20 Facts About the Vatican
Religion Articles 9/30/09
By: Yona Williams
With the signing of the Lateran Treaty, the Vatican City became a sovereign state in 1929. Flocking to the region every year, millions of tourists plan a vacation to sightsee in the area. However, the Vatican City is much more than just the home of the Pope. In this article, you will encounter a handful of interesting facts and trivia, including the opinions of the Vatican regarding the topic of extraterrestrial life.
1. Smallest Landmass
Of any other country, the Vatican City holds the record for the smallest landmass. Displaying only streets and no highways, the Vatican City is landlocked by Italy with a total land area of 0.44 square kilometers.
2. Official Language
While many significant documents are written in Italian, the Vatican doesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t actually have an official language. About the community, people speak Italian, English, French, German, and Spanish.
3. Life on Other Planets
It's pretty surprising that the Vatican acknowledges that life on other planets is theoretically possible and this is an official stance. This statement was actually publicly made in 2006 by Father Jose Funes, whose title is director of the Vatican's observatory. However, whatever the life forms would be, the Vatican feels that they would be one of God's creations.
4. Small Population
Not only is the Vatican City the smallest country in the world, but it also harbors the smallest population with an estimated 1,000 people calling the region his or her home.
5. Post Office
The Vatican has its own post office that issues their own stamps. Interestingly, the Vatican mail system is quite popular amongst the people as in many cases; the Romans find that the Vatican mail is faster than the typical Italian postal service. Beyond the many tourist knick-knacks, the postage stamps also contribute to the largest export of the Vatican Ã¢â‚¬â€œ serving as one of the primary sources of internal revenue (along with Peter's Pence) Ã¢â‚¬â€œ donations made by members of the church which go to support the Holy See.
6. Hitting the Radio Waves
Located in a tower inside the Vatican Gardens, the Vatican has a radio station that broadcasts in 20 different languages across the world.
7. Railway Station
Opened in 1930, the Vatican has a railway station that is used for freight for the most part.
8. Easy Traveling
If you need to travel, the Vatican City easily issues its own passports to the Pope, cardinals, members of the Swiss Guard, as well as the clergy being the recipients.
9. World Heritage Site
The Vatican City is recognized as possessing a unique UNESCO World Heritage Site status, as it is the only site to encompass a whole country.
Instead of paying their taxes to the Italian government, Italians are allowed to donate 8% of their yearly taxed to the Vatican.
11. Placing the Environment First
In 2007, the Vatican made moves to become the first carbon neutral state, choosing the offset their carbon footprint by establishing a forest in Hungary.
12. Personal Coinage
Stamping their own coins, the Vatican has produced a slew of popular coins, including the Ã¢â€šÂ¬1 coin that offers a portrait of the present Pope Ã¢â‚¬â€œ a favorite amongst collectors.