The world's smallest republic, San Marino is a little landlocked country completely enclosed by Italy in the Apennine Mountains. A European microstate together with the Vatican, Lichtenstein, Monaco, Malta and Andorra, San Marino, with a population of 30,000, has the smallest population of all the European 'tiny countries'. At just 24 square miles, it's the oldest constitutional republic and sovereign state in the world.
The most popular legend describing the founding of the country involves a stonecutter, Marinus of Rab, who was granted the land at the top of Monte Titano after he cured the sick son of a grateful wealthy Roman woman. This is said to have happened in 301 BC and since that time, the country has, for the most part, been left alone.
Sitting at the top of Monte Titano, which is really more of a rock, San Marino today is a favorite weekend destination for tourists who come for the novelty of visiting such a small independent country perched high on a rock. Roughly two million tourists a year visit San Marino. Cafes and restaurants line the streets and souvenir shops sell everything from San Marino stamps to San Marino coins, to San Marino music (the country has its own orchestra), to a famous chocolate layered San Marino cake called Tara Di Tre Monti, translated to mean 'Cake of the Three Towers'.
In fact, for such a small place, their cuisine is extraordinary. Although their cuisine is understandably influenced by Italy, the country has many of its own original dishes, such as the scrumptious piadina, a large flat bread made of flour, water and salt, baked and then filled with any number of zesty sauces and vegetables. San Marino also has a wine industry since grapes grow so well in the country's climate and altitude.
The Three Towers of San Marino, the attraction visitors are likely to see first, are situated on the mountain peaks of Monte Titano in the City of San Marino, the capital of the country.
With the small population, the country is one of the world’s wealthiest. It has an incredibly stable economy, extremely low unemployment—the lowest in Europe in fact—and rather than a national debt, it actually has a budget surplus, which is practically unheard of considering the current economic status of the rest of the world. Even though the country is not part of the EU, it's allowed to use the euro for its currency.