San Marino (country, Europe)

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

San Marino (country, Europe)

San Marino (sän märē´nō), officially Republic of San Marino, republic (2005 est. pop. 28,900), 24 sq mi (62 sq km), in the Apennines near the Adriatic Sea, SW of Rimini, N central Italy. It is the world's smallest republic and claims to be Europe's oldest existing state. The capital is San Marino (1988 est. pop. 4,140); Serravalle is the only other town.

People, Economy, and Government

Virtually all of the republic's inhabitants speak Italian and are Roman Catholic. About half of San Marino citizens live abroad, mainly in Italy, the United States, and France. Of note in San Marino are the Basilica of Santo Marino; towers (14th–16th cent.) built on each of the three peaks of Mt. Titano; the Gothic government house; and several museums of art.

San Marino's industries include banking and the manufacture of apparel, electronics, and ceramics. Tourism, however, is the country's economic mainstay. The sale of postage stamps and duty-free consumer goods are also sources of income. Wheat, grapes, corn, and olives are grown and cattle, pigs, and horses are raised. Wine and cheeses are the most important agricultural products. Building stone, lime, wood, chestnuts, wheat, wine, baked goods, hides, and ceramics are exported. The country imports many manufactured goods and much of its food, mostly from Italy. 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 currencies are in general use.

San Marino is governed under the constitution of 1600 and the electoral law of 1926. Two regents (Capitani Reggenti), who are heads of state, are selected by the legislature from among its members for a period of six months. The secretary of state for foreign and political affairs, who is the head of government, is elected by the legislature for a five-year term, as is the cabinet. Legislative power in San Marino is vested in the popularly elected Grand Council (Consiglio Grande e Generale), which is made up of 60 members elected to five-year terms. Administratively, the country is divided into nine municipalities.

History

According to tradition, Marino, a Christian stonecutter from Dalmatia, took refuge (early 4th cent.) on Mt. Titano (2,300 ft/701 m), the chief geographical feature of present-day San Marino. By the mid-5th cent., a community was formed; because of its relatively inaccessible location and its poverty, it has succeeded, with a few brief interruptions, in maintaining its independence. In 1631 its independence was recognized by the papacy. In 1849, San Marino gave refuge to Garibaldi, the Italian patriot and soldier. Italy and San Marino signed a treaty of friendship and economic cooperation in 1862 (renewed and expanded several times). Volunteers from San Marino served with the Italians in World Wars I and II; Allied aircraft bombed the republic in 1944.

Following a period of Communist rule (1947–57), a coalition of Christian Democrats and Social Democrats came to power. In 1973, the Social Democrats left the coalition and were replaced by the Socialists and the tiny Movement for Statutory Liberties. In 1960 women were given the right to vote, and in 1973 they were granted the right to hold public office. A left-wing coalition led by the Communists ruled from 1978 to 1986, at which time the Communists joined with the Christian Democrats to form a new government. The coalition was reelected in 1988. The Communist party changed its name in 1990 to the Democratic Progressive party and continued in coalition with the Christian Democrats. In 1992, the Christian Democrats formed a new coalition with the Socialists; they remained in power following the 1993 and 1998. Governmental instability after the 2001 elections led to broad-based national unity government in 2003. In 2006 the Socialists and Democrats, a merger of the Socialists, former Communists, and others, won a plurality and formed a coalition government. Coalitions led by the Christian Democrats won the 2008 and 2012 elections. San Marino became a member of the United Nations in 1992.

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