by the Council of Europe started back in the early 2000s plus some money laundering suspicions… go figure. Anyway! In addition, the tourism industry accounts for about 15% of the country’s annual revenue Financial services, banking and tech account for the majority of the rest of their GDP as well as “Unclassified transactions”. In a nutshell, it means that with such limitations yet high monetary yields Monaco has an interesting way of handling things to keep themselves afloat.
Let’s discuss that innnnnn: (Demographics) Thank you Ken. That actually was okay. It didn’t suck. Alright. Get back to the camera. Alright, just for the record, people from Monaco are called “Monegasque”.
Technically a non-native resident is called a “Monacan” but almost nobody uses that term. ANYWAY! The country has about 38,000 people and is the most densely populated sovereign state in the world at over 19,000 people per square kilometre.
The country is quite diverse with the largest demographic actually being French at about 28%, then the native Monegasques make up about 22%. Next up are the Italians about 18%, and the rest are made up of mostly other European groups like Brits, Germans, Belgians, and even a small American community as well. They use the Euro as their currency, they use the type C plug outlet and they drive on the right side of the road, especially during those Formula One races.
Now although most of the country speaks French, English or Italian, or all three, technically the native language is Monegasque which sounds kind of like a mix between French and the Genoese dialect of Italian. With fewer than 10,000 speakers, it almost went extinct however it was reintroduced in schools for ages eight to twelve and today you can see signs posted in both French and Monegasque. It has a few extra letters you don’t find in French or Italian and it sounds kind of interesting. For example: “Bonjour” becomes “buongiorno”. “Bonsoir” – “bona sera” “Au revoir” is “a se revede” “Monsieur” is “munsü” “Madame” – “madama” Stuff like that. In terms of government, Monaco is a principality ruled by Prince Albert II as head of state.
Heir to the Grimaldi family, one of the oldest in Europe that go back to the 13th century. The interesting thing though is that by law, if there are no heirs to the Monegasque throne the rule would pass to France. In addition, France also appoints their Minister of State with consultation to the prince.
And yeah that’s just kind of how they run their country. Now let’s address the obvious: Yes, as a premier luxury destination, Monaco is known for being quite wealthy, disputedly the first or second richest nation in the world depending on how you look at the numbers with over $163,000 GDP per capita in 2018. About one in three residents of Monaco is a millionaire. How did it become this way? Well there are many theories but generally, many might attribute it to Prince Rainier III who kind of developed an image of luxury through a single company taking care of all the hotels it was called the “Société des bains de mer”. This drew in tons of people and since then, the country has always kind of been on an upward financial slope.
It’s interesting though because a lot of people especially the wealthy want to live in Monaco. However there’s kind of like a process. It kind of goes like this: I want to become a citizen, what do I do?
Simple. All you have to do is follow these steps: Buy property, remember $45,000 per square meter. Open up an account with over half a million Euros.
Have a job or open up a business in Monaco. Have no criminal record and pass a state-run interview. After this, you get a residency permit, renewable after every three years but after ten years, if you have lived at least five years as a resident in Monaco, you can apply for citizenship. But just remember, it all depends on whether or not the Prince approves of you Sweet! I did all those things. Can be a citizen now?
Nah The Prince is cool. He’d probably just laugh it off. The people loved him. Otherwise Culturally speaking, under Article 9 of the constitution, Monaco’s official religion is Catholic. However, freedom of religion is offered to all residents. There are events going on like literally every month of the year, you have things like the Princess of Hanover Rose Ball in March The International Marathon in November Tennis Masters Series in April The Prince’s Palace Concert in July and of course the famous Grand Prix in May Oh, they have a soccer / “football” team.
They play in the French league, they have seven championship titles. Nice. But otherwise yeah.
History time. In the quickest way I can put it: The Greeks call it Monoikos Saracens Ligurians Genoa territory Holy roman empire alliance This dude took a fortress by disguising himself and his soldiers as monks Independence from Genoa Spanish Protectorate French Protectorate Railroad built in 1860 First Casino built They realized tourism was like a really good thing that could help them The Grand Prix starts New land reclamation projects Prince marries Grace Kelley, an American $ Money Money more Money $ and here we are today. Now in terms of famous people, basically the royal family are the most famous ones. Prince Albert I who did a number of cool things like exploring the world and building infrastructure but there’s also people like Formula 1 racers Their singer Lèo Ferrè Julian Mèdecin, the only Olympic medal winner However back in the day, designed for Town Planning was an Olympic event and it kind of stopped it. There’s also Princess Grace Kelley who was an American actress which means the current Prince is half American.
But more than that, non Monegasque residents that have homes in Monaco are probably like, they take more of the spotlight people like Bono, Sir Roger Moore Novak Djokovic Ringo Starr Brazilian billionaire Lily Safra and of course way too many Formula 1 racers. And speaking of non-native people, let’s find out how they make friends with the outside world, shall we? (Friend Zone) Now, Monaco has always kind of been that nation that kind of opened up to the world in order to survive. Diplomacy is kind of key to their roots. First of all Although they are not part of the EU, their relationship with the Union is crucial to their business and trade as everything must be imported As a predominantly Catholic nation, the Vatican has had cultural and political relationships with Monaco and Monaco holds the rank of “Minister Plenipotentiary”, which is like a representative title for the Holy See.
Italy is basically seen as the country that kind of birth to Monaco and maintains a solid relationship with its offspring. Most Monegasque people have at least one Italian ancestor and today many Monegasque people kind of see themselves as like “French thinking Italians”. Other nations like the UK, Belgium, Switzerland, and the USA have close relations to as many of their residents live or work in Monaco. But in the end, most Monegasque would probably say that France is their best friend. Not only are the largest people group in Monaco French but the vast majority of imports and business comes between these two states The French military protects their sovereignty.
Monaco has made deals that operate under the purpose of serving France’s interests, and overall, the two are like two peas in a pod that go together hand in hand In conclusion: Monaco is a little ritzy (Not gonna gloss over it). But they also have an interesting way of functioning with limited space but power beyond boundaries. Stay tuned, Mongolia is coming up next!