The Principality of Monaco or Monaco (French: Principauté de Monaco or Monaco; Monegasque: Munegu or Principatu de Munegu) is a city state and the second-smallest country in the world, wedged in between the Mediterranean Sea and France along the French Riviera or Côte d'Azur (The Blue Coast). Consisting mostly of just the old city of Monaco and later built-up areas, it is also the most densely populated country in the world1, and one of the European microstates.
Monaco derives its name from the nearby Greek colony, Monoikos, founded in the 6th century BC by the Phoceans. According to an ancient myth, Hercules passed through the Monaco area. A temple was constructed there by Phoceans, the temple of Hercules Monoikos (Μόνοικος means single house or single temple).
Monaco was re-founded in 1215 as a colony of Genoa. Monaco has been ruled by the House of Grimaldi since 1297, when François Grimaldi seized the fortress protecting the famous rock while dressed up as a Franciscan monk; the only exception to this was from 1789 to 1814, when Monaco was under French control. Designated as a protectorate of Sardinia from 1815 until 1860 by the Congress of Vienna, Monaco's sovereignty was recognised 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 acceded to the throne following the death of his grandfather, Prince Louis II, in 1949. 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.
In 2002, a new treaty between France and Monaco clarifies that if there are no heirs to carry on the dynasty, the Principality will remain an independent nation rather than revert to the French. Monaco's military defense, however, is still the responsibility of France.
Prince Albert, Marquis of Baux took over the royal duties on 31 March 2005 because his father Prince Rainier III was too ill to exercise his royal functions. On 6 April 2005 Prince Rainier died and Prince Albert succeeded him as Albert II of Monaco.