Travel to one of the world’s smallest countries and oldest republics, where rugged mountains and hilly terrain have been home to the Sammarinese - the people of San Marino - for centuries. Then scroll down for some of our printable resources to test out your knowledge.
View over mountainous San Marino
A Little Geography ...
- San Marino is the fifth smallest country in the world, and the third smallest in Europe (after Vatican City and Monaco). Land-locked within Italy, it covers an area of just over 61 square kilometres, and has a population of about 33,500 people. The main language is Italian.
- San Marino has no flat land. The country sits on the northeastern side of the Apennine Mountains. The capital is the City of San Marino, but the largest city is Serravalle.
- Tourism is a major industry, with over 3 million visitors a year. Banking, electronics and ceramics are also notable industries, as well as food production (wine and cheese). Although an independent country, San Marino depends heavily on Italy for many imports.
A Little History…
- San Marino was founded in 301 AD when Saint Marinus set up a small community on the top of Mount Titano. Marinus was a stonemason from Dalmatia (now a region of Croatia) who was fleeing Christian persecution by the Roman Emperor of the time, Diocletian.
- The country was named after Saint Marinus, and originally consisted of Mount Titano. But in 1463, the Pope gave San Marino more cities (Montegiardino, Serravalle, Fiorentino and Faetano). Today, the country is ruled by a parliamentary government, using rules written in the late 16th century.
- One reason San Marino has mostly stayed independent is its hilly location. Over the years, the country has been a refuge for people facing persecution. In the Second World War, for example, San Marino was a safe place for more than 100,000 Italians and Jews – ten times the population of San Marino at the time. The country was briefly occupied by German forces in 1944, but the Germans were defeated by the Allies in the Battle of San Marino.
And Some Interesting Facts…
- The capital, San Marino, is famous for its old walled town, narrow cobblestone streets and the ‘three towers of San Marino’. The towers sit on the three peaks of Mount Titano and were built in the 11th–14th centuries. They appear on the national flag and the country’s coat of arms. Mount Titano became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2008.
The most famous of San Marino's three towers, Guaita, which was once a prison
- San Marino is a member of the United Nations and the Council of Europe, but is not a member of the European Union. It does, however, use the euro as its currency.
- San Marino postage stamps are an important source of income for the country. Although they are used for regular mail, they are mostly sold to stamp collectors around the world. The country also mints its own Euro coins, which are highly sought-after amongst collectors!