Travel with Activity Village to the smallest country in the world, which despite its size is steeped in a rich cultural, religious and political history. Home to the Pope and other leaders of the Roman Catholic Church, it has become a popular tourist destination as well as a place of pilgrimage. Our printable resources below are then the perfect place to test your knowledge!
A view over St Peter's Basilica, Vatican City and the rooftops of Rome.
A Little Geography ...
- Vatican City is a tiny independent state found in northwest Rome in Italy. Sitting to the west of the Tiber River, it has an area of about 0.4 square kilometres!
- The country is mostly surrounded by old walls, originally built to protect the Pope from invaders. About 900 citizens live within these walls. They are mostly clergy, but also include a voluntary military force called the Swiss Guard.
Swiss Guard in their striking uniforms at the Vatican
- The official language is Latin, but Italian is more commonly spoken.
- Famous features of Vatican City include the Vatican Palaces (home to the Pope), St Peter’s Basilica (an ancient church believed to be built on the tomb of the first Pope, St Peter), and the Vatican Museums (also home to the stunning Sistine Chapel). Many of these buildings display some of the most beautiful paintings and sculptures in the world, by artists such as Botticelli and Michelangelo.
- The country’s economy is supported by donations to the Roman Catholic Church, as well as banking and financial investments. Tourism and the sale of Vatican postage stamps and coins are also important contributors.
A Little History ...
- During the 9th and 10th Centuries, the Roman Catholic Church was very powerful. The Pope governed areas around Rome and also parts of central Italy known as the Papal States.
- When Italy became unified in 1871, Rome was made the country’s capital. But the Pope refused to leave the Vatican. This dispute was only resolved in 1929, when the Italian government agreed to create an independent country – Vatican City – governed by the Pope.
- Vatican City has a simple government which handles all the financial, religious and political relations of the Roman Catholic Church.
And Some Interesting Facts ...
- Vatican City has its own postal system, and Vatican City stamps are highly sought-after by collectors.
- The country has its own police force, but the Pope also has Swiss Guards to personally protect him. Their flamboyant uniform is popular with tourists!
- The country’s flag features a papal tiara (crown) and crossed gold and silver keys. These symbolise the keys to heaven given by Jesus to St Peter, as described in the Bible.