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The southern European country of San Marino is officially named the Republic of San Marino or the Most Serene Republic of San Marino. The only surviving Italian microstate, It is an enclave located on the Italian Peninsula and surrounded by Italy. Its capital is the City of San Marino, the official language is Italian, and the official religion is Roman Catholicism.

San Marino is said to have the earliest written governing documents which are still in effect in the world. The country's constitution, the Constitution of San Marino, is a series of six books which were written in Latin during the late 1500s.

It is the only nation with more vehicles than people.

The name of the country comes from Saint Marinus, who is said to have left his home on the island of Arba, in modern-day Croatia, after the emperor Diocletian sent out a call for stonemasons to help with the reconstruction of the walls of the city of Rimini after Liburnian pirates destroyed those walls. He was ordained by the Bishop of Rimini.

After the Diocletianic Persecution began, he and a small group of Christians escaped to Monte Titano, the highest peak in the Apennine Mountains, where he built a chapel and founded the city and state of San Marino. The date of that founding is September 3, 301.

By the 9th century, San Marino was a free commune, which is an administrative division which is equal to a township, with a self-governed assembly called the Arengo. The Arengo was made up of the heads of each of the families. Pope Paul III recognized the republic's independence in 1631. Nonetheless, in 1739, a military force under Cardinal Guilio Alberoni, a papal legate, tried to get the government of San Marino to acknowledge his sovereignty over the country. That attempt was unsuccessful.

During Napoleon's invasion of Italy, he was respectful of San Marino's independence, as did the Congress of Vienna, the assembly which reorganized Europe after the Napoleonic Wars in 1814-15.

In the 19th century, there was a movement for Italian unification, and San Marino freely gave asylum to revolutionaries. Abraham Lincoln was declared an honorary citizen, and he wrote a letter to the San Marino government which said in part that the republic was proof that "government founded on republican principles is capable of being so administered as to be secure and enduring."

During World War I, San Marino was neutral. Italy was suspicious of their neutrality, harboring a suspicion that the small country was harboring Austrian spies and letting them use the country's telegraph station. Italy attempted to put some of its soldiers in the country, and when the government would not allow it, cut their phone lines.

For twenty years, from 1923 to 1943, the Sammarinese Fascist Party, modeled after Italy's National Fascist Party, ruled the country. Throughout that time period, all other parties are banned, rendering San Marino a one-party country. Independent politicians formed a majority in the council up until 1932.

During World War II, the republic was neutral, but they were accidentally bombed in a British raid in June of 1944. The German defensive position known as the Gothic Line was very close to the Sammarinese border, and the Royal Air Force killed 35 people because they believed that the German army was there.

It was also set to be used by the German military for hospitals, but Mussolini persuaded German officials to respect the country's neutrality. Even so, on September 17, 1944, the German Army occupied the country during the Battle of Monte Pulito. The result was that the Allies occupied San Marino for two months after the surrender of Germany. During the Battle of Rimini, San Marino accepted more than 100,000 civilians seeing refuge seeking safety. At that time, there were only 15,000 inhabitants of San Marino, economically and in every other facet, but they managed to do it.

In 1945, control of the country was switched by election to a coalition of left-wing Socialist and Communists for twelve years. In 1957, there was a bloodless revolution against the government which was assisted by Italy. The leftists surrendered, and a few of them were put in prison. The rightists, who were mainly Christian Democrats, won the 1959 elections and remained in control, after establishing a coalition with the Social Democrats, until 1973. In 1960, Sammarinese women got the right to vote. From 1973 on, San Marino was ruled by various coalitions.

The Sammarinese Communist Party died quietly in 1990, reinventing themselves as the Sammarinese Democratic Progressive Party. Aside from the name change, they changed their hammer and sickle logo to a depiction of a dove painted by Pablo Picasso.

There are only two ways for a foreigner to become a citizen of San Marino. One may live in the country for thirty years, or marry a male citizen, which is only open to women.



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