San Marino is a small country located as an enclave in the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy, in the northern part of the Adriatic coast, south of Rimini City. San Marino is one the world’s smallest nations, covering an area of approximately 24 square miles and is completely landlocked. Since the small nation is situated in the central part of the Apennine Mountains, it is surrounded by Mt. Titano, which is a three-peaked mountain standing at a height of 2,437 feet above sea level. The country's two official languages are Sammarinese and Italian.
San Marino derives its names from Marinus, who according to legend was the founder of the country. Ethnically, the population of San Marino is divided between Italians and the indigenous Sammarinese. With an average of over 860 people per square mile, San Marino is one of the world’s most densely populated countries. An estimated 16,000 Sammarinese are believed to live in other parts of the world. While the Sammarinese have tried to maintain their individualism through the centuries, they also speak Italian and have been heavily influenced by the surrounding Italian culture. However, the Sammarinese not only have a strong sense of identity but also boast a unique culture. Since the country is in contact with the surrounding Italian region, both the Sammarinese and Italians have established close ethnic and cultural ties.
Linguistic Affiliation in San Marino
There are two official languages spoken in San Marino: standard Italian and a Sammarinese dialect. About 83% of the country’s population speak Sammarinese. The language is considered to be a variation of the Emiliano-Romagnolo dialect found in regions surrounding Italy. However, the language spoken on a daily basis is standard Italian, but typical Sammarinese expressions and phrases are a commonly used as well. English is spoken as a third language by some of the Sammarinese population.
The primary and the national language of San Marino is Italian, and the country ranks 19th in terms of the number of native Romance language speakers. Of all the Romance languages, Italian, together with Sardinian, are the closest to Latin. The Italian language is an official language in San Marino and other countries such as Italy, Vatican City, Switzerland, Croatia, and Slovenia. The language has held official status at different times in countries like Monaco, Albania, and Malta among others. The language is the third most spoken in Europe as a first language, and has 65 million native speakers in Europe alone, which translates to 13% of the population of European Union. It is also spoken by another 14 million people in Europe as a second language. In San Marino, the Italian language is used as a second language.
The Sammarinese dialect is the second official language of San Marino. Spoken by 83% of the country, Sammarinese is a variant of the Emiliano-Romagnolo language, which is also known as Romagnol or Romagnoli. Sammarinese is a Romance language that traces its origin from Vulgar Latin and is named after Emilia-Romagna, the Italian region in which it is found. Older generations have not taught the young generations Sammarinese as a native tongue, and the dialect is now considered under threat of becoming extinct.