By Lindsay Ferguson
Eva Herzigová—the famous Czech model and actress who achieved success in the early ‘90s for her flirty GUESS and Wonderbra ads—said it best. Her words convey a sentiment surely expressed by more than just the iconic supermodels of the world. In fact, with hundreds of thousands of visitors annually—and a history that includes the glamorous crowning of America’s favorite actress-turned-royal, Princess Grace—The Principality of Monaco has been a definitive travel destination for those who seek ultimate decadence and charm. And despite the economic downturns of the past few years, Monaco has still managed to retain its position as a tourist’s dream haven. Not bad for the second-smallest country on Earth.
With little more than 1 square mile in size, Monaco is proof that even great wonders come in small packages. Nestled between the French and Italian Rivieras and featuring an expansive, glittering view of the Mediterranean Sea, Monaco has rightly earned its reputation as one of the most captivating places in the world. And what the country lacks in area, it more than makes up for in distinction. Boasting beautiful beaches cradled by rugged terrain and the world’s most popular gambling facility, the Casino de Monte Carlo, Monaco regularly plays host to wealthy, high rollers. And for those visiting—whether on business, holiday, or in search of their own dream residences—the country’s draws have proven to be plentiful.
Consequently, and like many other European nations over the years, Monaco has attracted a multicultural blend of long-term visitors who live alongside the country’s primarily Monegasque, French and Italian, population. In 2011 alone, more than 22,000 U.S. citizens visited Monaco, and as of the country’s last census in 2010, 350 Americans permanently resided there. Although it is unclear exactly how many of those 350 are African American, according to visitors and residents alike, it is not uncommon to see the representation of many ethnic backgrounds in Monaco, a reassuring fact to world travelers who are also people of color.