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Better Know a Tiny Country: San Marino, the Fighting Sammarinese!
December 31, 2010 11:41 PM   Subscribe

The Most Serene Republic of San Marino. According to legend, the tiny country of San Marino was founded in 301AD by Saint Marinus of Rab, and is thus the world’s oldest republic. Occupying 24 square miles around Mount Titano in the middle of Italy, it is the fifth smallest country in the world.

Its current constitution has been in place since 1600, one of the oldest constitutions still in use today. Since 1243, the heads of state have been two Captains Regent, elected every six months.

The tiny country was able to escape conquest by Napoleon and by giving safe harbor to Garibaldi, also avoided annexation by a newly unified Italy.

Its most popular sport is soccer, but its national team is one of the worst in the world. One of its few moments of glory was scoring the fastest goal ever in World Cup related competition, 8.3 seconds into a qualifier match against England, though England would go on to win 7-1.

The International Academy of Sciences in San Marino is one of the few if not only institutions to adopt Esperanto as its official language.

San Marino has made one Eurovision entry thus far, missing out on the finals. But it did give the UK entry one of their only two votes.

San Marino has certainly been through dark periods as well, electing a completely Fascist council in the time of Mussolini, but in 1932 it still managed to issue a set of stamps honoring Abraham Lincoln, who had said of the tiny nation: "Although your dominion is small your state is nevertheless one of the most honored in all history."
posted by kmz (30 comments total) 23 users marked this as a favorite

 
I tried to make a cohesive big post about San Marino, and this is the result. Obviously, I'm not exactly a writery person. But I hope people find it interesting despite the lack of cohesion or flow. I've always been super curious about San Marino since randomly reading about it in an encyclopedic dictionary when I was little.
posted by kmz at 11:46 PM on December 31, 2010


You get my vote for including their Eurovision entry! It totally should've made the finals that year.
posted by asperity at 11:56 PM on December 31, 2010


Well, for the first post of the year it's not too bad.
posted by clarknova at 11:57 PM on December 31, 2010


San Marino is the greatest republic never to win the Super Bowl. No, wait. That's not right
posted by mhum at 12:06 AM on January 1, 2011 [3 favorites]


The 1994 San Marino Grand Prix will live in F1 infamy.
posted by philip-random at 12:44 AM on January 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


Nice post kmz. The only thing I knew of San Marino was this, which is kind of ironic I guess.

Now I know a whole lot more. Thanks.
posted by Duke999R at 12:47 AM on January 1, 2011


The Guard of The Rock drive Subarus. Don't mess with them.
posted by ovvl at 12:58 AM on January 1, 2011


Trivia: San Marino the only country in Europe completely surrounded by another country. (Vatican City doesn't count, because it doesn't have permanent residents.)

Bonus trivia question: What's the only other country completely surrounded by another country?
posted by twoleftfeet at 3:53 AM on January 1, 2011


Bonus trivia question: What's the only other country completely surrounded by another country?

Swaziland?
posted by the cydonian at 3:56 AM on January 1, 2011


Swaziland is bordered to the north, south and west by South Africa, and to the east by Mozambique, but you're very close.
posted by twoleftfeet at 4:02 AM on January 1, 2011


The Vatican, twoleftfeet.
posted by crataegus at 4:07 AM on January 1, 2011


I'm saying that the Vatican doesn't count, though this is arguable. One other one.
posted by twoleftfeet at 4:13 AM on January 1, 2011


Lesotho in South Africa?
And back on topic, how would one go about immigrating?
posted by bystander at 4:39 AM on January 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


Lesotho for the win! Back on topic.

San Marino has two heads of state, usually taken from opposing parties, and they have to run for election every six months. And yet...

San Marino has a better health care system than the U.S.
posted by twoleftfeet at 4:41 AM on January 1, 2011


My parents took me to Monoco, San Marino, Liechtenstein, and Andorra during the four years we lived in Europe as a child. These little pocket countries could be visited when driving to somewhere else. Has anyone else visited more of the 10 smallest countries in the world?

I still have a set of San Marino stamps and coins, one of their most popular and important exports.
posted by Xoc at 5:45 AM on January 1, 2011


In 1974, the entire country was wall-to-wall carpeted in burnt-orange shag, which lasted until The Great Re-Decorating of 1989, when it was replaced with terra cotta tile to go with the new drapes.
posted by briank at 8:15 AM on January 1, 2011 [3 favorites]


In 1974, the entire country was wall-to-wall carpeted in burnt-orange shag

Ah yes, the University of Texas's second greatest marketing debacle, after that horrible Tommy Lee Jones cheerleader movie.
posted by kmz at 9:03 AM on January 1, 2011


Vatican City doesn't count, because it doesn't have permanent residents.

I suppose in the most literal sense nothing has permanent residents, but how do you conclude that the pope does not live in Vatican City?
posted by ricochet biscuit at 9:03 AM on January 1, 2011


See supervillians always try too hard and end up failing, a man could live very comfortably with a place like San Marino under his heel.
posted by The Whelk at 9:28 AM on January 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


If anyone's interested, the technical term for a political territory surrounded completely by another is "enclave", and the wiki entry is a fun read.
posted by condour75 at 9:31 AM on January 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


If anyone's interested, the technical term for a political territory surrounded completely by another is "enclave", and the wiki entry is a fun read.

And the Lateran Palace (the usual papal residence) is an exclave of Vatican City, making it a rare case of an enclave having an exclave.

For fans of enclaves,I urge you to study the odd layout of Cooch Behar -- the fragmented border between West Bengal and Bangladesh, where thare enclaves and counterenclaves, and the world's only counter-counterenclave: a tiny piece of India, surrounded by Bangladesh, surrounded by India, surrounded by Bangladesh.

It is a splendid catch-22: residents of these enclaves need visas to cross into the other country, but as there are no consulates within the enclaves, they have to make illegal crossings to get the visas they need. I understand hey are are also havens for criminals evading prosecution from the justice system of the surrounding country.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 9:52 AM on January 1, 2011 [8 favorites]


"So this is the duchy of Cagliostro! I never hoid of the place!" (4:55)
posted by toodleydoodley at 11:01 AM on January 1, 2011


The Mouse That Roared
posted by philip-random at 11:54 AM on January 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


The "world's oldest republic" link points to a Wikipedia page of countries by area. I'm guessing perhaps it was supposed to be "List of republics"?
posted by Flunkie at 1:19 PM on January 1, 2011


The 1994 San Marino Grand Prix will live in F1 infamy.

The Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari is actually located outside of San Marino, in nearby Imola, Italy. I think the circuit would be too big to fit into San Marino proper.
posted by gyc at 2:27 PM on January 1, 2011


My friend went there and said it's the most boring place in the world and there's nothing there, you just drive up a hill where tourists take photos and there's a tiny shop selling the currency as a souvenir. But that's not true, my deodorant's made there, i realised one day when i picked it up wrong!
posted by maiamaia at 3:40 PM on January 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


The "world's oldest republic" link points to a Wikipedia page of countries by area. I'm guessing perhaps it was supposed to be "List of republics"?

Ah, crud, that's what I get for finalizing a post while coughing up a lung from strep and a cold. I actually meant to link this Wikipedia page. Thanks for catching that, Flunkie. If a mod could fix it, I would really appreciated it.
posted by kmz at 5:28 PM on January 1, 2011


Last I heard of it, San Marino was in a big fiscal mess; the crisis has caused imports to be reduced, and with it the amount of taxes collected. On top of that, huge amounts of money where transferred away from S.M's tax "heaven". Result? So far, increased taxes for those ordinary workers-commuters coming from Italym who enter and leave S.M. daily.
posted by elpapacito at 6:35 PM on January 1, 2011


Bonus trivia, where the Hell is Rab? It is an island off the Dalmatian Coast! Why do I even know or care? I almost went there once, and was sad not to, it looked like a nice place. Also it belonged to one of my more formidable dead ancestors for awhile.
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 8:09 PM on January 1, 2011


San Marino is also host to one of the more pointless and maddening Football Manager challenges, where you take over their national team and the club team out of Serie C2 and try and make them good. Many's the hour I've spent playing half a season with them, then getting fed up and quitting in a huff.

I like this post and will spend some time with these links later.
posted by jackflaps at 10:07 PM on January 1, 2011


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