San Marino Unitary state

History and trends

San Marino is a Republic governed by a 1569 Constitution. It is the oldest republic in the modern world.

According to tradition, San Marino was founded in the 4th century by a hermit, whose reputation for holiness attracted a small community which, over time, grew into a secular “commune”. Fortified to protect against the Norman and Saracen invasions, San Marino had a certain degree of autonomy as early as the late 9th century and expanded its territory in the 11th century.

It took on the title of a “republic” in the 13th century and allied with the Pope and the Duchy of Urbino in the 15th century. The Grand and General Council, comprising 60 life members (20 noblemen, 20 middle-class people and 20 peasants) appointed by co-optation, was created in the mid-15th century. The country suffered a period of relative decline in the 17th and 18th centuries due to abuse of the right of asylum, oligarchic tendencies among members of the Grand and General Council and Papal ambitions over the territory.

The state was recognised by Napoleon in 1797 and by the Congress of Vienna in 1815. It hosted more than 100,000 refugees during World War II. Between 1945 in 1957 it was governed by a communist coalition, which sparked tensions with Italy.

San Marino is divided into nine townships, which follow the boundaries of the former parish districts. The republic is governed by the 60-member Great and General Council, elected for a five-year term, and chaired by two captains regent, who are elected for a six-year term and are the heads of state and government. The Congress of State is the government of the Republic of San Marino.

San Marino joined the Council of Europe in 1988 and the United Nations in 1992.