State Department Notes on San Marino

U.S. Department of State Background Note


The population of San Marino is comprised of native Sammarinese and Italian citizens. Crop farming, sheep farming, and the working of stone from the quarries formed the early backbone of San Marino's economy. It has no mineral resources, and today most of the land is cultivated or covered by woods.

According to tradition, San Marino was founded in AD 301 when a Christian stonemason named Marinus the Dalmatian fled to the island of Arbe to escape the anti-Christian Roman Emperor Diocletian. Marinus hid on the peak of Mount Titano and founded a small community of people following their Christian beliefs. It is certain that the area had been inhabited since prehistoric times, although evidence of existence on Mount Titano only dates back to the Middle Ages. In memory of the stonecutter, the land was renamed "Land of San Marino" and was finally changed to its present-day name, "Republic of San Marino."

The original government structure was composed of a self-governed assembly known as the Arengo, which consisted of the heads of each family. In 1243, the positions of Captains Regent (Capitani Reggenti) were established to be the joint heads of state.

The land area of San Marino consisted only of Mount Titano until 1463, at which time the republic entered into an alliance against Sigismondo Pandolfo Malatesta, Lord of Rimini, who was later defeated. As a result, Pope Pius II Piccolomini gave San Marino the towns of Fiorentino, Montegiardino, and Serravalle. Later that year, the town of Faetano joined the republic on its own accord. Since then, the size of San Marino has remained unchanged.

San Marino has been occupied by foreign militaries twice in its history, both for only short periods of time. In 1503, Cesare Borgia, known as Valentino, occupied the republic until his death several months later. In 1739, Cardinal Alberoni used military force to occupy the country. Civil disobedience was used to protest his occupation, and clandestine notes sent to the Pope to obtain justice were answered by the Pope's recognition of San Marino's rights and restoration of San Marino’s independence.


The Arengo, initially formed with the heads of each family, relinquished its power to the Great and General Council. In 1243, the first two Captains Regent were nominated by the Council, and this method of nomination is still in use today. The Council is composed of 60 members who are elected every 5 years under a proportional representation system in all nine administrative districts. These districts (Townships) correspond to the old parishes of the Republic, and each one is ruled by a Council, which is chaired by a Captain elected every 5 years. The Great and General Council approves the budget, as well as the nominations of Captains Regent and heads of the Executive.

Every 6 months, the Council elects two Captains Regent to be the heads of state. The Regents are chosen from opposing parties so they can keep an eye on each other. They serve a 6-month term. The investiture of the Captains Regent takes place on April 1 and October 1 in every year. Once this term is over, citizens have 3 days in which to file complaints about the previous Regents' activities. If they warrant it, judicial proceedings against the former head(s) of state can be initiated.

The State Congress, composed of 10 Secretaries, wields executive power. The 10 Secretaries are (1) Secretary of State for Foreign and Political Affairs, and Economic Planning; (2) Secretary of State for Internal Affairs and Civil Defense; (3) Secretary of State for Finance, Budget, and Relations with the State Philatelic and Numismatic Office; (4) Secretary of State for Education, Culture, University and Social Affairs; (5) Secretary of State for Territory, Environment and Agriculture; (6) Secretary of State for Health and Social Security; (7) Secretary of State for Industry, Trade and Relations with the Azienda Autonoma di Stato for Services; (8) Secretary of State for Communication, Transport, Tourism, and Sport; (9) Secretary of State for Justice, Information, and Peace; and (10) Secretary of State for Labor and Cooperation.

The Great and General Council elects the Council of Twelve for the duration of the Legislature and serves a jurisdictional body that also acts as a third instance Court of Appeals. Two government inspectors represent the State in financial and patrimonial questions.

The Legislative body consists of the Great and General Council, the parliament, and a unicameral Chamber. The members of parliament are usually elected every five years and are in charge of legislation, justice, and the administration of jurisdiction. In addition, they are tasked with electing the Captains Regent, the State Congress, the Council of Twelve, the Advising Commission, and the Government Unions once the Council nominates them. Parliament also has the power to ratify contracts with other countries. The parliament is divided into five different Advising Commissions consisting of 15 councils which examine, propose, and discuss the implementation of new laws that are on being submitted to the Great and General Council.

The judiciary is composed of the commissioner of the law, the judging magistrate, the appellate judge, the juvenile court, and the judge of last appeal. The commissioner tries civil and penal cases with penalties not exceeding a three-year sentence. The judging magistrates, who are appointed by parliament for a three-year term and can be indefinitely reappointed, preside over all other cases.

Reform legislation, enacted in 2004, no longer requires that the country's lower court judges be noncitizens; however, most lower court judges remained Italian citizens. A local conciliation judge handles cases of minor importance. Under the same reform, the final court of review is the judge of the last appeal. In civil matters, this judge confirms or overrules either the lower court judgment or an appellate decision; in criminal matters, he judges on the legitimacy of detention measures and on the enforcement of a judgment.

On April 28, 2005 a new act established the country's constitutional court with the following functions: 1) to verify that laws, acts, and traditions that are given the force of law conform to constitutional precepts; 2) to verify the admissibility of a referendum; 3) to decide on conflicts between constitutional institutions; 4) to control the activity of the Captains Regent. The court is composed of three standing judges and three alternate judges. They are selected by the Great and General Council with a two-thirds majority to a four-year term. After the first selection one-third of the members of the court are reselected every two years.

Principal Government Officials
Captains Regent--Alessandro Mancini and Alessandro Rossi (from April 1-October 1, 2007)
Secretary of State for Foreign and Political Affairs--Fiorenzo Stolfi (since July 27, 2006)

San Marino has honorary Consulates General in Washington, DC and New York and honorary Consulates in Detroit and Honolulu. The honorary Consulate General in Washington, DC is located at 1899 L Street NW, Suite 500, Washington, DC 20036.

The Republic of San Marino's Web Site provides information on politics, trade, and events in San Marino.


San Marino is a multi-party democratic republic. The two main parties are the Democratic Christian Party of San Marino (PDCS), and the Party of Socialists and Democrats (PSD), in addition to several other smaller parties. Due to the small size and low population of San Marino, it is difficult for any party to gain a pure majority, and most of the time the government is run by a coalition. Following the June 2006 election results, the PSD formed a center-left coalition government with the Popular Alliance and the United Left parties.

Because tourism accounts for more than 50% of the economic sector, the government relies not only on taxes and customs for revenue but also the sale of coins and postage stamps to collectors throughout the world. In addition, the Italian Government pays San Marino an annual budget subsidy provided under the terms of the Basic Treaty with Italy. In recent years banking has also become an important economic activity.

Harmonization of statutes and policies with the EU is a major domestic and foreign policy priority of the republic. Another priority issue is the signing of a cooperation agreement with Italy, San Marino’s most important economic partner.


San Marino's per capita GNP in 2004 stood at 27,412 Euros with more than 50% coming from the tourism industry, which draws about 2.2 million people annually.

Traditional economic activities in San Marino were food crops, sheep farming, and stone quarrying. Today farming activities focus on grain, vines, and orchards, as well as animal husbandry (cattle and swine). Besides the tourism industry, San Marino makes most of its income from the banking industry and from the manufacture and export of ceramics, tiles, furniture, clothing, paints, fabrics, and spirits/wines. The per capita level of output and standard of living in San Marino are comparable to those of Italy. In addition, San Marino maintains the lowest unemployment rate in Europe and no national debt.


San Marino is an active player in the international community. Currently, the Republic has diplomatic relations with over 70 countries. Italy is the only country represented by an ambassador resident in San Marino. The Papal Nuncio, based in Rome, is the dean of San Marino’s diplomatic corps.

San Marino is a full member of the United Nations (UN), International Court of Justice (ICJ), United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Health Organization (WHO), World Tourism Organization (WTO), Council of Europe, International Red Cross Organization, the International Institution for the Unification of Private Law (UNIDROIIT), and Interpol, among others. It also cooperates with UNICEF and the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) and has official relations with the European Union (EU). From May-November 1990, San Marino held the semi-annual presidency of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, headquartered in Strasbourg, France; it holds the presidency again November 2006-May 2007.


The United States and San Marino enjoy friendly diplomatic relations. San Marino consistently supports U.S. foreign policy positions, as well as U.S. candidates to international organizations. The two countries are on excellent terms. In September 2006 President George W. Bush appointed Ambassador to Italy Ronald P. Spogli to serve concurrently as Ambassador to San Marino. Ambassador Spogli is the first U.S. Ambassador to San Marino in the country’s history. For consular purposes, the republic is within the jurisdiction of the Florence consular district. Consulate officials regularly visit San Marino to carry out diplomatic demarches, represent U.S. interests, and administer consular services.

Principal U.S. Officials
Ambassador-- Ronald P. Spogli

U.S. Consul General Nora Dempsey is the working diplomatic contact to San Marino. The U.S. Consulate General is at Lungarno Amerigo Vespucci, 38, 50123 Firenze, Italy (tel. (39) (055) 266-951).

The U.S. Department of State's Consular Information Program advises Americans traveling and residing abroad through Consular Information Sheets, Public Announcements, and Travel Warnings. Consular Information Sheets exist for all countries and include information on entry and exit requirements, currency regulations, health conditions, safety and security, crime, political disturbances, and the addresses of the U.S. embassies and consulates abroad. Public Announcements are issued to disseminate information quickly about terrorist threats and other relatively short-term conditions overseas that pose significant risks to the security of American travelers. Travel Warnings are issued when the State Department recommends that Americans avoid travel to a certain country because the situation is dangerous or unstable.

For the latest security information, Americans living and traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department's Bureau of Consular Affairs Internet web site at, where the current Worldwide Caution, Public Announcements, and Travel Warnings can be found. Consular Affairs Publications, which contain information on obtaining passports and planning a safe trip abroad, are also available at For additional information on international travel, see

The Department of State encourages all U.S citizens traveling or residing abroad to register via the State Department's travel registration website or at the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate abroad. Registration will make your presence and whereabouts known in case it is necessary to contact you in an emergency and will enable you to receive up-to-date information on security conditions.

Emergency information concerning Americans traveling abroad may be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the U.S. and Canada or the regular toll line 1-202-501-4444 for callers outside the U.S. and Canada.

The National Passport Information Center (NPIC) is the U.S. Department of State's single, centralized public contact center for U.S. passport information. Telephone: 1-877-4USA-PPT (1-877-487-2778). Customer service representatives and operators for TDD/TTY are available Monday-Friday, 7:00 a.m. to 12:00 midnight, Eastern Time, excluding federal holidays.

Travelers can check the latest health information with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Georgia. A hotline at 877-FYI-TRIP (877-394-8747) and a web site at give the most recent health advisories, immunization recommendations or requirements, and advice on food and drinking water safety for regions and countries. A booklet entitled "Health Information for International Travel" (HHS publication number CDC-95-8280) is available from the U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, DC 20402, tel. (202) 512-1800.

Further Electronic Information
Department of State Web Site. Available on the Internet at, the Department of State web site provides timely, global access to official U.S. foreign policy information, including Background Notes and daily press briefings along with the directory of key officers of Foreign Service posts and more. The Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC) provides security information and regional news that impact U.S. companies working abroad through its website provides a portal to all export-related assistance and market information offered by the federal government and provides trade leads, free export counseling, help with the export process, and more.

STAT-USA/Internet, a service of the U.S. Department of Commerce, provides authoritative economic, business, and international trade information from the Federal government. The site includes current and historical trade-related releases, international market research, trade opportunities, and country analysis and provides access to the National Trade Data Bank.

Revised: Apr. 2007

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