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The Vatican City, officially the state of Vatican City or the state of Vatican City, is an independent state in the city of Rome. With an area of 44 hectares and a population of about 1,000 inhabitants, it is the smallest state in the world, both in terms of area and population. Formally, however, it is not sovereign because sovereignty is held by the Holy See. It is an ecclesiastical or sacerototal-monarchic state governed by the Pope and religiously the Bishop of Rome and the head of the Roman Catholic Church. The highest civil servants are Catholic clergy of various national origins. Since the return of the Popes from Avignon in 1377, they have generally settled in the Apostolic Palace in what is today the Vatican City, although at times they have stayed in the Quirinal Palace in Rome or elsewhere.