May 21, 2022
The Vatican, fully known as the City-State of the Vatican, is an inland sovereign city-state, an enclave within Rome, the capital of Italy. With an area of approximately 49 hectares and less than a thousand inhabitants, it is the smallest country in the world in terms of population and area. Its territory is largely surrounded by a historic wall and consists mainly of gardens, churches and other buildings. The state of Vatican was established in 1929 on the basis of the Lateran Treaties, signed by Cardinal Pietro Gasparri on behalf of the Holy See and Prime Minister Benito Mussolini on behalf of the Kingdom of Italy. The Vatican treaties speak of a new entity, not the remnant of a much larger papal state (756-1870), which previously included much of central Italy. Most of this territory was incorporated into the Kingdom of Italy as early as 1860, and the last part, the city of Rome, ten years later in 1870. The Vatican is a church or spiritually monarchical state, ruled by a lifelong elected bishop of Rome - the pope. All the highest state officials are Catholic clergy of various national origins. Since their return from the captivity of Avignon in 1377, the popes have lived mainly in the Apostolic Palace, now located in the Vatican, although in the past other residences in Rome were typical, such as the Lateran Palace or the Quirinal Palace (now the residence of the President of the Italian Republic). The Vatican City State is to be distinguished from the Holy See, which dates back to early Christianity and is the main episcopal chair of the 1.2 billion Latin and Eastern rite Catholic believers around the world. Vatican documents are issued in Italian, which is also the Vatican's language of communication, while official Holy See documents are issued mainly in Latin. The Vatican's own territory includes the Basilica of St. Peter's Square and St. Peter's Square with the Apostolic Palace, adjoining buildings and the Vatican Gardens. There are important cultural monuments and institutions in this area, such as the Sistine Chapel, the Vatican Museums or the Vatican Apostolic Library. The Vatican also includes extraterritorial territories with a special legal status, which include the papal basilicas (until 2008 "patriarchal") St. John in the Lateran, St. Paul behind the walls, the Basilica of St. Lawrence behind the walls, the Basilica of Our Lady of the Snows and the papal summer residence in Castel Gandolfo.