San Marino was the world's smallest republic from 301 to 1968, when the country of Nauru gained its independence. San Marino is currently the 5th smallest country in the world, boasting only 24 square miles of land — only Vatican City, Monaco, Nauru, and Tuvalu are smaller.
The head of state in San Marino is a committee (council) of two captains-regent. It is worth noting that San Marino previously had the world's first democratically-elected communist government, which held office between 1945 and 1957. In 1988 San Marino became a member of the Council of Europe. In 1992, it joined the United Nations. San Marion is not, currently, a member of the European Union.
According to tradition, Marinus of Rab left the island of Rab in Croatia with his lifelong friend Leo and went to the town of Rimini as a mason. After persecution because of his Christian sermons, he escaped to the nearby Monte Titano, where he built a small church and founded the state of San Marino. The official date of foundation of the Republic is September 3, 301 (AD). By the mid-5th century, a community had formed around the church and, because of its relatively inaccessible location and its poverty, it succeeded, with a few interruptions, in maintaining its independence. In 1631 its independence was recognized by the papacy.
San Marino has one of the smallest military forces in the world, and is, perhaps, most notable for its anachronistic Crossbow Corps. Its different branches have varied functions including: performing ceremonial duties; patrolling borders; mounting guard at government buildings; and assisting police in major criminal cases. There is also a Gendarmerie which is technically part of the military forces of the republic. The entire military corps of San Marino depends upon the co-operation of full-time forces and their retained (volunteer) colleagues, known as the Corpi Militari Volontari, or Voluntary Military Force. National defense in the face of an aggressive world power is, by arrangement, the responsibility of Italy's armed forces.
Game and Story Use
- San Marino is a world all its own, likened to a pocket of medieval Europe preserved for all time.
- San Marino could serve as the base for medieval relgious organizations long thought to have disbanded (e.g., The Knights Templar) or other, similar, groups.
- San Marino could serve to throw a wrench in the plans of otherwise worldly PCs due to some obscure laws or customs held over from centuries long since passed.