History The early history of Monaco is primarily concerned with the protective and strategic value of the Rock of Monaco, the area"s chief geological landmark, which served first as a shelter for ancient peoples and later as a fortress. From the 1200s to the early 1400s, the area was contested for primarily political reasons; since that point, excepting a period of French occupation from 1789 to 17 May 1814, it has remained steadily under the control of the House of Grimaldi. Designated as a protectorate of the Kingdom of Sardinia in 1815 by the Congress of Vienna after Napoleon"s defeat, Monaco"s sovereignty was confirmed by the Franco-Monegasque Treaty of 1861. The Prince of Monaco was an absolute ruler until a constitution was promulgated in 1911. In July 1918, a treaty was signed providing for limited French protection over Monaco. The treaty, written into the Treaty of Versailles, established that Monegasque policy would be aligned with French political, military, and economic interests. Prince Rainier III acceded to the throne following the death of his grandfather, Prince Louis II, in 1949. A new constitution, proclaimed in 1962, abolished capital punishment, provided for female suffrage, and established a Supreme Court to guarantee fundamental liberties. In 1993, Monaco became an official member of the United Nations with full voting rights. In 2002, a new treaty between France and Monaco clarifies that if there are no heirs to carry on the dynasty, the Principality will remain an independent nation rather than revert to the French. Monaco"s military defence, however, is still the responsibility of France. Prince Albert, Marquis of Baux took over the royal duties on 31 March 2005 because his father Prince Rainier III was too ill to exercise his royal functions. On 6 April 2005 Prince Rainier died and Prince Albert succeeded him as Albert II of Monaco. Prince Albert II of Monaco formally became the ruler of Monaco on 12 July 2005. Geography The Principality of Monaco or Monaco is located between the Mediterranean Sea and France along the French Riviera or Côte d"Azur (The Blue Coast). Monaco is on the Mediterranean coast, 18km east of Nice and near the Italian border, and is surrounded on three sides by France. It is the most densely populated independent country in the world. It is one of the European microstates. It is the second-smallest country in the world (after the Vatican City). It consists of a narrow strip along the coast at the bottom of the foothills of the Alps and its highest point is "Le Rocher" at 140m. Monaco is divided into seven sections or quarters (quartiers): Monaco-Ville, the capital, the old city on a rocky promontory extending into the Mediterranean; La Condamine, the section along the port; Monte Carlo, the principal residential and resort area with the casino; Fontvieille, a newly constructed area reclaimed from the sea; Moneghetti, on the western border with Cap d`Ail; Larvotto - Tenao includes the beach area to the east of the principality. Saint Roman is the easternmost tip, bordering the Tenao.