26 interesting facts about San Marino

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From the world’s worst football team to one of the world’s smallest countries, these are the most interesting facts about San Marino.

The fortresses on Monte Titano above green vegetation
Interesting facts about San Marino include its remarkable geography (Matteo Panara/Unsplash)

Fast facts

Official name: Republic of San Marino
Population: 34,467
Area: 61 sq km
Capital city: San Marino (city)
Major languages: Italian
Major religions: Christianity
Time zone: UTC+1 (Central European Time)
– Source: CIA World Fact Book

Interesting facts about San Marino

1. San Marino is a landlocked country in Southern Europe bordered by Italy.
– Source: BBC News

2. Being surrounded entirely by Italy makes San Marino not only landlocked but also one of just three enclave countries in the world. The other two are Vatican City (also surrounded entirely by Italy) and Lesotho (surrounded entirely by South Africa).
– Source: CIA World Fact Book1, CIA World Fact Book2, CIA World Fact Book3

3. It is uncertain how long San Marino has been inhabited, but traces of human presence from both prehistoric and Roman times exist in its territory.
– Source: Britannica

A map of San Marino showing its location within Europe
San Marino is an enclave of Italy (TUBS, CC BY-SA 3.0)

4. San Marino is the world’s oldest surviving sovereign state and oldest constitutional republic (i.e. not a monarchy), dating back to 301 AD.
– Source: Lonely Planet

5. San Marino is named after Saint Marinus, a stonemason who – according to tradition – founded a monastic settlement in 301 AD around which the city, and later the state of San Marino, became.
– Source: CIA World Fact Book, BBC News

6. San Marino’s flag is blue and white horizontally striped with a central coat of arms. The white and blue represent the clouds and sky that surround the mountainous country.
– Source: Britannica

A computer graphic of San Marino's flag
San Marino’s flag (Pixabay)

7. The coat of arms features three towers found on the summit of the UNESCO-listed Mount Titano which surrounds the city of San Marino as well as the Latin motto “Libertas” (“Liberty”) which reflects how San Marino has historically been a haven for political refugees. In line with its republic statues, the crown is a symbol of sovereignty, not of monarchy.
– Source: Britannica, UNESCO

8. San Marino is the only surviving Italian city-state. Italian city-states existed in Italy at various times from the collapse of the Western Roman Empire to the declaration of the Kingdom of Italy in 1861.
– Source: Encyclopedia.com

9. San Marino is the fifth smallest sovereign state. Only Tuvalu, Nauru, Monaco and Vatican City are smaller.
– Source: World Bank

The three fortresses on Monte Titano viewed from along the ridge
The three fortresses on Monte Titano (Philip Myrtorp/Unsplash)

10. Additionally, San Marino is the world’s second-smallest republic after Nauru. Until Nauru’s independence in 1968, it was the smallest.
– Source: Britannica

11. San Marino has the world’s fourth-smallest population among sovereign states after Tuvalu, Nauru and Vatican City.
– Source: World Bank

12. San Marino is Europe’s least visited country, only receiving around 78,000 international tourists in 2017 (the latest available data).
– Source: UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO)

13. San Marino is the world’s worst national football team. The team are consistently ranked bottom of the FIFA world rankings and, as of March 2021, has had just one win and six draws in the last 31 years.
– Source: FIFA, BBC Sport

Two San Marino footballers from 1994 celebrate scoring
San Marino rarely win (Fair Use)

14. San Marino has the world’s joint-lowest murder rate recording zero (0) intentional homicides per 100,000 people.
– Source: World Bank

15. San Marino has the world’s eighth-lowest fertility rate with an average of just 1.3 children born per woman.
– Source: World Bank

16. An important source of revenue in San Marino are its coins and postage stamps, which are sought after by collectors.
– Source: Rough Guides

A collectable postage stamp featuring a vintage Peugeot car from 1895
A San Marino collectable postage stamp (Morton1905, CC BY-SA 2.0)

17. San Marino does not have any airports. All travellers must transit through Italy in order to enter San Marino.
– Source: The Telegraph, UK Foreign Travel Advice

18. San Marino is one of the world’s least multilingual countries with only two languages (Italian and the Italian dialect of Romagnol) spoken within its borders.
– Source: Ethnologue

19. San Marino has the world’s safest roads, reporting zero (0) road deaths in the latest global report.
– Source: World Health Organization

An empty street in Liberty Square in San Marino
San Marino has some of the safest roads in the world (Patrick/Unsplash)

20. San Marino is one of just 21 countries that do not have an army or regularly military force. Instead, it relies on Italy for defence.
– Source: CIA World Fact Book

21. San Marino is Europe’s fourth and the world’s 11th richest country when measured by GDP per capita based on purchasing power parity (PPP).
– Source: World Bank

22. San Marino gets all its electricity transferred via an electrical grid from Italy.
– Source: Britannica

An aerial view of San Marino
An aerial view of San Marino (Thomas Haas/Unsplash)

23. The US President Abraham Lincoln became an honorary citizen of San Marino when he recognised San Marino’s Independence in 1861.
– Source: United States Department of State

24. For years, San Marino was on the OECD’s blacklist list of tax havens. Since 2002, it has taken steps to reform its banking practices and has been moved to the “grey list”.
– Source: BBC News

25. San Marino remained neutral during the Second World War. however, it did receive around 100,000 refugees from neighbouring regions of Italy.
– Source: BBC News

26. is considered to be one of the safest countries in the world to visit. It has been assessed as carrying an ‘insignificant travel security risk’.
– Source: International SOS Travel Risk Map


Every effort has been made to verify these facts about San Marino using primary sources. However, if you find an error or have any questions, please contact us.