What is the smallest country in the world by area?
The countries of the world can be ranked according to which has the smallest population or by which has the smallest total land area. Although many countries that appear on one list will also appear on the other, the order will change depending upon which statistic is chosen. The total area of a country refers to how much area (both land and water) 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 usually does not change from one year to the next.
Total area and population size are often loosely connected—after allas the greater the area, the more people can fit onto it. However, the type and climate of the land (mountainous vs plains, swamps, deserts, etc), the development level (cities vs towns vs rural) and function of the land (farming vs forestry, manufacture, residential, etc) also have a significant impact upon the population of that land. Therefore, a country with a massive area is not guaranteed to have a massive population, and a country with very little area may pack an impressive number of citizens into that space.
Top 10 Smallest Countries in the World (by Total Area in km²/mi² - 2021)
- Vatican City — 0.49 km²/0.17 mi²
- Monaco — 2 km²/0.78 mi²
- Nauru — 20 km²/8.1 mi²
- Tuvalu — 30 km²/11.6 mi²
- San Marino — 60 km²/24 mi²
- Liechtenstein — 160 km²/62 mi²
- Marshall Islands — 180 km²/70 mi²
- Saint Kitts and Nevis — 260 km²/101 mi²
- Maldives — 300 km²/116 mi²
- Malta — 320 km²/122 mi²
The country with the smallest area is Vatican City, which spans over just 0.19 square miles (.49 square kilometers). Ultra-luxurious Monaco comes in second with 0.78 mi²/2.02 km², and San Marino right behind at 24 mi²/60 km². Note that this list includes only countries. Territories such as Tokelau (New Zealand), Saint Barthélemy (France), and Macau (China) are comparably tiny, but not independent countries, and are therefore ineligible.
What is the least populated country in the world?
The smallest country in the world in terms of population is Vatican City, which has approximately 800 citizens. This is far and away the smallest population of any country, although as before, several territories come close: Tokelau (New Zealand territory) with 1,373 people, Niue (New Zealand territory) with 1,619 people, Falkland Islands (UK territory) with 3,533 people, Montserrat (UK territory) with 4,977 people, and Saint Pierre and Miquelon (French territory) with 5,766 people. Even restricting the list to only U.N.-recognized independent countries, there are still a surprising number of nations whose entire populations are small enough to fit into a football stadium:
Top 10 Smallest Countries in the World (by Population)
- Vatican City — 800
- Nauru — 10,876
- Tuvalu — 11,931
- Palau — 18,169
- San Marino — 34,017
- Liechtenstein — 38,250
- Monaco — 39,511
- Saint Kitts and Nevis — 53,544
- Marshall Islands — 59,610
- Dominica — 72,167
The census and population trends in the United States
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. The results of the United States' census offer an example of how a population can change and grow over the course of several decades: in 1940, the US population was 132,164,569 people and in 2020, it was 331,449,281 people.
While most countries see population growth over the years, several nations are experiencing population decline. This is due to lower birth rates (especially in developed countries, where young couples may prioritize careers over children), negative net migration, and higher death rates, particularly as the post-WWII "baby boomer" generation enters old age.