50 Fascinating Facts about Vatican City

Vatican City is an independent city-state surrounded by Rome and is the headquarters of the Roman Catholic Church. It is home to the Pope, who is the ex officio Head of State. Vatican City is known for its spectacular art and iconic architecture, which includes ancient Roman sculptures such as 'Laocoön and His Sons', St. Peter's Basilica and the Sistine Chapel, with its famous ceiling painted by Michelangelo. Vatican City is the smallest state in the world by both area and population, with an area of 110 acres and a population of just 1,000 (of its inhabitants, only around 30 are female). However, given its extremely prominent position within the Roman Catholic Church, it is a very popular tourist destination and tourism is a major part of Vatican City's economy. The names Vatican City and the Holy See are often used interchangeably, but they are two distinct entities, with the Holy See being an independent sovereign entity that serves as the central point of reference for the Catholic Church everywhere, not specifically within Vatican City.

Vatican City Facts

1
The Vatican City is officially known as the Vatican City State or State of Vatican City
2
It is located within the city of Rome
3
The Vatican City population is approximately 1000 people
4
Recent statistics have shown that only 32 of these citizens are actually women
5
100% of the population is Catholic
6
It is the smallest country in the world by both population and area
7
The state is completely ruled by the Pope. The only state that is governed by monarchy
8
It is a recognised independent state that is not part of the United Nations.
9
The official name of the Vatican City in Italy is Citta Del Vaticano or Stato Della Citta del Vaticano
10
The Vatican City stands on the Vatican Hill
11
The gardens account for more than half of the land in the Vatican City
12
Italian is the official language
13
The Vatican City flag is yellow and white. The yellow side is supposed to represent the popes spiritual power and the white represents his worldly power
14
The Apostolic residence is the official residence of the Pope. It was opened on 30th April 1589
15
The Vatican City is known for its yearly high wine consumption, with the average estimated as 54 litres per year per person
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The Vatican City has approximately 5.5 million people visiting a year
17
There are no hospitals in the Vatican City
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As it is so small, it is the only country unable to host embassies
19
One can only gain citizenship if they work there. When they stop working, they will lose citizenship
20
It has its own football team – the Vatican City team
21
The Vatican City and the Philippines are the only two countries that do not have any laws for divorce. A divorce is not permitted, you are only allowed an annulment
22
The Vatican City employs around 2000 people
23
The economy is mainly supported by the tourism industry. It relies on the sale of postage stamps, tourist souvenirs and the fees for entry to the museums and the sales of publications
24
The Vatican City first came into existence on 11th February 1929 by the Latrean Treaty
25
It is home to the largest Catholic Church in the World
26
The Vatican City is known to have the highest crime rate in the world, due to it being such a small state with a lot of people. However, they are only minor crimes such as pick-pocketing
27
The Vatican City has no prisons
28
The Swiss Guard is the official guard of the Vatican
29
The Vatican City boasts its own post office, telephone system, flag, national anthem, bank and it issues passports and license plates
30
The ATM in the Vatican City is the only ATM in the world that can also be read in Latin
31
The license plates read as SCV
32
The Vatican City has its own astronomical department and owns the largest telescope which is located in Arizona
33
In 2000, the Vatican City adopted the Euro and in 2002, it began minting its own Euros
34
It is home to the main religious and cultural sites such as St. Peter’s Basilica, Sistine Chapel and the Vatican Museums
35
The Vatican City contains some of the worlds’ most famous art and paintings
36
The museums at the Vatican City can be up to 9 miles long and it was estimated that if someone walked through and spent 1 minute looking at each painting, then it would take 4 years to complete the whole museum
37
St. Peter’s Basilica is the 2nd largest church in the world and took 120 years to complete
38
The Sistine Chapel is recognised as having the most famous artistic accomplishment ever, which is the ceiling of the chapel, painted by Michelangelo
39
It took 4 years for Michelangelo to complete the ceiling
40
The Sistine Chapel is a famous tourist attraction and recently 7000 LED lights were added to illuminate Michelangelo’s ceiling painting
41
The balcony that the pope stands on to deliver blessings, is known as Loggia of the Benediction
42
On May 4th 1998, one of the Swiss Guards was murdered at the Vatican City. Rumours suggest that a homosexual affair had occurred between him and one of the other Guards.
43
The library at the Vatican City was created in 1475 and is the oldest library in the world
44
The library contains 1.1 million books which is the largest in the world
45
The first railway station here was opened in 1930 and is mainly used for transporting freight rather than passenger travel
46
Lots of controversy surround the Vatican, when a woman who dressed as a man was Pope and was only discovered when she gave birth during one of the processions
47
There was also controversy in 2010 when the bank in the Vatican City was accused of being involved in money laundering
48
In 2012, one of the pope’s butlers was arrested, after stealing documents that he was using to try and expose the evil and corruption that occurs at the Vatican
49
The Pope once criticised the Beatles, when John Lennon claimed that they were more popular than God
50
In the 17th and 18th centuries, for almost 60 years, Popes would not leave the Vatican

The area now known as Vatican City has a fascinating history. A tiny part of the Papal States of central Italy that were conquered by the forces of Italian unification in the mid-nineteenth century, the popes became 'prisoners in the Vatican;. They were unwilling to leave the confines of the Apostolic Palace until 1929, when Italy's Fascist government negotiated the Lateran Treaty that created the current mini-state. The territory of Vatican City is surrounded by the Italian capital city of Rome, and priests and nuns of many nationalities make up almost all of the population. While Italian and many other languages are widely spoken, Latin is the official language of Vatican City.

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