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Vatican City

The State of the Vatican City is the smallest country in the world, a landlocked enclave surrounded by the city of Rome in Italy. "The Vatican" is the home of the Pope, and forms the territory of the Holy See, the central authority of the Roman Catholic Church. The Vatican is located upon the Vatican Hill (Vaticanus Mons), whose name antedates Christianity.

Santa Sede
Stato della Citta del Vaticano
(In Detail)
National motto: None
Official language Latin
(Italian is most common)
Pope John Paul II
 - Total
 - % water
Ranked 194th
0.44 km2
 - Total (2000)
 - Density
Ranked 194th
 - Date
Lateran treaties
February 11, 1929
Currency Euro¹
Time zone UTC +1
National anthem Inno e Marcia Pontificale
Internet TLD.VA
Calling Code379
(1) Prior to 1999: Vatican lira
Table of contents

History Main article: History of the Vatican City

It is supposed that this originally uninhabited part of Rome (the Ager Vaticanus) had always been considered sacred, even before the arrival of Christianity. In 326 the first church was built on the supposed site of the tomb of Saint Peter, and from then on the area started to become more populated.

Popes in their secular role gradually extended their control over neighbouring regions and through the Papal States ruled a large portion of the Italian peninsula for more than a thousand years until the mid 19th century, when most of the territory of the Papal States was seized by the newly united Kingdom of Italy.

In 1870, the Pope's holdings were further circumscribed when Rome itself was annexed. Disputes between a series of "prisoner" popes and Italy were resolved on February 11, 1929 by three Lateran treaties (also known as the Concordat), which established the independent state of the Vatican City and granted Roman Catholicism special status in Italy. In 1984, a new concordat between the Holy See and Italy modified certain of the earlier treaty provisions, including the primacy of Roman Catholicism as the Italian state religion.

Politics Main article: Politics of the Vatican City

The Vatican is technically a rare case of a non-hereditary elective monarchy; the monarch, the Pope, being elected for life by those Cardinals under the age of 80 during a Conclave (held in the Sistine Chapel).

The term "Holy See" refers to the composite of the authority, jurisdiction, and sovereignty vested in the Pope and his advisers to direct the worldwide Roman Catholic Church. As the "central government" of the Roman Catholic Church, the Holy See has a legal personality that allows it to enter into treaties as the juridical equal of a state. The Pope delegates the internal administration of the Vatican City to the Pontifical Commission for the State of the Vatican City. The legal system is based on canon, or ecclesiastical, law; if canon law is not applicable, the laws of the city of Rome apply.

As an independent state, the Vatican has the right to to send and receive diplomatic representatives, including foreign embassies, which are located in the Italian part of Rome due to the very limited territory of the state. This means, very curiously, that Italy hosts its own Embassy of Italy.

Geography Main article: Geography of the Vatican City

The Vatican City is situated on the Vatican Hill in the northwestern part of Rome, several hundred metres west of the Tiber river. Its borders (3.2 km in total, all with Italy) closely follow the city wall constructed to protect the Pope from outside attack. The situation is more complex at the famous St. Peter's Square[?] in front of the St. Peter's Basilica, where the correct border is the middle of the round area surrounded by Bernini's columns. It is the smallest sovereign state in the world (108.7 acres). In addition to Vatican City the State includes certain extra-territorial properties in Italy belonging to the Holy See (Major Basilicas, Curial and diocesan offices, Castel Gandolpho). The Pope is the Head of State, though he governs through the Pontifical Commission for the State of Vatican City. The Gubernator manages the day to day affairs of the State.

Its climate is naturally much the same as Rome's; a temperate, mediterranean clime with mild, rainy winters from September to mid-May and hot, dry summers from May to September.

Economy Main article: Economy of the Vatican City

This unique, noncommercial economy is supported financially by contributions (known as Peter's pence[?]) from Roman Catholics throughout the world, the sale of postage stamps, coins and tourist mementos, fees for admission to museums, and the sale of publications. The incomes and living standards of lay workers are comparable to, or somewhat better than, those of counterparts who work in the city of Rome.

Demographics Main article: Demographics of the Vatican City

Almost all of Vatican City's 890 citizens live inside the Vatican's walls. The Vatican citizenry consists mostly of clergy, including high dignitaries, priests, nuns, as well as the famous Swiss Guard, a voluntary military force. There are also about 3,000 lay workers who comprise the majority of the Vatican work force, but who reside outside the Vatican.

The official language is Latin, the otherwise extinct language that originated in Rome and has remained in use in the Roman Catholic Church. Italian and, to a lesser extent, other languages are generally used for most conversations, publications and broadcasts.

Culture Main article: Culture of the Vatican City[?]

The Vatican City is itself of great cultural significance. Buildings such as St. Peter's Basilica or the Sistine Chapel are home to what is considered some of most beautiful art in the world, which includes works by artists such as Botticelli, Bernini and Michelangelo. It also has a large and valuable library and the collections of the Vatican Museums are of the highest historical, scientific and cultural importance.

Miscellaneous topics

External Links

  • The Holy See (http://www.vatican.va/phome_en.htm) - Official website of the Holy See

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