As the seat of the Roman Catholic Church's spiritual hierarchy, the Vatican is the smallest independent state in the world.
Rome, the capital city of Italy, surrounds its territory, and priests and nuns of various nationalities make up the majority of the population.
The Papal States of central Italy, which were subjugated by the forces of Italian unification in the middle of the 19th century, are vast in comparison to the Vatican City, which is a tiny fragment. The popes were then considered to be "prisoners in the Vatican," unable to leave the Apostolic Palace until 1929, when the Italian Fascist government negotiated the Lateran Treaty that established the modern-day mini-state.
The Vatican City itself crams a lot of impressive structures into a small space. A popular destination for pilgrims is St. Peter's Basilica. The priceless art collections owned by the popes are kept in the Vatican Museums and Art Galleries.
On a more profane level, the Vatican has made efforts to comply with international calls for greater financial transparency in the wake of a 2010 investigation into the Vatican Bank over potential money-laundering violations.
- : capital. the Vatican.
- Area:. 049 square kilometers.
- Population:. 453.
- Languages:. Italian and Latin both.
- Typical lifespan: 82 years .
Francis the Pope is the head of state.
Pope Benedict XVI, who resigned due to illness after eight years in office, was succeeded by Cardinal Archbishop Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Buenos Aires, who became the first Latin American pope in March 2013.
In defiance of expectations that the cardinals would choose a younger candidate to lead the Catholic Church through the many difficulties it faces, he was only two years younger than Benedict at the time of his election, at 76.
He only has one lung, which raises concerns about his endurance in this demanding position.
Despite being conservative on homosexuality and liberal on social issues like poverty and inequality, he enjoyed widespread support in the College of Cardinals.
Vatican Radio, also known as "The Pope's Voice," can be heard worldwide thanks to strong transmitters.
However, the Vatican disputes claims that the station's transmissions have been putting lives in danger in a suburb of Rome by exceeding Italy's electromagnetic radiation standards.
Twitter user @pontifex is used by the papacy.