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San Marino

San Marino, officially the Republic of San Marino, also known as the Most Serene Republic of San Marino, is a Southern European microstate on the northeastern side of the Apennine Mountains, completely surrounded by Italy.

It is just over 61 km2 (24 sq mi), with a population of 33,562. Its capital is the City of San Marino and its largest settlement is Dogana in the municipality of Serravalle. San Marino has the smallest population of any member of the Council of Europe. The official language is Italian, and San Marino maintains strong financial and ethno-cultural connections to its much larger neighbour. It is located close to the riviera of Rimini, one of Italy's main coastal resort areas.

The country derives its name from Saint Marinus, a stonemason from the Roman colony on the island of Rab, in modern-day Croatia. In AD 257, Marinus, according to legend, participated in the reconstruction of Rimini's city walls after their destruction by Liburnian pirates. Marinus then went on to found an independent monastic community on Monte Titano in AD 301; thus, San Marino lays claim to be the oldest extant sovereign state as well as the oldest constitutional republic.

The nation is governed by the Constitution of San Marino (Leges Statutae Republicae Sancti Marini), a series of six books written in Latin in the late 16th century, that dictate the country's political system, among other matters. San Marino is considered to have the earliest written governing documents still in effect.

The country's economy mainly relies on finance, industry, services and tourism. It is among one of the wealthiest countries in the world in terms of GDP (per capita), with a figure comparable to the most developed European regions. San Marino is considered to have a highly stable economy, with one of the lowest unemployment rates in Europe, no national debt and a budget surplus. It has the world's highest rate of car ownership, being the only country with more vehicles than people.

San Marino is one of the only three countries in the world to be completely surrounded by another country (the others being Vatican City, also surrounded by Italy, and Lesotho, surrounded by South Africa). It is the third smallest country in Europe, after only Vatican City and Monaco, and the fifth smallest country in the world. [Wikipedia]