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Quick Facts
CapitalVatican City
Currencyeuro (EUR)
Areatotal(land): 0.44 sq km
Population900 (July 2002 est.)
Calling Code379
Internet TLD.va
Time ZoneUTC +1
LanguageItalian, Latin, French, various other languages
ReligionRoman Catholic 100%

Vatican City (Citta del Vaticano), also known as the Holy See (Santa Sede) , is the last Papal state in existence and the seat of the Pope, head of the worldwide Roman Catholic Church. Situated within the city of Rome in Italy, the Vatican is the world's smallest state. Outside the Vatican City, 13 buildings in Rome and Castel Gandolfo, the Pope's summer residence, also enjoy extraterritorial rights. On April 19, 2005, Josef Cardinal Ratzinger was elected as Pope Benedict XVI (http://www.pope-benedict-xvi.info)



The origin of the Papal States, which over the years have varied considerably in extent, may be traced back to the 8th century. 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. On 11 February 1929, three treaties were signed with Italy which, among other things, recognized the full sovereignty of the Vatican and established its territorial extent.

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.

The pope is elected for life by the College of Cardinals. When the election was last held (Tuesday, April 19, 2005. Benedict XVI), it attracted large crowds. Pope BENEDICT XVI's predcessor's Pope JOHN PAUL II's Coronation Day of 22 October 1978 was also a major event.

Present concerns of the Holy See include interreligious dialogue and reconciliation, and the application of church doctrine in an era of rapid change and globalization. About 1 billion people worldwide profess the Catholic faith.

The Vatican has a unique, noncommercial economy that is supported financially by contributions (known as Peter's Pence) from Roman Catholics throughout the world. It also sells postage stamps, tourist mementos and publications. Fees for admission to museums also go into church coffers.


The Vatican sits on a low hill between 19 m and 75 m above sea level. With a boundary only 3.2 km around, the enclosed land area is smaller than some shopping malls. However the buildings are far more historic.


Like much of Southern Europe, the Vatican has temperate; mild, rainy winters (September to mid-May) with hot, dry summers (May to September).


Although 900 people live within the Vatican city, many dignitaries, priests, nuns, guards, and 3,000 lay workers live outside the Vatican.

Get in

Vatican City is accessed from the Italian capital city of Rome, by taxi, bus or by foot. Take the Metro line A to Cipro for the [http://mv.vatican.va/3_EN/pages/MV_Home.html

  • Swiss Guards Corps (Corpo della Guardia Svizzera)

Swiss Papal Guards are posted at entrances to the Vatican City to provide security and protect the Pope. They wear very colourful clothing, similar to the clothing of court jesters.


  • Tours of the grounds
  • Visit the Museums Mon-Sat 8:30 - 1:30. €12 entry. Free entry on the last Sunday of every month, but closed on all other Sundays.
  • See the Sistine Chapel. It's part of the museum complex, and entry is included in the cost of entry to the Museums. The frescos truly deserve their wonderful reputation. Rome.


    Unless you count the Pope as a good friend (and he concurs), see Rome


    The Vatican uses the Italian Telephone system. It also operates AM, FM, and shortwave Radio broadcast stations as well as a Television broadcast stations.

    Diplomatic representation in the US 
    chief of mission: Apostolic Nuncio Archbishop Gabriel MONTALVO
    FAX: [1] (202) 337-4036
    telephone: [1] (202) 333-7121
    chancery: 3339 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008
    Diplomatic representation from the US 
    chief of mission: Ambassador R. James "Jim" NICHOLSON
    embassy: Villa Domiziana, Via delle Terme Deciane 26, 00162 Rome
    mailing address: PSC 59, Box F, APO AE 09624
    telephone: [39] (06) 4674-3428
    FAX: [39] (06) 5758346

    External links

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