The Vatican City, officially called The Holy See, is the smallest country in the world and is located within a walled area of the Italian capital city of Rome. Its area is only about .17 square miles (.44 square km) and it has a July 2009 population estimate of 826, but many more commute into the area for work. The Vatican City officially came into existence in 1929 after the Lateran Treaty with Italy. Its government type is considered ecclesiastical and its chief of state is the Catholic Pope, Pope Benedict XVI.
The following is a list of ten geographic facts to know about the Vatican City:
1) The Vatican City is located on top of Vatican Hill near the Tiber River in Rome. The area's boundaries follow a city wall that was originally constructed to protect the Pope.
2) The Vatican City's climate is Mediterranean and has mild, rainy winters and hot, dry summers. Winter typically lasts from September to mid-May and summers are from May to August.
3) The area making up Vatican City is considered sovereign and independent. The region is overseen by the Pope and is a combination of Papal States that were once spread throughout Italy.
4) The College of the Cardinals is the body which advises the pope and appoints a new one upon his death.
5) Vatican City's population and labor force consists mainly of Catholic priests, nuns, guards and dignitaries but about 3,000 other workers enter the area each day.
6) The main industries in the Vatican City are printing, coin and medal production, postage stamps, mosaics and staff uniforms. Worldwide banking and financial activities are also practiced in Vatican City and the area is mainly supported by foreign investments, real estate income and donations from Catholic followers, dioceses and institutions.
7) Vatican City issues its own coins but it has used the Euro since a 1999 agreement with the European Union.
8) The official languages in Vatican City are Italian, French and Latin.
9) Despite its small size, the Vatican City has a small transportation network that includes a heliport and a short railway that connects the area to Saint Peter's Station in Rome.
10) The Vatican City is well-known for its art. St. Peter's Basilica, the frescoes of the Sistine Chapel and works by artists such as Michelangelo are in Vatican City. In addition, the Vatican Library and the Vatican Museum contain many items of historical, scientific and cultural significance. The presence of these arts also led to UNESCO declaring Vatican City a World Heritage Site in 1984.
To learn more about the Vatican City visit Vatican City Travel Essentials from Italy Travel at About.com.
Central Intelligence Agency. (2010, March 4). CIA - the World Factbook - Holy See (Vatican City). Retrieved from: https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/vt.html
Infoplease. (n.d.). Vatican City (Holy See): History, Geography, Government, Culture -Infoplease.com. Retrieved from: http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0108136.html?pageno=3
Wikipedia. (2010, March 15). Vatican City - Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vatican_City