5 Things You Might Not Know About Vatican City

On June 7, 1929, Vatican City was established as a sovereign state after Benito Mussolini signed the Lateran Treaty in Rome. It's widely known that the Vatican is where the Pope resides and is where you'll find the Sistine Chapel. Here are 5 things other things you didn't know about this independent nation...

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Vatican City Is The Smallest Country In The World Encircled by a 2-mile border with Italy, Vatican City is an independent city-state that covers just over 100 acres, making it one-eighth the size of New York’s Central Park. Vatican City is governed as an absolute monarchy with the pope at its head. The Vatican mints its own euros, issues its own passports and has its own flag and anthem. It is deficient in one government function: taxation. The Vatican generates revenue from admission fees and souvenir sales.

Benito Mussolini Signed Vatican City Into Existence The conflict between the Italian government and the Catholic Church was resolved in 1929 with the signing of the Lateran Pacts, which established the Vatican as a sovereign state and compensated the church $92 million for the Papal States. The contribution was used as seed money to replenish the Vatican's coffers. Mussolini, the head of the Italian government, signed the treaty on behalf of King Victor Emmanuel III.

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The Swiss Guard Has Been Protecting the Pope Since 1506 The Swiss Guard was hired to protect the pontiff back in 1506 by Pope Julius II for his personal protection. in the footsteps of many European courts of the time, hired one of the Swiss mercenary forces for his personal protection. The Swiss Guard’s role in Vatican City is strictly to protect the safety of the pope. Although the world’s smallest standing army appears to be strictly ceremonial, its soldiers are extensively trained and highly skilled marksmen. And, yes, the force is entirely comprised of Swiss citizens.

No One Is A Born Citizen Of The Country The entire population of Vatican City is only around 800 people. Every citizen who resides in the city is Roman Catholic and is considered to be influential or significant in some way within Catholicism. The clergy and the Swiss Guards who defend the Vatican City are the only people allowed to reside inside the Vatican City. There is no hospital in Vatican City, therefore, to gain citizenship you actually cannot be born in the country. Citizenship is granted based on authority and power within the Vatican.

Vatican City Has The Highest Crime Rate In The World With 1.5 crimes per citizen, Vatican City has the highest crime rate in the world. But before you cancel your trip, it’s important to note that the majority of crime that occurs there is petty theft. Given the large tourist crowds, Vatican City is a pickpocket and purse-snatcher’s paradise. Some argue the rate is high because it does not have a long-term prison. That’s not to say there are no major crimes. In 2007, the Vatican had its first drug-related crime, after a Holy See employee was found in possession of cocaine. And in 1998, a newly appointed commander of the Pope’s Swiss Guard and his wife were murdered in their apartment.