Vatican City Overview

According to abbreviationfinder, Vatican City is the independent papal territory in the area of ​​Rome. It includes the Vatican, St. Peter’s Church, the papal gardens and St. Citizenship is usually linked to the place of residence in the Vatican and a corresponding function.

Due to the Lateran Treaty, which Pope Pius XI. Completed with the Italian state in 1929, Vatican City is an elective monarchy with the Pope as head of state; the latter delegates most of the secular functions to a cardinal secretary of state.

Country facts

  • Official name: State of the Vatican
  • License plate: V
  • ISO-3166: VA, VAT (336)
  • Internet
  • Currency: 1 euro (€) = 100 cents
  • Area: 0.44 km²
  • Population (2019): 1 000
  • Official language (s): Italian, Latin
  • Form of government: Absolute elective monarchy
  • Head of State: Pope Francis
  • Religion (s): Christians (Catholics)
  • Time zone: Central European Time
  • National holiday: March 13th


  • Location (geographical): Southern Europe
  • Location (coordinates): at 41 ° 54 ‘north latitude and 12 ° 27’ east longitude
  • Climate: Mediterranean climate


  • Annual population growth (2014): 0%


There is a judicial authority headed by a »Promotor Iustitiae« and a three-tier jurisdiction consisting of a court of first instance (Tribunale), an appeals court (Corte di Appello) and a court of cassation (Corte di Cassazione). Civil and criminal proceedings are negotiated (e.g. for thefts from tourists). Since the criminal proceedings in particular usually concern people who are not citizens of the Vatican City, it is often difficult to carry out the proceedings and to enforce judgments.


According to the constitutional law that came into force on February 22, 2001, the Vatican City, as a sovereign state, is an absolute electoral monarchy. The head of state and the holder of all legislative, executive and judicial powers is the Pope, who with his election as head of the Catholic Church also becomes the sovereign of the city-state. He exercises his powers through the Roman Curia the end. Secular affairs and the supervision of the administration (central authorities, directorates, commissions, security committee) of the Vatican City are delegated by the Pope to the President of the Cardinals Commission (7 members, appointed by the Pope for 5 years); As the holder of the executive power transferred to him by the Pope, he also heads the government (Governatorato) of the Vatican City. The State Secretariat under the direction of the Cardinal Secretary of State is responsible for foreign policy relations in Vatican City and the point of contact for contact with the Pope on important state affairs. In the event of a vacancy, the papal jurisdiction is suspended; The power of attorney for current affairs rests with the Camerlengo during this time. The Holy See, an independent subject under international law, must be distinguished from Vatican City, the secular domain of the Pope.

Citizenship is usually linked to the place of residence in the Vatican and a corresponding function.


The Vatican City does not have its own armed forces, the Swiss Guard performs security and honorary services.

The Swiss Guard in the Vatican

The Swiss Guard

“Acriter et fideliter semper” (“Always brave and loyal”) is the motto of the Pope’s Swiss Guard. The papal armed forces followed this saying especially with the “Sacco di Roma” when they defended Pope Clement VII on May 6, 1527 against an overwhelming force of German and Spanish mercenaries. Of the 189 guardsmen, 147 died at that time. To commemorate this event, the new recruits of the guard are sworn in in the presence of the Pope to this day.

Everywhere in the Vatican the visitor encounters the guardsmen. As a popular photo opportunity for tourists, they are often photographed during security duty with the halberd at the entrances to the Vatican. In addition to guard duty, the guardsmen check the entrances, escort the Pope’s official visitors to an audience and, above all, protect the Pope when he appears in public. The guard’s uniform dates from the 16th century and is said to have been designed by Michelangelo. Their colors blue, gold and red come from the Medici coat of arms. In daily duty the guardsmen wear a beret with their uniform, on official occasions they wear a breastplate and a helmet with a plume.

Today the Guard is more of a police force than an army, it is subordinate to the substitute of the State Secretariat (“Minister of the Interior” of the Vatican State) and belongs to the Curia. Their nominal strength is 110 men, who are divided into three sub-units called squadrons. During their training, the recruits learn how to use the medieval weapons halberd and sword for ceremonial occasions and how to stand motionless for hours. In addition, they also train modern martial arts and the handling of firearms so that they can do their job in personal protection justice. Instructors from the Swiss Armed Forces regularly take on parts of the military training. In Switzerland, the Guard maintains an information and recruiting center that is looked after by former guardsmen.

Vatican City Overview