Completely encompassed within the city of Rome, Vatican City is the smallest independent country in area (at 110 acres) and population (800 people) worldwide. The Lateran Treaty of 1929 sealed the compound as a separate national entity and granted Roman Catholicism special status all over Italy. This agreement also guaranteed certain properties belonging to the Holy See all over Rome and the rest of the country to be granted extraterritorial status similar to that of foreign embassies. This tiny principality also employs its only military operation of the Swiss Guard, but due to size limitations, it has no diplomatic service of its own and cannot accommodate foreign embassies (diplomats to the Holy See are housed in Rome).
Yet for its extremely minute size, Vatican City is most important location for Catholics and serves as the face of the Catholic religion. No other official leader of a nation is more powerful and influential over the citizens of other states as the Pope, as he is the leader of one of the largest religious sects in the world. The scale of papal visits to Catholic nations far exceeds that of other foreign dignitaries, and even events for those states' presidents and prime ministers.