San Marino is both the oldest the smallest republics in the world, entirely surrounded by Italian territory, wedged between the Italian regions of Romagna and Marche, only a few kilometres from the Adriatic Riviera, the Republic of San Marino covers a total area of just 61 sq km.
The territory was likely settled since prehistory
but evidences about the origins of small villages such as Cenobio, Pieve, Castello which confirm the existence
of a settled community on the top of the mountain Titano, date back to Middle Age. The name takes origin from a
Dalmatian stone-cutter called Marino, who fled nearly sixteen hundred years ago from his home on the Dalmatian
coast at the time of a Turkish invasion, and took refuse among the rocky crags of Monte Titano where he founds
a little Christian community persecuted by Diocletian Emperor. In 1085 A.D., the Monastery at Mt. Titano canonized
Marino and changed his name to San, which means Saint, hence Saint or San Marino. Ever since, the small country
has been able to boast a history of freedom and independence, tenaciously and wisely defended against all-comers.
The country is stunningly picturesque, with the majestic Mount Titano culminating in three peaks, each crowned by one of the defensive forts that have made independence possible, and with spectacular cliffs facing the Adriatic sea. The old city, is medieval with modern touches which well combined with the more traditional buildings. Today the tourist sector contributes over 50% of its economy, in 1997 more than 3.3 million tourists visited San Marino. The key industries are banking, wearing apparel, electronics, and ceramics. Main agricultural products are wine and cheeses. The sale of postage stamps and duty-free consumer goods are also sources of income. The republic receives an annual subsidy from Italy in return for having renounced certain rights, such as establishing a broadcasting station and growing tobacco. Although San Marino mints its own coins, Italian and Vatican City currency is in general use.
Virtually all of the republic's inhabitants speak Italian and are Roman Catholic. About half of San Marino citizens are residents abroad, mainly in Italy, the United States, and France.
San Marino to see
The Basilica of Santo Marino; the Towers (14th-16th cent.) built on
each of the three peaks of Mt. Titano; the Gothic government house; Palazzo Valloni which is the home of
the public library and State archives; the church of Saint Quirino built in 1550, and the several museums of arts. There is a bust of Abraham Lincoln, who in 1861 accepted
the honorary citizenship of the republic.
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