Friday September 3, 2021’s Smile of the Day: San Marino
On this Day:
In 301, San Marino, one of the smallest nations in the world and the world’s oldest republic still in existence, was founded by Saint Marinus.
San Marino, officially the Republic of San Marino, also known as the Most Serene Republic of San Marino, is a small state (and a European microstate) in Southern Europe enclaved by Italy. Located on the northeastern side of the Apennine Mountains, San Marino covers a land area of just over 61 km2 (24 sq mi), and has a population of 33,562.
San Marino is a landlocked country but the northeastern end is within 10 kilometres (6.2 mi) of the Italian city of Rimini on the Adriatic Sea. The nearest airport is also on the Italian side. The country’s capital city, the City of San Marino, is located atop Mount Titan, while its largest settlement is Dogana within the largest municipality of Serravalle. San Marino’s official language is Italian.
The country derives its name from Saint Marinus, a stonemason from the then-Roman island of Rab in present-day Croatia. Born in AD 275, Marinus participated in the rebuilding of Rimini’s city walls after their destruction by Liburnian pirates. Marinus then went on to found an independently ruled monastic community on Mount Titan in AD 301; thus, San Marino lays claim to being the oldest extant sovereign state, as well as the oldest constitutional republic.
Uniquely, San Marino’s constitution dictates that its democratically elected legislature, the Grand and General Council, must elect two heads of state every six months. Known as Captains Regent, the two heads of state serve concurrently and hold equal powers until their term expires after six months.
The country’s economy is mainly based on finance, industry, services and tourism. It is one of the wealthiest countries in the world in GDP per capita, with a figure comparable to the most developed European regions.
San Marino has the political framework of a parliamentary representative democratic republic: the captains regent are both heads of state and heads of government, and there is a pluriform multi-party system. Executive power is exercised by the government. Legislative power is vested in both the government and the Grand and General Council. The judiciary is independent of the executive and the legislature.
San Marino is considered to have the earliest written governing documents still in effect, as the Statutes of 1600 are still at the core of its constitutional framework.
San Marino was originally led by the Arengo, initially formed from the heads of each family. In the 13th century, power was given to the Grand and General Council. In 1243, the first two captains regent were nominated by the council. Still today, Captains Regent are elected every six months by the council.
The legislature of the republic is the Grand and General Council (Consiglio grande e generale). The council is a unicameral legislature with 60 members. There are elections every five years by proportional representation in all nine administrative districts. These districts (townships) correspond to the old parishes of the republic. All citizens 18 years or older are eligible to vote.
Besides general legislation, the Grand and General Council approves the budget and elects the captains regent, the State Congress (composed of ten secretaries with executive power), the Council of Twelve (which forms the judicial branch during the period of legislature of the council), the Advising Commissions, and the Government Unions. The council also has the power to ratify treaties with other countries. The council is divided into five different Advising Commissions consisting of fifteen councilors who examine, propose, and discuss the implementation of new laws that are on their way to being presented on the floor of the council.
Every six months, the council elects two captains regents to be the heads of state. The regents are chosen from opposing parties so that there is a balance of power. They serve a six-month term. The investiture of the captains regent takes place on 1 April and 1 October in every year. Once this term is over, citizens have three days in which to file complaints about the captains’ activities. If they warrant it, judicial proceedings against the ex-head(s) of state can be initiated.
The practice of having two heads of state, like Roman consuls, chosen in frequent elections, is derived directly from the customs of the Roman Republic. The council is equivalent to the Roman Senate; the captains regent, to the consuls of ancient Rome. It is thought the inhabitants of the area came together as Roman rule collapsed to form a rudimentary government for their own protection from foreign rule.
San Marino is a multi-party democratic republic. A new election law in 2008 raised the threshold for small parties entering Parliament, causing political parties to organise themselves into two alliances: the right-wing Pact for San Marino, led by the San Marinese Christian Democratic Party; and the left-wing Reforms and Freedom, led by the Party of Socialists and Democrats, a merger of the Socialist Party of San Marino and the former communist Party of Democrats. The 2008 general election was won by the Pact for San Marino with 35 seats in the Grand and General Council against Reforms and Freedom’s 25.
On 1 October 2007, Mirko Tomassoni was elected as among the heads of state, making him the first disabled person ever to have been elected as captain regent.
San Marino has had more female heads of state than any other country: 15 as of October 2014, including three who served twice. With regard to the legal profession, while the Order of Lawyers and Notaries of the Republic of San Marino [Ordine degli Avvocati e Notai della Repubblica di San Marino] exists, there is no clear indication as to how demographic groups have fared in the legal field (per Wikipedia).
First, a Story:
Tired of living in the cold, Superman traded the Fortress of Solitude for a house in San Marino.
He invited Lois Lane to come and visit. Her plane was late, and she called the house to ask directions. He answered and told her:
“Take the last train to Clark’s villa, and I’ll meet you at the station.”
Second, a Song:
Here is A Trip to San Marino, the 3rd smallest country in Europe in 4K UltraHD, courtesy of Stunning Videos and YouTube.com
San Marino, also known as the Most Serene Republic of San Marino, is one of the wealthiest countries in the world in terms of GDP (per capita), comparable to the most developed European regions. San Marino is considered to have a highly stable economy, with one of the lowest unemployment rates in Europe, no national debt and a budget surplus. San Marino has the world’s highest rate of car ownership, being the only country with more vehicles than people.
San Marino is one of only 3 countries in the world to be completely surrounded by another country (the others being Vatican City, also surrounded by Italy, and Lesotho, surrounded by South Africa). It is the third smallest country in Europe, after Vatican City and Monaco, and the fifth smallest country in the world.
San Marino is a mountainous microstate surrounded by north-central Italy. Among the world’s oldest republics, it retains much of its historic architecture. On the slopes of Monte Titano sits the capital, also called San Marino, known for its medieval walled old town and narrow cobblestone streets. The Three Towers, castlelike citadels dating to the 11th century, sit atop Titano’s neighbouring peaks.
I hope you enjoy this!
Thought for the Day:
“In Italy, they add work and life on to food and wine.” – Robin Leach
Have a great day!
Dave & Colleen
© 2021 David J. Bilinsky and Colleen E. Bilinsky