Who would have thought that a daring and cleverly disguised attack made by François Grimaldi in 1297 would now, centuries later, be considered the birthing moment of the Principality of Monaco? François himself may have held the Rock, as the old fortress of Monaco is often called, only for a few scant years, yet the House of Grimaldi ultimately triumphed. To this day, Monegasques and foreigners living in Monaco alike are ruled by a descendent of this family, currently H.S.H the Sovereign Prince Albert II.
In 2016, the population of Monaco stood at an estimated 37,900 people. Out of these, only around a fifth are of Monegasque nationality, making the native Monegasques a minority within their own country. In fact, French is the major ethnic group, followed by Monegasques, Italians, English, and various other nationalities.
In addition to citizens and residents of the principality, there are also numerous people who are not living in Monaco, but commuting from nearby French or Italian towns and cities, such as Nice. This can clearly be seen by employment numbers: Nearly 52,000 people worked in the country in 2015, a stark contrast to a population of less than 39,000.
Therefore, it is hardly surprising that there are various languages spoken in Monaco. French is the official language and Munegascu the ancient dialect of the region. The latter is nowadays even taught in school to prevent the dialect from dying out.
In addition, expats living in Monaco will find that English is also widely spoken, particularly in the business world and not least of all because of the Prince’s half-American heritage. Due to geographical closeness, Italian can similarly be heard on the occasional street corner, as is the case for many other languages from around the world, owing to Monaco’s international flair.
Monaco is the second smallest country in the world and operates as a constitutional state monarchy. The Grimaldi family can boast a 700-year rule and remain of high importance in the ruling of the country today. Changes to both the constitution and laws in Monaco can be proposed by the prince, currently HSH Prince Albert II. However, these changes must be approved by the parliament, the National Council, which is elected every five years. HSH Prince Albert II has been dubbed “The Green Prince”, due to his focus on environmental policies and sustainable development.
Life in Monaco means enjoying the sunny coast of the Mediterranean Sea. As such, you can look forward to warm summers with average temperatures of around 25°C and mild winters that hardly ever see the thermometer dip below zero degrees, even at night. Rainy days are rare, even in the wetter months of April, October, and November.
The principality is rightly considered a tourist hotspot and a haven for the arts. Artistic patronage has become a tradition for Monegasque lords and princes. Thus, supporting creative work, making culture accessible to all, and preserving the local heritage are all self-proclaimed goals of the princely government.
As such, you will find plenty of things to see and do while living in Monaco. There are various festivals throughout the year, such as the Spring Arts Festival, the Monte Carlo International Sculpture Festival, the World Amateur Theatre Festival, and the International Circus Festival.
Residents can also enjoy listening to the Monte Carlo Philharmonic Orchestra or the Monte Carlo Opera, visit various exhibitions and art galleries, as well as watch performances by the Ballets de Monte Carlo or plays in the Princess Grace Theatre. Or one can simply visit Monaco Cathedral to hear the cathedral choir sing and to visit the final resting place of Grace Kelly and Prince Rainer III.
For the horticultural lovers, Monaco boasts the stunning and tranquil Japanese Gardens on Avenue Princesse-Grace, providing a sense of peace amidst flashy and fast-moving Monte Carlo. Similarly, the Jardin Exotique perches on a cliffside of Monaco, and boasts over a thousand species of exotic plants.
And if that is not enough, you can always spice up your new life in Monaco with a visit to the famed Casino de Monte-Carlo.
For those expats in Monaco who are more interested in sports, there is also plenty on offer. You will find numerous sporting opportunities, particularly in regard to water sports, as well as famous international sporting events. The Monaco Grand Prix, for instance, is world-renowned as one of the most difficult Formula One tracks, and the Monte Carlo Tennis Masters draws both participants and spectators from around the world to the city-state.
Should you nevertheless find yourself a bit bored while living in Monaco, then you can always hit the shops. Depending on your budget, you may have to be satisfied with simply window shopping at the jewelry stores and fashion boutiques around the Place du Casino, though.
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