The Vatican City; The Worlds Smallest Country
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The Vatican City; The Worlds Smallest Country

The European micro state of The Vatican City State is the world's smallest country, situated in the capital city of italy, Rome.

The European micro state of The Vatican City State, is an ecclesiastical monarchial, ruled by the Bishop of Rome, The Pope.

The Pope is ' ex officio ' as head of state and government, whose official title is The Sovereign of the State of the Vatican City.

At 0.44 sq km ( 44 hectares / 110 acres / 0.17 miles ) and with a border of only 3.2 km, it is the world's smallest independent country.

Situated 200 metres from the banks of the River Tiber, in the centre of Rome, Italy, it has a population of around 500, non of which are permanent, which is made up of The Pope, 58 cardinals, 293 clergy, 43 lay persons, the Swiss Guard and 246 persons without residency.

Citizenship is granted on the basis of employment within the state, which is also extended to any family members that reside with the employee.

All citizens are issued with Vatican City passports, which are relinquished upon termination of employment, followed with automatically granted Italian citizenship.

The Lateran treaty of 1929 brought the state into existance, which is distinct from the Holy See, which is the episcopal jurisdiction of the Pope, who speaks for the entire Catholic Church and it's 1.45 billion followers around the world and maintains diplomatic relations of which it has the oldest continual diplomatic service in the world, dating back to AD 325, which is internationally recognised by all but 16 of the world's 196 countries.

Therefore, the Lateran Pacts provides the Holy See with a temporal jurisdiction within the Vatican City State.

The city as a whole is the most sacred place in Catholocism and a UNESCO world Heritage Site, that incorporates the internationally recognised Cistine Chapel, St Peter's Square, St Peter's Basilica, ( which houses the Roman Necropolis and Michaelangelo's La Pieta ), the Vatican Museum, Vatican Art gallery and Vatican Library, all of which hold important, historical religious artifacts and papers.


                                                          Coat of arms of the Holy See. 



The Papal Palace which is the administrative hub of the state, and residence of the Pope, is surrounded by the pristine Vatican Gardens.

More mundane, but equally interesting, is the Vatican City Bank, which issues it's own Euro currency, which is highly sought after by collectors, and has the only ATM in the world that is in Latin.

The state also has it's own post office, complete with it's own stamps, and a train station designed by Giuseppe Momo and built in 1930, with a service that connects with Rome's Saint Peter's station 852 metres away, which was originally intended for use by pilgrims visiting the city, but is only used for freight today.

The state is also served by a heliport which is used to fly in visiting dignataries.

The Holy See runs it's own printing press, where the weekly newspaper L'Osservatore Romano is published, as well as it's own radio station, website and T.V channel, which are all accessible in several languages.

There is also a supermarket and tourist gift shops selling religious souvenirs.


                                                 St Peter's Square.

The Swiss Guard serve as the Vatican's military, a service that was first established in 1506 by Pope Julius II, who employed Swiss mercenaries as his bodyguards.

The guards are employed to protect the Pope from attack and to keep order within the crowds of thousands of Pilgrims that visit the city every year. During large gatherings they work along side the official Rome police.

At present there are 100 guards serving at the Vatican who are all issued with Vatican passports and must fulfill the requirements of being a Swiss, Catholic, male no shorter than 1.74 metres who is aged between 19 and 30 and has completed basic military training at the Swiss military.

The Guard's official title is, Corpo della Gendarmeria dello Stato della Citta del Vaticano, thankfully shortened to Vigilanza.

The Swiss Guard have a football team that play on a few rare ocassions, that draws much public and press interest within Italy.







                                                                                                   © D.B.Bellamy.February.2010.

                                                                                           images courtesy of wikimedia commons.

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Comments (1)
Ranked #5 in Europe

Beautiful place and I can recommend this for everyone who is planning a travel to Rome. Great article!