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The Holy See – Fact Sheet


Name of the State: The Holy See (Vatican City State)
Area: 0.44 Sq. Kms.
Location: Southern Europe. An enclave of Rome, Italy
Land frontiers: 3.2 Kms. (border with Italy). Land-locked country

Population (Vatican City State): Approx. 800, of whom over 450 have Vatican citizenship, while the rest have permission to reside there, either temporarily or permanently, without the benefit of citizenship. About half of the Vatican’s citizens do not live inside Vatican City.

Languages: Italian and Latin
Capital: Vatican City
Religion: Roman Catholic
National Flag: Two fields, vertically divided in half: the yellow half flies alongside the flagpole, while the white half bears the papal tiara and crossed keys.
Type of Government: Monarchical-sacerdotal state
Constitution: Apostolic Constitution of 1967(effective 1 March 1968)
Suffrage: The Pope is elected by the Cardinals who are under eighty years of age.
Foreign Policy: Perpetual neutrality

Head of State :His Holiness Pope Francis holding full legislative, executive and judicial powers.
Secretary of State : His Eminence Cardinal Pietro Parolin
Secretary of Relations with States : His ExcellencyArchbishop Paul Richard Gallagher

Judicial Branch: Legislation (n° CXIX) enacted on November 21st 1987 vests judicial authority in a Judge, a Tribunal, an Appeals Court and a Supreme Court, which exercise their authority in the name of the Pope. Specific responsibilities are established by the codes of civil and penal procedures currently in force in Vatican City.

Political parties and leaders: None

Diplomatic Relations: The Holy See has at present diplomatic relations with 183 States, European Community, Sovereign Order of Malta, relations of special nature with Russian Federation and Organization for the Liberation of Palestine.

Airport: No airport. Over flights allowed.

Newspapers: L’Osservatore Romano founded in 1861 is a daily newspaper and is the semi-official organ of the Holy See. It covers general news and religious matters.

Broadcasting: Radio Vatican was designed by Marconi, the inventor of Radio. It was founded in 1931 and was supervised by Marconi until his death. One of the most powerful stations in Europe. It operates in international frequencies for 20 hours every day, including Sundays, in any of 32 languages.

Economy : This unique, non commercial 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.

Occupation: Dignitaries, priests, nuns, guards, and 3,000 lay workers who live outside the Vatican.

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

Currency: Euro

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


January 2019