Today In Fact, 7 June

Mussolini’s legacy lives on in the Vatican City. Today in 1929, Musssolini’s fascist regime signed the Lateran Treaty which created the Vatican City as an independent state. The Vatican City, whose territory consists of a walled enclave within the city of Rome has an area of approximately 44 hectares, and a population of just over 800. This makes the Vatican City the smallest internationally recognized independent state in the world by both area and population.

The Pope is also the Head of State and Government of the Vatican City State. The Vatican City has permanent observer status at the United Nations.

The Vatican City is a new creation and not a vestige of the older Papal States which were largely absorbed into Italy upon its unification by 1870. This curious little state is a sacerdotal monarchy ruled by the Pope.

Over half of the Vatican City comprises gardens which date back to late 13th century. In July 2007, the Vatican agreed to become the first carbon neutral state. They plan to accomplish this by offsetting carbon dioxide emissions with the creation of a Vatican Climate Forest in Hungary.

It has always struck me as weird that a religion is centred around a state. A sovereign person amongst the community of nations. Just like Israel I guess? There are of course benefits to having a religion that is also able to function as a sovereign state. It can have embassies and it can enter into diplomatic negotiations with other states.

I guess that’s why there are many micro-nations around the world which claim sovereignty: Freetown Christiania in Copenhagen is a suburb populated by dope-heads and junkies. The Republic of Jamtland in Sweden has embassies and consulates in 17 countries. Seborga in Italy is a small town which traces its sovereignty back to the middle ages. The Principality of Hutt River in Western Australia issues its own coinage and stamps. The principality of Sealand is a North Sea platform which used to host a pirate radio station and is now a secure web-hosting facility.

The whole micronation “movement” is a fascinating and diverse world started by Mussolini’s push to recognize the Vatican City as a sovereign state.

It is perhaps apt that on the day when Italy created the Vatican City state, we can mark, grimly the birth of Muammar Gaddafi in 1942. This son of colonial Italy and the creator of the terrorist state of Libya ruled his oil-rich country from 1969 till his death in ditch in 2011.

I must admit that I was vengefully exultant when he died. It served him right because he owed me money. In the beginning of 2011, our family planned a trip the United Kingdom and Ireland. I booked with Air Afrique, the Libyan state Airline. Within weeks of paying for the seats, the Libyan revolution began and we lost all the money we had spent on the bookings because Air Afrique ceased to exist. We eventually re-booked with Ethiopian Air which turned-out to be a great adventure.

– Posted by Douglas Racionzer (