San Marino Country Overview

Serene Republic of San Marino or San Marino. It is the second oldest republic in Europe, after the Roman Republic and is the fifth smallest state in the world. With an economy practically based on small agriculture, tourism, commerce and small services, it is one of the nations with one of the highest GDP per capita in the world due to its small population which does not exceed 35 thousand residents.

The state and its capital city owe their name to Marinus the Dalmatian, also called Marinus “The Builder” who according to legend was its founder in the year 301. Several years later he was consecrated by the Catholic Church as Saint Marino deacon and his feast of November 21 is a national holiday in San Marino


According to Payhelpcenter, San Marino has its beginnings in a magnificent setting: the slopes of Mount Titano. According to tradition, the first inhabited nucleus was founded by the stonemason Marino, a Christian Dalmatian who, in the 4th century, would have settled here with a group of companions, fleeing the persecutions of the Roman Emperor Diocletian. It is very likely that its existence is merely legendary.

At the beginning of the Middle Ages a monastic community was formed, then, little by little, the borough grew larger and became a Commune, with its own republican ordinances that, even today, remain in force for the most part and almost unchanged. The commune managed to preserve, for centuries, its own independence (thanks to the almost inaccessible situation of the town), despite the continuous aggressions of the neighboring powers and the influence of the papal power (Papal States).

Despite being a sovereign country, it depends largely on Italy, by which it has been completely surrounded since its unification in the 19th century. Since the end of the 9th century, there has been a free republic in San Marino. In 1631 the papacy recognized its independence which was also respected by Napoleon.

A peaceful revolution restored in 1906 the elective system of the General Council (supreme body of the State), which had become a closed clan.

During the First World War (1914-1918) and Second World War (1939-1945) he followed the destinies of Italy. Being occupied in 1943 by order of Hitler, it was recovered by the allies but in a counter-offensive by the Germans it was again occupied. She was finally released in 1945.

After the war was over and democracy was restored, a coalition of socialists and communists ruled until 1957, when they were displaced by the Christian Democrats, who from 1973 formed a coalition government with the Socialists.


San Marino is the only Italian city-state that still survives. Like Andorra, Liechtenstein and Monaco, it seems an anachronism from medieval times, when the jurisdiction of a city did not go beyond the reach of arms from the walls. Together with the Vatican it is the only European country completely surrounded by another.

He joined the Council of Europe as a full member in 1988, presiding over the organization in the first half of 1990. It also became a member of the United Nations in 1992, and adopted the euro in 2002 as its national currency, despite not belonging to the European Union.

This country, in order to reduce its dependence on the Republic of Italy, has been forming a series of agreements with Switzerland in the political, economic and social fields. This alliance has opened the way to a new type of diplomatic relations, pioneering in the 21st century, but vaguely reminiscent of the international relations of medieval times.

Government and politics

The Consiglio Grande e Generale is elected by popular vote every five years and constitutes the highest power authority in the country. This parliament elects two of its members as Captains Regents for a period of six months. The two Captains Regents and the Council of Ministers form the executive branch of government. The Great and General Council also elects the so-called Council of Twelve, which forms the judiciary during the legislature.

San Marino is a multi-party democratic republic. The three main political parties are the San Marino Christian Democratic Party (PDCS), the Party of Socialists and Democrats (PSD), and the Popular Alliance of San Marino (APSM) along with several smaller ones such as the United Left coalition. of San Marino (IUSM) or the New Socialist Party of San Marino (NPSSM). Due to the small population and territory of the country, it is difficult for any party to reach an absolute majority and most of the time a coalition is formed.

Because tourism accounts for more than 50% of the economy, the government has abolished taxes and customs duties, except for the sale of coins and stamps. In addition, the Italian government gives San Marino an annual budget after the Basic Treaty signed by both parties.

Armed Forces of San Marino

The Armed Forces of San Marino is one of the smallest military forces in the world. It has different branches that perform various functions: they perform ceremonial tasks, patrol borders, provide security to government buildings, and assist the Civil Police in complex criminal cases. A gendarmerie is also part of the country’s military forces. The military corps relies on the cooperation of full-time and volunteer forces, known as the Corpi Militari Volontari. National defense in case of a foreign threat, is by agreement, the responsibility of the Armed Forces of Italy.


Although the republic is not an official member of the Eurozone, it has been allowed to use the euro as its national currency under agreements with the Council of the European Union, being able to stamp its own national design on the corresponding face. Before the euro, the currency was the San Marino lira, which was interchangeable with the Italian. Both the country’s lira and the euro, being produced in small numbers, are highly valued in the collectors’ market.

The tourism represents more than 50% of the GDP, more than three million visitors in 1997. Banking, electronics and ceramics are also important. Agricultural products are wine and cheese. Postage stamps, only valid for the republic, are mostly sold for philately, representing an important chapter of income. Since 1997 the country’s standard of living has been increasing above that of Italy due to incipient economic growth in the country’s financial sector. Since the late 1980s, San Marino has been a tax haven.


San Marino lacks a railroad, as the existing tracks were destroyed in World War II. To get there by rail, you use the Italian one, to the Rimini station. There is a 1.5 km cable car that connects the capital with Borgo Maggiore. There are 220 km of roads. The small country does not have an airport, so the airport in the Italian city of Rimini, very close to the San Marino border, is used.



This small country of 61 km² is dominated by the Apennines. The terrain is made up of rugged mountains. The capital stands at the top of a great mountain called Titano (739 meters above the level), the highest point in the country.


The population of San Marino is 30,167 residents (July 2009 estimate), which gives a density of 494.54 residents per square kilometer. 94% of the total population is urbanized (2008). As for the main ethnic groups, Sanmarinenses and Italians live there. Italian is spoken and the religion is Catholic. San Marino has the longest life expectancy for men, at 81 years.

The capital, City of San Marino, has 4,493 residents (according to the 2003 census). It is a city with a medieval layout, with winding alleys, small and narrow, the road is paved and the squares are small. The lands on the outskirts are planted with vines and cereals. It is surrounded by three fortification networks, connected to each other through an extensive labyrinth of walls, gates, bastions and towers.

The republic is divided into nine municipalities, called castelli (singular, castello), which are also considered cities. The most populated castle is Serravalle, which has around 7,000 residents. One of the largest centers is Dogana, which is not yet an autonomous castello but is part of the Castello di Serravalle. Other important towns are Cailungo and San Giovanni (Borgo Maggiore entities) as well as Fiorina (in Domagnano) and Murata (in Città di San Marino).

San Marino Country Overview