San Marino is one of the world’s oldest republics, maintaining this position from 301 AD. Even when Napoleon and his troops attacked Italy and other closer countries, San Marino retained its sovereignty. Here, we discuss more intriguing San Marino facts to make your day.

1. Its Capital City is the City of San Marino

With a population of slightly over 4,000 people, the City of San Marino is San Marino’s capital city. Historians say it was founded by Saint Marinus (as was the country), an early Christian and a chapel’s founder, along with other Christian refugees running away from the persecution of Romans in the year 301. It is the third largest city in the country, trailing Dogana and Borgo Maggiore.

2. San Marino’s Highest Point Is Monte Titano

Standing at about 739 meters (2,425 ft.) above sea level, the Monte Titano is an Apennines mountain. It is the highest point in San Marino.

3. It Is an Enclave Country

As it is totally surrounded by Italy, San Marino is one of the few enclave countries (an independent nation surrounded by another country or territorial water). As such, it depends a lot on Italy’s well-being and shares most resources.

For instance, the nearest airport in San Marino, the Federico Fellini International Airport, is located in Italy. The country’s national language is Italian, and dwellers are never more than four kilometers from the Italian border.

4. San Marino Is One of the Smallest Countries

At the time of writing, San Marino’s population is slightly over 33,600, making it one of the smallest and least populated areas. Covering 61.2 square meters, San Marino is the third smallest country in Europe and the fifth smallest in the world. Only Nauru, Monaco, Vatican City, and Tuvalu are smaller.

5. It Has One of the Smallest Militaries

Given its size and population, San Marino’s military is among the smallest globally. Italy’s armed forces are responsible for the country’s National Defense by arrangement. With different branches of the military available, their duties vary. The common ones include patrolling borders (Guard of the Rock), performing ceremonial duties, and aiding the police with major criminal cases.  

6. San Marino Is Predominantly A Catholic State

About 48% of the people in San Marino are Catholics, with nearly half of those attending church regularly. This makes it a predominantly Catholic state even though it is not officially recognized as such.

7. It Has One of the Worst Soccer Teams

Even though soccer is the country’s most popular sport, it is one of the worst. Currently ranked 207th in the World FIFA rankings, San Marino’s national soccer team has not won a professional match since 2004. Its last victory was a 1-0 win over Liechtenstein in 2004, and it was a friendly game. Despite that, the team held the record for the fastest goal ever scored. The goal came after 8.3 seconds of kickoff and was scored by Davide Gualtieri against England.

8. San Marino Has Won Three Olympic Medals

While San Marino’s soccer endeavors are nothing to write home about, their Olympic Games adventure hasn’t been fulfilling, either. The country first participated in the Olympics in the 1960 Summer Olympics and has since had participant/s in 15 others.

Interestingly, the country has only won three medals in the campaigns. They came in the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, winning two in shooting and one in wrestling. Looking at the positives, San Marino is the smallest country, by population, to ever win an Olympic medal.

9. President Abraham Lincoln Is an Honorary Citizen of San Marino

In May 1861, San Marino offered honorary citizenship to the then-president of the United States, Abraham Lincoln, which he accepted. In his letter of reply, the president expressed his admiration for the country, stating that even though it was relatively small, it remained one of the most honored in history.

10. It Is One of the Least Visited European Countries

Given its size and population, San Marino ranks among the least visited European countries. In fact, most of its citizens live abroad but reserve the right to participate in elections no matter their location.

11. It Is a Diarchy State

San Marino is a diarchy state (governed by two independent authorities); it is led by two heads of state called “Captains Regent.” The leaders can only serve for six months before others come in. As such, San Marino has had one of the youngest heads of state (27). Additionally, the country boasts having the most female heads of state.

12. San Marino’s Cuisine Is Similar to Italy’s

The majority of the foods in San Marino are similar to Italy’s. However, the country has several unique dishes, including the Torta Tre Monti, otherwise known as the Cake of the Three Towers.” It also has a small but growing wine industry.

13. San Marino Has Always Been a Sovereign State

Even though San Marino was invaded a few times over the centuries, it managed to maintain its sovereignty. It resisted attempts by Cesare Borgia in the 1500s and the 1700s. The country needed a bit of luck, though, as when Napoleonic troops arrived in the region in the 18th century, they chose to abide by the country’s autonomy.

14. San Marino Has One of the Oldest Constitution

Comprising six books written in Latin and drafted in 1600, San Marino’s national constitution is considered one of the oldest. If anything, the scholarly debate on whether multiple texts qualify as a constitution places the US Constitution as the oldest. Otherwise, San Marino’s constitution can have a genuine shout as the oldest ever established.

15. It Is Popular for Postal Stamps and Collectibles

San Marino was among the first countries to use stamps for postal mail; a long-standing tradition sees the country produce intricate and collectible postage stamps. San Marino’s stamps showcase historical landmarks, cultural events, and famous personalities, making them of interest to stamp enthusiasts and collectors globally.

16. San Marino’s Parliament Building Also Holds Civil Weddings

Besides serving as a debating chamber where the Captain Regent and other elected representatives meet monthly, San Marino’s parliament building doubles up as a venue for civil weddings. The lavishly decorated Great and General Council Hall also allows tourists to visit and explore.

17. Traffic Lights Are Not Popular in San Marino

Even with the congestion of Old Town and the country’s narrow streets, San Marino does not emphasize using traffic lights. Instead, the civil police, who have little or no crime to deal with, patrol the busy roads and junctions to direct traffic.

18. A Person from San Marino Is Called a Sammarinese

While San Marino recognizes Italian as its official language, the indigenous people from the region are called Sammarinese.

19. There Are More Cars than People in San Marino

San Marino is one of the few countries where the number of cars supersedes that of the population. The ratio of cars to people in the region is about 1300 to 1000.

20. A San Marino Passport Holder Can Enter the World’s Largest Economies Visa Fee

With a San Marino passport, an individual can enter some of the world’s largest economies visa-free. These countries/regions include India, the USA, the EU, and China.

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Last Update: November 13, 2023