What Are The Three Enclaved Countries Of The World?

The country of Lesotho is completely surrounded by the country of South Africa.
The country of Lesotho is completely surrounded by the country of South Africa.

An enclave is an area of land which is surrounded by the territory of another nation. Territorial waters also possess similar autonomous attributes as land, and therefore an enclave can exist in territorial waters. Enclaves in territorial waters are known as lacustrine (if surrounded by a lake) or maritime (regions enclosed by territorial sea). An enclaved nation is a country that is enclosed by another state’s internal waters or land. Some of the enclaved states in the world include Lesotho, Vatican City, and San Marino.


Lesotho is an independent nation in Africa which is enclaved by Southern Africa. The country occupies an area of about 11,583 square miles and has a population of more than 2 million residents. Lesotho, previously known Basutoland, became a British protectorate in 1868 and its borders were defined by a treaty signed between the Boers and British in 1869. Lesotho gained its independence from Britain on October 4, 1966. The name "Lesotho" is an indigenous term which means "the land of the people who speak Sesotho." The capital city of Lesotho is Maseru, and the country's official languages are Sotho and English. Present-day Lesotho was first inhabited by the Saan people.

Vatican City

Vatican City is a sovereign state which is surrounded by the city of Rome in Italy. The Vatican, which is the headquarters of the Roman Catholic Church, occupies a small area of about 110 acres and has a population of over 1,000 people. It is the world's smallest sovereign state by area and population. However, Vatican City is not officially a sovereign state since the Holy See holds the state's sovereignty.

Vatican City was established by the Lutheran Treaty signed between Italy and the Holy See in 1929. According to the treaty, the Holy See has complete ownership, sovereign jurisdiction and authority, and exclusive dominion over Vatican City. There are no passport controls for anyone entering the city from Italy.

Due to its size, the Vatican cannot host all governmental institutions within its territories. Therefore, some of its main basilicas have extraterritorial status, just like a foreign embassy. Some of its citizens live and work inside Vatican City, while others serve as the Holy See’s diplomats posted in different embassies all over the world. Citizenship in the state-nation is given to people serving or working under the Holy See, and can be terminated upon cessation of the given position.

San Marino

San Marino is an enclaved state which is enclosed by Italy. San Marino occupies an area of about 24 square miles and has over 33,562 residents. The largest city in the country is Serravalle, while the City of San Marino is the capital. San Marino has one of the highest GDP per capita in the world. The most commonly spoken languages in the state include Italian, Russian and English.

San Marino got its name from a stonemason known as Marinus who came from Rab Island. Marinus helped reconstruct the city walls of Rimini after the Liburnian pirates destroyed them in 257 CE. He later established an independent monastic commune in Monte Titano, thus making San Marino the oldest constitutional republic and sovereign state in the world.


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