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  Introduction Back To Top

Popes in their secular role ruled portions of the Italian peninsula for more than a thousand years until the mid 19th century, when many of the Papal States were 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 in 1929 by three Lateran Treaties, which established the independent state of Vatican City and granted Roman Catholicism special status in Italy. In 1984, a 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. Present concerns of the Holy See include religious freedom, international development, the environment, the Middle East, China, the decline of religion in Europe, terrorism, interreligious dialogue and reconciliation, and the application of church doctrine in an era of rapid change and globalization. About one billion people worldwide profess the Catholic faith.

  Geography Back To Top

Land boundaries:
total: 3.2 km
border countries: Italy 3.2 km

Environment - international agreements:
party to: Climate Change
signed, but not ratified: Air Pollution, Environmental Modification

temperate; mild, rainy winters (September to May) with hot, dry summers (May to September)

Map references:

Geographic coordinates:
41 54 N, 12 27 E

Natural resources:

Elevation extremes:
lowest point: unnamed location 19 m
highest point: unnamed location 75 m

urban; low hill

Geography - note:
landlocked; enclave in Rome, Italy; world's smallest state; beyond the territorial boundary of Vatican City, the Lateran Treaty of 1929 grants the Holy See extraterritorial authority over 23 sites in Rome and five outside of Rome, including the Pontifical Palace at Castel Gandolfo (the Pope's summer residence)

total: 0.44 sq km
land: 0.44 sq km
water: 0 sq km

Southern Europe, an enclave of Rome (Italy)

0 km (landlocked)

Area - comparative:
about 0.7 times the size of The Mall in Washington, DC

Irrigated land:
0 sq km

Environment - current issues:

Maritime claims:
none (landlocked)

Natural hazards:

Land use:
arable land: 0%
permanent crops: 0%
other: 100% (urban area) (2005)

  People Back To Top

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:

HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:

definition: NA
total population: 100%
male: 100%
female: 100%

Ethnic groups:
Italians, Swiss, other

824 (July 2008 est.)

Population growth rate:
0.003% (2008 est.)

Italian, Latin, French, various other languages

HIV/AIDS - deaths:

Roman Catholic

noun: none
adjective: none

  Government Back To Top

Diplomatic representation from the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Mary Ann GLENDON
embassy: Villa Domiziana, Via delle Terme Deciane 26, 00153 Rome
mailing address: PSC 59, Box 66, APO AE 09624
telephone: [39] (06) 4674-3428
FAX: [39] (06) 575-8346

National holiday:
Coronation Day of Pope BENEDICT XVI, 24 April (2005)

limited to cardinals less than 80 years old

Government type:

Political pressure groups and leaders:
none (exclusive of influence exercised by church officers)

Diplomatic representation in the US:
chief of mission: Apostolic Nuncio Archbishop Pietro SAMBI
chancery: 3339 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008
telephone: [1] (202) 333-7121
FAX: [1] (202) 337-4036

International organization participation:
CE (observer), IAEA, Interpol, IOM (observer), ITSO, ITU, ITUC, NAM (guest), OAS (observer), OPCW, OSCE, UN (observer), UNCTAD, UNHCR, Union Latina (observer), UNWTO (observer), UPU, WFTU, WIPO, WTO (observer)

Legislative branch:
unicameral Pontifical Commission for the State of Vatican City

Legal system:
based on Code of Canon Law and revisions to it

Flag description:
two vertical bands of yellow (hoist side) and white with the arms of the Holy See, consisting of the crossed keys of Saint Peter surmounted by the three-tiered papal tiara, centered in the white band

11 February 1929 (from Italy); note - the three treaties signed with Italy on 11 February 1929 acknowledged, among other things, the full sovereignty of the Vatican and established its territorial extent; however, the origin of the Papal States, which over the years have varied considerably in extent, may be traced back to the 8th century

Country name (Goverment):
conventional long form: The Holy See (State of the Vatican City)
conventional short form: Holy See (Vatican City)
local long form: Santa Sede (Stato della Citta del Vaticano)
local short form: Santa Sede (Citta del Vaticano)

Political parties and leaders:

name: Vatican City
geographic coordinates: 41 54 N, 12 27 E
time difference: UTC+1 (6 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
daylight saving time: +1hr, begins last Sunday in March; ends last Sunday in October

new Fundamental Law promulgated by Pope JOHN PAUL II on 26 November 2000, effective 22 February 2001 (replaces the first Fundamental Law of 1929)

Executive branch:
chief of state: Pope BENEDICT XVI (since 19 April 2005)
head of government: Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio BERTONE (since 15 September 2006)
cabinet: Pontifical Commission for the State of Vatican City appointed by the pope
elections: pope elected for life by the College of Cardinals; election last held 19 April 2005 (next to be held after the death of the current pope); secretary of state appointed by the pope
election results: Joseph RATZINGER elected Pope BENEDICT XVI

Administrative divisions:

Judicial branch:
there are three tribunals responsible for civil and criminal matters within Vatican City; three other tribunals rule on issues pertaining to the Holy See
note: judicial duties were established by the Motu Proprio of Pope PIUS XII on 1 May 1946

  Economy Back To Top

Electricity - consumption:
NA kWh

Electricity - imports:
NA kWh; note - electricity supplied by Italy

GDP (purchasing power parity):

Exchange rates:
euros (EUR) per US dollar - 0.6734 (2008 est.), 0.7345 (2007), 0.7964 (2006), 0.8041 (2005), 0.8054 (2004)

Labor force:

Currency (code):
euro (EUR)

Economy - overview:
This unique, noncommercial economy is supported financially by an annual contribution (known as Peter's Pence) from Roman Catholic dioceses throughout the world; by the sale of postage stamps, coins, medals, and tourist mementos; by fees for admission to museums; and by the sale of publications. Investments and real estate income also account for a sizable portion of revenue. The incomes and living standards of lay workers are comparable to those of counterparts who work in the city of Rome.

printing; production of coins, medals, postage stamps; a small amount of mosaics and staff uniforms; worldwide banking and financial activities

Population below poverty line:

Electricity - production:
NA kWh

Labor force - by occupation:
note: essentially services with a small amount of industry; nearly all dignitaries, priests, nuns, guards, and the approximately 3,000 lay workers live outside the Vatican

Currency code:

revenues: $310 million
expenditures: $307 million (2006)

Fiscal year:
calendar year

  Communications Back To Top

Internet users:
93 (2000)

Telephones - main lines in use:
5,120 (2005)


Internet country code:

Radio broadcast stations:
AM 4, FM 3, shortwave 2 (2004)


Television broadcast stations:
1 (2005)

Telephone system:
general assessment: automatic digital exchange
domestic: connected via fiber optic cable to Telecom Italia network
international: country code - 39; uses Italian system

Internet Service Providers (ISPs):

Internet hosts:
55 (2008)

  Transportation Back To Top

  Military Back To Top

Military - note:
defense is the responsibility of Italy; ceremonial and limited security duties performed by Pontifical Swiss Guard

Military branches:
Pontifical Swiss Guard (Corpo della Guardia Svizzera Pontificia) (2007)

  Transnational Issues Back To Top

Disputes - international:

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