The world's second smallest republic emerged from the area under control of the San Marino monastery south of the Italian town of Rimini. Independent since 1263, it acquired its current borders in 1462 and received its republican Constitution in 1599. It formed a customs union with Italy in 1862, and has since been closely linked to the country through a series of friendship treaties. Nevertheless, it was able to retain neutrality in World War I, and was neutral in World War II until it was occupied by the Germans on 22 September 1944. From 1945 until 1957 politics were dominated by a socialist–Communist alliance, which was followed by a number of centrist coalitions which excluded the Communist Party. San Marino has two heads of state, called governing captains (capitani reggenti), who are elected by parliament for a period of six months. Although not a member of the European Union, it had a currency union with Italy, which meant that it joined the euro in 1999.
Subjects: Medieval and Renaissance History (500 to 1500).