Which is the world’s smallest independent state?

It is the Vatican City in Italy, which has been the residence of the popes since the fifth century AD. It has a population of around 1,000, and no one is ever born there! The Vatican is the government centre of the Roman Catholic Church.

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image source:,_Vatican_City_-_April_2007.jpg/1280px-St_Peter%27s_Square,_Vatican_City_-_April_2007.jpg

It lies within the boundaries of Rome, and covers an area of just 0.44 sq. m (0.17 sq. miles).

This tiny state has its own guards, money, flag, post-office, railway station, bank and daily newspaper; it also has a broadcasting station and telephone system. There’s even an astronomical observatory!


Early in the 16th century, Pope Julius II asked Michelangelo to design a uniform for the papal guard in the vacation city. At the time there were 6,000men in this army, all recruited from Switzerland. Nowadays there are only about 100 Swiss guards, but their uniform is exactly the same as that designed by Michelangelo in the 1500s.

Millions of people visit the Vacation every year. Most of them come to see the Basilica of St Peters with its magnificent frescoes of biblical scenes painted on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.

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