Vatican City - VA - VAT - Europe

Last updated: April 15, 2024
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Holy See (Vatican City) Factbook Data

Diplomatic representation from the US

chief of mission: Ambassador Joe DONNELLY (since 11 April 2022)

embassy: Via Sallustiana, 49, 00187 Rome

mailing address: 5660 Holy See Place, Washington DC  20521-5660

telephone: [39] (06) 4674-1

FAX: [39] (06) 4674-3411

email address and website:

Geographic coordinates

41 54 N, 12 27 E

Natural hazards

occasional earthquakes

Area - comparative

about 0.7 times the size of the National Mall in Washington, DC
Area comparison map

about 0.7 times the size of the National Mall in Washington, DC

Military service age and obligation

Pontifical Swiss Guard Corps: 19-30 years of age for voluntary military service; no conscription; must be a single Roman Catholic male with Swiss citizenship who has completed basic training with the Swiss military and can obtain a certificate of good conduct; qualified candidates must apply to serve; the service contract is between 2 and 25 years (2024)


Popes in their secular role ruled portions of the Italian peninsula for more than a thousand years until the mid-19th century, when many of the Papal States were seized by the newly established Kingdom of Italy. In 1870, the pope's holdings were further circumscribed when Rome itself was annexed. Disputes between a series of "prisoner" popes and Italy were resolved in 1929 by three Lateran Treaties, which established the independent state of Vatican City and granted Roman Catholicism special status in Italy. In 1984, a concordat between the Holy See and Italy modified certain of the earlier treaty provisions, including the primacy of Roman Catholicism as the Italian state religion. Present concerns of the Holy See include religious freedom, threats against minority Christian communities in Africa and the Middle East, the plight of refugees and migrants, climate change and the environment, conflict and war, nuclear weapons, artificial intelligence, sexual misconduct by clergy, humanitarian issues, interreligious dialogue and reconciliation, and the application of church doctrine in an era of rapid change and globalization. About 1.3 billion people worldwide profess Catholicism - the world's largest Christian faith.

Environment - current issues

some air pollution from the surrounding city of Rome

Environment - international agreements

party to: Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection

signed, but not ratified: Air Pollution, Environmental Modification

Population below poverty line


Administrative divisions


Military and security forces

the Pontifical Swiss Guard Corps (Corpo della Guardia Svizzera Pontificia) serves as the de facto military force of Vatican City; the Gendarmerie Corps of Vatican City (Corpo della Gendarmeriais) is a police force that helps augment the Pontifical Swiss Guard Corps during the Pope’s appearances, as well as providing general security, traffic direction, and investigative duties for the Vatican City State (2024)

note: the Swiss Guard Corps has protected the Pope and his residence since 1506


revenues: $315 million (2013)

expenditures: $348 million (2013)


name: Vatican City

geographic coordinates: 41 54 N, 12 27 E

time difference: UTC+1 (6 hours ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)

daylight saving time: +1hr, begins last Sunday in March; ends last Sunday in October

etymology: the term "Vatican" derives from the hill Mons Vaticanus on which the Vatican is located and which comes from the Latin "vaticinari" (to prophesy), referring to the fortune tellers and soothsayers who frequented the area in Roman times


temperate; mild, rainy winters (September to May) with hot, dry summers (May to September)


0 km (landlocked)


history: previous 1929, 1963; latest promulgated November 2000, effective 22 February 2001 (Fundamental Law of Vatican City State, the main governing document of the Vatican's civil entities); the Roman Curia is the administrative apparatus – the departments and ministries – used by the pontiff in governing the church; note - Pope Francis in October 2013, instituted a 9-member Council of Cardinal Advisers to reform the Roman Curia to include writing a new constitution; in June 2018, Pope Francis approved the Council of Cardinals' first draft of the new apostolic constitution, Predicate Evangelium (Preach the Gospel); it became effective 5 June 2022, replacing Pastor Bonus, the previous governing document of the Roman Curia

amendments: note - although the Fundamental Law of Vatican City State makes no mention of amendments, Article Four (drafting laws), states that this legislative responsibility resides with the Pontifical Commission for Vatican City State; draft legislation is submitted through the Secretariat of State and considered by the pope

Exchange rates

euros (EUR) per US dollar -

Exchange rates:
0.885 (2017 est.)
0.903 (2016 est.)
0.9214 (2015 est.)
0.885 (2014 est.)
0.7634 (2013 est.)

note: while not an EU member state, the Holy See has a 2000 monetary agreement with Italy and the EU to produce limited euro coinage—but not banknotes—that began enforcement in January 2002

Executive branch

chief of state: Pope FRANCIS (since 13 March 2013)

head of government: President of the Pontifical Commission for the State of Vatican City and President of the Governorate of the Vatican City State is Fernando VERGEZ ALZAGA (since 1 October 2021)

cabinet: Pontifical Commission for the State of Vatican City appointed by the pope

elections/appointments: pope elected by the College of Cardinals, usually for life or until voluntary resignation; election last held on 13 March 2013 after the resignation of Pope BENEDICT XVI (next to be held after the death or resignation of the current pope); Secretary of State appointed by the pope

election results: 2013: Jorge Mario BERGOGLIO, former Archbishop of Buenos Aires, elected Pope FRANCIS

Fiscal year

calendar year

Flag description

two vertical bands of yellow (hoist side) and white with the arms of the Holy See, consisting of the crossed keys of Saint Peter surmounted by the three-tiered papal tiara, centered in the white band; the yellow color represents the pope's spiritual power, the white his worldly power


11 February 1929; note - the three treaties signed with Italy on 11 February 1929 acknowledged, among other things, the full sovereignty of the Holy See and established its territorial extent; however, the origin of the Papal States, which over centuries varied considerably in extent, may be traced back to A.D. 754


printing; production of coins, medals, postage stamps; mosaics, staff uniforms; worldwide banking and financial activities

Judicial branch

highest court(s): Supreme Court or Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura (consists of the cardinal prefect, who serves as ex-officio president of the court, and 2 other cardinals of the Prefect Signatura); note - judicial duties were established by the Motu Proprio, papal directive, of Pope PIUS XII on 1 May 1946; most Vatican City criminal matters are handled by the Republic of Italy courts

judge selection and term of office: cardinal prefect appointed by the pope; the other 2 cardinals of the court appointed by the cardinal prefect on a yearly basis

subordinate courts: Appellate Court of Vatican City; Tribunal of Vatican City

Land boundaries

total: 3.4 km

border countries (1): Italy 3.4 km

Land use

agricultural land: 0% (2018 est.)

other: 100% (2018 est.)

Legal system

religious legal system based on canon (religious) law

Legislative branch

description: unicameral Pontifical Commission for the State of Vatican City or Pontificia Commissione per lo Stato della Citta del Vaticano (7 seats; the president of the Governorate of Vatican City State and 6 cardinals appointed by the pope to serve 5-year terms)

last held on 11 July 2018

election results:
composition - men 7, women 0

Maritime claims

none (landlocked)

International organization participation

CE (observer), IAEA, Interpol, IOM, ITSO, ITU, ITUC (NGOs), OAS (observer), OPCW, OSCE, Schengen Convention (de facto member), UN (observer), UNCTAD, UNHCR, UNWTO (observer), UPU, WIPO, WTO (observer)

National holiday

Election Day of Pope FRANCIS, 13 March (2013)


noun: none

adjective: none

Natural resources


Geography - note

landlocked; an enclave in Rome, Italy; world's smallest state; beyond the territorial boundary of Vatican City, the Lateran Treaty of 1929 grants the Holy See extraterritorial authority over 23 sites in Rome and five outside of Rome, including the Pontifical Palace at Castel Gandolfo (the Pope's summer residence)

Economic overview

limited, tourism-based economy; euro user but issues commemorative stamps and coins; solar energy producer; some printing industry to support museums and religious needs

Political parties and leaders



election of the pope is limited to cardinals less than 80 years old

Telecommunication systems

general assessment: the Vatican’s interior telecommunication system is composed of two strongly integrated sub-systems: fixed infrastructure and mobile infrastructure; it is important to note that the mobile communication system has been designed to be capable of using satellite connections so that it is possible to ensure telecommunication services whenever needed, including wherever the Pope travels; the telephone system operates through an automatic digital exchange (2020)

domestic: the telephone system operates through an automatic digital exchange (2020)

international: country code - 39; uses Italian system


urban; low hill

Government type

ecclesiastical elective monarchy; self-described as an "absolute monarchy"

Military - note

defense is the responsibility of Italy

Country name

conventional long form: The Holy See (Vatican City State)

conventional short form: Holy See (Vatican City)

local long form: La Santa Sede (Stato della Citta del Vaticano)

local short form: Santa Sede (Citta del Vaticano)

etymology: "holy" comes from the Greek word "hera" meaning "sacred"; "see" comes from the Latin word "sedes" meaning "seat," and refers to the episcopal chair; the term "Vatican" derives from the hill Mons Vaticanus on which the Vatican is located and which comes from the Latin "vaticinari" (to prophesy), referring to the fortune tellers and soothsayers who frequented the area in Roman times


Southern Europe, an enclave of Rome (Italy)

Map references


Diplomatic representation in the US

chief of mission: Apostolic Nuncio Archbishop Christophe PIERRE (since 27 June 2016)

chancery: 3339 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008

telephone: [1] (202) 333-7121

FAX: [1] (202) 337-4036

email address and website:

Internet country code



urban population: 100% of total population (2023)

rate of urbanization: 0% annual rate of change (2020-25 est.)

Broadcast media

the Vatican Television Center (CTV) transmits live broadcasts of the Pope's Sunday and Wednesday audiences, as well as the Pope's public celebrations; CTV also produces documentaries; Vatican Radio is the Holy See's official broadcasting service broadcasting via shortwave, AM and FM frequencies, and via satellite and Internet connections; Vatican News website partners with Vatican Radio and provides Catholic news provided by the Vatican (2021)

National anthem

name: "Inno e Marcia Pontificale" (Hymn and Pontifical March); often called The Pontifical Hymn

lyrics/music: Raffaello LAVAGNA/Charles-Francois GOUNOD

note: adopted 1950
This is an audio of the National Anthem for Holy See (Vatican City). The national anthem is generally a patriotic musical composition - usually in the form of a song or hymn of praise - that evokes and eulogizes the history, traditions, or struggles of a nation or its people. National anthems can be officially recognized as a national song by a country's constitution or by an enacted law, or simply by tradition. Although most anthems contain lyrics, some do not.

Major urban areas - population

1,000 VATICAN CITY (capital) (2018)

International law organization participation

has not submitted an ICJ jurisdiction declaration; non-party state to the ICCt

National symbol(s)

crossed keys beneath a papal tiara; national colors: yellow, white


citizenship by birth: no

citizenship by descent only: no

dual citizenship recognized: no

residency requirement for naturalization: not applicable

note: in the Holy See, citizenship is acquired by law, ex iure, or by adminstrative decision; in the first instance, citizenship is a function of holding office within the Holy See as in the case of cardinals resident in Vatican City or diplomats of the Holy See; in the second instance, citizenship may be requested in a limited set of circumstances for those who reside within Vatican City under papal authorization, as a function of their office or service, or as the spouses and children of current citizens; citizenship is lost once an individual no longer permanently resides in Vatican City, normally reverting to the citizenship previously held

Ethnic groups

Italian, Swiss, Argentinian, and other nationalities from around the world (2017)


Roman Catholic


Italian, Latin, French, various other languages

major-language sample(s):
L'Almanacco dei fatti del mondo, l'indispensabile fonte per le informazioni di base. (Italian)

The World Factbook, the indispensable source for basic information.
Italian audio sample

Communications - note

the Vatican Apostolic Library is one of the world's oldest libraries, formally established in 1475, but actually much older; it holds a significant collection of historic texts including 1.1 million printed books and 75,000 codices (manuscript books with handwritten contents); it serves as a research library for history, law, philosophy, science, and theology; the library's collections have been described as "the world's greatest treasure house of the writings at the core of Western tradition"

Disputes - international

none identified


highest point: Vatican Gardens (Vatican Hill) 78 m

lowest point: Saint Peter's Square 19 m

Age structure

0-14 years: NA

15-64 years: NA

65 years and over: NA

Contraceptive prevalence rate


Current health expenditure



total population: NA

male: NA

female: NA

Dependency ratios

total dependency ratio: NA

youth dependency ratio: NA

elderly dependency ratio: NA

potential support ratio: NA

Drinking water source

improved: total: 100% of population

unimproved: total: 0% of population (2017 est.)

Sanitation facility access

improved: urban: NA

rural: NA

total: NA

unimproved: urban: NA

rural: NA

total: NA

Electricity access

electrification - total population: 100% (2021)

Total renewable water resources

0 cubic meters (2017 est.)

Air pollutants

methane emissions: 0 megatons (2020 est.)

National heritage

total World Heritage Sites: 2 (both cultural)

selected World Heritage Site locales: Historic Center of Rome, the Properties of the Holy See in that City Enjoying Extraterritorial Rights and San Paolo Fuori le Mura; Vatican City


1 (2024)

Illicit drugs


Labor force

4,822 (2016)


1,000 (2022 est.)

Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-)


Internet users

total: 383 (2021 est.)

percent of population: 75% (2021 est.)


total: 0 sq km

land: 0.44 sq km

water: 0 sq km

Death rate


Birth rate


Children under the age of 5 years underweight


Education expenditures


Population growth rate

0% (2014 est.)