Monaco….I recently visited Monaco, a country that for more than a century has been synonymous with gambling, luxury and glamour. I’m really trying to understand the phenomenon of this place but the truth is that I don’t understand Monaco at all. It is a city like many others in the world, but at the same time is like no other. It is known as a tax paradise of the rich and famous. It boasts the most famous Formula One race in the world.
And yet it is just 2km square. 2 km square! Can you believe it? 2 – km – square! How the heck was this place even allowed to be a country? Well, I will tell you. Their status as a country was bought and twice in fact. Once from Genoa and the second time from France. After Genoa sold this land to Grimaldi’s family, it was conquered few times and passed back and forth to various countries. European history is quite complicated and so is Monaco’s.
Monaco doesn’t have any resources. It has basically nothing. Its money comes from the casino. So now imagine how much money people have to lose at the Monte Carlo Casino to allow the country to exist calmly, happily and richly. The interesting thing is that while many foreigners are warmly welcomed to the Casino, the citizens of Monaco are denied entry. It is always better to take money from others, than from you own people, right?
One of Monaco’s main sources of income is tourism. The pleasant climate attracts crowds to this part of world. Monaco lies in a lovely place, at the shore of the Mediterranean Sea and is a part of the so called French Riviera. The Mediterranean sea that provides the backdrop to the city gives a feel of a sunshine holiday, but calling Monaco a sunny seaside resort is not very correct. While the rest of the Côte d’Azur boasts sun and loads of naked flesh, Monaco seems to be a lot of different. Most tourists come here from France or Italy just for one day. But that doesn’t change the fact that those tourists leave a lot of money. In Monaco nothing is cheap. The economy of the country is also based on bank services, the real estate market and … post stamps selling (!!??). How much money can you make from postage stamp sales?
Monaco is the second smallest country in the world (right after the Vatican) and has 0% unemployment and 0% income tax for its residents, but there is nothing small about Monaco.
Monaco has the highest number of millionaires and billionaires in the world. Seems like a paradise, isn’t it? Just pack your bags and come? Well, no problem at all! If you only can afford buying a flat. One square meter of real estates cost about $60,000. Affordable? Well, happy saving till the end of the world.
Is Monaco a cool travel destination? Well, it is the sort of place that if you have the money then you can have a lot of fun doing what others do. To experience the country the way the TV presents, you need to add a few zeros to your typical vacation budget. Monaco is never going to be a budget destination.
Monaco is not so pretty to take its visitors’ breath away. I really don’t get the phenomenon of this place. I’ve stopped trying, as I got a headache trying to figure it out. I think there must be another angle to justify going?