San MarinoSan Marino is a small country in Europe surrounded by northern Italy.

San Marino, or Republic of San Marino, the world's smallest republic. It lies in the foothills of the Apennines about 10 miles (16 km) from the Adriatic Sea, surrounded by Italy. Mount Titano (2,425 feet [769 m] high) accounts for most of the republic's area of 24 square miles {62 km 2).

Farming and livestock raising on the mountain's lower slopes are the principal occupations. However, most of the republic's revenue comes from tourists and the sale of postage stamps to collectors. San Marino's basic currency unit is the euro. Manufactured products include textiles, ceramics, leather goods, tiles, varnish, and wine. Transportation is entirely by road, except for summer helicopter service to Rimini, Italy, 15 miles (24 km) northeastward on the Adriatic coast.

The people of San Marino, called San Marinesi, are of Italian origin. They speak Italian and virtually all are literate. Roman Catholicism is the state religion. The chief towns are San Marino, the capital, near the summit of Mount Titano, and Serravalle.

San Marino is a republic that consists of a legislature called the Grand and General Council, whose 60 members are elected for five-year terms. The executive branch consists of two captains regent (chief executives), elected by the council from its members and change every six months. They appoint the heads of the 10 government departments. Together the captains regent and the department heads make up the Congress of the State. The heads of all the families in San Marino meet twice a year in a centuries-old tradition to discuss public matters.

San Marino's early history is unknown. According to local tradition, the republic was founded in the fourth century by Marinus, a Christian stonecutter from Dalmatia, who established a haven here for persecuted Christians. By 885 a monastery had been built. Outside powers have seldom invaded San Marino or threatened its independence. The republic has maintained close ties with Italy since 1862, when a treaty of friendship was signed and a customs union formed. The treaty was renewed in 1939 and 1971.

Facts in brief about San Marino
Capital: San Marino.
Official language: Italian.
Area: 24 mi2 (61 km2).
Elevation: Highest—Mt. Titano, 2,478 ft (755 m). Lowest—Ausa River at northern border, 164 ft (50 m) above sea level.
Population: Current estimate—29,000; density, 1,208 per mi2 (475 per km2); distribution, 89 percent urban, 11 percent rural. 2000 census—26,941.
Chief products: Barley, fruits and vegetables, wine, wheat, building stone, ceramics, leather goods, textiles, tiles, varnish.
Flag: San Marino's flag has two horizontal stripes of white and blue. The state flag, used by the government, has a coat of arms in the center. The civil flag, used by the people, does not have a coat of arms.
Money: Basic unit—euro. One hundred cents equal one euro. The Italian lira was taken out of circulation in 2002.