I have a strange obsession with the small countries of the world. I’m not sure why, perhaps it’s the David versus Goliath nature of these tiny places with populations of under a million people. Nine tiny nations even get together to hold their own Olympic games!
The Republic of San Marino, tucked into Italy, is Europe’s third smallest state after the Vatican and Monaco. It has a population of around 30,000 and is just 24 square miles (61 sq km) in size. The economy is mainly based on tourism and finance, the country has no national debt, almost no unemployment and is one of the world’s wealthiest countries by GDP; no wonder I admire these small yet strong nations.
Founded in AD301 as a monastic community, the country enacted its constitution in 1600 and hasn’t changed it much since. Even when all the separate and warring Italian states decided to get together to become one big country called Italy in the 19th century, San Marino stayed independent. The old part of town – basically one main street – is the part to visit.
Photo courtesy of Lanzate via Flickr.