The World

The place we’re looking for is the world’s second smallest independent state. The smallest is Vatican City which measures less (.2) than a square mile, or just about the size of postage stamp compared to Texas.

The independent country we’re looking for is just a little bigger. And its more crowded (pop. 33,000) so it ranks as the world’s most densely populated sovereign country.

And the sovereign there is a prince. This tiny French-speaking state is a luxurious playground for the super-rich, right on the French Riviera.

The government had a multi-billion dollar plan to create a little more space by extending the coast with a floating platform over the Mediterranean. But the grand architectural scheme has now been put on hold.

We’ll tell you why, after you try and name this place.

We’re looking for the world’s most densely populated sovereign country for our Geo Quiz…and we found it along the French Riviera on the Mediterranean coast.

The answer is the tiny principality of Monaco. Monaco – a constitutional monarchy – is surrounded on three sides by France and occupies just under .75 sq miles of the Cote d’Azur, where the Alps Maritimes reach the Mediterranean.

This week Monaco was in the news after its ruler Prince Albert II was forced to put on hold its “coastal urbanization project”, a multi-billion dollar plan to expand into the sea, because of the global economic downturn, what’s behind that decision, and what the future holds for Monaco’s economy in our interview with Eric Reguly, European business reporter for Canada’s Globe and Mail newspaper.

The 5 smallest countries or micro-nations (courtesy of About.Com: Geography)

Vatican City – 0.2 square miles – The world’s smallest state, the Vatican has a population of 770, none of whom are permanent residents. The tiny country which surrounds St. Peter’s Basilica is the spiritual center for the world’s Roman Catholics (over 1 billion strong). Also known as the Holy See, Vatican City is surrounded by Rome, Italy.

Monaco – 0.7 square miles – The tiny state of Monaco lies along the French Riviera on the French Mediterranean coast near Nice. An impressive 32,000 people live in this state known for its Monte Carlo casinos and Princess Grace. It has been independent off-and-on since the 13th century.

Nauru – 8.5 square miles – The 13,000 residents of the Pacific island Nauru rely on diminishing phosphate deposits. The state became independent in 1968 and was formerly known as Pleasant Island.

Tuvalu – 9 square miles – Tuvalu is composed of 9 coral atolls along a 360 mile chain in Polynesia. They gained independence in 1978. The former Ellice Islands are home to 12,000.

San Marino – 24 square miles – Located on Mt. Titano in north central Italy, San Marino has 29,000 residents. The country claims to be the oldest state in Europe, having been founded in the fourth century.

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