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Is Monaco in France?

THE GLAMOROUS little enclave of Monaco speaks French but has a long line of Italian royal heritage.

The city-state on the French Riviera is also home to a glitzy annual yacht show and an estimated 1 in 3 are a millionaire. But where is it and who rules the oligarch playground just 40,000 people strong?

Is Monaco in France?

Monaco, officially the Principality of Monaco, is not part of France.

It is its own sovereign city-state, with five quarters and ten wards, located on the French Riviera, surrounded by France.

They speak French as the official language but Monegasque, a dialect of Genoese, more similar to Italian than French, as well as Italian are national languages.

Why is Monaco a principality?

A principality, also a "princedom" is a state ruled by a prince. The monarch and head of state for Monaco is currently Albert II who ascended in 2005.

The beginning of the principality is thought to have began in 1297.

The powerful Genoese family, the House of Grimaldi, settled in the French Riviera after being exiled from Genoa by other feuding families.

Legend has it that they marked the beginning of their eight century-long rule by taking over the Palace of Monaco, disguised as monks.

They invited other noble families to join the new state as share out equal sovereign powers and have remained independent to France and Italy ever since.

But through subsequent political turmoil, they did secure their royal rule until 1419.

Who are the royal family of Monaco?

The Grimaldi are the longest-running European royal family, supposedly founded in 1160 by Grimaldo Canella, the son of Genoese consul.

In his lifetime, the family grew to be the one of the richest and most powerful families in Genoa, making his descendants honour him as the eponymous progenitor.

But it was Francesco Grimaldi, his descendent a hundred years later who brought the Grimaldis to Monaco.

Francesco Grimaldi had a childless marriage, with his cousins taking over succession, and descendants of which remain the reigning monarchs today.

The current ruler is Albert II, or Albert Grimaldi, who is the only son of Rainier III and Grace Kelly.

Albert II has four children, two out of wedlock and therefore not in line for succession of the throne.

Jazmin Grimaldi, now 29, is the daughter of an American waitress, Tamara Rotolo. She connect with her father age 11, after the Prince claimed to want to protect her identity.

His second was from an affair with Nicole Coste, a French-Togolese flight attendant, who gave birth to Alexandre Grimaldi-Coste, now 17.

The Prince tried to sue a French magazine for publishing details about the love child, but later admitted that it was his.

In 2000, he married Charlene Wittstock and had twins in 2014, Hereditary Prince of Monaco who is in succession tot he throne, Jacques and Princess Gabriella.

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