Wednesday, 6 May 2009
After scaling Monaco’s steep terraced steps, shiny escalators and gleaming marble corridors tunnelling through the rocks to a series of free public lifts running up and down the hillside (not to mention navigating the 3D road system encircling its towering high rises!), you could be forgiven for thinking you’re inside a life-size MC Escher illustration of an illusionary maze.
Squeezed into 1.95 sq km, making it the world’s second smallest country, after the Vatican, this pint-sized principality is a sovereign state, with its own red-and-white flag, national holiday (19 November), country telephone code and traditional Monégasque dialect. French is the official language, although many street signs, especially in the old Monaco Ville quarter, are in French and Monégasque, and children of all 107 nationalities that form Monaco’s population are required to study the language at school. Neither is Monaco part of the EU, but because of its close ties with France it participates in the EU customs territory, and there are no border formalities crossing to and from France.
Monaco’s manicured streets presided over by palaces and its lush fountained parks are eminently safe thanks to a prolific police presence backed up by plain-clothed patrollers and omnipresent CCTV cameras.
Monaco is most famed for its glamorous Monte Carlo casino, Formula One cars roaring through the streets during its glamorous Grand Prix, and the scintillating lives of its glamorous royal family, the Grimaldis.
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