I suspect that most people won’t get the answer to this one straight away. For the absolute YPT aficionados amongst you there is a possibility though. Most of you may be able to think of a city where you can visit two countries – one being a microstate, or in fact the smallest country in the world at just under 0.5 square kms.
And the key to figuring out the third country, well, it’s the only country in the world that doesn’t have any land.
In case you still haven’t got it, I will confirm that the answer is Rome!
So if you find yourself in Rome you are most likely to be in the country of Italy checking out the Colosseum or eating pizza or ice cream.
The Independent Country of the Vatican City
So, most visitors will also head to the Vatican City for the Sistine Chapel and St Peter’s Basilica. The Vatican City State is an independent country of the Holy See famous for being the home of the Pope and capital of Catholicism worldwide, although it’s not even half a square kilometre in area!
The Vatican officially came into being in 1929 following the Lateran Treaty, resolving the situation that had arisen from Italian unification in 1870 and the confiscation of much of the Vatican’s property outside the city-state itself. Including the Roman Jewish Ghetto.
So What Is This Third Country You Can Visit?
From large European nations to tiny microstates, now is where it gets really interesting. There is one country in the world which has no land – the Sovereign Military Order of Malta – or for writers’ convenience the SMOM.
To cut a long story very short, the Order originate from the late 11th century when they were created as a sort of military medical unit, the original M*A*S*H. They were based in Jerusalem, before heading to Cyprus, then the island of Rhodes, then Malta where they appropriated the local name.
They were ejected from Malta by Napoleon, then the British beat Napoleon and gave Malta back to the SMOM, before getting cold feet and deciding it was best they keep it for themselves.
The SMOM was homeless for a long time, when in 1834 the Pope gave them a palace in Rome with extraterritorial status, just as an embassy is given (as Julian Assange can confirm). The SMOM took the idea and ran with it, making their own passports and stamps, just like any normal country, right?
Can I visit the Sovereign Military Order of Malta?
Yes, it is an actual country, recognised by over 100 sovereign states. You can visit their government seat and their library in Rome as a way to tick off this country! Another way to visit it is go to the Private Residence in Fort St Angelo in Malta. Yes, actual Malta.
And as luck would have it, YPT run our very own Microstates of Europe Road Trip on which we visit more conventional countries like Andorra, Monaco, Liechtenstein, San Marino and the Vatican City, the micronation of Seborga, bizarre exclaves such as Campione d’Italia, and of course the Sovereign Military Order of Malta..