San Marino may well be the world’s oldest continuous republic with a constitution that dates back to 1600. The Republic is an enclaved microstate, the third smallest in Europe, and is located within central Italy on the northern part of the Adriatic coast. The local landscape is dominated by Mount Titano, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
San Marino has a population of a little over 32,000, most of whom are ethnically Sammarinese interspersed with a smaller number of Italians. It was occupied in 1503 and 1739 but avoided Napoleonic military occupation during the prolonged stretch of European wars towards the end of the 18th century. San Marino offered asylum to Garibaldi’s pro-unification troops in the 19th-century unification wars and in so doing was guaranteed independence by the newly formed Italy. The Republic of San Marino has a reputation for hospitality strengthened by a history of generosity to asylum seekers.
The Second World War saw the small country shelter 100,000 Italian refugees at a time when their own population was just 15,000. The country has developed significantly since the end of the Second World War and tourism, wine, cheese, banking, and finance industries have become substantial income earners.
San Marino is not a member of the European Union but has a special agreement with the Council of the European Union. Economically, San Marino relies on tourism and banking, although it has small manufacturing and agricultural sectors. Italy is its main trading partner and accounts for over 80% of exports. The global economic downturn and the restructuring of San Marino’s banking sector have negatively impacted the country’s economy. Tourism dominates the economy and the small country hosts more than three million visitors annually. Revenue from postage stamps and coins is significant as collectors’ items.
San Marino has high standards in quality of life, health, security, education and environmental protection and boasts a low criminality rate. The State Hospital services all residents free of charge. The Institute for Health and Social Security provides cradle-to-grave health care, social services and social security, including retirement pensions.
San Marino is steeped in medieval history. The three tower-fortresses imposingly positioned along the cliff tops overlooking the sea and the country, date back to the 10th century. The gruesome torture museum graphically depicts the manner in which the various instruments of torture were employed. The Public Palace is located in the town walls of San Marino.
One can make a meal of visiting the tiny Republic, and the food is similar to that of the Italian Romagna region. The cuisine is Mediterranean, with an emphasis on locally grown fresh produce, pasta, and meat. Sampling local fare can be done in many pubs, sidewalk cafes and upmarket establishments. The views are usually spectacular.
San Marino is one of Europe’s three microstates that are de facto part of the Schengen Area, together with Monaco and the Vatican City. It is not an EU member, and as such relations between the country and the EU has been described as fragmented. The European Commission has recommended it become a member of the European Economic Area (EEA) and the European Free Trade Association (EFTA). At present relations are based on a collection of agreements covering specific issues.
The European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS) would, therefore, affect San Marino similarly to Italy. The ETIAS electronic authorisation will be required in the passports of any of the nationals of the 62 countries presently enjoying the benefits of the visa liberation policy, before travelling to San Marino. Recent terrorist attacks within European borders has resulted in the European Commission proposing eliminating such risks by collecting data on travellers before they leave for the European borders.
ETIAS will identify potential risks, such as refugees fleeing war-torn regions to escape discrimination and those associated with terrorist activity. These potential risks will be refused entry to Europe, and in this way, illegal immigration and terrorism will be restricted within the Schengen and EU countries.
Australia and San Marino established formal diplomatic relations in 1995, with accreditation through the Australian Embassy in Rome. Growing relations were recognised in the signing of a bilateral Tax Information Exchange Agreement and a reciprocal Working Holiday Maker (WHM) visa program. This is a cultural exchange program which provides young adults from either country opportunity to enjoy an extended holiday during which they can work and study in the other country.
The two countries have an insignificant economic relationship, and no official statistics are on record. The situation is much the same with Sammarinese ancestry within Australia, and there appears to be no migration to speak of.
Australians wanting to visit San Marino can presently do so with just a valid passport. Once ETIAS is in place, Australians will have to apply through ETIAS for pre-authorisation, following a similar process to Australia’s own ETA system.