Landlocked San Marino is one of the world's smallest countries. Surrounded by Italy, it is an echo from an era when city-states proliferated across Europe.
Mount Titano, part of the Appennine range, dominates San Marino's landscape. Three defensive fortresses perch on Titano's slopes, looking out to the Adriatic coast.
San Marino is said to be the world's oldest surviving republic.
Tourism dominates the economy of the 61 square kilometre (23.6 square miles) republic, which plays host to more than three million visitors every year.
Postage stamps and coins - keenly sought by collectors - are important sources of revenue.
Republic of San Marino
Capital: San Marino
Area 61.2 sq km (23.6 sq miles)
Major language Italian
Major religion Christianity
Life expectancy 78 years (men), 85 years (women)
San Marino's constitution provides for a parliamentary style of government.
The 60-member Great and General Council is elected every five years. It is headed by two captains-regent, who are elected by the council every six months and act as heads of state for that period.
The 10-member Congress of State is elected by the Great and General Council and exercises executive power.
Some key dates in the history of San Marino:
AD 301 - According to tradition, San Marino is founded by Marinus, a Christian stonemason seeking refuge from religious persecution on Mount Titano.
1243 - The first captains regent - acting as joint heads of state - are appointed.
1463 - The Pope awards the towns of Fiorentino, Montegiardino and Serravalle to San Marino. The town of Faetano joins the republic in 1464, defining its present-day borders.
1599 - San Marino's constitution, which provides for a parliamentary government, is laid out in the Statutes of 1600.
1940-45 - Second World War: Neutral San Marino hosts some 100,000 refugees from neighbouring parts of Italy.
1992 - San Marino joins the United Nations.
2009 - San Marino government says it is taking steps to ensure the country complies with OECD rules on financial transparency so as to be removed from tax haven "grey list".