If you’re wondering what is the smallest country in the world, the answer might surprise you. It may seem like a trick question, but the smallest country is actually Vatican City, which is housed completely inside of the Italian city of Rome. To learn more about Vatican City’s origins and size, read the facts below.
Size. Officially called the State of the Vatican City, this smallest country in the world is only .17 square miles. An afternoon amble can take you through the entire country in its entirety.
Population. As the smallest country in the world, Vatican City has a population of under 1,000 people, based on 2010 estimates. The official language of the country is Latin, but most residents speak Italian because of its location. The prominent religion is Catholicism, since Vatican City is home to the pope himself.
History. Vatican City was formed in 1929 as a way to give the pope independence within Italy. Popes have ruled over this general area of Italy, however, since the 8th century. Before its independence, the Vatican was simply considered a component of Rome. Vatican City is ruled over by the Holy See, which consists of the pope and his religious advisors. This smallest country in the world houses many famous historical pieces of architecture, including the Sistine Chapel and St. Peter’s Basilica.
Politics. The head of the state of Vatican City is currently Pope Benedict XVI, who has served as pope since 2005. He is from Germany, a rare occurrence for a pope. Under his rule, he has relaxed some rules on condom use, but has fallen under scrutiny for a number of sexual abuse cases against priests that have been ignored or kept from public knowledge.
Economy. Vatican City's economy is built on tourism, because of its small size and religious importance to many Catholics. This smallest country in the world relies a great deal on selling souvenirs, religious items, and postage stamps. The area is on the Euro currency system.
Runner Up. Monaco is the second smallest country in the world, spanning only .75 square miles. The country is located on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea by France. Monaco houses the wealthy city of Monte Carlo and has been a playground for the rich and famous. The country’s government is a monarchy, and its most favorite royal figure was actress turned princess, Grace Kelly.