The principality of Monaco is one of the smallest states in the world. Amounting to just 0.77 square miles, it is only slightly bigger than London’s Hyde Park. While Monaco is bordered by France to the north, east and west, its south is hemmed in by the vast Mediterranean Sea.
With a population of over 38,000 and counting in such a pocket-sized piece of land, space comes at a premium in the royal state, where Prince Albert governs both politically and royally.
The natives – the Monegasque – migrant workers and millionaires all squeeze into an area of land 50 times smaller than Manchester.
With 19,000 inhabitants per square kilometre, Monaco is the most densely populated sovereign state in the world.
Prince Rainier, Albert’s father, who was dubbed the “builder prince”, in his time sanctioned a land expansion into the Mediterranean in order to cater for the population explosion.
Monaco: Prince Albert is grabbing a chunk of the Mediterranean to accommodate Monaco’s populace
Monaco population: The principality is one of the most densely populated regions in the world
This was done by reclaiming land from the sea and building on it, creating the Fontvieille district in the west, a task completed in the Seventies with the population having since risen by almost 50 percent.
In a similar vein to his father, Albert has sanctioned another land reclamation project in which the state will expand a further 15 acres into the sea.
It is thought the project will cost around €2billion (£1.8bn).
During the BBC’s Inside Monaco: Playground of the Rich documentary, Albert revealed the dire need of a land grab in order to keep the principality sustainable.
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Land grab: Giant concrete blocks have been filled with sand that create the land’s base
He explained: “We did a quick projection of our future needs in terms of private housing and it became clear that where the land extension is happening now was the only place on our waterfront that could accommodate such an extension.”
The project has caused much controversy as apartments that once had a clear view of the sea will now have luxury flats in their way, as well as the noise of heavy construction works for years.
The development is due to be completed in 2025.
It will increase the state’s size by three percent.
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Population control: A large proportion of the base has already been completed
Monaco apartments: An artist’s impression of what the finished apartment complex will look like
Albert said: “We do have a lot of demand mostly for waterfront view apartments, and so, this answers that need.
“It also provides a wonderful public space area for everybody to enjoy.”
Creating the artificial land needed to build the apartments on is nothing short of a feat of engineering.
The extension alone will cost €900million (£800mil).
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The process begins with huge blocks of concrete which are filled with sand and sunk to the seabed.
They then lock together to form a large sea barrier that is filled in with more material which creates a new tract of land.
Monaco is taking other steps towards helping the state to sustain itself.
One measure looks not to cater for a growing population but to curb it altogether.
Albert explained: “We are about to enter discussions on extending the time period from ten to 20 years to automatically become a Monegasque by marriage.
“That’s because if we continue in this way, we will have an increase in population that will simply be unsustainable for us in terms of providing housing, providing job opportunities.”
Monegasque status is only afforded to a select few.
Prince Rainier: Albert’s father embarked on a similar venture in the Seventies
The easiest ways to become a citizen are by birth or by marriage.
Even then, those wishing to become citizens have to be married to a Monegasque for 10 years before being eligible.
There is one other route to citizenship.
Its success rate, however, is so slim that few people apply.
Around 100 to 150 people apply for Monegasque naturalised citizenship each year, with only around 20 percent accepted.