P. Edronkin

A Brief Description Of Monaco

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Monaco is a very curious little place where ancient history mixes with business, money and hedonism; it appeared thousands of years ago as a Phoenician colony created both for military and commercial purposes. Then it passed onto the Greeks, Romans, Genoese, Italians and French, until during the thirteenth century, the Grimaldi family attained power over the principality, and since then - with very few interruptions - they have been at the helm of one of the smallest yet more prosperous countries on Earth.

Macchiavelli praised Monaco in his writings as a state and as a strategic position; the port allows anyone there to control the Cote D'Azur as well as the navigation in the Mediterranean, and this is no coincidence, for the wise Phoenicians knew very well where to plant their settlements, colonies and bases. The country itself is very small - less than two square kilometres - and it is one of the best examples of the notion that nations benefit more by betting on the rich than on the poor: there are no proletarians in Monaco indeed, no shanty-towns and no poverty, and it has been so for centuries.

More recently, Monaco has attracted a lot of money by becoming a fiscal paradise and a gambling Mecca with the creation of the famous Monte Carlo Casino, during the nineteenth century. Curiously enough, the country has three quarters, which were in the past separate towns but today are almost indistinguishable: Monaco, which is the capital itself, Monte Carlo and La Condamine.

In Monaco there is no illegal immigration, no envy, no crime and no social problems: it is a country where in order to become a legal resident or citizen you have to be rich. However, visiting it doesn't mean that you have to spend a fortune: it is an expensive place indeed, but by no means unreachable for the masses. You can stay at a youth hostel or lodge spending very little money, walking around - of course - costs nothing yet, take a tour in a helicopter, which is not so expensive, and take a look at the harbour and marina, where you will see private vessels even as big as holiday cruises, complete with their own helipads.

Monaco is an extremely attractive place for the high-end segment of the tourist market: the country has always been superbly administered by the Grimaldi family, almost like a family business: and it even has had some cultural impact in the world thanks to the fact that they practically invented the concept of a fiscal paradise as well as the modern European-type roulette game. Indeed: the game of roulette was invented by the French, but during the nineteenth century, authorities all around Europe cracked down on the gambling industry and suddenly Monaco found itself confronted with a great opportunity, as they opened the doors of their now fabled casino: they did not enforce the same level of control over gambling and the gaming community of the time, and soon enough, visitors from the UK, Germany, France, and other European countries began to pour into Monaco just to try the casino and its brand-new European roulette.

And as they did that and adapted the rules of the roulette game, they got a virtual monopoly over it, meaning that while moralists got their way in the rest of the continent, the treasure of the nation got its own way by means of the roulette. Indeed, the Phoenicians would be proud of their descendants.

Moreover: let's not forget about the Formula One Grand Prix, a traditional race that takes place every year and requires the whole road structure of the country. This car race brings yet more money and tourists, making the Monegasque even happier for their fortunes: hopefully, one day the voluntarily-lobotomised leaders of many Third World countries will see the light as the leaders of Monaco did centuries ago!

In Monaco you can spend some days very, very well, and the more money you have, the better. However, common people may want to spend as little as possible, and being the country so small, even a one-day visit may be very interesting.

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