Bizarre Borders - Vatican City

Samanyu Ram

March 17, 2023

The home of the Pope and the center of Catholicism. One of the most historical and majestic countries ever to exist. This tiny enclave and independent city-state lie entirely within the city of Rome. Although it’s the smallest country in the world in terms of size and population, its influence is among the best of the best.

The Vatican City, home of the Holy See, has been the residence of the Pope since the 14th century. During the Great Schism, before 1377, the Pope's residency was moved to Avignon in France from the Lateran Palace in Rome. It was not until the Lateran Palace burned down that the Vatican was named the new papal residence. In the 19th century, the Italian King took many properties of the Catholic church and transformed them into living quarters for himself. He agreed to let the Popes of the Vatican keep their land within Rome but still claimed to rule over the city of Rome. However, the Popes disagreed with the king's notion of his rule of Rome. The last ruler of the Papal States, Pope Pius IX, was forced to give up his secular power. Then, in February 1929, the Lateran Documents, signed by Italy and the Holy See, made the city-state fully independent. Today, the Vatican City is home to the Argentinian-born Pope Francis.

The Vatican is quite a unique country and separates itself in numerous aspects. The first and most prominent is its population and size. It covers an area of just less than 0.2 square miles and is home to an astounding 453 people. Most of their population is made up of figures from the Catholic Church, like cardinals, bishops, and of course, the Pope. Women are said to have made up just under six percent of the population, which is about 25 women. The Vatican is also home to a few historical and influential landmarks. St. Peter's Basilica is the largest of the four major Basilicas in Rome. It can host up to 80,000 Christians during a pilgrimage or other religious functions. The Vatican is also home to the Sistine Chapel, whose marvelous Michelangelo-designed rooms boast millions of visitors yearly. Vatican City has no official language but is one of the only countries to regularly and frequently use Latin. Since there are no hospitals in this tiny country, the only way to gain citizenship is to be employed by the few job opportunities available. This tiny, marvelous, and bizarre country is one of the most important and influential countries in history.