San Marino (11/98)

For the most current version of this Note, see Background Notes A-Z.


Official Name:
Republic of San Marino

Area: 60 sq. km.; about one-third the size of Washington, DC.
Cities: Capital--San Marino (pop. 4,352). Other cities--Serravalle, Borgo Maggiore, Domagnano.
Terrain: Rugged mountains.
Climate: Mediterranean; mild to cool winters; warm, sunny summers.

Nationality: Noun and adjective--Sammarinese.
Population (1997 est.): 24,714.
Annual growth rate (1997 est.): 0.76%.
Ethnic groups: Sammarinese, Italian.
Religion: Roman Catholic.
Language: Italian.
Education: Literacy--96%.
Health: Infant mortality rate--5.5/1,000 live births.  Life expectancy--81 years.
Work force (15,600):  Services--58%.  Industry--40%.  Agriculture--2%.  Unemployment--3.6%.

Type: Republic.
Constitution: October 8, 1600; electoral law of 1926 and manuscript of rights (1974) serve some of the functions of a Constitution.
Branches:  Executive--Captains Regent (co-chiefs of state), Congress of State (cabinet) elected by the Great and General Council, Secretary of State for Foreign and Political Affairs (head of government).  Legislative--unicameral parliament: 60-member Great and General Council.  Judicial--Council of Twelve.
Administrative divisions: 9 municipalities.
Political parties: Christian Democratic Party, Democratic Progressive Party, San Marino Socialist Party, Democratic Movement, Popular Alliance, Communist Refoundation.
Suffrage: Universal over 18.

GDP: $500 million.
Per capita income: $16,900.
GDP growth: 4.8%.
Natural resources: Building stone.
Agriculture:  Products--wheat, grapes, maize, olives; cattle, pigs, horses, meat, cheese, hides.
Industry:  Types--tourism, textiles, electronics, ceramics, cement, wine.
Trade:  Exports--85% to Italy.  Imports--manufactured goods, food.  Partners--Italy, eastern Europe, South America, China, Taiwan.

San Marino is comprised of native Sammarinese and Italian citizens. Crop farming, sheep farming and the working of stone from the quarries formed the early backbone of San Marino's economy. San Marino has no mineral resources, and today most of the land is cultivated or covered by woods.

According to tradition, San Marino was founded in AD 301 when a Christian stonemason named Marinus the Dalmation fled the island of Arbe to escape the anti-Christian Roman Emperor Diocletian. Marinus hid on the peak of Mount Titano and founded a small community of people following their Christian beliefs. It is certain that the area had been inhabited since prehistoric times, although evidence of existence on Mount Titano dates back only to the Middle Ages. In memory of the stone cutter, the land was renamed "Land of San Marino," then called the "Community of San Marino," and was finally changed to its present-day name, "Republic of San Marino."

The original government structure was composed of a self-governed assembly known as the Arengo, which consisted of the heads of each family. In 1243, the positions of Captains Regent (Capitani Reggenti) were established to be the joint heads of state.

The land area of San Marino consisted only of Mount Titano until 1463, when the republic entered into an alliance against Sigismondo Pandolfo Malatesta, Lord of Rimini, who was later defeated. As a result, Pope Pius II Piccolomini gave San Marino the towns of Fiorentino, Montegiardino, and Serravalle. Later that year, the town of Faetano joined the republic on its own accord. Since then, the size of the country has remained the same.

San Marino has been occupied by foreign militaries twice in its history, both for only short periods of time. In 1503 Cesare Borgia, known as Valentino, occupied the republic until his death several months later. In 1739, Cardinal Alberoni used military force to occupy the country, but civil disobedience was used to protest this, and clandestine notes sent to the Pope to obtain justice were answered by the Pope's recognition of San Marino's rights and restoration of independence.

The Arengo, initially formed with the heads of each family, turned its power over to the Great and General Council; today the Arengo is the electoral body. In 1243, the first two Captains Regent were nominated by the Council, and this system still stands. The Council is composed of 60 members who are elected every 5 years under a proportional representation system in all nine administrative districts. These districts (Townships) correspond to the old parishes of the Republic and each one is ruled by a Council which is chaired by a Captain elected every 5 years. The duties of the Great and General Council are the approval of the budget and the nominations of Captains Regent and heads of the Executive.

Every 6 months, the Council elects two Captains Regent to be the Heads of State. The Regents are chosen from opposing parties so they can keep an eye on each other. They serve a 6-month term. The investiture of the Captains Regent takes place on April 1 and October 1 every year. Once the term is over, citizens have 3 days in which to file complaints about the Regents' activities. If they warrant it, judicial proceedings against the ex-head(s) of state can be initiated.

The State Congress, composed of three Secretaries and seven Ministries, wields executive power. The three Secretaries are: Secretary of State for Foreign and Political Affairs, Secretary of State for Internal Affairs and Civil Defense, and Secretary of State for Finance, Budget and Programming, Information and Relations with the State Philatelic and Numismatic Office. The seven Ministries are Education, Culture, University and Justice; Territory, Environment and Agriculture; Health and Social Security; Trade and Relations with the Town Councils; Communication, Transport, Relations with the Azienda Autonoma di Stato for Services, Tourism and Sport; Industry and Crafts; and Labour and Cooperation.

The Council of Twelve is elected by the Great and General Council for the duration of the Legislature and serves as a jurisdictional body that also acts as a third-instance Court of Appeals. Two government inspectors represent the State in financial and patrimonial questions.

The Legislative body consists of the Great and General Council, the parliament, and a unilateral Chamber. The members of parliament are usually elected every 5 years and they are in charge of legislation, justice, and the administration of jurisdiction. In addition, they are tasked with electing the Captains Regent, the State Congress, the Council of Twelve, the Advising Commission, and the Government Unions once the Council nominates them. Parliament also has the power to ratify contracts with other countries. The parliament is divided into five different Advising Commissions consisting of 15 councils which examine, propose, and discuss implementation of new laws that are on their way to being submitted to the Great and General Council.

The judicial system of San Marino is entrusted to foreign executives, both for historical and social reasons. The only native judges are the Justices of the Peace, who handle only civil cases where sums involved do not exceed 25 million lire. The Council of Twelve serves as an appeals court in the third instance.

Principal Government Officials
Captains Regent --Pietro Berti and Paolo Bollini (October 1, 1998- March 31, 1999)
Secretary of State for Foreign and Political Affairs--Gabriele Gatti

San Marino has honorary Consulates General in Washington, DC and New York City, and an honorary Consulate in Detroit.

The Consulate General in Washington, DC is located at 1899 L Street NW, Suite 500, Washington, DC 20036. The phone number for the Consulate General is (202) 223-3517.

The Republic of San Marino's Web Site provides information on politics, trade and events in San Marino. The Republic of San Marino's Web Site address is:

San Marino is a multi-party democratic republic. The three main political parties are the Democratic Christian Party of San Marino (PDCS), the Socialist Party of San Marino (PSS), and the Progressive Democratic Party of San Marino (PPDS) as well as several other smaller parties. Due to the small size of San Marino and the low population, it is difficult for any party to gain a pure majority, and most of the time the government is run by a coalition. The current parties in power are the Democratic Christian Party and the Socialist Party.

As tourism accounts for more than 50% of the economic sector, the government relies not only on taxes and customs for revenue, but also the sale of coins and postage stamps to collectors from throughout the world. In addition, the Italian Government pays San Marino an annual budget subsidy provided under the terms of the Basic Treaty with Italy.

The main issues facing the current government include economic and administrative problems related to San Marino's status as a close financial and trading partner with Italy while at the same time remaining separated from the European Union (EU). The other priority issue will be to increase the transparency and efficiency in parliament and in relations among parliament, cabinet, and the Captains Regent.

The current Parliament and Captains Regent, which confirm the last ruling coalition, reflect the stable economic situation in San Marino arising from having the lowest unemployment rate in Europe, a state budget surplus, and no national debt.

San Marino's GDP in 1995 was $500 million, with more than 50% of that coming from the tourism industry (on average, more than 3.4 million visitors annually). One of the largest sources of income from tourism is the sale of historic coins and stamps. In 1894, San Marino issued the first commemorative stamps, which since then have been part of a large livelihood in the republic. All 10 of the Post Offices of San Marino sell these stamps and collectable coins, including "Legal Gold Tender Coins."

Traditional economic activities in San Marino were raising food crops, sheep farming, and stone quarrying. Today farming activities focus on grain, vines, and orchards, as well as animal husbandry (cattle and swine). Besides the tourism industry, San Marino makes most of its income from the manufacture and export of ceramics, tiles, furniture, clothing, paints, fabrics, and spirits/wines.

The per capita level of output and standard of living are comparable to those of Italy.

San Marino is an active player in the international community. Currently, the Republic has diplomatic relations with more than 70 countries.

San Marino is a full member of the United Nations, International Court of Justice, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Health Organization (WHO), World Tourism Organization (WTO), Council of Europe, International Red Cross Organization, International Institution for the Unification of Private Law (UNIDROIT), among others. It also cooperates with UNICEF and the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, and has official relations with the European Union. From May 10 until November 6, 1990, San Marino held the 6-month presidency of the European Council of Ministers.

The United States and San Marino enjoy friendly diplomatic relations. The two countries are on excellent terms. The U.S. includes San Marino within the Florence consular district, and United States consulate general officers visit San Marino regularly.

Principal U.S. Official
Hilarion Martinez is the U.S. Consul General in Florence and the representative of the U.S. Government to San Marino. The U.S. Consulate General is at Lungarno Amerigo Vespucci, 38, 50123 Firenze, Italy (tel. [39] (55) 239-8276/7/8).