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Posted on Wednesday, December 29th, 2004

Dave!I went to bed last night early at 10:00pm and, since I seem incapable of sleeping more than 4-5 hours each night, woke up at 2:30am this morning. The blogosphere was relatively quiet (with the sad exception of even more catastrophic death tolls from the tsunamis) and I didn't have a book to read, so I was left with nothing to do. I'd like to get some work done, but I'm useless for anything requiring much thought this early, so that's not going to happen. After surfing a list of new Mac software, I came across "World of Where" which is a program to help learn all the various countries of the world and their capitals (also available for you Window sufferers). It costs $10 to get an unlock key, but Europe is free, so I thought "time to prove how smart I am" and downloaded it.

Only to find out I am not quite so smart as I thought I was.

I started out doing well, zipping through countries with ease (though I always seem to mix up Estonia and Latvia, which is really stupid considering the Estonia-Latvia-Lithuania trio is in alphabetical order). Yes, everything was going swimmingly until...

San Marino?

What the heck is a San Marino? That's a country?!? I've never heard of it before. It sounds like an island, so I start clicking like mad off the coasts of Italy and Spain, all to no avail. WTF? How can there be a country I've never heard of before? Is this new? Did they make up a country while I wasn't looking? And that's when I notice a small area within Italy that, at first glance, I ridiculously assumed was Vatican City (only to realize it's completely in the wrong place, as it's nowhere even remotely near Rome). Could it be?? Sure enough. And once I had finished filling in the map, this small country stood out like a beacon of my ignorance, mocking me...

Dave San Marino

Obsessed with all things San Marino, I head over to Wikipedia and learn a few things:

  • San Marino is not new. In fact, it's the oldest republic still in existence, having been founded in A.D. 301.
  • San Marino's official title is "The Most Serene Republic of San Marino."
  • San Marino was in a state of war with Sweden for 348 years, that only just ended in 1996. Yes, you read that right, Sweden. Never mind that there are a half-dozen countries and thousands of miles between the two, they somehow found something to fight about (apparently having to do with San Marino not signing the Westfalian peace treaty).
  • San Marino is not officially a member state of the EU, but uses the Euro as its currency (including the minting of it's own design on the national-side of Euro coins!).
  • San Marino is the third-smallest country in Europe (after Vatican City and Monaco).
  • San Marino gets 50% of it's economic production from tourism.
  • San Marino issues postage stamps that are only valid within the country and, for this reason, they are mostly designed for and sold to stamp collectors (thus providing another source of income).
  • San Marino does have a military (voluntary) which is primarily ceremonial in nature (though I'd imagine protecting the country from Swedish invasion is part of the job).
  • San Marino is a full member of both the United Nations and the World Health Organization.
  • San Marino, much to my shock, has an Olympics committee and regularly enters into the Olympic Games (from what I can tell, they have not won a medal yet, however). They also take part in the "Games of the Small Countries of Europe" (which also includes Andorra, Cyprus, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Malta, and Monaco), an event taking place every two years.
  • San Marino has its own top-level domain on the internet: .sm

I am still reeling from the fact that I was so blissfully unaware that an entire country existed. Certainly I must have heard of it before, but perhaps I just thought it was a city or something? How many other countries are out there that I am ignorant of? I guess I'm going to have to register "World of Where" so I can find out.

Bleh. Just when you think you know everything...

Categories: News - Politics 2004Click To It: Permalink


  1. karla says:

    Don’t feel bad. I LIVE in Europe and never heard of it either. Maybe I should add it to my list of “places to go in 2005”. Better yet, it should be my goal to go to all the “places that are small enough to carpet”. Many of them are in Europe, so that should be easy.

    I wonder if Ryan Air flies there.

  2. kazza says:

    heh, san marino I’ve heard of, although I’m hopeless with the baltic states .. they all came into being in their own right long after I finished studying geography 🙂

  3. Ben says:

    Darn you and your sleeping-patterns.!


    Oh, what I wouldn’t give to be able to survive on 5 hours of sleep.

    But perhaps more importantly, you need a book!

  4. The Ref says:

    I remember the famous commentary prior to a San Marino vs England game in 1994.

    “England need to win by 7 clear goals to stand any chance of progressing to the World Cup”………

    Less then 10 seconds later (YES 10 SECONDS) San Marino scored!

  5. Dave2 says:

    Can you imagine if San Marino DID decide to carpet the entire country? How funny would that be?

    Memorizing the Baltic states is easy because there’s a trick to it. Unfortunately, I can’t remember what that trick is? 🙁

    In other news of things I didn’t know, Ben has a blog? But comments aren’t turned on!!

    Somebody should have warned England that the entirety of San Marino’s football team used to be part of the military until peace broke out with Sweden in 1996.

  6. Uncle Horns says:

    Any relation to DAN Marino?

  7. Lazygal says:

    I knew about San Marino because there’s a Forumla One Grand Prix named after it (although it’s actually held in Italy). My downfall would be the former Yugoslavia and former Czechoslovakia – which country ended up where throws me every time.

  8. James Bow says:

    San Marino has a top level domain of .sm?

    San Marino now has a *third* source of income!!

  9. Chris says:

    How do you make those graphics of yours Dave?

  10. Dave2 says:

    Dan Marino is actually a better name for a country.

    I am able to remember the Czech Republic because it’s the one between Germany and Poland. Then Slovakia, which is right next door is easy to remember because if you run them together you get Czechoslovakia! 🙂

    .sm for all those S&M sites then??

    All the graphics for my blog are made in Adobe Illustrator. Sometimes I import the result into Photoshop for tweaking, but it’s mostly just Illustrator.

  11. San Marino is worth a visit. As is the Czech republic 🙂

  12. Brandon says:

    I have heard of San Marino thanks to my geography nerdiness. One day in middle school I was flipping through a book and was looking at all the countries I didn’t know and tried to figure out the smallest countries in the world. All this while the others were figuring out how to make out with the opposite sex.

    I had a similar experience lately when I discovered a new province of Canada, Nunavut. I wrote about it on my blog…click on my name to read more. Of course it isn’t as detailed as yours but still it blew my mind.

  13. Dave2 says:

    If I were to ever get a chance to visit San Marino, I would absolutely do that!

    National Geographic had a big article on Nunavut once the terriroty was created, and I found it absolutely fascinating. I don’t think it was widely publicised in the Lower 48, so it’s not surprising that people are still finding out about it.

    And before I forget… you would think that having such vast, geeky, geographic nerdiness would be a real hit with the ladies! I remain dumbfounded. 🙂

  14. michelle says:

    I find your geography geekiness ultra-sexy!!!!

  15. Dave2 says:

    Hah! That’s a first.

    Thanks for giving geography nerds of the world new hope!

  16. samba pa ti says:

    I have been in San Marino… Maybe I know it just because I live in Italy :p

    Consider a visit to San Marino 🙂

  17. margie says:

    Dude, I found your blog while googling San Marino! Same shock of “how the f*ck have I lived this long, have a degree, turn 30 and not know of San Marino?” travelled through my blood when I learned the existence of this tiny country a few days ago. Although has it listed as the 2nd smallest country. I’m intrigued about living in a country that small. Is there poverty? What’s the education like? And so on… Lovely blog, love the drawings.

  18. Lucky says:

    greetings from the Most Serene Republic of San Marino.

    It is easy to reach San Marino by plane at Rimini-San Marino Airport which is within a few minutes from San Marino borders.

    P.S. San Marino postage stamps are valid for sending mail from here to anywhere in the world.
    the official State Company for selling coins (extremely valuable), stamps and telephone cards is at
    International San Marino telephone cards can be found at with yearly collectors issues.


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