San Marino is the fifth smallest independent country in the world and one of the smallest in Europe (after the Vatican and Monaco). Measuring just 61 km2, it is around one tenth of the size of New York City. Landlocked by Italy, it managed to cling onto its independence long after more powerful city states lost theirs. It is located in the Apennines, slightly inland form the Adriatic Sea close to Rimini. The climate in San Marino is warm and temperate, with rainfall reaching its peak in the winter time. The average annual temperature is a comfortable 18ºC, though in the summer, temperatures can climb up to 30ºC. The winter time can be chilly, dropping to almost -6ºC. Snowfall is common in the coolest times of the year, with many resorts organising skiing trips. San Marino’s wonderful weather is one of its most attractive features for tourists from all over the world.
San Marino is perhaps best known for Città di San Marino, a medieval settlement poised on the western slope of the country’s highest point: Monte Titano. San Marino is dotted with beautiful castles, the oldest and largest of which is Torre Guaita (dating back to the 11th century). Torre Cesta, meanwhile, is a 13th century castle perched atop Monte Titano and offering splendid vies toward the coast and the city of Rimini. Equally famous is the Palazzo Pubblico, a neo-Gothic structure overlooking the Piazza della Libertà. San Marino is also a shopper’s haven, with everything from trendy boutiques to elegant jewellery boutiques offering designer items at very competitive prices. This country is also known for its burgeoning wine, cheese, banking and finance industries.
San Marino contains archaeological remains which date back to the third millennium B.C., though its status as an independent sovereignty dates back to around 500 A.D. It is often touted as the oldest republic in the world, though it was subjected to three occupations, the most famous of which was the occupation by Ravenna in 1739, leading to the restoration of independence by Pope Clement XIII. San Marino maintained its independence despite attacks from neighbouring states, struggles between the French and the Papal states during the Napoleonic wars, and two world wars. Interestingly, when the unification of Italy took place in 1862, it successfully clung to its independence. In 1988 the country became part of the Council of Europe and in 1992, it joined the United Nations.
San Marino has the same flora and fauna as can be found in northeastern Italy. Most of the landscape is cultivated with fruit orchards, vineyards and olive groves. Some of its most notable animals, meanwhile, include the squirrel, badger, and porcupine. San Marino is known for its cross fox (which feeds on small animals and insects) and common otter, which can be found in ponds, lakes, small river and even streams. The least weasel (considered the tiniest carnivore in the world) and the greater horseshoe bat (listed as ‘near threatened’ owing to the small number of survivors) can also be found in the tiny enclave of San Marino.
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