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San Marino

acid rain, smallest countries, early Middle Ages, Adriatic Sea, customs union

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San Marino, independent nation in southern Europe. San Marino is located in the Apennine Mountains of northern Italy, near the seaside resort of Rimini on the Adriatic Sea. Entirely surrounded by Italian territory, San Marino is one of the world’s smallest countries, with a total area of only 60.5 sq km (23.4 sq mi). In Europe, only Vatican City and Monaco are smaller in area.

A rugged land, tiny San Marino is dominated by Mount Titano, a craggy limestone mountain that rises to 739 m (2,425 ft). Forests and pastures cover the foothills. High on the slopes of Titano is the old town of San Marino, the capital of the republic and a popular tourist attraction. Defensive fortifications perch atop each of Titano’s three summits. Since the early Middle Ages, San Marino’s rugged terrain, lack of natural resources, and relative isolation have helped preserve it from conquest by more powerful neighbors.

Before World War II, the people of San Marino were among the poorest in Europe. The San Marinese survived mainly by grazing livestock, growing food crops, and quarrying stone for building materials. Since the 1960s, tourism has come to dominate San Marino’s economy. Today, with more than 3 million visitors annually, tourism generates more than half of San Marino’s national revenue, and the people of San Marino are among the world’s most affluent.

According to local tradition, San Marino was founded in the 4th century AD and is the oldest surviving republic in Europe. Legends trace the republic’s founding to 301, when a Christian stonemason sought refuge from religious persecution on Mount Titano among a small community of followers. San Marino’s continued independence is guaranteed by a customs union and friendship treaty with Italy, first signed in 1862 and revised several times since then.


San Marino is located in the central Apennines, east of Florence, Italy. The highest point, the three-peaked Mount Titano, commands a wide view of the Adriatic shore located 19 km (12 mi) away. Most of the republic lies in the basin of the Marecchia River, which empties into the Adriatic. The climate is mild with an average annual precipitation of 690 mm (27 in).

Because tourism is San Marino’s main economic activity, environmental pressures are not serious. Existing problems are generally related to air pollution from automobile traffic and acid rain produced by industries outside San Marino.


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