Official name: State of the Vatican City (also known as The Holy See)
Area: 0.44 square kilometers (less than 1 square mile)
Highest point on mainland: Unnamed location (75 meters/248 feet)
Lowest point on land: Unnamed location (19 meters/63 feet)
Hemispheres: Northern and Eastern
Time zone: 1 P.M. = noon GMT
Longest distances: Not available
Land boundaries: 3.2 kilometers (2 miles) total boundary length; all with Italy
Territorial sea limits: None
Vatican City (also known as the Holy See) is a tiny urban, landlocked enclave surrounded by Rome, Italy. It is the world's smallest state, located on the west bank of the Tiber River. The Leonine Wall forms the enclave's western and southern boundaries. Vatican City is the administrative center of the Roman Catholic Church; the Pope resides here in a palace west of Belvedere Park. Among Vatican City's other well-known buildings and landmarks is St. Peter's Basilica, the largest Christian church in the world. The Vatican Gardens comprise about half of the total area of Vatican City.
Vatican City has no dependencies. Situated on about 40 hectares (100 acres) outside of Rome, however, is Castel Gandolfo, the pope's summer villa. The Italian government grants this property special tax exemptions because of its association with Vatican City. Another similar property is Santa Maria de Galeri, covering about 420 hectares (1,037 acres) and located about 19.3 kilometers (12 miles) from Vatican City.
Vatican City has a temperate climate. The temperature in January averages 7°C (45°F) and in July it averages 24°C (75°F). There is little rainfall in the summer (May through September). Winter, the rainier season, lasts from September through April. Average annual rainfall is 50 centimeters (20 inches).
Although Vatican City is built on a slight hill, the variation in elevation throughout the small country is less than 60 meters (200 feet).
Vatican City is a landlocked enclave completely surrounded by Rome, Italy.
There are no lakes in Vatican City.
Italy's Tiber River flows near the Holy See.
There are no desert areas in Vatican City.
There is no flat or rolling terrain in Vatican City.
Vatican City contains no mountains or volcanoes.
There are no canyons or caves in Vatican City.
There are no plateaus or rock formations in Vatican City.
The Leonine Wall, dating to the ninth century, forms the south and west boundary of Vatican City. Popes fleeing persecution have escaped from Vatican City through a passageway on the top of the wall.
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Hutchinson, Robert J. When in Rome: A Journal of Life in Vatican City . New York: Doubleday, 1998.
McDowell, Bart. Inside the Vatican . Washington, DC: National Geographic Society, 1993.
Pietrangeli, Carlo, ed. Paintings in the Vatican. Boston: Little, Brown, 1996.
Reese, Thomas J. Inside the Vatican: The Politics and Organization of the Catholic Church. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1996.
Vatican: The Holy See. http://www.vatican.va/index.htm (accessed March 12, 2003).