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The Principality of Monaco
The smallest sovereign state in the world (beyond the papal Vatican City), Monaco is surrounded by the Côte d’Azur of France on the Mediterranean Sea and is very near Italy, as it was once part of medieval Genovese. Monaco Ville (City) is the official capital, though in reality just a district for the palace, governmental, and judicial buildings. Well-known for luxurious casinos, Monte Carlo is another district.
Monaco has been ruled by the Grimaldi family of Genoa (Genova), Italy, since 1297, though they struggled to maintain control of “the Rock” for over a century. The Crown of Aragon took it over for a time until the family outright purchased the land in 1419. Today, citizens called Monégasque live tax-free under a constitutional monarchy, originally formed in 1911. Prince Albert II has been sovereign since the death of his father, Prince Ranier III, in 2005.