The Vatican City is a sovereign state and the headquarters of the Roman Catholic Church. Founded in 1929, following the signing of the Lateran Pacts in an agreement made between the Holy See and Italian prime minister, Benito Mussolini, it covers 110 acres and is the smallest nation state in the world. Its absolute ruler is the pope who has not always been based at the Vatican, with seven popes ruling from Avignon, France. It receives military protection from the Swiss Guard, originally Swiss mercenaries during the Renaissance. It owns a mint and issues a Vatican City passport and driving licence. Unlike other governments, there is no taxation, with revenue being raised by contributions and tourism. St. Peter’s Basilica was originally built in the 4th century CE and is believed to house the body of the apostle, St Peter. Construction of the current basilica began in 1506. This most revered Catholic site attracts over 7 million visitors per year.
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