We've finally arrived at the smallest country in the world! Vatican City is an independent country confined entirely within Rome, Italy. Interestingly enough, it's the only country in the entire world to be designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site!
Although Vatican City officially became an independent state in 1929, its history goes as far back as the 4th century CE when Emperor Constantine ordered construction to began on a basilica over the location of Saint Peter's grave. However, it wasn't until after 1377 CE when significant construction projects began to appear, most notably the Apostolic Palace and the Sistene Chapel. This is the year that the papacy moved back to Rome after being relocated to Avignon, France for the previous half century.
Today Vatican City is an immensely popular destination, which allows the country's economy to function almost solely off of tourism. While the Vatican has a population of less than 1,000 residents, it consistently receives millions of visitors every single year.
Fun Fact: Vatican City is about one eighth the size of New York's Central Park!
Vatican City Statistics:
- Area: 0.19 sq mi (0.49 sq km)
- Population: 825
- Year Founded: 1929
- Official Language: Italian