THE VATICAN CITY STATE The Vatican is the world’s smallest nation. It has an area of 0.27 square miles (0.44 square kilometers) and a population of fewer than 500. It lies within the
city of Rome, but is an independent state, with its own post office, telephone network, currency and banking system. The head of state is the pope . Early history In 67 AD St. Peter (see page 24) was executed on a spot west of the Tiber. In 90 AD a small shrine was built there, and in the 320s, a basilica was erected on the site of the shrine. This was the first St. Peter’s. In the 9th century Pope Leo IV built a high wall that went around the Vatican and Castle St. Angelo to protect St. Peter’s from attack. After the sack of Rome in 1527 (see page 11), the pope moved to the east side of the river. Later popes also lived here until 1870, when Rome became capital of a united Italy and the pope once more retreated behind the safety of the walls of the Vatican (see page 11).
St. Peter’s Basilica is the center of the Roman Catholic Church, visited by thousands of pilgrims every year. ⌂
The Lateran Treaty In 1929 the Lateran Treaty was agreed
between Pope Pius XI and the Fascist leader, Benito Mussolini (see page 11). This treaty made the Vatican an independent state with the pope as its head. The government also paid the Vatican compensation for the loss of papal lands in 1870 and ruled that its people did not have to pay taxes.
The Vatican has its own special stamps. These stamps show famous popes from the past as well as details from St. Peter’s. ⌂
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