- European microstates
The European microstates or ministates are a handful of very small sovereign
states on the European continentand the surrounding islands. Microstates are small independent states and they should not be confused with " micronations", which are neither states nor independent.
The Principality of Andorra is a feudal remnant high in the
Pyrenees, a fiefdomheld jointly by the Bishop of Urgellin Spainand the Count of Foixin France, with a population of approximately 70,000. The County of Foix merged into the French Crown in 1607 and thus the King of France and then the President of Francetook the place of the Count of Foix. It has been independent since 1278. Catalan is its official language.
The Principality of Liechtenstein is the sole remaining
polityof the Holy Roman Empire, having been created out of the counties of Vaduzand Schellenbergin 1719 as a sovereign fief for the wealthy Austrian House of Liechtenstein. Its population is over 30,000. Owing to its geographic position between Switzerlandand Austria, it was not swallowed up during the massive reorganisation of Germany following the French Revolution, and avoided incorporation into the German Empirelater in the 19th century.
The Republic of Malta is an
archipelagoof seven islands in the central Mediterranean Seaand has a population of around 400,000 meaning it has a larger population than several non-microstates, notably Iceland. People first arrived on Malta about 5200 BC. It gained independence from the United Kingdomin 1964. Malta is a member of the Commonwealth of Nationsand the European Union.
The Principality of Monaco on the
French Riviera, ruled by the House of Grimaldisince the 13th century, achieved full independence only following the cession of the surrounding Niceregion from Piedmontto France in 1860.
Monaco is located on the Mediterranean Sea, tucked into the
Maritime Alpsand has a population of around 35,000. Its constitutional monarchy is led by Prince Albert II. The population is 95% Roman Catholic. French, English, and Italian are the three most widely spoken languages. Its economy is based on light manufacturing, banking and financial services, shipping and trade, R&D in biotechnology, and marine environments. Tourism is also a profitable industry for Monaco.
The Most Serene Republic of San Marino is the last survivor of a large number of self-governing Italian communes from the Middle Ages. It survived the consolidation of Italy into medium-sized territorial states in the 15th century and the
unification of Italyin the 19th century, largely owing to its remote location in a valley of the Apennines and its decision to offer sanctuary to leaders of the unification movement. It has a population of approximately 30,000.
The State of the
Vatican Cityis the last remnant of the former Papal States, the lands in central Italyruled directly by the pope. After the unification of Italy in the 19th century the Papal States had become formally part of the Kingdom of Italy, but the Vatican disputed this claim of geographic authority, and the papacy continued to exercise "de facto" political control over an area around St Peter's BasilicaFact|date=January 2008 in Rome. A sovereign Vatican state was later established by the Lateran Treatyof 1929 between the pope and the Italian government, in which the pope recognised the Italian state in exchange for establishing Roman Catholicismas the state religion, and recognition of the pope's sovereignty over a tiny state located entirely within the city of Rome. Its population is between 600 and 700.
overeign Military Order of Malta
Sovereign Military Order of Maltais a Catholic order that is a sovereign entity under international law and has permanent observer status at the United Nations. The Order is the direct successor to the medieval Knights Hospitaller, also known as the Knights of Malta, and today operates as a largely charitable and ceremonial organization. It is a traditional example of a sovereign entity other than a state. Its headquarters in Rome are granted extraterritorialityby Italy. Unlike the Holy See, which is sovereign over the Vatican City, SMOM has no other sovereign territory, yet it does have full diplomatic relations, including embassies, with 100 states [The Order's official website lists them [http://www.orderofmalta.org/attdiplomatica.asp?idlingua=5 in this table] .] and is in more informal relationship with five others. It issues its own stamps, coins, passports, and license plates, and has its own military.
Economic policies and relationship with the European Union
The European microstates are all of limited size and population, and have limited natural resources. As a result, they have adopted special economic policies, typically involving low levels of taxation and few restrictions on external financial investment. Malta is a full member of the
European Union, while the other five European microstates have obtained special relations with the European Union. Many of the microstates have also entered into a customs unionwith their larger neighbours to improve their economic situation (Vatican City and San Marino with Italy, Liechtenstein with Switzerland, and Monaco with France).
While the microstates have sovereignty over their own territory, there are also a number of small
autonomous territories, which despite having (in almost all cases) their own independent government, executive branch, legislature, judiciary, police, and other trappings of independence, are nonetheless under the sovereignty of another stateor monarch.
Akrotiri and Dhekelia( British overseas territory, United Kingdom)
Åland(Autonomous province, Finland)
Faroe Islands(External territory, Denmark)
Gibraltar(British overseas territory, United Kingdom)
Guernsey(British crown dependency), one of the Channel Islandsand including Alderney, Hermand Sark
Isle of Man(British crown dependency)
Jersey(British crown dependency), one of the Channel Islands
Mount Athosor the Autonomous Monastic State of the Holy Mountain (Autonomous monastic state, Greece)
Holy Seeis a unique sovereign entity under international law distinct from Vatican City with the popeas the head of both, maintaining diplomatic and official relations with over 170 states and entities and participating in various international organizations either in its own capacity or on behalf of Vatican City.
* The sovereignty of the
artificial islandof Sealand off the coast of the United Kingdomis controversial. It has asserted independence since the 1960s, but has not achieved clear recognition by other nations or international organizations.
Historical small territories
The wars of the French Revolution and the
Napoleonic Warscaused the European map to be redrawn several times. A number of short-lived client republics were created, and the fall of the Holy Roman Empiregave sovereignty to each of its many surviving component states. The situation was not stabilized until after the Congress of Viennain 1815. Following World War Iand World War IIa number of territories gained temporary status as international zones, protectorates or occupied territories. A few of them are mentioned here:
Couto Mixto, ?-1864
Gersau, 14th century-1798
Republic of Ragusa, 14th century-1808 (now Dubrovnik)
Free City of Kraków, 1815–1846 (now Kraków)
Neutral Moresnet, 1816–1919
Kingdom of Tavolara, 1836-1962 (subsumed into Italy)
Free City of Danzig, 1920–1939 (now Gdańsk)
Free State of Fiume, 1920–1924 (now Rijeka)
Free Territory of Trieste, 1947–1954 (now Trieste)
Microstates and the European Union
Enclave and exclave
Games of the Small States of Europe
* [http://uniset.ca/naty/news/econ_micronations.html Article from "The Economist", Dec. 24, 2005, "Castles in the Air"]
* [http://www.nyulawglobal.org/globalex/Microstates.htm GlobaLex, "The Micro-States and Small Jurisdictions of Europe"]
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