Is Vatican City a Country?

When was Vatican city founded?

Is Vatican city a country? Yes, Vatican City is a new county that was born on the 11th of February 1929. How did the Vatican city become a country? It granted the status of a country due to the Lateran treaty to end a period of political and religious turmoil within Italy between the church and government. The Kingdom of Italy and the Papal States were fighting over the control of land in mainland Italy, Rome in particular. In the end the kingdom of Italy invaded the Papal States and forced them to retreat to the Vatican. The church held the stance that they were being held prisoner in the Vatican and refused to acknowledge the Kingdom of Italy as a political power – to the annoyance of government!

View from St. Peters Basillica
Is Vatican City a Country? | Carpe Diem Rome

Thank Mussolini

Popes, Priminsiters, and decades passed and there was still no resolution until the infamous Benito Mussolini stepped on the scene. He realized that without the support of the church it would continue to cause problems and restrict government. Therefore he devised the Lateran treaty, or the Lateran pact of 1929, which was a deal made between the kingdom of Italy and the Holy See which recognized Vatican City as an independent state under the sovereignty of the Holy See. The pact also included the transfer of almost 1 billion euros, palaces, and land in Rome and Lazio. In return the Holy See recognized Italy as a country and promised to remain neutral in wars and politics. 

Is Vatican City a Country? 1
Signing of Lateran Treaty 1929 | Is Vatican City a country?

Is Vatican City Smallest Country in the World?

Absolutely! The Vatican city world’s smallest fully independent nation-state, and it is just 44 hectares in size. To put that into perspective, it takes around 40 minutes to walk the whole way around the walls of Vatican City. The Vatican mints its own euros, prints its own stamps, issues passports and license plates, operates media outlets, has its own domain, flag and anthem. There is one government function they don’t believe they require…tax! The Vatican city population in 2019 was 825 citizens – all of whom have been elected by the Pope. Most of the population are either cardinals or Swiss guards. it is impossible to be born a citizen of Vatican City!

Vatican City Flag
Vatican City Flag

What’s inside the Vatican City walls?

The Vatican City comprises of 3 main components. The Vatican Museums, the Sistine Chapel, and St. Peters Basilica. The Vatican museums is the largest art collection in the world and home to famous artworks that the church has been collecting over the centuries. If you were to walk through the entirety of the museums it would require you to walk a staggering distance of 7.5 kilometers! The Sistine Chapel is the heart of the Catholic religion and where cardinals come for the Papal Conclave, painted on the ceiling is the last judgment by Michelangelo which took an astonishing 4 years to paint. The pinnacle of Vatican City is Peter’s Basilica, the largest and arguably most important catholic church in the world.

last judgment
The Last Judgement, Sistine Chapel, Vatican City

The Popes bodyguard

The Swiss guards have been the protectors of the Pope and the Vatican since 1506 when Pope Julius II established the “Defenders of the Churches freedom”. The men are carefully selected from the Swiss military, they must be unmarried and between the ages of 19 – 30. Interestingly, they make up almost 30 percent of the Vatican city population. Today the guards are there to keep the peace and look good – however they don’t see as much action as they used to. The worst recorded battle was when the Vatican was attacked by the Holy Roman Empirin 1527 killing 147 of the 189 Swiss Guards including the commander.

Is vatican city a country
Swiss Guard on duty

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