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Monaco

Monaco

Monaco is tiny: just 430 acres, or less than a square mile in size. Only 5,070 of its 29,972 residents are Monégasque citizens; the rest are French, Italian, and other foreigners who have come to Monaco for sun, fun, and tax breaks.

Although banking and industry are important to the local economy, tourism has been the most obvious source of foreign exchange since Prince Charles III gave an exclusive charter to the "Sea Bathing and Circle of Foreigners Company" in 1863. The construction of a railway line from Nice, a casino, an opera house, and expensive villas on the plateau of the Spélugues (renamed "Monte Carlo" in honor of the prince) turned a pint-sized Mediterranean backwater into a mecca for the idle rich.

Today, the Monte Carlo Congress Center and Auditorium may be as important to the economy as the Casino, although the latter remains the principality's symbolic and spiritual center. Some 1,400 hotel rooms are within 200 meters of the convention center, and visitors collectively spend nearly 200,000 nights in the principality's hotels every year--more than five times the number of sleepovers 30 years ago.

Monaco Ville

Cathédrale de Monaco . Princess Grace was entombed here after her death in a 1982 car crash.

Musée Océanographique et Aquarium . This world-famous research institute was founded in 1910, and Jacques Cousteau headed it for many years. You can see Cousteau's diving gear and explore the vast aquarium during your visit.

Le Palais de Monaco . The Changing of the Guard occurs daily at 11:55 a.m. You can also tour the State Apartments from June through October for 6 euros (3 euros for children from ags 8-14).

Jardin Exotique de Monaco . The Exotic Garden has acres of cacti and other succulents on a rocky mountainside. A ticket price of 37 francs (18F for students) includes admission to the Museum of Prehistoric Anthropology and a network of caves in the limestone cliffs.

Monte Carlo

Casino de Monte Carlo . You can't miss this monument to Belle Époque opulence; it's in the center of Monte Carlo, and all you have to do is follow the tourists and armored cars. Admission to the Salon Ordinaire , or "American Room," is 50 francs. The high-stakes Salons Privé s have more games and a 100-franc entrance fee. If you're a guest of hotels owned by the Société des Bains de Mer, you won't have to pay the fee--but you'll still need to bring your passport and be 21 or older.