Vatican City

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Vatican City State
Stato della Città del Vaticano
Coat of arms of Vatican City
Coat of arms
Anthem: Inno e Marcia Pontificale  (Italian)
Pontifical Anthem and March
Location of  Vatican City  (green) on the European continent  (dark grey)  —  [Legend]
Location of  Vatican City  (green)

on the European continent  (dark grey)  —  [Legend]

CapitalVatican City
Official languagesItalian[note 1]
GovernmentEcclesiastical; sacerdotal-monarchical;
absolute monarchy;[1] elective monarchy;[2] elective theocracy.[3]
• Sovereign
Pietro Parolin
LegislaturePontifical Commission
Independence from the Kingdom of Italy
11 February 1929
• Total
44 ha (110 acres) (250th)
• July 2013 estimate
839 (240th)
• Density
1,877/km2 (4,861.4/sq mi) (6th)
CurrencyEuro (€)b (EUR)
Time zoneUTC+1 (CET)
• Summer (DST)
Driving sideright[note 2]
Calling code+379[4]
ISO 3166 codeVA
  1. Since 1 January 2002 (see Valuta at, retrieved 23 October 2009). Before 2002, the currency was the Vatican lira, on a par with the Italian lira.

Vatican City (/ˈvætkən ˈsɪti/ (About this soundlisten); officially Vatican City State, Italian: Stato della Città del Vaticano)[6] is an independent sovereign state and the smallest country in the world by size, at 0.44 km².[7] Its territory is completely surrounded by Italy and it is only one of three countries in the world that are enclaves of another country (the others being San Marino, also in Italy, and Lesotho in southern Africa). Also, it is the only country in the world that is an enclave of a city, as all of the land around it is part of Rome, the capital of Italy. The Vatican City is a city-state, because all its territory is urban and built-up.

The Vatican City is the headquarters of the Roman Catholic Church and its government, the Holy See. Its head of state is the Pope which is, religiously speaking, the Bishop of Rome and head of the Roman Catholic Church. The current Pope, Pope Francis, former cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, was elected on 13 March 2013.

Established on 11 February 1929 with the Lateran Agreement (Patti Lateranensi) signed by Benito Mussolini and Pope Pius XI, the Vatican City is also important for its culture and art. The Vatican's masterpieces are very well known in the world: St. Peter's Square, St. Peter's Basilica, the Sistine Chapel, the Vatican Museums and the Apostolic Palace, where the Pope lives. There are also hundreds of other sculptures and pictures.

History[change | change source]

The Pope used to rule the Papal States, which included most of Italy. Catholic popes had generally tried to stop Italy from becoming one country because they feared they would lose their control of at least one of the Papal States.[source?] In 1861 Italy was unified under the King of Savoy, but Rome and Latium remained unconquered. On September 20, 1870 Italian troops invaded. Rome became capital of the new kingdom.

The Pope claimed he was a prisoner of the Italian state and excommunicated all the people who helped invade the Papal state. This stopped Catholics from taking part in public life under Catholic government.

In 1929 Benito Mussolini, decided to sign an agreement with the Holy See, called the Lateran Treaty, which created the Vatican State. Another treaty gave the Vatican money each year to compensate for the lost territories.

Politics and Government[change | change source]

The government structure is theocracy with the pontifical leader being the highest authority. The pope is elected by the College of Cardinals which can lead the Roman Catholic Church and the city-state itself. The Pope also holds the title of "Bishop of Rome".

People[change | change source]

Population[change | change source]

Vatican City has a population of 453 people, and 246 of them are citizens. The citizens of the Vatican include the Pope, all the cardinals, all the ambassadors (who are called nuncios) and other diplomats, all the Swiss Guards, and other important people. Also, there are 372 Vatican citizens who live in other countries, including cardinals and nuncios. Vatican citizenship cannot be passed to children and spouses; and, except for the Pope and cardinals, Vatican citizenship is lost when the term of office comes to an end, for the Swiss Guards, nuncios and diplomats, and other people working for the Vatican.[8]

Language[change | change source]

The Vatican does not have a law declaring an official language. Italian is the main language used. The Holy See's official language is Latin.

Religion[change | change source]

The official religion of the Vatican is Roman Catholic Christianity, and because the state is ruled by a Pope, it is a theocracy.

Gallery[change | change source]

References[change | change source]

  1. "Internet portal of Vatican City State". Vatican City State. Archived from the original on 24 May 2011. Retrieved 9 July 2011.
  2. Gerhard Robbers, Encyclopedia of World Constitutions (Infobase Publishing 2006), p. 1009 ISBN 978-0-81606078-8
  3. Nick Megoran, "Theocracy" in International Encyclopedia of Human Geography, vol. 11, Elsevier 2009, p.226| Quote:elective theocracy (although its representatives would be unlikely to accept that label) ISBN 978-0-08-044911-1
  4. ITU-T assigned code 379 to Vatican City. However, Vatican City is included in the Italian telephone numbering plan and uses the Italian country code 39, followed by 06 (for Rome) and 698.
  5. Holy See Press Office — General Information. Retrieved 23 October 2009.
  6. "Stato della Città del Vaticano" is the name used in the text of the state's Fundamental Law and in the state's official website Archived 2013-12-04 at the Wayback Machine.
  7. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2010-11-02. Retrieved 2009-07-22.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  8. "Popolazione". Retrieved 2020-11-08.

Notes[change | change source]

  1. In accordance with paragraph 2 of the Legge sulle fonti del diritto of 7 June 1929, all laws and regulations of the state are published in the Italian language Supplemento per le leggi e disposizioni dello Stato della Città del Vaticano attached to the Acta Apostolicae Sedis. The text of the first seven items published in that supplement is given here. Archived 2010-12-27 at the Wayback Machine While the state itself uses only Italian, many other languages are used by institutions situated within the state, such as the Holy See, the Pontifical Swiss Guard, and the Pontifical Academy of Sciences.
    The Holy See uses Latin as an official language and French as a diplomatic language; in addition, its Secretariat of State uses English, German, Italian, Polish, Portuguese and Spanish. The Swiss Guard, in which commands on parade are given in German, also uses French and Italian in all its official ceremonies.
  2. Visitors and tourists are not permitted to drive inside the Vatican without specific permission, which is normally granted only to those who have business with some office in the Vatican.