Monaco and the Olympic$ — an improbable country fielding an improbable team

Location_Monaco_EuropeWatching the athletes entry during the opening ceremony for the 2014 Winter Olympic$ in Sochi (trying to ignore Mr. Bob Costas inane droning on (read about this here,)) I reflected on the impossibility of Monaco

The Monaco team consist of five athletes plus one alternate, competing in two sports (alpine skiing and bobsleigh.) Although this does not sound like a big team, it is, if viewed in light of the country’s size (technically, Monaco is a principality, but since it is really just a gated community for the ultra-rich, I allow myself some slack here.)

With a population of approximately 40 thousand (I am rounding up significantly) and a square area of 2.02 km2 (0.78 square miles,) Monaco has the highest population density in the world with 18 thousand people, or so, per km2, handily beating Singapore (I ignore Macau, which, depending on how you view statistics about population density, may — narrowly — squeeze out Monaco.)

By the way, if you want to understand how miniscule Monaco is, helicopter from one end to the other.

It is a journey of 40 seconds! Not quite a blink of an eye, but close (if your wallet is not quite up for a helicopter flight, you can walk instead — it will take you just under one hour.) Another way to grasp the size is to compare it to the city of Sochi, which has a square area of 177 km2 (68.25 square miles,) making it possible to squeeze the entire Principauté de Monaco into one (small) suburb of Sochi.

Add to this a per capita Gross Domestic Product of a staggering $153,177 and zero income tax and Monaco truly becomes the most improbable country on the planet.

I digress somewhat, but here is the point: In absolute terms the Monaco team at the Olympics is tiny, but expressed as a function of either population or square mileage, Monaco becomes the “largest” team at the Winter Olympic$ — by far. In fact, the team would be so “large” as to be improbable.

OK, let’s digress a bit more…

Crime? With one police officer for each 60 citizens and active license plating scanning of every single vehicle that enters Monaco coupled with discreet, but undoubtedly very aggressive policing, crime is simply — however improbable it may seem — non-existent.

When I say crime, by the way, I refer to pedestrian crime. High-level scamming and conning is, of course, rampant, as is price-gouging, and by some accounts Monaco has the highest density of prostitution in the world.

Oh, by the way, totally in line with the desires of the truly wealthy who holds residence in Monaco (an estimated 2,000 millionaires and 50, or so, billionaires) the looming police presence enforces a (discreet, but efficient) zero-tolerance policy on paparazzi, effectively meaning that there is no paparazzi in Monaco.

The absolute absence of paparazzi also — ironically — means that there is an absence of A-list entertainers. Consider what that says about the symbiotic relationship between the paparazzi and top entertains next time, you hear Mr. Justin Bieber or Mr. Leonardo Dicaprio complain about their lack of privacy.

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