The Vatican is located upon the Vatican Hill (Vaticanus Mons), whose name antedates Christianity and has a 3.2km border with Italy. Due to its small size the foreign embassies of the Vatican are situated in Rome itself.
There are 890 citizens of the Vatican who are predominantly clergy. Also within the city are the Swiss Guard.
The presiding law is that of ecclesiastical law but if this cannot suffice then the laws of Rome apply.
The official language of the Vatican is Latin. For many centuries church documents were only written in Latin and it was necessary for all clergy to know Latin well in order to live and work in the Vatican. However, more recently everyday Vatican business has been conducted in Italian or, increasingly, English.
Pope Benedict XVI has advocated greater use of Latin, however, and to this end the Vatican is reintroducing the language back into the life of the Vactican. The official website, for example, has a section in Latin containing various religious texts. ref
The area of Rome where the Vatican now stands has always been considered sacred, even before the arrival of Christianity. In 326 CE the first church was built, supposedly on the site of the tomb of St Peter. Over the years, the Popes gradually extended their control over the neighbouring areas and at one time ruled much of the Italian Peninsula until the unification of Italy when the Papal States were absorbed into the Kingdom of Italy.
In 1870 Rome itself was annexed to the Kingdom. Following disputes between the Popes and the Italian government, in 1929 the situation was resolved by the establishment of the Vatican as a seperate state within Italy.
Official Website in English.
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