The Principality of Monaco is a small monarchy squeezed in between the south of France, northwest Italy, and the Mediterranean. It is the smallest state in the world after the Vatican. French people call it ‘Le Rocher’,the rock. In fact, the old city of Monaco is erected on a rocky promontory.
Monaco is divided into five areas: Monte Carlo, Monaco-Ville, La Condamine, Fontvielle and Larvotto Beach. The heart of the city-state is Monte Carlo, with its famous Monaco Grand Prix and Le Grand Casino de Monte Carlo, established in 1858. In the years following the casino's opening, the Oceanographic Museum and the Monte Carlo Opera House were also founded, and hotels and shops were built.
Among the several attractions of this sunny and affluent city-state is Monaco’s tax system. A good number of wealthy ‘tax refugee’ residents from European countries find their paradise in Monaco.
Though the original language is French, the original one was Monégasque, now spoken only by a minority. Curiously it resembles Ligurian, which is spoken in Genoa (Italy).
In 2006, to celebrate the Princess Grace Theatre's 25th anniversary, a musical dedicated in memory of Josephine Baker, one of the princess's close friends, was performed. The dancer is in fact buried in Monaco’s cemetery. For a long time, Monte Carlo has been an ideal setting for many European film comedies, among these Monte Carlo Baby has a special place, due to the graceful presence of Audrey Hepburn. During the filming she was discovered by the French writer and playwright Colette who literally made her fortune.