According to itypeusa, the state of Vatican City is the smallest state in the world both in terms of population and territorial extension. Sovereignty in the country belongs to the Holy See, the top of the Catholic Church, by virtue of the provisions of Article 3 of the Lateran Pacts, signed in 1929 between this and Italy. The Vatican City State and the Holy See, therefore, are two separate entities, both subject to international law, with the former acting as a territorial and patrimonial basis to guarantee the latter the independence, autonomy and sovereignty necessary for the its activity and its mission. From an institutional point of view, the Vatican is comparable to an absolute monarchy, with the pontiff who, placed at the head of the Holy See by election, holds its legislative, executive and judicial powers. Jorge Mario Bergoglio, ascended to the papal throne on 13 March 2013 with the name of Francis. His pontificate was perceived as a change of direction with respect to the past, given his particular attention – and above all his activism – towards issues of international politics and battles such as the fight against inequalities in the world. The main legislative body is the Pontifical Commission for the Vatican City State, while the Governorate of the Vatican City State – composed solely of papal-nominated cardinals – is in charge of the administrative management of the state. The first collaborator of the pontiff for the government of the Church and responsible for the political and diplomatic activities of the Holy See is the secretary of state; a position considered on a par with that of the prime minister of republican systems, held by Cardinal Pietro Parolin since October 15, 2013, who replaced Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, in office since 2006. Although it does not have its own taxation system, the Vatican enjoys a series of economic revenues that are based, in addition to the expected contributions from the agreement with Italy, on international investments, on the offerings of the faithful, on the ecclesiastical patrimony and the related revenues, and again on the remittances of over 4,600 dioceses from all over the world. The Vatican bills its own currency and since 2000 has entered into a monetary union with Italy, thus sanctioning its accession to the euro. The citizens of the Vatican City state are currently just over 800. Vatican citizenship is granted to cardinals residing in the Vatican and Rome, to permanent residents in the Vatican for reasons of office, dignity and employment and to spouses and children of citizens. The safety of the Pope inside the apostolic palace and during his travels is mainly guaranteed by the historic body of the pontifical Swiss guard, loyal to the papacy since its foundation in 1506 and which today is in charge of overseeing the papal palaces and maintaining order during religious ceremonies. The body of the gendarmerie of the Vatican City state is instead entrusted with the maintenance of security within the territory of the state and in its extraterritorial appurtenances.
In St. Peter’s Square, the Vatican gendarmerie avails itself of the collaboration of a specific security body of the Italian state police: the Vatican public security inspectorate.
The international personality of the Holy See exercises its rights of active and passive diplomacy. The foreign embassies of the 180 countries with which the Vatican maintains official relations are accredited to the Holy See; moreover, its diplomatic network has expanded considerably in the last thirty years thanks above all to the pontificate of Pope John Paul II, particularly significant not only for Christianity, but also for the more general international political dynamics. The numbers of Vatican diplomacy demonstrate the activism of the Holy See under his leadership: from the 84 countries with which he had full diplomatic relations in 1978, it rose to 174 at the end of his pontificate. The latest additions, during the pontificate of Benedict XVI, are Montenegro, the United Arab Emirates, Botswana, Russia and South Sudan. On the other hand, bilateral relations between the Holy See and the state of Palestine are of a special nature. The Holy See also maintains relations with international organizations such as the United Nations, Unesco, FAO and the WTO, and with regional organizations such as the Arab League and the African Union. The Holy See has also established relations with the Sovereign Order of Malta, the European Union and Taiwan, which sees the Vatican as the only European state that still maintains an official delegation in Taipei. For different reasons, the Holy See does not have official bilateral relations with some countries, such as China, Saudi Arabia, Vietnam, Afghanistan and North Korea. which sees the Vatican as the only European state that still maintains an official delegation in Taipei. For different reasons, the Holy See does not have official bilateral relations with some countries, such as China, Saudi Arabia, Vietnam, Afghanistan and North Korea.
Finally, the Holy See enjoys autonomy – but not sovereignty – over a greater territory than that of the Vatican city state alone. The extra-territorial areas, formally belonging to the Italian territory but in which the Holy See enjoys special privileges, reach an extension of over 10 km 2. Among these, there is the Vatican Radio broadcasting center in Santa Maria di Galeria.