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Geography, Weather, & Wildlife of Vatican City

Geography

Vatican Geography - Vatican City
Vatican City

Vatican City is the world's smallest country and it is entirely located within the Italian city of Rome. It is only 110 acres (about 44 hectares) and is located on what was known as "Mons Vaticanus." This hill and the surrounding Vatican Fields make up the modern country, which took this pre-Christian name. The Catholic Church is centered here because it is the burial site of St. Peter.

Vatican City sits near the center of Rome, a bit to the northwest of the city's center a short distance from the Tiber River. Obviously Italy is Vatican City's only neighbor and it was Italy that granted Vatican City independence in 1929. Its borders were determined primarily by the fortifications and buildings that existed by that time (and were built primarily in the 1500-1600s), which almost entirely encompass the country today. The border between Italy and Vatican City via St. Peter's Square is simply a white line on the ground today.

Geographically, Vatican City sits on a hill, one of many in the city of Rome.

Weather

Vatican City is the world's smallest country so the weather has no variation, although it does shift with the seasons and obviously follow the same weather patterns as that of Rome, which is often described as a Mediterranean climate.

Summers can be extraordinarily hot as heat waves from North Africa can make the city nearly unbearable as daily highs averaging 90˚ F (22˚ C) are common. It tends to be fairly dry during the summers with little humidity, although this can change week to week.

Winters are fairly mild, as the city can receive snow, but it never tends to stay on the ground. During this season, temperatures can fall to about 40˚ F (5˚ C) at night, but reach about 55˚ F (14˚ C) during days. It is also during the winter months that Vatican City receives most of its rains and there can be a great amount of mist early mornings.

The late spring and early fall (autumn) are a bit cooler and temperatures can fall dramatically as these seasons near winter. From year to year when the temperatures change from the hot and dry summers to the cooler and wet winters can be unpredictable. Despite the unpredictability from week to week, Vatican City averages daily highs of about 72˚ F (22˚ C) during these seasons.

Wildlife

Today there is no true wildlife in Vatican City other than perhaps a squirrel or two and migrating birds. Being located in Rome, a city which has existed for thousands of years, Vatican City has not had any significant wildlife for the past few hundred years, if not longer. Prior to the building of Vatican City and Rome, the most significant wildlife in the region was the birds that continue to migrate through the region today. There were also a number of small mammals in the area.

In the way of plants the diversity of Vatican City is much more impressive, particularly when considering the Vatican Gardens. These gardens, which make up over half of Vatican City itself consists of numerous plants, although many are not native to Vatican City, or even Italy.

This page was last updated: November, 2013