San Marino, officially known as the Republic of San Marino (Italian: Repubblica di San Marino) and also known as The Most Serene Republic of San Marino (Italian: Serenissima Repubblica di San Marino), is a delightful little enclave in Italy. It is the oldest surviving sovereign state in the world, as the continuation of the monastic community founded on September 3, 301, by Marinus note , a stonemason-turned-monk from Arba (modern-day Rab, Croatia). Its constitution, ratified 1600, is the oldest of its kind still in effect. The next-oldest is the U.S. Constitution, some 189 years younger. It survived the consolidation of Italy into medium-sized territorial states in the 15th century and the reorganization of Italy following The Napoleonic Wars and the unification of Italy in the 19th century, largely owing to its remote location in a valley of the Apennines, not accepting Napoleon's offers to extend their territory and as a token of gratitude from leaders of the unification movement for offering them shelter in times of crisis. It is too small (about 60 sq km with a little more than 30.000 residents) and remote to cause anyone much trouble - and it is also too small and remote for anyone to give it much trouble, so, while, by custom, the appellation "Most Serene" is an indicator of sovereignty, it also applies on a more literal sense. It managed to remain neutral in the two world wars (though somehow someone reported San Marino had saw fit to declare war on the United Kingdom in 1940). During World War II, San Marino provided a safe harbor for over 100,000 Italians (ten times as much as there were Sammarinese at the time) and Jews from Nazi persecution. That's right, San Marino pulled a move that could risk angering Nazi Germany and still managed to stay neutral. No wonder its citizens are proud of it, and they well should be. San Marino abolished death penalty in 1865, becoming the first European country to do so. The last execution was performed in 1468. The country is led by two Captains Regent, or prime ministers, if you please. They are not that much different from the old Roman consuls. They are chosen every six months. There was once a San Marino Grand Prix - held in Imola, Italy.
The Sammarinese Flag
White and blue symbolize peace and liberty, respectively; at the center is the coat of arms, a crowned shield showing Monte Titano, the country's highest point, whose three summits are topped by the towers of Guaita, Cesta and Montale, each decorated with a weather vane shaped like an ostrich feather; on either side of the shield are oak and laurel branches, symbolizing national stability and the defense of San Marino's sovereignty, respectively, and below is the national motto: "Libertas" ("Freedom" in Latin).