Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc.
Independent papal state, southern Europe, within the commune of Rome
, Italy. Area: 109 acres (44 hectares). Population: (2009 est.) 800. Its medieval and Renaissance walls form its boundaries except on the southeast at St. Peter's Square. Within the walls is the world's smallest independent nation-state, with its own diplomatic missions, newspaper, post office, radio station, banking system, army of 100 Swiss Guards, and publishing house. Extraterritoriality of the state extends to Castel Gandolfo and to several churches and palaces in Rome proper. Its independent sovereignty was recognized in the Lateran Treaty
of 1929. The pope
has absolute executive, legislative, and judicial powers within the city. He appoints the members of the Vatican's government organs, which are separate from those of the Holy See, the name given to the government of the Roman Catholic Church. The many imposing buildings include St. Peter's Basilica
, the Vatican Palace
, and the Vatican Museums
. Frescoes by Michelangelo
in the Sistine Chapel
, by Pinturicchio
in the Borgia Apartment, and by Raphael
in the Stanze (rooms in the papal apartments) are also there. The Vatican Library contains a priceless collection of manuscripts from the pre-Christian and Christian eras. The pope and other representatives of the papal state travel widely to maintain international relations.