Vatican City is is the world's smallest country, a sovereign city-state located entirely within Rome. Created by the Lateran Treaties of 1929, it had many previous, far more powerful incarnations, such as the Papal States. It is perhaps the only currently existing Real Life example of The Theocracy. The Pope, of which the Vatican is his primary residence, is the head of state, but is also the ruling body of The Holy See, the government of the Church whose influence extends far outside the city's walls. The Holy See is not a member of the United Nations, but has Permanent Observer status. Remarkably, this situation is the result of the Church's sense of honor: since the UN holds freedom and democracy as one of its highest values, and the Vatican is neither free nor democratic (as it is technically an absolute monarchy and all its inhabitants are either clergy or Swiss Guards oath-bound to obey the Pope), it declines full membership out of honesty. This isn't to say that the Church is opposed to freedom or democracy — quite the opposite — but that the Vatican works best as it is, and nobody complains (it is the only state in the world where everyone who lives there has made an active and completely voluntary choice to do so). Vatican City also does not participate in The European Union, its income primarily consisting of contributions from believers around the world, as well as its tourist sector, although it uses the Euro as currency. The smallest city/state devotes much of its money back outside, often leaving it slightly in the red. While it gained $355.5 million in revenue in 2008, it spent $356.8 million. Vatican City does house a vast and priceless collection of art collected over its multi-millenial existence, but chooses to keep the treasures for all to see; else, a private collector could buy and shut it away forever. Please note that you must dress appropriately to enter.note Nowadays, the city mainly serves as the administrative capital of Catholicism and a major religious tourist destination in Rome. A common misnomer: While the Pope lives within Rome, the religion's official name is simply "The Catholic Church." The term "Roman" (or "Latin") just defines one of the rites, or liturgical practices, of a bulk of their followers. There are numerous Eastern Catholic churches (e.g. the Ukrainian Catholic Church, the Maronite Catholic Church, the Chaldean Catholic Church, the Armenian Catholic Church, the Assyrian Catholic Church...), which use various non-Latin rites: namely, the Byzantine Rite (broadly similar to the Eastern Orthodox liturgy), Alexandrian Rite (broadly similar to the Oriental Orthodox), the Antiochan/West Syrian Rite, and the East Syrian Rite. There are also variant Latin/Western rites, including the Ambrosian Rite (still used in Milan), the Mozarabic Rite (formerly used by the Catholics of Muslim Spain), the Sarum Rite (formerly used in England), and the Anglican Use (used by congregations which were once Anglo-Catholic—i.e. Catholicizing members of the Anglican Communion—who decided to have done with it already and join the Catholic Church, but retained the Anglican liturgy). Mostly Catholic. Vatican City is the only nation in the world that can lock its own gates at night. It has its own phone company, radio, T.V. stations, money, and stamps. It even has its own army, the historic Swiss Guard.
The Vatican In Fiction
Yellow and white are loosely based on the coat of arms, which is featured on the white half; the arms consist of a papal tiara above a pair of keys, colored silver and gold, representing the Pope's God-given authority over temporal and spiritual matters, respectively.