San Marino, officially known as the Republic of San Mario, is a small state located on the Italian Peninsula. In fact, it is the third smallest country in Europe, preceded only by the Vatican and Monaco. Although landlocked by Italy, it is an independent state that takes up a mere 61 square kilometers. Its capital is the City of San Marino. It has a rugged terrain, due to its location near to the Apennine Mountains, There is no natural level ground; it is composed completely of hilly terrain.The highest point is the summit of Monte Titano, which is 2,457 feet above sea level.The climate of San Marino is Mediterranean, with continental influences. It has warm summers and cool winters. The population of San Marino, last recoded in 2010, is 31,534. San Marino is the oldest surviving sovereign state and constitutional republic in the world. Founded on September 3, 301 A. D. by a stonecutter named Marinus, San Marino started out as a small church near Monte Titano occupied by Marinus and his close friend Leo.A community began to form in mid 5th century A. D. , and its independence was protected by its location and poverty.Other key industries are banking, ceramics, and electronics. Its agricultural exports include wine and cheese; and it imports goods-mainly food- from Italy.It is one of the wealthiest countries in terms of GDP (per capita), with a figure comparative to many well developed areas of Italy, such as Lombardy and Trentino-Alto Adige/Sudtirol. Although San Marino is not a member of the European Union, it is allowed to use the euro as its national currency. The taxation rate of San Marino is 19%. San Marino is considered to have a highly stable economy, with one of the lowest unemployment rates in Europe, no national debt, and a budget surplus. San Marino has the political framework of a parliamentary representative emocratic republic. The Captains Regent are the heads of state, and there is a diverse multi-party system. Executive power is exercised by the government, legislative power is given both to the government and the Grand General Council, and the judicial power is independent of the executive and legislative powers. San Marino was originally led by the Arengo, initially formed by the heads of each family. In the 13th century power was shifted to the Grand General Council, and this practice still remains up until this day. Citems18 years or older are allowed to vote.The two main parties are the San Marinese Christian Democratic Party and the Party of Socialists and Democrats. Every six months, an election of two Captains Regents is carried out by the Council. Education is held in high esteem in San Marino. Primary education is compulsory for all children between the ages of 6 and 14. Children go through five years of primary education, followed by three years of the first stage of secondary education. They then complete five years of the second stage of advanced secondary and pre-university education. They can then pursue higher education at Italian universities.This schooling system is based off of the Italian curriculum. The student to teacher ratio in a classroom is about five to one. The adult literacy rate is 98%. There is one major university in San Marino called L’Universita di San Marino. It offers students a variety of educational programs, including science and liberal arts. The culture of San Marino is very unique. The people refer to themselves as Sammarinese. The official language is Italian. The country has a rich musical tradition closely linked to that of Italy, but is still independent of it.The main sport San Marino is soccer, but basketball and volleyball are also popular. The cuisine of San Marino is very similar to Italian cuisine. One of its more popular dishes is nidi di rodine (a baked pasta dish with smoked ham, beef, cheese and a tomato sauce). Its most popular dessert is the Torta Tre Monti, or Cake of Three Mountains. It is a wafer layered cake covered in chocolate depicting the Three Towers of San Marino. The main tourist attractions in San Marino are The Three Towers of San Marino, the Cathedral of San Marino, the Palazzo Pubblico, the Piazza dellaLiberta, the Statua della Liberta, and the Museo di Stato di San Marino. San Marino is a predominantly Catholic state, but Catholicism isn’t the official religion. The Sammarinese flag consists of two equal horizontal bands of white (on top) and light blue with the national coat of arms superimposed in the center. The coat of arms has a shield with three towers on three peaks flanked by a wreath. Underneath is a crown and above there is a scroll that reads “LIBERTAS”. Libertas means liberty in Italian.