Smallest Countries 2021

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There are two ways of defining which countries are the smallest: population size and total area. Let's look at the smallest countries from these two different angles and see what trends we can find!

Smallest Countries by Population

The population size of a country is estimated during the census that is taken every ten years. For example, there is a requirement set in metaphorical stone in the United States that requires the government to take a headcount of every person in the United States at that time.

The first US census was conducted on August 2, 1790, and is conducted every ten years. In other words, the Census Bureau of the United States of America performs a decennial census. Before the official decennial census, there were similar acts of counting the number of people in the US and recording the population. These documents are kept safe by the National Archives and Records Administration of the USA.

To give you an idea of how population sizes can drastically change from one decade to the next, let’s take a look at the results of the United States census since 1940:

  • 1940 - 132,164,569 people
  • 1950 - 150,697,361 people
  • 1960 - 179,323,175 people
  • 1970 - 203,302,031 people
  • 1980 - 226,545,805 people
  • 1990 - 248,709,873 people
  • 2000 - 281,421,906 people
  • 2010 - 308,745,538 people

The most recent United States Census is currently being conducted in 2020.

While most countries see population growth over the years, several nations are experiencing population decline. This is due to low birth rates, negative net migration, and high death rates.

Smallest Countries in Terms of Population

What is the least populated country in the world? The smallest country in terms of population is Vatican City. Below is a list of the smallest countries based on population size alone, followed by their respective current populations:

  1. Vatican City - 801
  2. Nauru – 10,824
  3. Tuvalu - 11,792
  4. Palau - 18,094
  5. San Marino - 33,931
  6. Liechtenstein - 38,128
  7. Monaco – 39,242
  8. Saint Kitts and Nevis – 53,199
  9. Marshall Islands – 59,190
  10. Dominica - 71,986

Smallest Countries by Total Area

The total area of a country refers to how much land is encompassed by the country's borders. Often denoted in terms of miles squared or kilometers squared, its total area is a numerical value of its physical size. Some of the largest countries globally are Russia (6.59 million square miles), Canada (3.85 million square miles), and China (3.75 million square miles). Unlike the population, the total area of countries is stagnant.

Often, the total area and population size go hand-in-hand. The total area usually determines the population size because you cannot make more room, but you can control how many people live in a given area. However, there is not always a reasonable ratio between total area and population size, so a country that is one of the smallest in terms of the population doesn't necessarily end up being small in terms of total area.

What is the smallest country in the world by area? The country with the smallest area is Vatican City, which spans over just 0.17 square miles. Below is a list of the smallest countries based on total area.

Smallest Countries in Terms of Total Area

  1. Vatican City - 0.17 square miles
  2. Monaco - 0.78 square miles
  3. Gibraltar - 23.94 square miles
  4. San Marino – 24 square miles
  5. Tokelau - 48.26 square miles
  6. Nauru - 84.17 square miles
  7. Tuvalu - 1,007.73 square miles
  8. Macau - 1,162.94 square miles
  9. Saint Martin - 2,054.06 square miles
  10. Bermuda - 2,093.06 square miles

Trends Between the Two Categories of Determining the Smallest Countries

If you look closely at the two lists, multiple countries can be found on both lists. This finding makes a lot of sense because countries with a total area on the smaller side will often have a smaller population. Otherwise, the severity of overcrowding would be nearly unbearable. While there are some instances in which relocating and moving to a lesser-populated country is possible, it is not always realistic.

Another exception to the assumption that a smaller landmass means fewer people is that some locations are incredibly remote or inhabited primarily by native people, so immigration is less likely to occur in these areas of the world. The outcome that you find with places under these circumstances is that the total area is quite massive, but the population size is far smaller than you would think for an area of that magnitude.

Smallest Countries 2021

Rank Country 2021 Population
1Cape Verde561,898
2Maldives543,617
3Malta442,784
4Brunei441,532
5Belize404,914
6Bahamas396,913
7Iceland343,353
8Vanuatu314,464
9Barbados287,711
10Sao Tome And Principe223,368
11Samoa200,149
12Saint Lucia184,400
13Kiribati121,392
14Micronesia116,254
15Grenada113,021
16Saint Vincent And The Grenadines111,263
17Tonga106,760
18Seychelles98,908
19Antigua And Barbuda98,731
20Andorra77,355
21Dominica72,167
22Marshall Islands59,610
23Saint Kitts And Nevis53,544
24Monaco39,511
25Liechtenstein38,250
26San Marino34,017
27Palau18,169
28Tuvalu11,931
29Nauru10,876
30Vatican City800

Smallest Countries 2021