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Vatican diplomacy by the numbers: 5 key stats


Antoine Mekary | ALETEIA

I.Media - published on 01/10/22

The numbers describing the Holy See's diplomatic relations are fascinating ... And an interesting comparison with China and the USA.

On January 10, 2022, Pope Francis received the diplomatic corps accredited to the Holy See.

Here is an overview of the Holy See’s diplomatic relations in January 2022, described in 5 key numbers.


This is the number of States with which the Holy See officially maintains diplomatic relations out of the 195 countries that exist to date. The Holy See has either a local nunciature (106) or a delocalized nunciature (77). In comparison, China has an ambassador in 169 countries, the United States in 168 countries and France in 161 countries.


This is the number of apostolic nuncios – the Pope’s diplomatic representatives – in January 2022. Some nuncios represent the Holy See in more than one country at a time. Today, 33 nunciatures are vacant, including the one to the European Union – since the death last December of nuncio Aldo Giordano, to whom Pope Francis paid tribute in his address to diplomats – but also the one in Australia, Taiwan (since 1979), Hungary, Mexico, the Netherlands and Venezuela.


In all, there are 13 countries that do not have formal diplomatic relations with the Holy See. The Holy See has no formal diplomatic relations with 8 countries: Afghanistan, Bhutan, China (except for temporary pastoral agreements), North Korea, and the Maldives; it has no diplomatic relations with Tuvalu, but has an Apostolic Delegation for the Pacific; and it has no diplomatic relations with Saudi Arabia and Oman, but has an Apostolic Delegation for the Arabian Peninsula. In some countries, the Holy See does not have an ambassador but has apostolic delegates: the Comoros, Somalia, Brunei and Laos. Finally, the Holy See has only one “non-resident representative” in Vietnam.


At present, 87 embassies accredited to the Holy See are located in Rome. During his address to the diplomats, Pope Francis welcomed the forthcoming opening of the 88th permanent embassy in the Eternal City, that of Switzerland, until now located in Slovenia. Another country will soon set up a permanent representation in Rome: Azerbaijan.


This is the number of important signatures the Holy See can note from last year.

~ On February 10, the Holy See signed its 7th concordat agreement with Austria on the reimbursement of goods confiscated during the Nazi period.

~ On May 31, the Holy See was recognized as a non-member observer state in the World Health Organization (WHO).

~ Finally, on November 26, the Holy See placed with UNESCO the instrument of ratification of the Global Convention on the Recognition of Qualifications in Higher Education, which is part of its Global Compact for Education project.

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