Vatican City, officially Vatican City State or the State of Vatican City, is a country located within the city of Rome. With an area of approximately 44 hectares (110 acres), and a population of 1,000,[1] it is the smallest state in the world by both area and population. However, formally it is not sovereign, with sovereignty being held by the Holy See. It is an ecclesiastical[1] or sacerdotal-monarchical[2] state ruled by the Bishop of Rome – the Pope. The highest state functionaries are all Catholic clergy of various national origins. Since the return of the popes from Avignon in 1377, they have generally resided at the Apostolic Palace within what is now Vatican City, although at times residing instead in the Quirinal Palace in Rome or elsewhere.

Vatican City came into existence in 1929 by the Lateran Treaty between the Holy See and Italy, which spoke of it as a new creation, not as a vestige of the much larger Papal States (756–1870) that had previously encompassed much of central Italy. According to the terms of the treaty, the Holy See has "full ownership, exclusive dominion, and sovereign authority and jurisdiction" over the city-state.[3]


  1. 1.0 1.1 "Holy See (Vatican City)". CIA—The World Factbook. 
  2. "Vatican City". Retrieved on 12 August 2013. 
  3. "Text of the Lateran Treaty of 1929". 
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