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 Holy See (Vatican City)

[Country Flag of Holy See (Vatican City)]









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Holy See (Vatican City)


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Popes in their secular role ruled much of the Italian peninsula, including Rome, for about a thousand years, until 1870. A dispute between a series of popes and Italy was settled in 1929 by treaties that recognized the Vatican City as an independent sovereignty and gave Roman Catholicism special status in Italy. The US established formal diplomatic relationships with the Vatican in 1984. Present issues in the Vatican concern the ill health of Pope John Paul II, who turns 79 on 20 May 1999, inter-religious dialogue and reconciliation, and the adjustment of church doctrine in an era of rapid change. About 1 billion people worldwide profess the Roman Catholic faith.


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Location: Southern Europe, an enclave of Rome (Italy)

Geographic coordinates: 41 54 N, 12 27 E

Map references: Europe

total: 0.44 sq km
land: 0.44 sq km
water: 0 sq km

Area - comparative: about 0.7 times the size of The Mall in Washington, DC

Land boundaries:
total: 3.2 km
border countries: Italy 3.2 km

Coastline: 0 km (landlocked)

Maritime claims: none (landlocked)

Climate: temperate; mild, rainy winters (September to mid-May) with hot, dry summers (May to September)

Terrain: low hill

Elevation extremes:
lowest point: unnamed location 19 m
highest point: unnamed location 75 m

Natural resources: none

Land use:
arable land: 0%
permanent crops: 0%
permanent pastures: 0%
forests and woodland: 0%
other: 100% (urban area)

Irrigated land: 0 sq km (1993)

Natural hazards: NA

Environment - current issues: NA

Environment - international agreements:
party to: none of the selected agreements
signed, but not ratified: Air Pollution, Environmental Modification

Geography - note: urban; landlocked; enclave of Rome, Italy; world's smallest state; outside the Vatican City, 13 buildings in Rome and Castel Gandolfo (the pope's summer residence) enjoy extraterritorial rights


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Population: 870 (July 1999 est.)

Population growth rate: 1.15% (1999 est.)

noun: none
adjective: none

Ethnic groups: Italians, Swiss, other

Religions: Roman Catholic

Languages: Italian, Latin, various other languages


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Country name:
conventional long form: The Holy See (State of the Vatican City)
conventional short form: Holy See (Vatican City)
local long form: Santa Sede (Stato della Citta del Vaticano)
local short form: Santa Sede (Citta del Vaticano)

Data code: VT

Government type: monarchical-sacerdotal state

Capital: Vatican City

Independence: 11 February 1929 (from Italy)

National holiday: Installation Day of the Pope (John Paul II), 22 October (1978)

Constitution: Apostolic Constitution of 1967 (effective 1 March 1968)

Legal system: NA

Suffrage: limited to cardinals less than 80 years old

Executive branch:
chief of state: Pope JOHN PAUL II (since 16 October 1978)
head of government: Secretary of State Archbishop Angelo Cardinal SODANO (since 2 December 1990)
cabinet: Pontifical Commission appointed by the pope
elections: pope elected for life by the College of Cardinals; election last held 16 October 1978 (next to be held after the death of the current pope); secretary of state appointed by the pope
election results: Karol WOJTYLA elected pope

Legislative branch: unicameral Pontifical Commission

Judicial branch: none; normally handled by Italy

Political parties and leaders: none

Political pressure groups and leaders: none (exclusive of influence exercised by church officers)

International organization participation:
IAEA, ICFTU, Intelsat, IOM (observer), ITU, OAS (observer), OPCW, OSCE, UN (observer), UNCTAD, UNHCR, UPU, WIPO, WToO (observer)

Diplomatic representation in the US:
chief of mission: Apostolic Nuncio Archbishop Gabriel MONTALVO
chancery: 3339 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008
telephone: [1] (202) 333-7121

Diplomatic representation from the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Corrine C. BOGGS
embassy: Villa Domiziana, Via Delle Terme Deciane 26, 00153 Rome
mailing address: PSC 59, Box F, APO AE 09624
telephone: [39] (06) 46741
FAX: [39] (06) 5758346, 57300682

Flag description: two vertical bands of yellow (hoist side) and white with the crossed keys of Saint Peter and the papal miter centered in the white band


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Economy - overview:
This unique, noncommercial economy is supported financially by contributions (known as Peter's Pence) from Roman Catholics throughout the world, the sale of postage stamps and tourist mementos, fees for admission to museums, and the sale of publications. The incomes and living standards of lay workers are comparable to, or somewhat better than, those of counterparts who work in the city of Rome.

Population below poverty line: NA%

Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%

Labor force: NA

Labor force - by occupation: dignitaries, priests, nuns, guards, and 3,000 lay workers who live outside the Vatican

revenues: $175.5 million
expenditures: $175 million, including capital expenditures of $NA (1994)

Industries: printing and production of a small amount of mosaics and staff uniforms; worldwide banking and financial activities

Electricity - production: 0 kWh

Electricity - production by source:
fossil fuel: NA%
hydro: NA%
nuclear: NA%
other: NA%

Electricity - consumption: NA kWh

Electricity - exports: NA kWh

Electricity - imports: NA kWh; note - electricity supplied by Italy

Economic aid - recipient: none

Currency: 1 Vatican lira (VLit) = 100 centesimi

Exchange rates: Vatican lire (VLit) per US$1 - 1,688.7 (January 1998), 1,736.2 (1998), 1,703.1 (1997), 1,542.9 (1996), 1,628.9 (1995), 1,612.4 (1994); note - the Vatican lira is at par with the Italian lira which circulates freely

Fiscal year: calendar year


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Telephones: 2,000

Telephone system: automatic exchange
domestic: tied into Italian system
international: uses Italian system

Radio broadcast stations: AM 3, FM 4, shortwave 0

Radios: NA

Television broadcast stations: 1 (1996)

Televisions: NA


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total: 862 m; note - connects to Italy's network at Rome's Saint Peter's station
narrow gauge: 862 m 1.435-m gauge

Highways: none; all city streets

Ports and harbors: none

Airports: none

Heliports: 1 (1998 est.)


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Military - note:
defense is the responsibility of Italy; Swiss Papal Guards are posted at entrances to the Vatican City

Transnational Issues

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Disputes - international: none

Religion Around the World: Main Page

Source: CIA

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