Wednesday, May 5, 2010

The mouse that roared

The Mouse That Roared is a 1955 novel that became a 1959 movie starring Peter Sellers.

The premise of the story of the mouse is that a tiny country called the Duchy of Grand Fenwick invades New York City – and wins the war.

Believe it or not, there actual is a modern equivalent to the Duchy of Grand Fenwick, and it’s one that will surprise you.

For starters, if I asked you which country had the most subjects, you’d probably answer “China”, because the number of people living within its borders as of last July was 1,338,612,968 - and you’d be correct.

Second place gets to be a little fuzzier, though, because there are TWO countries that both have about 1.1 billion subjects.

India, of course, is one of them, but the other country is one that will be less familiar to you.

If I asked you what country was the smallest country in the world, you’d probably tell me that it was the Principality of Monaco, since it covers less than a square mile - but you’d be wrong.

The smallest country in the world is the Vatican, and it was established in 1929 by one of history’s most repressive dictators, Benito Mussolini. The total area of the Vatican is .17 square miles, about the size of a golf course.

The Vatican is the only country in the world that uses Latin on its ATM machines (the other official language is Italian), and it also has the world’s oldest and smallest army, which is known as the Swiss Guard.

The Vatican is also very unique because it has NO permanent citizens. In order to be a citizen of the Vatican, you must be employed there, and your citizenship ends when your employment does. In addition, it is the only non-commercial economy in the world, since it is supported entirely by contributions of Catholics around the world, the sale of postage stamps and publications, and tourism.

There WAS a time in history when “the little mouse” roared a LOT. From 1095 A.D. to 1291 A.D., the Catholic Church declared war on the most advanced civilization in the world – the Muslims.

You may agree or disagree with how the Catholic Church conducts its business, and you may agree or disagree with some of its rules, but any organization that can survive for roughly 2000 years deserves a lot of respect.

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