San Marino country brief
The Republic of San Marino is an enclaved microstate in central Italy, near Rimini. It is the third smallest state in Europe after the Holy See and the Principality of Monaco, occupying 61 square kilometres. The population of San Marino is just over 32,000. San Marino's landscape is dominated by the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Mount Titano, which peaks at 735 metres. The official language of San Marino is Italian and the majority of the population is ethnically Sammarinese, with smaller numbers of Italians also present.
Archaeological evidence shows that the area around San Marino has been inhabited since prehistoric times. San Marino's traditional history begins, however, in 301AD with the establishment of a community of Christians escaping persecution from the Roman Emperor Diocletian. The community was founded by the stonemason Marinus, later given sainthood to become the San Marino after whom the state is named.
Like many other Italian city-states, San Marino eventually developed a form of autonomous local government, calling itself the "Free City of San Marino" and later the "Republic of San Marino." Government powers in San Marino were originally entrusted to an assembly of the most important families. In 1243, the system was changed to include the bi-annual election of two Captains Regent to serve concurrent six month terms as the effective Heads of State. This unique system of government survives to the present day.
San Marino is the only surviving Italian city-state, due in no small part to its expert use of diplomacy. Despite temporary occupation by foreign military forces in 1503 and 1739, San Marino was able to avoid occupation by Napoleonic troops in the prolonged series of European wars at the end of the 18th century. Similarly, despite the forced incorporation of many of the Italian peninsula's historic city-states into the new nation of Italy during the mid-19th century war of unification, San Marino's provision of asylum to Garibaldi's pro-unification troops enabled it to extract a guarantee of independence from the newly formed Italy.
The Republic has a reputation for hospitality, especially its historic generosity to asylum seekers. During the Second World War, despite having a resident population of just 15,000, San Marino provided shelter and asylum to 100,000 evacuees from Italy.
San Marino's republican constitution dates back to 1600 and, on this basis, it claims to be the world's oldest continuous republic. The legislature of the Republic is the Great and General Council (Consiglio grande e generale). The Council is a unicameral legislature with 60 members. The members of the Council are elected under a system of proportional representation to serve five year terms.
Executive power is vested in the Congress of State, a cabinet group formed from the ranks of the winning coalition in the Great and General Council. The Congress is composed of 10 secretaries, the most important of which is the Secretary of State, whose role is prime ministerial in nature. Since the 2012 elections this role has been filled by Secretary of State for Finance, Pasquale Valentini.
The current government coalition, elected in November 2012, is a centrist grouping, known as San Marino Bene Comune (the "Pact for San Marino”). The coalition comprises representatives of the Christian Democratic Party, the Party of Socialists and Democrats, and the Popular Alliance. It won 51.1 per cent of the vote and obtained the largest single share of preferences from Sammarinese living abroad, with 49 per cent of votes.
Head of State functions are fulfilled by two Captains Regent, who are selected by the Council to serve concurrent six-month terms. The roles of the Captains Regent are largely ceremonial. Investiture of the new Captains Regent occurs on 1 April and 1 October every year. The Captains Regent for the 1 April 2013 to 30 September 2013 term are former Secretary of State, Antonella Mularoni, and Denis Amici.
San Marino's economy is based predominantly on tourism and banking. It also has small agricultural and manufacturing sectors. Italy is San Marino's main trading partner, accounting for approximately 90 per cent of exports. Although not a member of the European Union, San Marino uses the Euro as its national currency under a special agreement with the Council of the European Union.
Traditionally a prosperous nation, the global economic downturn – and corresponding Eurozone debt crisis – has had a negative effect on San Marino's economy, which has seen five years of GDP contraction. It contracted by 13 per cent in 2009, 5.2 per cent in 2010, 2.6 per cent in 2011 and 2 per cent in 2012.
In September 2009 the OECD removed San Marino from its list of tax havens in recognition of the efforts San Marino had made towards harmonising its fiscal laws with the EU and international standards. In 2010 San Marino signed Tax Information Exchange Agreements with most major countries, including Australia.
Australia and San Marino established formal diplomatic relations in 1995, with accreditation through the Australian Embassy in Rome. San Marino has had an Honorary Consul-General in Australia, based in Victoria, since 2007. In recognition of the growing relationship between Australia and San Marino, a bilateral Tax Information Exchange Agreement was signed in 2010. In April 2012, Parliamentary Secretary for Foreign Affairs, the Hon Richard Marles MP, visited the Republic, the first such high-level visit from either side.
Australia's economic relations with San Marino are minimal and official statistics are not recorded.
Updated May 2013