Inside the Vatican:
A City-State

National Geographic Television Special
Airs in the U.S. on the National Geographic Channel

Page five of eleven

The Vatican is the smallest sovereign state in the world, measuring only about 109 acres (44 hectares). It is ringed with centuries-old walls and entirely surrounded by the city of Rome. But it is a separate nation, formed in 1929 in a treaty with the Italian government.

This independence is the Vatican's most important secular feature because it protects the pope from outside interference.

Within the walls, there is some open space, but for Swiss Guards out for a jog, the size of the Vatican gives a whole new meaning to the idea of running "cross country."

Besides a tiny population of about 900, the Vatican has everything a normal nation might have: a police force, a newspaper, a postal service, even a soup kitchen for the poor.

There are a few atypical features in this city—here, traffic jams can sometimes stretch up to ten cars long, and the Vatican is, perhaps, the only country in the world where the cash machines provide instructions in Latin.

Inside the Vatican: Front Page
St. Peter's Basilica
The Swiss Guards
The Pope's Day
A City-State
The World's Most Beautiful Stuff
The Holy See
Electing a New Pope
The Secret Archives
The Making of Inside the Vatican
Kids Activity Guide

Source: Excerpt from Inside the Vatican, a National Geographic Television special that airs in the United States on the National Geographic Channel and is available as a book.

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