San Marino (06/03)

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


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 (1999): 26,628.
Ethnic groups: Sammarinese, Italian.
Religion: Roman Catholic.
Language: Italian.
Education: Literacy--96%.
Health: Infant mortality rate--5.5/1,000 live birth rates. Life expectancy--81.37 years.
Work force: 18,000.

Type: Republic. Constitution: October 8, 1600, electoral law of 1926 and manuscript of rights (1974) serve some of the functions of the 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, National Alliance, Popular Alliance, Communist Refoundation.
Suffrage: Universal over 18.

Flag: san marino flag

GDP (2000 est): $850 million.
Per capita income (2000 est): $32,000.
GDP growth (2000 est): 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.

The population of 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. It 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 to 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 only dates back to the middle ages. In memory of the stonecutter, the land was renamed "Land 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, at which time 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 San Marino has remained unchanged.

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 restored them to independence.

The Arengo, initially formed with the heads of each family, relinquished its power to the Great and General Council. In 1243, the first two Captains Regent were nominated by the Council and this method of nomination is still in use today. 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 Great and General Council approves the budget as well as 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 in every year. Once this 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 10 Secretaries, wields executive power. The 10 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; Education, Culture, University and Justice; Territory, Environment and Agriculture; Health and Social Security; Trade and Relations with the Town Council; 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 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 unicameral 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 the implementation of new laws that are on there 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 only handle 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--Piermarino Menicucci; Giovanni Giannoni (April1-September 30,2003)
Secretary of State for Foreign and Political Affairs--Augusto Casali

San Marino has honorary Consulates General in Washington, DC and New York, and an honorary Consulate in Detroit. The honorary Consulate General in Washington, DC is located at 1899 L Street NW, Suite 500, Washington, DC 20036.

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

San Marino is a multi-party democratic republic. The three main 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) in addition to several other smaller parties. Due to the small size of San Marino and its 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. As a result of the June 2001 election, the PDCS and PSS control a majority of seats in the Council.

Because 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 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 confronting 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.

San Marino's per capita GNP in 2000 stood at $32,000 with more than 50% of that coming from the tourism industry which draws about 3.15 million people annually. One of the greatest sources of income from tourism comes from the sale of historic coins and stamps. In 1894, San Marino issued the first commemorative stamps and since then that has 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 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 banking industry and 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 in San Marino are comparable to those of Italy. In addition, San Marino maintains the lowest unemployment rate in Europe, a state budget surplus, and no national debt.

San Marino is an active player in the international community. Currently the Republic has diplomatic relations with over 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, and the International Institution for the Unification of Private Law (UNIDROIIT), 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 semi-annual presidency of the European Council of Ministers.

The United States and San Marino enjoy friendly diplomatic relations. San Marino consistently supports U.S. foreign policy positions as well as U.S. candidates to international organizations. The two countries are on excellent terms, and the U.S. includes San Marino within the Florence consular district. United States consulate general officers visit San Marino regularly.

Principal U.S. Official
U.S. Consul General --William McIlhenny

The U.S. Consulate General is at Lungarno Amerigo Vespucci, 38, 50123 Firenze, Italy (tel. (39) (55) 239-8276/7/8)

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