Is Vatican City a country

Is the Vatican City a Country? Independence, History & Facts

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Is Vatican City a Country? The Vatican is a city state that is completely surrounded by Rome. In fact, it is the world’s smallest independent nation!

Here, we’ll tell you all you need to know about the Vatican City government, it’s population and of course its history! Read on to find out more about this unique City State. If you don’t have time, skip to our Frequently Asked Questions section for the quick overview.

Often misunderstood as a part of Rome, you’ll learn here how the Vatican city was formed from its ancient origins. Find out just how much the Vatican City makes per annum, who lives there and how to become a citizen. Check it out below.

Vatican City History and Facts

Vatican city independence

The Vatican as a location and name – Vaticanus – has been in use since the 1st century AD at least.

Originally not thought to be a nice area, the Romans began to gentrify and drain the area. Here, Emperors built spectacular Vatican gardens, circuses and villas. In the Circus of Nero, the Egyptian Obelisk that stands proudly in St Peter’s Square was erected. Nearby, pagan gods were honoured with statues and monuments.

In 326 AD, a basilica was erected on the site. It is believed to be the resting place of St Peter. At this point, the Vaticanus began to transform into the state we know and love today. As Christianity took hold in Italy, the power of the “Papal States” began to grow. However, it was only after 1377 and the return to Rome from Avignon that the pope’s formal residence became the Vatican.

Truth about citizens of the Vatican city

Vatican city history

Vatican citizens are an elite group. Here is the truth of the Vatican city’s inhabitants:

More about Population

Officially, the population of the Vatican City hovers at just over 800 people. This makes it the world’s smallest country. The population remains small despite a couple of thousand people commuting in to work there.

You can only live here if you are in the Swiss Guard or in the official staff of the Vatican church – that means priests, bishops, cardinals etc.

Can you become a citizen of the Vatican city?

The leader of Vatican

Since priests aren’t exactly likely to have their own kids, citizenship of the Vatican City is a bit unusual. You get it if you work for the pope. That’s why he’s the Holy Father!

How many citizens are there

Just over half of the population of 800 – 450 to be precise – are registered citizens of the Vatican City. Citizenship law was revamped in 2009 by Pope Benedict.

Details about Vatican City independence & government

City fountain

The Vatican City became an independent state with the signing of the Lateran Treaty in 1929. Italy had taken most of the Papal States, and the Pope’s territory was becoming more and more concentrated around the Vatican.

As Italy moved to unification, the Vatican maintained its strength. Supported by the french army, Pope Pius IX remained in the area of Rome. This stopped the newly formed Italian government from starting up in 1861.

In 1870 the Franco-Prussian war started, and Napoleon III couldn’t support the Pope any longer. Faced with his own battles, the french garrison was removed from the Vatican. The unified Italian army began to advance on Rome, arriving at the Aurelian walls in September 1870. Rome and the surrounding areas thus joined the new Italy.

Pius IX and his successors staunchly refused to legitimise the seat of the Italian government as Rome. When the King of Italy moved into the Quirinal Palace, Pius IX refused to hand over the keys. The Italian government tried a number of concessions, including giving the Pope special status, but all were refused.

After a long standoff, during which members of the Vatican refused to leave the walls, the Lateran Treaty was signed, giving the Vatican full independence.

Check out our FAQs

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Is Vatican City a country?

The Vatican City is a country, albeit a very small one. Due to its small size, it is known as a city state. The city is also the size of the whole country! The border between Italy and the Vatican city stretches around the enclave for 2 miles.

Why is Vatican City a country?

There are generally accepted to be 8 criteria required to become a country. The Vatican City meets all such requirements. These include having internationally recognized borders, a permanent population and diplomatic relations with other countries.

Is Vatican City a developed country?

The Vatican City is a developed country in western Europe. Although there is no taxation, the revenue generated from souvenirs and ticket sales amounts to well over $320 million per annum.

Is Vatican City a different country?

The Vatican City is a different and independent country. It lies completely surrounded by Rome in Italy.

How is Vatican City a country?

The Vatican City is an internationally recognised city state. It was created to give the Pope an independent state as head of the Catholic Church.

Is Vatican City a country or a city?

Both. In short, the Vatican City is a country, but the “city” extends over its entire 121 acres of space.

Where is Vatican City located?

The Vatican City is located on the west bank of the River Tiber. It is completely surrounded by Italy’s capital city, and as such is an enclave within Rome.

How big is Vatican city?

The Vatican City is 121 acres big (or small, if you look at it compared to other countries!)


Buying tickets

Have we whetted your appetite for all things Vatican? Head on over now to our extensive Vatican City website including guides to the Vatican Museums, the Sistine Chapel and St Peter’s Basilica. We’ve all the resources you need to help book your Vatican tickets today!

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1 Comment

  1. Posted by SIster Clarice Steinfeldt, SDS| February 20, 2021 |Reply

    I found the data very informational, things I didn’t know about Vatican
    City and the Vatican. Thanx

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