Monaco, independent principality on the Mediterranean near the French-Italian border, about 370 acres (150 hectares) in area. It is a tourist center, with a yachting harbor and a world-famous casino. The reigning constitutional monarch, Prince Rainier III, succeeded to the throne in 1949 and married the U.S. film actress Grace Kelly in 1956. In 1962, after a crisis with France over Monaco's tax-free status, Rainier proclaimed a new constitution, guaranteeing fundamental rights, giving the vote to women, and abolishing the death penalty. The government consists of three councilors, headed by a minister of state who must be French. There is an 18-member National Council, elected for five-year terms by universal suffrage, which shares legislative powers with the Prince. In 1993 the country joined the United Nations.
1997 commemorated the fact that in 1297 the Genoese Grimaldi became Monaco's sovereign.