With over 194 countries in the world, it’s easy to think the word “country” equates to a massive land area with large numbers of people. Some nations are so small that cities within other nations are giants compared to them. Mostly found in Europe, the Carribean, and the Pacific, there are many countries in the world with an area of less than 400 square kilometers. The top 10 smallest countries in the world cover a total area of 1491.4 km² which is smaller than the area of the city of Houston, Texas (1625.2 km²)
With their own governments and own culture, these small countries are some of the richest, most remote, and most intriguing places in the world. Let’s take a look at the 10smallest countries in the world today:
10 – Grenada – 344 km²
An island nation in the Caribbean, Grenada is also known as “The Island of Spice.” The world’s largest producer of nutmeg and mace crops, this nation located northwest of Trinidad and Tobago was colonized by the French from 1649 to 1763, which explains the very strong influence of French tradition and culture in the country. A popular tourist destination, you’ll find French-influenced architecture and art all around the island, with cricket as the most popular sport.
9 – Malta – 316 km²
Malta is another island country, however, its located in the Mediterranean Sea. 3 major islands make up the Republic of Malta: Gozo, Comino, and the largest, Malta. This small country has a population of over 450,000 inhabitants, making it one of the most densely populated countries in the world. Another popular tourist destination, foreigners from all over the world come to Malta for its sunny weather, attractive beaches, over 7,000 years of intriguing history, and a still vibrant nightlife.
8 – Maldives – 300 km²
A popular tourist destination in the Indian Ocean, the Maldives is the smallest country in Asia in terms of area and population. There are over 1,192 coral islands in the Maldives, which are spread over 90,000 sq.km, making it one of the world’s most dispersed countries. The country was once the colony of many empires, the Portuguese, the Dutch, and the British, but became an independent country in 1965. Today, the Maldives has a vibrant tourism economy due to its famous white sand beaches and crystal blue waters.
7 – Saint Kitts and Nevis – 261 km²
The Mother Colony of the West Indies, these 2 islands in the Caribbean were some of the first islands to be occupied by Europeans. Its economy is dependent on tourism, agriculture, and small manufacturing industries. The islands also provide fantastic diving sites due to abundant marine life. A major sugar exporter for centuries, the large plantations are now beautiful estates that have been converted into hotels and resorts.
6 – Liechtenstein – 160 km²
A German-speaking country, this is the only nation in the world to be completely located in the Alps. Located between Switzerland and Austria, Liechtenstein is the richest country in the world by GDP per capital, with the lowest unemployment rate (1.5%). Getting into the country is a little tricky without an airport. Visitors must go through Switzerland’s Zurich Airport to reach this Alpine country that’s still ruled by a prince.
5 – San Marino – 61 km²
Surrounded completely by Italy, San Marino is also known as the Most Serene Republic of San Marino. Claiming to be the oldest surviving sovereign state in the world, it is also one of the wealthiest in terms of GDP per capita. The 3rd smallest country in Europe, it has a population of only 30,000, boasting of one of the lowest unemployment rates in the world.
4 – Tuvalu – 26 km²
Formerly known as the Ellice Islands, Tuvalu is located in the Pacific Ocean, north east of Australia. There are about 10,000 inhabitants, with 8km of roads, and only 1 hospital present on the main island. The country was once a British territory but became independent in 1978. A difficult place to get to, tourism is not very significant. In 2010, less than 2,000 visitors came to Tuvalu, with 65% of them coming for business.
3 – Nauru – 21 km²
An island nation located east of Australia, Nauru is the smallest island country in the world. It was known in the 1980’s for a booming phosphate mining but is now a quiet island off the radar of tourists. Formerly known as Pleasant Island, its phosphate resources are now depleted, leading to a 90% national unemployment rate, with the remaining 10% employed by the government. Nauru is also known as the country with the most obese people in the world, with 97% of its men and 93% of women being obese or overweight. Because of this, Nauru is also home to the world’s highest level of type 2 diabetes, with 40% of its population suffering from the ailment.
2 – Monaco – 2 km²
Located on the French Riviera, Monaco is home to the largest number of millionaires and billionaires per capita in the world. Known for its gambling and luxury goods and services industry, Monaco is a favourite playground of the rich and famous. Bordered by France on 3 sides and one side by the Mediterranean Sea, the residents of Monaco are mostly French-speaking. With a population of over 36,000, Monaco is the world’s most densely populated country. The most popular annual event is the Formula 1 race, with tracks passing through the city streets.
1 – Vatican – 0.44 km²
The world’s smallest country is the Vatican, also known as the Holy See. This country fits within the Italian capital city of Rome, and is the center of the Catholic Church. It is also home to the biggest church in the world – St. Peter’s Basilica, and holds some of the most significant art works of the Renaissance such as The Pieta and the Creation of Adam. Its income comes from the voluntary contributions of over 1 billion members of the Roman Catholic Church around the world. The remainder of its economy comes from the sales of postage stamps, tourist mementos, and admission fees of museums.