Vatican City

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The Vatican City is a tiny country within the city of Rome, Italy, where the human authorities of the Roman Catholic church are situated, including the Pope. Almost all of Vatican City's 870 citizens live inside the Vatican's walls. The Vatican includes high dignitaries, priests, nuns, and guards as well as about 3,000 lay workers who compose the majority of the work force. The Vatican City is the territory of the Holy See.

The Holy See's diplomatic history began in the fourth century, but the boundaries of the Papacy's temporal power have shifted over the centuries. In the middle of the 19th century, the Popes held sway over the Papal States, including a broad band of territory across central Italy. In 1860, after prolonged civil and regional unrest, the army of Victor Emmanuel II seized the Papal States, leaving only Rome and surrounding coastal regions under papal control.

On 20 September 1870, Victor Emmanuel's troops captured Rome itself; it was later declared the new capital of Italy, ending papal claims to temporal power. Pope Pius IX and his successors disputed the legitimacy of these acts and proclaimed themselves to be "prisoners" in the Vatican. Finally, in 1929, the Italian Government and the Holy See signed three agreements (the Patti Lateranensi or Concordato) resolving the dispute:

  • A treaty recognizing the independence and sovereignty of the Holy See and creating the State of the Vatican City.
  • A concordat defining the relations between the government and the church within Italy; and
  • A financial convention providing the Holy See with compensation for its losses in 1870.

A revised concordat, altering the terms of church-state relations, was signed in 1984.

The Vatican City has one of the biggest and most beautiful art collections in the world, which includes works by artists such as Michelangelo Buonarotti and Leonardo da Vinci. It also has a large and valuable library.

It has an offical website at www.vatican.va.

From the CIA World Factbook 2000. Not Wikified.