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AN ENCLAVE NATION is a country completely surrounded by another country. In days of old, what with every Tom, Dick, and Heinrich setting up a Duchy or something, there were lots of enclaves. Today, or at least awhile back in “My Nation—and I Mean Mine: Micron 2015,” I wrote about 24 micronations, which aren’t really the same thing as enclaves. The latter have more er… legitimate history.
The World Atlas website identifies precisely three enclaves: Lesotho, San Marino, and Vatican City. Curiously enough, I have firsthand experience with two of them.
Lesotho. WorldAtlas says, “Lesotho, officially known as the Kingdom of Lesotho, is a country in the African subregion of Southern Africa. It is surrounded entirely by territory belonging to South Africa, and is the largest of the world’s three enclave countries. Lesotho is the nation-state of the Basotho people. The Basotho nation was formed under King Moshoeshoe just prior to contact with Europeans, which first occurred in 1833.”
WorldAtlas describes Lesotho’s colonial history with the Dutch and British. Today, WorldAtlas says, “Lesotho is a poor, largely agrarian country. The country’s GDP per capita is just $1,088, and only 25% of the country’s people live in urban areas. Lesotho does, however, have a literacy rate of 85%, which is one of the highest rates on the African continent.”
I’ve been to South Africa, though a visit to Lesotho wasn’t part of the adventure.
San Marino. Surrounded completely in Italy’s northeast, San Marino is the fifth smallest country on Earth. WorldAtlas notes, “San Marino is the world’s oldest republic. According to tradition, it was founded in 301 CE by Marinus, a Christian stonemason seeking refuge from religious persecution on Mt. Titano. San Marino was never part of any larger state, and has always been governed separately.”
Along with Monaco, San Marino has the distinction of being a tiny country associated with an international grand prix. The San Marino Grand Prix, part of the F1 calendar from 1981 through 2006, was run at the Autodromo Internationale Enzo e Dino Ferrari aka the Imola circuit. Indeed, I visited both places, though the circuit is not particularly close to the enclave (about 60 miles away by Autostrada).
Borgo Maggiore, at the foot of Monte Titano, is a market town of San Marino. As I recall, it’s where I bought my pair of blue cervo loafers. Cervo is Italian for deer, and these are the most supple shoes I’ve ever owned, sorta bedroom slippers with utile soles.
By the way, Monaco apparently doesn’t qualify as an enclave. Located as it is on the Mediterranean, it’s not completely surrounded by France.
Vatican City. This seat of the Roman Catholic Church is, at just 49 hectares, 121 acres, the smallest country the world. It’s also the least populated, with a population of less than 1000 people.
Vatican City was founded in the 4th century A.D. with a basilica built over the grave of St. Peter. What with internecine squabbles, the Papacy moved to Avignon for 68 years, 1307–1377.
I once participated in 3 a.m. street racing in Vatican City, as incidental to my participation in the 1989 Mille Miglia Storica, the classic car celebration from Brescia to Rome and return. As noted here at SimanaitisSays, the street racing wasn’t intended as such. I just got hooked into it whilst seeking out my hotel for the event’s Rome overnight.
My other Vatican involvement came in creating “A Wright Whimsy” appearing here at SimanaitisSays. All in good fun. ds
© Dennis Simanaitis, SimanaitisSays.com, 2022