The structure of society in Monaco is strongly influenced by its relationship with France, which has provided protection for the population during several periods in history. However, we must emphasise that the Principality is not French.
It surprises some people that natural Monegasques don't form the majority of the population, as you can see in the table below.
Source: Mairie de Monaco, Recensement general de la Population 2008.
The most common nationality of Monaco's residents is French, although this has decreased since the 1960s. Numbers of Monegasque, Italian and British residents have increased gradually over the past 30 or 40 years, making the Principality a multi-cultural place to live.
With the average age of residents in the mid 40s, Monaco's population is getting older, making the provision of health and welfare services increasingly important. The standard of health care is excellent, with life expectancy in the Principality being one of the highest in the world, and approximately 6 doctors for every 1000 people. A public welfare system is funded by employers' contributions and provides 80-100% refunds on health care expenditure for employees, registered self employed, and their families. All other residents have to take out private health insurance.
There are 3 medical establishments, the state run Princess Grace Hospital (CHPG, Centre Hospitalier Princesse Grace), the Monaco Cardio Thoracic Center (CCM) and the Institut Monegasque de Medecine et Chirurgie Sportive (IM2S), which specialises in sports medicine and surgery.
The Principality's education system conforms to that of France, but differs in some of the obligatory classes. Religious instruction is included in the curriculum, unless parents expressly refuse it. Students are taught Monegasque history and language, and great importance is attached to artistic and cultural educational activities. Finally, the education system in Monaco places an emphasis on mastering the English language.
Primary education starts at age 6, although there are nursery school places for even younger children. Secondary education is from age 11 or 12 and lasts for 4 years, after which students take a further 3 years to obtain the baccalaureat. The state runs 7 nursery and primary schools, a secondary school, and 2 schools for 16 to 18 year olds. In addition, there are 2 private schools, and an international school offering international baccalaureat education. The Principality is able to offer places to approximately 5800 school children and employs about 450 teachers.
Unfortunately, due to the small size of Monaco, students who want to continue into higher education usually leave the Principality to study elsewhere. About 28% of residents have obtained the baccalaureat or similar diploma, and a further 35% have continued their education beyond that. Opportunities within Monaco are limited, but include art at the Pavillon Bosio, or business at the International University.
Although Monaco shares aspects of its economic and social background with France, there are many differences between the two cultures. Throughout the history of the Principality, one thing has remained steadfast, and that's the mutual support and respect that the Grimaldi family and the Monegasque people share for each other.
For many years, Monaco played an important strategic role in the region due to its location on the Mediterranean border between France and Italy. The local population was in some ways isolated by the natural boundaries of sea and mountain, but was exposed to external influences with each new protectorate, whether French, Italian or Spanish.
The need to survive independently from the 19th century onwards brought a new influx of foreigners and changed the nature of the Principality's population. There are now many different resident nationalities, as well as expat employee groups, creating a vibrant, multi-cultural community. The priority given to nationals for public sector work ensures that the administration of the country remains Monegasque in style. However Prince Albert's American university education, along with his periods of work experience in multinational organisations, have no doubt had an influence. The demanding nature of some of the more wealthy residents ensures a high quality of local services, and a constant stream of entrepreneurs hoping to create new businesses to serve this elite market.
Monaco's national language is French, but the large Italian population and proximity to Italy ensures that Italian is also widely spoken. Since HSH Prince Albert II is half American (through his mother Princess Grace), English is a popular language for business, particularly when dealing with the large number of foreign tourists and conference attendees.
Monaco's official religion is a Catholicism, however freedom of religion is guaranteed in the constitution.