Flag of San MarinoIn the year 301 AD a stonemason going by the name of Marinus frowned upon the rulers of his country, and he boldly declared independence from the Roman Empire. To this day the country he founded is still the oldest souvereign country of the world, and it now bears his name: San Marino. Or as the official name states it: Serinissima Repubblica di San Marino - The most serene republic of San Marino.

Saint Marinus's famous last words were "Relinquo vos liberos ab utroque homine", which can be translated into "I leave you free of both men". The men in question are most likely to be the Roman emperor and the Roman Catholic pope, both of which had a tremendous influence on everyday life in the area where San Marino is located.

This message of freedom still resonates in the culture of San Marino, and it is has in fact been adopted as the country's motto.

The Country

San Marino is a tiny landlocked country located in the Apennine mountain range in Southern Europe, completely surrounded by Italy. It is tiny because the total size is just 61 square kilometers, and the total population almost reaches 30 thousand people (making it one of the ten least populated countries in the world). With an age of over 1700 years, it is however the oldest sovereign state in the world. The current constitution was enacted as early as the year 1600 AD, which also makes it the oldest republic in the world. And considering the size of San Marino, it is also the smallest republic in the world.

San Marino Euro CoinThe language of the Sammarinese (= the inhabitants of San Marino) is Italian, and their currency is the Euro - even though they're not an official member of the European Union. San Marino is allowed to have its own design for the national side of the Euro coins, and the small number of available coins make them an object of interest and desire for coin collectors worldwide.

San Marino and its only neighbor Italy have a good relationship, and they share a lot of common services as agreed upon in several friendship treaties. There has been some animosity between the two countries during World War I when San Marino remained neutral, whereas Italy declared war on the Austro-Hungarian empire. The relationship was restored however and even lasted during World War II under Mussolini's reign.

Formula One

Imola Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari

San Marino is maybe best known for the yearly Formula One Grand Prix that's organized in the country's name. The race circuit "Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari" is not located in the country itself, but about a hundred kilometers away in the nearby Italian city of Imola.

Imola is home to the Ferrari, Lamborghini and Maserati car manufacturers, which makes it a good place to organize car racing events. The San Marino Grand Prix has been on the FIA agenda since 1981. Formula One Grand Prix races at Imola have been held as early as 1963, but at the time it was held as the Italian Grand Prix instead.

The San Marino Grand Prix of 1994 has the sad honour of being the last Grand Prix to claim a driver's life. During that San Marino Grand Prix weekend, two drivers lost their lives, the German driver Roland Ratzenberger and the former world champion and Brazilian racing legend Ayrton Senna.