Vatican City, Rome, Italy
The World's SMALLEST State!

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Flag of Vatican City, Rome, Italy
Coat of Arms of Vatican City, Rome, Italy
Flag of City-StateCoat of Arms

What exactly is Vatican City?

It is an independent and landlocked state the territory of which exists entirely within Rome, Italy. Under International law the city is considered a national territory. Vatican city covers an area of roughly 110 acres, making it the tinest state in terms of both total area and population.

Vatican City is an entity that is distinct from what is called the Holy See. The See, which is not a country, has a history dating to the advent of Christianity. It oversees over 1.2 billion Latin and Eastern Catholic members. While city ordinances are published in Italian, the official Holy See documents are written primarily in Latin.

In addition to its own diplomacy, the See conducts diplomatic relations on behalf of Vatican City and enters into international agreements for it.

Where did the word come from?

The name "Vatican" predates Christianity and comes from the Latin Mons Vaticanus, which means Vatican Mount.


The city had a surplus of 6.7 million euros in 2007 (roughly $8.9 million based on rate of one euro = $1.33 US) but ran a deficit in 2008 of over 15 million euros (over $20 million US).


The defense of the City is the responsibility of Italy. The Pontifical Swiss Guard was founded by Pope Julius II in 1506 as the personal bodyguard of the Pope and continues to fulfil that function. At the end of 2005 the Guard had 134 members. All recruits must be Catholic, between the ages of 19 and 30, unmarried and have Swiss citizenship.

What is in the City?

The official territory of the City is part of Rome's Mons Vaticanus and the nearby former Vatican Fields. Within this territory lies St. Peter's Basilica, the famous Sistine Chapel, museums and other buildings.

Comprising nearly half of the territory of the city is the Vatican Gardens. The gardens were established during the Renaissance and Baroque era and contain fountains and sculptures.

The art and architecture

The city-state has within its boundaries many of the most well-known artwork and architecture on the planet. For example, the Basilica at Saint Peter's is a renowned showcase of Renaissance architecture and architects. Within its walls it contains the work of Michelangelo, Bernini, Giacomo della Porta and others.

The paintings and frescos found within the Sistine Chapel are also well-known. The Chapel contains works by Botticelli, Perugino, Ghirlandaio and other painters. It also contains Michelangelo's well-known ceiling and his The Last Judgment fresco.

Artisans who have decorated the Vatican's interiors include Fra Angelico and Raphael. The Library and the Museums found in the city are consider to be of the highest value and importance.

Interesting facts

The Vatican controls its own Internet Top Level Domain, which is registered as .va. Popular TLDs in the world include .com (commercial), .net (network) and .org (non-profit organization).

The Institute for Works of Religion, also known as the Vatican Bank, is a bank situated in the city that conducts worldwide financial activities. It has an ATM with instructions in Latin, possibly the only one of its kind in the entire world!

In 2012 the U.S. State Department's International Narcotics Control Strategy Report listed Vatican City, for the first time, among the nations of concern for money-laundering

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