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Vatican City, the smallest country in the world

2013-03-10

The small country houses the central government of the Catholic Church, made up of the Pope and the numerous departments that help him.

The Vatican City State is the smallest sovereign country in the world, measuring roughly one sixth of a mile squared. By comparison, Capital Hill in Washington, D.C. takes up more land than the Vatican.

It's population numbers around 800, but only about 450 have Vatican citizenship, which is not obtained through birth, but by concession. Among Vatican citizens are the diplomatic corps across the world, the cardinals and several of the Pope's assistants, in addition to the Swiss Guard and lay members working in the Roman Curia.

Within the Vatican Walls, the Pope is the absolute monarch in theory, but the person that truly governs it is the president of the Governatorato, currently Italian Cardinal Giuseppe Bertello.

The Pope also delegates executive, legislative and judicial powers within the territory to the pontifical commissions. However, the College of Cardinals takes over during the Sede Vacante period.

Behind the Vatican Walls, one can find almost anything: a pharmacy, a supermarket, a gas station and a large tax free store.

In addition, there's a postal service that mints its own coins and stamps. The country even has its own Internet domain (.va), and an anthem composed by Frenchman Charles Gounod.

The Vatican City State is guarded by the Pontifical Gerdamerie, who along with the Swiss Guard, looks after the safety of the Pope and Vatican citizens.

It's their colorful uniforms that make the Swiss Guard one of the Vatican's icons. The protective service was created in the Sixteenth Century, and is made up of 110 soldiers.

Without lacking any services, the 108 acres of the Vatican City State are able to govern, without any trouble, the nearly 1.2 billion Catholics in the world.


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