The State of the Vatican City is a landlocked sovereign city-state whose territory consists of a walled enclave within the city of Rome. At approximately 44 hectares (108.7 acres), it is the smallest independent nation in the world and is classified as a microstate. It was created in 1929 by the Lateran Treaty as a vestige of the much larger Papal States (756 to 1870). It is the sovereign territory of the Holy See and the location of the Apostolic Palace—the Pope's official residence—and the Roman Curia.
- Capital: Civitas Vaticana, Città del Vaticano (Vatican City)
- Population: 783 inhabitants
- Area: 0.44 km2
- Major language(s): Latin, Italian
- Major religion(s): Roman Catholicism
Vatican City, officially State of the Vatican City (Latin: Status Civitatis Vaticanae; Italian: Stato della Città del Vaticano), is a landlocked sovereign city-state whose territory consists of a walled enclave within the city of Rome. At approximately 44 hectares (110 acres), it is the smallest independent nation in the world.
It was created in 1929 by the Lateran Treaty as a vestige of the much larger Papal States (756 to 1870). Vatican City is a non-hereditary, elected monarchy that is ruled by the Bishop of Rome — the Pope. The highest state functionaries are all clergymen of the Catholic Church. It is the sovereign territory of the Holy See (Latin:Sancta Sedes) and the location of the Apostolic Palace — the Pope's official residence — and the Roman Curia. Thus, while the principal ecclesiastical seat (Cathedral) of the Pope as Bishop of Rome (the Basilica of St. John Lateran) is located outside of its walls, in Rome, Vatican City can be said to be the governmental capital of the Catholic Church.
The name "Vatican" is ancient and predates Christianity, coming from the Latin Mons Vaticanus, Vatican Hill. The territory of Vatican City is part of the Mons Vaticanus, and of the adjacent former Vatican Fields where St. Peter's Basilica, the Apostolic Palace, the Sistine Chapel, and museums were built, along with various other buildings. The area was part of the Roman rione of Borgo until 1929. Being separated from the city, on the west bank of the Tiber river, the area was an outcrop of the city that was protected by being included within the walls of Leo IV, and later expanded by the current fortification walls of Paul III/Pius IV/Urban VIII. When the Lateran Treaty of 1929 that gave the state its present form was being prepared, the boundaries of the proposed territory was influenced by the fact that much of it was all but enclosed by this loop. For some tracts of the frontier, there was no wall, but the line of certain buildings supplied part of the boundary, and for a small part of the frontier a modern wall was constructed. The territory included St. Peter's Square, which was not possible to isolate from the rest of Rome, and therefore a largely imaginary border with Italy runs along the outer limit of the square where it touches on Piazza Pio XII and Via Paolo VI. St. Peter's Square is reached through the Via della Conciliazione which runs from the Tiber River to St. Peter's. This grand approach was constructed by Mussolini after the conclusion of the Lateran Treaty.
According to the Lateran Treaty, certain properties of the Holy See that are located in Italian territory, most notably Castel Gandolfo and the Patriarchal Basilicas, enjoy extraterritorial status similar to that of foreign embassies. These properties, scattered all over Rome and Italy, house essential offices and institutions necessary to the character and mission of the Holy See.