Making Monaco Great Again
Even one of the world’s most comically small countries can look back on centuries of territorial bigness.
Measuring less than a square mile (2.02 km²), Monaco is the world’s second-smallest state, after the Vatican (0.44 km², 0.17 sq mi). At 19,010 inhabitants/km² (49,236/sq mi), is also the world’s most densely populated country. Thanks to its lax tax laws, it is a favourite residence and playground for the world’s super-rich.
It was not always thus. The principality wasn’t always so wealthy – and it wasn’t always this small. Before its dismemberment in the second half of the nineteenth century, Monaco covered around 30 km² (11.5 sq mi), which is about half the size of San Marino.
In 1997, when the Grimaldi dynasty celebrated its 700-year dominion over Monaco, these philatelic references to former ‘greatness’ were issued. The stamp in the upper left corner shows Monaco in the 13th century.
Monaco’s origins lie in a land grant by Emperor Henry VI of the Holy Roman Empire in 1191, but it was re-founded early in the thirteenth century as the western outpost of Genoan control. On this map, Genoa’s territory can be seen extending westward on the Côte d’Azur to include Monaco. In 1297, Francesco Grimaldi (Il Malizio – ‘the malicious’ or ‘the cunning’) and some fellow plotters captured the fortress on Monaco rock disguised as Franciscan monks – hence the monks with swords in Monaco’s coat of arms.
There is some confusion whether Monaco was named after this incident (monaco is Italian for ‘monk’) or whether its name dates to the much earlier Greek period. The Greek colonist at Massilia – present-day Marseilles – called the local Ligurians monoikoi, possibly because of their habit of living individually (monoikos meaning ‘single house’). Another possibiity is a reference to Hercules, who supposedly had lived by himself in the area. In Antiquity, Monaco did have a temple dedicated to Hercules and was in fact called Port Hercules or something to that effect.
The map in the upper right corner shows the shrinkage which occurred in the nineteenth century. Monaco succeeded in tearing loose from Genoa and had its independent status confirmed by the King of France and the Duke of Savoy in 1489. But in the centuries that followed, the Grimaldis presided over a territory under increasing pressure from the consolidating nation-states surrounding it. From 1793 to 1814, Monaco was even occupied by revolutionary France.
The Congress of Vienna designated Monaco as a protectorate of the Kingdom of Sardinia from 1815 to 1860, whereafter the surrounding county of Nice (and the Duchy of Savoy) was ceded to France. During this time, the Grimaldi-ruled towns of Menton and Roquebrune (which had been acquired as early as 1341) declared independence, hoping for annexation by Sardinia. The unrest ended in 1861, when Monaco ceded both towns (95% of its territory) to France in exchange for 4 million francs.
Having lost so much terrain on land, Monaco turned to the sea. The map on both lower stamps shows the amount of territory gained by landfill (plus dates of completion); as well as the extension of territorial waters to 12 nautical miles in 1984. The panoramic view at the very bottom is of the present-day western half of Monaco.
Image found at Dan's Topical Stamps.
Strange Maps #82
Got a strange map? Let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Swipe right to make the connections that could change your career.
Swipe right. Match. Meet over coffee or set up a call.
No, we aren't talking about Tinder. Introducing Shapr, a free app that helps people with synergistic professional goals and skill sets easily meet and collaborate.
A NASA astronomer explains how astronauts dispose of their, uh, dark matter.
- When nature calls in micro-gravity, astronauts must answer. Space agencies have developed suction-based toilets – with a camera built in to ensure all the waste is contained before "flushing".
- Yes, there have been floaters in space. The early days of space exploration were a learning curve!
- Amazingly, you don't need gravity to digest food. Peristalsis, the process by which your throat and intestines squeeze themselves, actually moves food and water through your digestive system without gravity at all.
The Harvard psychologist loves reading authors' rules for writing. Here are his own.
- Steven Pinker is many things: linguist, psychologist, optimist, Harvard professor, and author.
- When it comes to writing, he's a student and a teacher.
- Here's are his 13 rules for writing better, more simply, and more clearly.
A growing body of research shows promising signs that the keto diet might be able to improve mental health.
- The keto diet is known to be an effective tool for weight loss, however its effects on mental health remain largely unclear.
- Recent studies suggests that the keto diet might be an effective tool for treating depression, and clearing up so-called "brain fog," though scientists caution more research is necessary before it can be recommended as a treatment.
- Any experiments with the keto diet are best done in conjunction with a doctor, considering some people face problems when transitioning to the low-carb diet.
SMARTER FASTER trademarks owned by The Big Think, Inc. All rights reserved.