Vatican City, formally known as the Vatican City State, is the country located in the city of Rome. After settling the “Roman Question” by the Lateran Treaty in 1929, the sovereignty of the city has been held by the Holy See, with Pope Francis the head of government as the Bishop of Rome and Pope. Out of all the countries spanning the globe, it is the smallest by both population and area, with a population of one thousand people spanning a spacious forty-four acres. How can the tiniest nation in the world, holding sites of immense religious value such as the Saint Peter’s Basilica and the Sistine Chapel, have the highest crime rate in the world?

The reason Vatican City is said to have the highest crime rate in the world requires a bit of knowledge on how crime rate is typically calculated. Vatican City is unique in that it holds two records: it is the smallest nation in the world by population, but receives one of the highest amount of tourists every year. It receives nearly eighteen million visitors every year that come to see and tour the historical sights of the city. With eighteen million tourists to only a thousand natives living there, the disparity produces some statistical oddities.

With a population of nearly 1000 and a little under three crimes occurring per day, the Vatican crime rate is a little over 100% per capita, or per person. With so many visitors and a small native population, the per capita crime rate is heavily skewed. This crime rate is far higher than any other country in the world.

According to the Corpo della Gendarmeria dello Stato della Città del Vaticano (Corps of Gendarmerie of Vatican City State), the Vatican’s police force, the most typical crime encountered is petty theft perpetrated by visitors to the city: purse-snatching, pick-pocketing, and shoplifting. According to them, the foot traffic in Saint Peter’s Square is where a majority of the crime takes place, a prime location for an unsuspecting tourist to have their wallet stolen.

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