Geographically and from a traveler’s perspective, the Vatican City has always been a part of Rome, but thanks to the 1929 Lateran Treaty, this tiny enclave within the Italian capital became the world’s smallest sovereign state. Unless you’re aware of your geography, you won’t know that once you’ve left the Tiber River’s east bank in Rome, you have technically stepped into a different country. It’s no big deal actually, although for those counting their countries, it’s one more tick off the checklist.

The Vatican City may be the world’s smallest sovereign state – it has its own postal stamp, its own radio station, and an army of Swiss guards – but but it’s definitely no pushover. The UN has granted it a permanent observer status in the UN, while the Pope isn’t just the leader of the state’s sovereignty; he’s the leader of the Catholic Church. And when he speaks, the world listens.

First published in TravelBlog on July 12, 2010.

 

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