Our Nature lies in movement; complete calm is death.
— Blaise Pascal, 1623 - 1662
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Vatican City

Background

Vatican City

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.

About

Perhaps the Vatican needs no introduction. The center of Catholicism, and encompassing the Vatican City state, as well as the surrounding Roman neighborhoods of the Vaticano, Prati, and Monte Mario, this small slice of the city is packed with more history and artwork than most cities in the world.

Read more about Vatican City in our Vatican City travel guide »

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Vatican City

Full name
State of the Vatican City
Capital
Vatican City
Location

Southern Europe, an enclave of Rome (Italy)

Geographic coordinates

41 54 N, 12 27 E

Area comparative

about 0.7 times the size of The National Mall in Washington, DC

Border countries

Italy 3.2 km

Coastline

0 km (landlocked)

Climate

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

Terrain

urban; low hill

Lowest point

unnamed location 19 m

Highest point

unnamed elevation 75 m

Natural resources

none

Population

829 (July 2010 est.)

Ethnic groups

Italians, Swiss, other

Religions

Roman Catholic

Languages

Italian, Latin, French, various other languages

Government type

ecclesiastical

Independence

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

National holiday

Election Day of Pope BENEDICT XVI, 19 April (2005)

Chief of state

Pope BENEDICT XVI (since 19 April 2005)

Head of government

Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio BERTONE (since 15 September 2006)

Internet country code

.va

Other countries in the region