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St. Peter's Basilica, Rome, Italy. Author and Copyright Marco Ramerini
St. Peter's Basilica, Rome, Italy. Author Marco Ramerini

Vatican City: the center of the Catholic Church

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The State of the Vatican City (Stato della Città del Vaticano. In the official language of the papacy, in addition to Italian, the Latin: Status Civitatis Vaticanae) represents the last remnant of what was the ancient state of the Church, therefore the so-called Papal States. This pre-unitary state of Italy originally occupied some territories of central and northern Italy. In particular, it included large parts of the current regions of Lazio, Umbria, Marche, Romagna and Emilia.

What remains of this ancient Italian state is today a tiny territory that makes it the smallest independent state in the world. Vatican City is located within the city of Rome and is what remains of the temporal power of the Catholic Church. The Vatican City state was established in 1929 following the Lateran Pacts signed by the Italian dictator Benito Mussolini and Pope Pius XI.


The name of the state derives from the Vatican Hill, because this is the place where the territories of the state are located.

This small territory is made up of St. Peter’s Basilica, the Vatican Museums, St. Peter’s Square and the Vatican Gardens enclosed within the Leonine walls. The Vatican State also has jurisdiction over some basilicas and palaces located in the city of Rome. In all there are a total of eleven buildings including the basilicas of San Giovanni in Laterano, Santa Maria Maggiore and San Paolo Fuori le Mura. It also has jurisdiction over the Pope’s summer residence which is located on the hills south of Rome, in Castelgandolfo on Lake Albano.

The Vatican is the center of power of the Catholic Church. One of the most popular religions in the world with over a billion followers on all continents. The Catholic Church includes the Latin Church, in addition to 23 other Eastern Catholic churches because they are in full communion with the Pope of Rome.

The official site of the Holy See.

  • Area: 0,44 sq km
  • Population: 800.
  • State Capital: Vatican City
  • Language: The official languages are Latin and Italian.
  • Religion: Catholicism (100%).
  • Currency: Euro (EUR)
  • Time: UTC+1 (Summer Daylight saving time UTC+2).

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