According to tradition, San Marino was founded in AD 301 when a Christian
stonemason named Marinus the Dalmatian fled to the island of Arbe to escape
the anti-Christian Roman Emperor Diocletian. Marinus hid on the peak of
Mount Titano and founded a small community of people following their Christian
beliefs. It is certain that the area had been inhabited since prehistoric
times, although evidence of existence on Mount Titano only dates back to
the Middle Ages. In memory of the stonecutter, the land was renamed "Land
of San Marino," and was finally changed to its present-day name, "Republic
of San Marino."
The original government structure was composed of a self-governed assembly
known as the Arengo, which consisted of the heads of each family. In 1243,
the positions of Captains Regent (Capitani Reggenti) were established to
be the joint heads of state.
The land area of San Marino consisted only of Mount Titano until 1463,
at which time the republic entered into an alliance against Sigismondo
Pandolfo Malatesta, Lord of Rimini, who was later defeated. As a result,
Pope Pius II Piccolomini gave San Marino the towns of Fiorentino, Montegiardino,
and Serravalle. Later that year, the town of Faetano joined the republic
on its own accord. Since then, the size of San Marino has remained unchanged.
San Marino has been occupied by foreign militaries twice in its history,
both for only short periods of time. In 1503, Cesare Borgia, known as Valentino,
occupied the republic until his death several months later. In 1739, Cardinal
Alberoni used military force to occupy the country, but civil disobedience
was used to protest this, and clandestine notes sent to the Pope to obtain
justice were answered by the Pope's recognition of San Marino's rights
and restoration of San Marinos independence.
San Marino is a multi-party democratic republic. The three main parties
are the Democratic Christian Party of San Marino (PDCS), the Socialist
Party of San Marino (PSS), and the Progressive Democratic Party of San
Marino (PPDS) in addition to several other smaller parties. Due to the
small size of San Marino and its low population, it is difficult for any
party to gain a pure majority and most of the time the government is run
by a coalition. Following a period of political instability after the June
2001 elections, in December 2003 the three largest parties formed a coalition
government with a view to reforming the electoral law and subsequently
calling for early elections.
Because tourism accounts for more than 50% of the economic sector, the
government relies not only on taxes and customs for revenue, but also the
sale of coins and postage stamps to collectors throughout the world. In
addition, the Italian Government pays San Marino an annual budget subsidy
provided under the terms of the Basic Treaty with Italy. In recent years
banking has also become an important economic activity.
Harmonization of statutes and policies with the European Union (EU)
is a major domestic and foreign policy priority of the republic. Another
priority issue will be to increase the transparency and efficiency in parliament
and in relations among parliament, cabinet, and the Captains Regent.