Forgive me if this sounds bragging to non-Catholics but it's a FACT that the Vatican City State is considered the smallest country in the world and it's a member of the United Nations.
Many Catholics do not know that the Vatican State is an Independent State within the City of Rome that is considered a “country” by the United Nations.
Its official name in English is The State of the Vatican City (Stato della Città del Vaticano) and is the smallest country in the world having only around 1,000 population mostly non-Italian citizens.
Here are some facts about the Vatican City State mostly taken from CIA The World Fact Book:
- The Vatican City is the smallest country in the world with the smallest population mostly religious priest, nuns and Catholic laity. It measures 44 hectares ( 110 acres) and has a population of about 1000 people.
- The Vatican has its own radio station which is located in a tower inside the Vatican Gardens and broadcasts in 20 languages throughout the world where you can update yourself about the Pope and the Vatican.
- The Vatican City has its own railway station which was opened in 1930 and is mostly used for freight.
- St Peter's Square and the colonnade were designed and built by Bernini which was completed in 1667. At 314 meters long and 240 meters wide it is the largest square in Rome. Bernini (with the help of his pupils) designed the 140 statues of saints which decorate the colonnade.
- The Vatican has its own Post office independent from Rome and issues its own stamps to the delight of many stamp collectors. The Vatican mail system is widely used by Romans as in most cases is a lot quicker than Italian mail.
- The Vatican City issues its own passports; the Pope, cardinals, members of the Swiss guard and clergy being the recipients.
- The Vatican City is a UNESCO World Heritage Site; the only site to encompass a whole country.
- The Vatican stamps its own coins. The €1 coin which has a portrait of the present Pope is in high demand with collectors.
- The Vatican museums are over 9 miles (14,5 kilometers) long, and it is said that if you spent only 1 minute admiring each painting it would take you 4 years to complete the circuit!
- As an independent state, it has its own Flag and National Anthem.
- The Vatican City's official language is Latin, apart from Italian and other major world languages.
- The Pope is the Head of State and Head of the the 1.1 billion Catholics in the world.
- It has its own set of laws called The Canon Law.
- St. Simon Peter was buried beneath the St. Peter's Cathedral.
The Pope was named No. 5 Most Powerful World Leader by Forbes in 2010.
The top 10 most powerful people are:
- Chinese President Hu Jintao
- U.S. President Barack Obama
- King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia
- Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin
- Pope Benedict XVI, leader of World's 1.1 billion Catholics
- German Chancellor Angela Merkel
- British Prime Minister David Cameron
- Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke
- Indian National Congress President Sonia Gandhi
- Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft and co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
According to the magazine, the Pope was named the “highest earthly authority for 1.1 billion souls,” which represents one-sixth of the world's population. He was noted for “healing old wounds” in September when he became the first modern pope to visit London's Westminster Abbey, where he shook the hand of a clergywoman.
So the next time you visit Rome, try to visit the Smallest Country in the world and if you have the chance to shake hands with 5th World's Most Powerful Leader would be a bonus. Don't forget to pray for his health and safety too, and pray for the Church he is representing on earth.