Vatican City is the smallest independent state in the world in terms of inhabitants and size. It occupies an area of 44 hectares. The borders are represented by its walls and the travertine pavement curve that joins the two wings of the colonnades in St Peter’s Square. Beyond the proper territory of the State, Vatican jurisdiction also covers some extraterritorial areas within and outside Rome.
Vatican City State was founded following the signing of the Lateran Pacts between the Holy See and Italy on February 11th 1929. Its nature as a sovereign State distinct from the Holy See is universally recognized under international law.Vatican City mints its own coins and issues its own postage stamps.
On 1852 the Papal States introduced postage stamps and uniform postal fees. Postal service in the Papal States was given the highest priority and was conducted with the greatest efficiency. The first stamp was produced by the printing press of the Apostolic Camera and consisted of four sheets, each bearing 25 stamps.
With the Lateran Treaty of 1929 Italy recognizes “the sovereignty of the Holy See in international matters as an inherent attribute in conformity with its traditions and the requirements of its mission to the world.” As a consequence, the rights of the new State were recognized in every regard, including the right to its own postal service. Vatican City State was admitted to the U.P.U. on 1 June 1929, while the Italian government provided personnel and material. The Vatican Postal Service was formally inaugurated by Ordinance VIII on 30 July 1929, and began operation on 1 August 1929. Newly issued series of Vatican postage stamps are authorized by “Ordinances” which are published in the Acta Apostolicae Sedis, an official publication of the Holy See. Stamp collectors and philatelic specialists throughout the world are particularly interested in ordinances and Acts concerning first day-of-issue stamps. Later the Vatican began releasing in the same way new series of postal stationery, including postcards and aerograms.
Now a days the Vatican Philatelic and Numismatic Office issues every year from 12 to 14 sets of stamps and other philatelic items, for a total of about 30 different values. The main recurring themes are Christmas and Easter; it is also issued a European set common with all the European countries whose subject changes every year; Vatican stamps often use paintings, frescoes, sculptures and other masterpieces preserved in the Vatican Museums to represent a subject or an anniversary. Beyond the graphic department of the philatelic Office that follows the main part of the issues, different artists collaborate with the Office for the planning and the creativity of the stamps.