Last Updated 15 November 2021

Monaco, officially known as Principality of Monaco, is a sovereign city-state located along the Mediterranean French Riviera. The city of Nice in France lies 9 miles (15 km) to the West, and the Italian border 5 miles (8 km) to the East. With an area of 2.1 km (0.81 sq mi), it is the second-smallest sovereign state in the world, after Vatican City, but boasts the highest GDP per capita worldwide.

According to a December 2019 estimate by the Monaco Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies, the total population is 38,100, of whom only 9,486 are citizens.1 The French government estimates 93% of the population is Catholic. Protestant officials state Protestants represent 2% of the population, with 200-220 families. According to press reports and observers in the country, the Russian Orthodox Church has approximately 300 members. According to the European Jewish Congress and the local Association Culturelle Israelite (Jewish Cultural Association), approximately 1,000 residents, most of whom are noncitizens, are Jewish. According to a long-time Muslim resident, there is a small Muslim community of approximately 200 persons, most of whom are noncitizens from North Africa. The Jehovah’s Witnesses report 200 members who work in the country, 20 of whom reside there. A small number of residents adhere to other religious beliefs.2;

The country is a party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

Systemic Discrimination
Mostly Satisfactory

Constitution and government

Under Article 2 of the Constitution,3 Monaco is a hereditary and constitutional monarchy, currently led by Prince Albert III who appoints the government, which is answerable to him. Legislative power is given jointly by the prince and the freely elected parliament.4

Article 9 states that “The Catholic, Apostolic and Roman religion is the religion of the State”. As such this makes Roman Catholicism the state religion, and grants the Catholic Archbishop of Monaco the highest office of state below the sovereign and the Minister of State.

Article 23 guarantees individuals freedom of religion and public worship and protects the freedom to express opinions on all issues, provided no crimes are committed in the exercise of those freedoms. No one may be compelled to participate in the rites or ceremonies of any religion or to observe its days of rest. Despite this, Catholic rituals continue to be a part of many state ceremonies, including annual national day celebrations.5;

Religious associations wishing to establish an office or place of worship, own or lease property, or hire employees must first obtain official recognition from the Ministry of the Interior, which must respond to such requests within one month or approval is automatic. The government has granted recognition to the Protestant, Russian Orthodox, and Jewish communities. In addition to obtaining official government recognition, any religious group wishing to construct a place of worship in a public space must seek prior approval from the Ministry of Interior. The government does not tax religious institutions.6;

Jehovah’s Witnesses have struggled to secure official recognition by the government as a religious association despite favorable rulings by the Supreme Court.7 The government has rejected the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ application for legal recognition on three occasions – the most recent in 2019 – despite a Supreme Court ruling annulling the first two rejections. According to the government, the group’s religious doctrine was hostile to the Catholic Church, and the hostility undermined the state and its institutions as well as public order.8;

Education and children’s rights

Article 27 of the Constitution entitles all Monegasque people to free primary and secondary education.

Catholic religious instruction is available in public schools as an option and requires parental authorization. No public schools in Monaco are faith-based. Private schools, including those operated by religious groups, must apply for government authorization. If approved, the schools may provide instruction in religions other than Catholicism.9;

Family, community and society

Monaco is a socially conservative country, where attitudes have been strongly shaped by the influence of the Catholic Church.


Under the Monaco Civil Code,10!OpenView&Start=1&Count=300&RestrictToCategory=CODE%20CIVIL only civil marriages are legally binding, as such religious marriages and divorces are not legally binding.11


Abortion remains illegal, except under special circumstances, including rape and a risk to the life or physical health of the pregnant person or foetus.12 In 2019, however, the parliament passed legislation that removed criminal punishments for people who undergo abortions; though, health professionals may still face penalties for performing an abortion in Monaco.13

LGBTI+ rights

There is no law protecting the rights of members of the LGBTI+ community. As a result, Monaco consistently ranks in the lowest performing EU member states in ILGA Europe’s Rainbow Europe report.14;

The Civil Code does not recognise same-sex marriages and considers them null and void. A bill was passed in 2019 by the National Council which enables non-married partners, including those of the same sex, to obtain legal recognition and protection of their union.15; However, regarding civil partnerships, the Court of First Instance has jurisdiction to rule on actions related to the conclusion, execution, termination or nullity of civil solidarity contracts between same-sex couples.

According to Articles 245-269 of the Civil Code, adoption requests can only be filed jointly by a couple who have been married for more than five years, meaning that members of the LGBTI+ community cannot adopt in Monaco.

Freedom of expression, advocacy of humanist values

Freedom of expression and the media

The Constitution provides for freedom of expression, and the population are generally free to express their personal views without fear of retribution. However, insulting the ruling family is illegal and can result in prison sentences of up to five years, although the law is infrequently enforced.16 Article 3 of the Constitution states that “The executive power is exercised by the highest authority of the Prince. The Prince’s persona is inviolable.”

Press freedom is generally respected in practice. Monaco has a weekly government newspaper, an English-language monthly, and several online publications. There is one major private broadcaster based in the country. French and Italian broadcast and print media are widely available, and internet access is not restricted.17

National security laws

In 2006, a law was passed on the preservation of national security, which strengthens the means of action of the security services, authorising, for example, surveillance of individuals without the need for a prior court order where there was a threat to national security. Since the enactment of this law, the Monaco police can monitor anybody presenting a threat or suspected of organized crime and terrorism.18

Support our work

Donate Button with Credit Cards
whois: Andy White WordPress Theme Developer London