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Vatican City State

Stato della Città del Vaticano
Flag of Vatican City
Location of  Vatican City  (green)on the European continent  (dark grey)  —  [Legend]
Location of  Vatican City  (green)

on the European continent  (dark grey)  —  [Legend]

Capital Vatican City
Official languages Italian[note 1]
Government Ecclesiastical; sacerdotal-monarchical;
absolute monarchy;[1] elective monarchy;[2] elective theocracy.[3]
• Sovereign
Pietro Parolin
Legislature Pontifical Commission
Independence from the Kingdom of Italy
11 February 1929
• Total
44 ha (110 acres) (250th)
• July 2013 estimate
839 (240th)
• Density
1,877/km2 (4,861.4/sq mi) (6th)

Vatican City (Listeni/ˈvætɨkən ˈsɪti/; officially Vatican City State, Italian: Stato della Città del Vaticano)[6] is a sovereign state in the city of Rome. It is an enclave surrounded by Italy. It is the smallest state in the world at 0.44 km².[7] It was created on 11 February 1929, with the Lateran Agreement (Patti Lateranensi). This was signed by Benito Mussolini and Pope Pius XI. The Vatican City is the headquarters of the Roman Catholic Church and its government, the Holy See.

The Head of State is the Pope, now Pope Francis, former cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, was elected on 13 March 2013. It is also important for its culture and art. The Vatican's masterpieces are very well known in the world: St. Peter's Square, St. Peter's Basilica, the Sistine Chapel, the Vatican Museums and the Apostolic Palace, where the Pope lives. There are also hundreds of other sculptures and pictures.


The Pope used to rule the Papal States. This used to cover all of Central Italy. Popes had always tried to stop Italy becoming one country because they might lose their control of the Papal States. In 1861 Italy was unified under the King of Savoy, but Rome and Latium remained unconquered. Only on 20 September 1870 the Italian troops invaded and beat the Papal troops. Rome became capital of the new kingdom.

The Pope said he was a prisoner of the Italian state and excommunicated all the people who helped invade his state. This stopped Catholics from taking part in public life.

In 1929 Benito Mussolini decided to sign an agreement with the Holy See, called the Lateran Treaty, which created the Vatican State. Another treaty gave the Vatican money each year to compensate for the lost territories.

Politics and Government

The government structure is a theocracy with the Pontifical leader being the highest authority.


The state religion of the city is the Roman Catholic Church.




  1. In accordance with paragraph 2 of the Legge sulle fonti del diritto of 7 June 1929, all laws and regulations of the state are published in the Italian language Supplemento per le leggi e disposizioni dello Stato della Città del Vaticano attached to the Acta Apostolicae Sedis. The text of the first seven items published in that supplement is given here. While the state itself uses only Italian, many other languages are used by institutions situated within the state, such as the Holy See, the Pontifical Swiss Guard, and the Pontifical Academy of Sciences.
    The Holy See uses Latin as an official language and French as a diplomatic language; in addition, its Secretariat of State uses English, German, Italian, Polish, Portuguese and Spanish. The Swiss Guard, in which commands on parade are given in German, also uses French and Italian in all its official ceremonies.
  2. Visitors and tourists are not permitted to drive inside the Vatican without specific permission, which is normally granted only to those who have business with some office in the Vatican.