Vatican City State

Tiny independent nation within Rome, Italy, located on the Vatican Hill, on the west bank of the Tiber River; often called the Vatican.

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It is home to the pope and central administration of the Roman Catholic Church. The pope maintains complete legal, executive, and judicial powers. The Vatican was established in the 1920s by a treaty between the pope and the Italian government.

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The Sistine Chapel and Saint Peter's Basilica are located here.

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With a total area of less than a fifth of a square mile, it is often considered the world's smallest country.

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The relations of the United States with the Vatican have been controversial. For years, the United States had a diplomatic representative there without the rank of ambassador, but in the middle 1980s, the United States established full diplomatic relations with the Vatican.
The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.