Life in Monaco and the Limits of Statehood
The tiny state is effectively a sovereign resort town fueled by a glamorous lifestyle brand. Despite the trappings of statehood, it is a protectorate of France that lacks meaningful autonomy.
As of 2022, the most affluent state in the world by a significant margin is the Principality of Monaco, with a nominal GDP per capita of over $240,000.1 It also has the highest population density in the world—more than twice as dense as runner-up Singapore—the highest life expectancy at 90 years old, and the highest number of police officers per capita and per square kilometer.2 Monaco holds these statistical distinctions because it is, effectively, a sovereign neighborhood of a suburb of the city of Nice on the coast of the scenic French Riviera near the border with Italy. With a population of just around 39,000 people, Monaco is one of a handful of microstates and, with a land area of just two square kilometers, is geographically smaller than any state except the Vatican—both states are smaller than Central Park in New York City. In 2019, about 32% of the population were millionaires and, with a number of resident billionaires, Monaco had by far the world’s highest per capita rates of both.3