Official name Repubblica di San Marino (Republic of San Marino)
Form of government unitary multiparty republic with one legislative
house (Great and General Council )
Heads of state and government Captains-Regent (2)
Capital San Marino
Official language Italian
Official religion none
Monetary unit euro (ˆ)1
Population estimate (2008) 31,000
Total area (sq mi) 24
Total area (sq km) 61
1San Marino uses the euro as its official currency even though it is not
a member of the EU.
small republic situated on the slopes of Mount Titano, on the
Adriatic side of central Italy between the Emilia-Romagna and Marche
regions and surrounded on all sides by the Republic of Italy. It is the
smallest independent state in Europe after Vatican City and Monaco and,
until the independence of Nauru (1968), the smallest republic in the
San Marino has an irregular rectangular form with a maximum length
of 8 miles (13 km), northeast to southwest. It is crossed by the Marano
and Ausa (Aussa) streams, which flow into the Adriatic Sea, and by the
stream of San Marino, which falls into the Marecchia River. The
landscape is dominated by the huge, central limestone mass of Mount
Titano (2,424 feet [739 metres]); hills spread out from it on the
southwest, whereas the northeastern part gently slopes down toward the
Romagna plain and the Adriatic coast. The silhouette of Mount Titano,
with its three summits crowned by ancient triple fortifications, may be
seen from many miles away. In 2008 Mount Titano and the historic centre
of San Marino were designated a UNESCO World Heritage site.
The climate is mild and temperate, with maximum temperatures of 79 °F
(26 °C) in summer and 19 °F (−7 °C) in winter. Annual rainfall ranges
between about 22 inches (560 mm) and 32 inches (800 mm). Vegetation is
typical of the Mediterranean zone, with variations due to elevation, and
includes olive, pine, oak, ash, poplar, fir, and elm, as well as many
kinds of grasses and flowers. Besides domestic and farmyard animals,
moles, hedgehogs, foxes, badgers, martens, weasels, and hares are found.
Indigenous birds and birds of passage are plentiful.
Although traces of human presence from both prehistoric and Roman
times exist in the territory, Mount Titano and its slopes are known to
have been populated, with certainty, only after the arrival of St.
Marinus and his followers. San Marino citizens, or Sammarinesi, make up
more than four-fifths of the country’s population, with Italians
composing most of the remainder. Thousands of Sammarinesi reside abroad,
principally in Italy, the United States, France, and Argentina. Nearly
nine-tenths of San Marino’s citizens are Roman Catholics, though there
is no official religion. The official language is Italian. A widely
spoken dialect has been defined as Celto-Gallic, akin to the Piedmont
and Lombardy dialects as well as to that of Romagna.
Because centuries-long quarrying has exhausted Mount Titano’s stone
and ended the craft that depended upon it, the territory is now without
mineral resources. All electrical power is transferred via electrical
grid from Italy, San Marino’s main trading partner. The country’s
principal resources are industry, tourism, commerce, agriculture, and
crafts. Manufactures include electronics, paint, cosmetics, ceramics,
jewelry, and clothing. Ceramic and wrought-iron articles, as well as
modern and reproduction furniture, are among San Marino’s traditional
craft products. Fine printing, particularly of postage stamps, is a
consistent source of revenues. Banking is a vital industry. In 2002 San
Marino replaced the Italian lira with the euro as its national currency.
Tourism is the sector of greatest expansion, and it makes a major
contribution to the inhabitants’ income. Alongside traditional excursion
tourism, there is convention-type tourism, based on modern hotel
facilities, as well as residential tourism.
Agriculture, although no longer the principal economic resource in
San Marino, remains vital. Wheat, grapes, and barley are the chief
crops; dairying and livestock also are important. About three-fourths of
the land is given to permanent cultivation.
The capital, San Marino city, is set high on the western side of
Mount Titano, beneath the fortress crowning one of its summits, and is
encircled by triple walls. Borgo Maggiore, farther down the slope, was
for centuries San Marino’s commercial centre, and Serravalle, beneath
its castle of the Malatesta family, is agricultural and industrial. Most
of San Marino’s landscape is agricultural in character, but industrial
concerns have intruded on the centuries-old forms of agricultural life.
The San Marino constitution, originating from the Statutes of 1600,
provides for a parliamentary form of government. The Great and General
Council (Parliament) has 60 members, elected every five years by all
adult citizens. It has legislative and administrative powers and every
six months nominates the two captains regent (capitani reggenti), who
hold office for that period and may not be elected again until three
years have elapsed. The Great and General Council is headed by the
captains regent, who are heads of state and of the administration. The
Congress of State, a council of ministers, is composed of 10 members,
elected by the Great and General Council from among its members, and
constitutes the central organ of executive power. Each member has charge
of a ministerial department.
Social programs for the citizens of San Marino are extensive. The
state attempts to keep unemployment in check by seeking to provide
employment for those who cannot find work with private concerns. All
citizens (who make social security contributions) receive free,
comprehensive, high-quality medical care and assistance in sickness,
accident, and old age, as well as family allowances. The state aids home
ownership through its buildings schemes. Education is free up to age 14.
The University of San Marino was founded in 1985. A public security
force of about 50 persons provides national defense.
A network of roads connects San Marino with the surrounding regions
of Italy. Motorcoach services connect San Marino city with Rimini,
Italy, and, in summer, directly with the Adriatic coast. The main
airport serving San Marino is the Federico Fellini International Airport
in Rimini. There are no railroads, but the capital is reached from Borgo
Maggiore by means of a cable railway.
The Republic of San Marino traces its origin to the early 4th
century ad when, according to tradition, St. Marinus and a group of
Christians settled there to escape persecution. By the 12th century San
Marino had developed into a commune ruled by its own statutes and
consuls. The commune was able to remain independent despite
encroachments by neighbouring bishops and lords, largely because of its
isolation and its mountain fortresses. Against the attacks of the
Malatesta family, who ruled the nearby seaport of Rimini, San Marino
enjoyed the protection of the rival family of Montefeltro, who ruled
Urbino. By the middle of the 15th century, it was a republic ruled by a
Grand Council—60 men taken from the Arengo, or Assembly of Families.
Warding off serious attacks in the 16th century (including an occupation
by Cesare Borgia), San Marino survived the Renaissance as a relic of the
self-governing Italian city-states. Rule by an oligarchy and attempts to
annex it to the Papal States in the 18th century marked the decline of
When Napoleon invaded Italy, he respected the independence of the
republic and even offered to extend its territory (1797). The Congress
of Vienna (1815), at the end of the Napoleonic Wars, also recognized its
independent status. During the 19th-century movement for Italian
unification, San Marino offered asylum to revolutionaries, among them
Giuseppe Garibaldi. After Italy became a national state, a series of
treaties (the first in 1862) confirmed San Marino’s independence.