What are the top smallest countries in the world by landmass? Nations are defined by their borders. A country’s physical territory, and thus its size, is determined by its political and possibly natural boundaries.
Political boundaries are the artificial lines that divide one political entity from another, such as a country or state while oceans, seas, rivers, and mountain ranges serve as natural boundaries. This article shows a small list of the world’s smallest nations arranged by size in ascending order.
Top 10 Smallest Countries In The World By Landmass
10. Malta, landmass – 0.61 km2
Formerly known as Melita and now officially known as The Republic of Malta, it is an archipelago of islands in the Mediterranean Sea of southern Europe. Malta is the world’s tenth smallest country in terms of area and the fourth-most densely populated sovereign country, with a population of around 515,000 spread across an area of 316 km2 (122 sq mi).
Its capital, Valletta, is the tiniest national capital in the European Union by size, measuring 0.61 km2 (0.24 sq mi).
Malta has two main islands (Malta and Gozo) as well as several others, all of which have been influenced by centuries of dominance by Mediterranean powers. In spite of it’s small size, it has three World Heritage sites, some of Europe’s longest history (including megalithic temples dating back to 3150 BC), and sumptuous architecture, culminating in Valletta, its fortified Renaissance-era capital.
Add a stunning coastline and nearly year-round sunshine for big pleasures in a small space.
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9. The Maldives, landmass – 90,000 km2
Maldive is the ninth smallest country in the world by landmass. The Republic of Maldives, known casually as just “The Maldives” is an archipelagic country in Asia’s Indian subcontinent, located in the Indian Ocean. It is located southwest of Sri Lanka and India, about 750 kilometers (470 miles; 400 nautical miles) from the Asian continent’s mainland.
The Maldives is one of the world’s most geographically dispersed sovereign states, with a territory spanning roughly 90,000 square kilometers (35,000 sq mi) including the sea, and the land area of all the islands comprising 298 square kilometers (115 sq mi).
It is also the smallest Asian country by land area and the second least populous country in Asia, with around 557,751 inhabitants. The capital Màle which is also the most populous city is traditionally known as the “King’s Island,” where ancient royal dynasties ruled due to its central location.
The Maldives has Its highest natural point 5.1 meters above the waves, making it a tragic poster child for global warming. It’s best known for snorkelling and scuba diving, dazzling white-sand beaches, and luxury resorts, but local guesthouse accommodation brings this destination within budget-conscious travellers’ reach.
8. St Kitts and Nevis, landmass – 269.4 km²
It is an island country in the West Indies, officially known as the Federation of Saint Christopher and Nevis. It is the smallest sovereign state in the Western Hemisphere in terms of both area and population, as well as the world’s smallest sovereign federation, and is located in the Leeward Islands chain of the Lesser Antilles.
The country is a Commonwealth realm, with Queen Elizabeth II serving as head of state. It is the Caribbean’s only sovereign federation.
Basseterre, the capital city, is located on the larger island of Saint Kitts. Basseterre is also the main port for both passenger and cargo entry (via cruise ships). The smaller island of Nevis is located about 3 kilometers (2 miles) southeast of Saint Kitts, across a shallow channel known as The Narrows.
The main draws are the beautiful reef-protected beaches, dormant volcanoes like Mount Liamuiga and Mount Nevis, rugged rainforest, colonial-era towns, and the magnificent Brimstone Hill Fortress. The more tranquil island of Nevis has beautiful botanic gardens.
7. Nauru, landmass – 21 km²
Nauru is an island country and microstate in Oceania’s Central Pacific, officially known as the Republic of Nauru and formerly known as Pleasant Island. Banaba Island in Kiribati is 300 kilometers (190 miles) to the east. It’s also 1,300 kilometers (810 miles) northeast of the Solomon Islands, east-northeast of Papua New Guinea, southeast of the Federated States of Micronesia, and south of the Marshall Islands.
With a total area of only 21 km2 (8.1 sq mi), and a population of just ten thousand people, Nauru is the smallest republic in the world. The world’s smallest island nation and the republic is located in the Pacific Ocean, surrounded by reefs. It makes headlines for all the wrong reasons as the location of Australia’s offshore detention center.
A surrounding road provides stunning scenery (the inland is barren), and old Japanese World War II remnants provide passing interest, but with no great beaches and limited tourism infrastructure, this is the only mini-nation you probably don’t need to visit.
6. The Marshall Islands, landmass – 181.3 km²
The Marshall Islands, known officially as the Republic of the Marshall Islands, is a sovereign island nation in the Pacific Ocean near the Equator, slightly west of the International Date Line. Geographically, the country is part of the larger Micronesia island group.
The country’s 58,413 population (as of the 2018 World Bank Census) is spread across five islands and 29 coral atolls, totalling 1,156 individual islands and islets. Majuro is the capital and largest city. It has the highest proportion of water on its territory of any sovereign state, at 97.87 per cent.
To the north is Wake Island, Kiribati is to the southeast, Nauru is to the south, and the Federated States of Micronesia is to the west. Majuro is home to approximately 52.3 per cent of Marshall Islanders (27,797 as of the 2011 Census).
In 2016, 73.3 per cent of the population was defined as “urban.” The UN also estimates a population density of 760 inhabitants per square mile (295/km2), with a projected 2020 population of 59,190.
Despite its independence, this Pacific nation is a US-associated state, with the US supporting its economy and currency. Aside from over a thousand islands, it has 29 coral atolls, including Bikini Atoll, which became famous for atomic-bomb testing and gave the swimwear its name.
This is a scuba diving paradise, particularly for sunken World War II ships, including an aircraft carrier. It’s also a fantastic place to go surfing, kiteboarding, and deep-sea fishing.
5. Liechtenstein, landmass – 160 km2
Liechtenstein, officially the Principality of Liechtenstein, is a German-speaking microstate in the alps between Austria and Switzerland. It is a semi-constitutional monarchy led by the Prince of Liechtenstein, whose extensive powers are comparable to those of a President in a semi-presidential system such as France.
Liechtenstein is bounded to the west and south by Switzerland, and to the east and north by Austria. With a small size of just over 160 square kilometers (62 square miles) and a population of
38,749, it is Europe’s fourth-smallest country (in 2019). It is divided into eleven municipalities, with Vaduz as the capital and Schaan as the largest. It is also the smallest country to share borders with two other countries. Liechtenstein and Uzbekistan are the world’s only two doubly landlocked countries.
This splinter of a country nestles between Austria and Switzerland, sharing the Rhine Valley and magnificent alpine scenery, making it an unusual destination for jaded travellers to ski, hike, or mountain bike. The high-altitude Prince’s Way is a spectacular but uncrowded hike.
The snowcapped, 12th-century Vaduz Castle above the capital is a breathtaking sight, but it is not open to the public.
4. San Marino, landmass – 61 km2
The Republic of San Marino, also known as the Most Serene Republic of San Marina, is a small country in Southern Europe enclaved by Italy. San Marino, located on the northeastern side of the Apennine Mountains, has a land area of slightly more than 61 km2 (24 sq mi) and a population of 33,562.
San Marino is a noncoastal country, but its northeastern end is only 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) from the Adriatic Sea city of Rimini in Italy. The nearest airport is in Italy as well.
The capital city, (also called San Marino), is located atop Mount Titan, and the largest settlement is Dogana, which is part of the largest municipality, Serravalle. The official language spoken in San Marino is Italian.
San Marina, founded in 301, is the world’s oldest sovereign nation and the sole survivor of the independent states that once existed throughout Italy. It is in charge of several towns and some rugged scenery, as well as some spectacular outcrops crowned by castles.
Its nominative capital is listed in World Heritage: visit the Museo di Stato for a history of this strange nation.
3. Tuvalu, landmass – 26 km2
Formerly known as the Ellice Islands, Tuvalu is a Pacific Ocean island country in the Polynesian subregion of Oceania. Its islands are roughly halfway between Hawaii and Australia. They are located northeast of the Solomon Islands’ Santa Cruz Islands, northeast of Vanuatu, southeast of Nauru, south of Kiribati, west of Tokelau, northwest of Samoa, Wallis and Futuna, and north of Fiji.
Tuvalu is made up of three reef islands and six atolls, all of which are located west of the International Date Line. Tuvalu’s population is 10,507 people (2017 census). Tuvalu’s islands have a total land area of 26 square kilometers (10 sq mi).
Tuvalu is so remote that it only receives a few thousand visitors per year. Travellers looking for an eco-friendly getaway with low-key accommodation, individual exploration, and a complete lack of cruises and tours will enjoy snorkelling in the lagoons and soaking up the laid-back charm.
2. Monaco, landmass – 2.1 km2
Monaco, officially known as the Principality of Monaco, is a sovereign city-state and microstate on the French Riviera in Western Europe, a few kilometers west of the Italian region of Liguria. It is bounded to the north, east, and west by France, and to the south by the Mediterranean Sea.
The principality has 38,682 residents, 9,486 of whom are Monégasque nationals; it is widely regarded as one of the most expensive and wealthy places in the world. French is the official language, but a Ligurian dialect called Monégasque , Italian, and English are widely spoken as well.
It is the second-smallest sovereign nation after Vatican City, with an area of 2.1 km2 (0.81 sq mi). It has the most densely populated sovereign state in the world, with 19,009 inhabitants per square kilometer (49,230/sq mi).
Monaco has a land border of 5.47 kilometers (3.40 miles) and the world’s shortest coastline of approximately 3.83 kilometers (2.38 miles); its width varies between 1,700 and 349 meters (5,577 and 1,145 ft). The state’s highest point is a narrow path called Chemin des Révoires on the slopes of Mont Agel in the Les Révoires Ward, which is 161 meters (528 feet) above sea level.
Monaco, despite its small size, has a surprising number of attractions, including a palace, cathedral, several lovely gardens, an excellent Oceanographic Museum, and, of course, its famous casino. This is without a doubt the most glamorous of small countries: sunny, immaculately maintained, and enticing with every extravagance.
1. Vatican City, landmass – 44 hectares
Vatican City is the smallest country in the world by landmass. The headquarters of the Roman Catholic Church is located in Vatican City, a city-state surrounded by Rome, Italy. It is home to the Pope as well as a treasure trove of iconic art and architecture.
The Vatican Museums are home to ancient Roman sculptures such as “Laocoön and His Sons,” as well as Renaissance frescoes in the Raphael Rooms and the Sistine Chapel, which is famous for Michelangelo’s ceiling.
The Vatican City, also known casually as the Vatican, gained independence from Italy with the Lateran Treaty (1929), and it is a distinct territory under the “full ownership, exclusive dominance, sovereign power and jurisdiction” of the Holy See, which is itself a sovereign entity of international law, and which maintains the city state’s temporal, diplomatic, and spiritual independence.
It is the world’s smallest state in terms of both area and population, with an area of 44 hectares (121 acres) and a population of approximately 825 people
The Vatican City State, as governed by the Holy See, is an ecclesiastical or sacerdotal monarchical state (a type of theocracy) ruled by the pope, who is the bishop of Rome and the head of the Catholic Church. The highest state officials are all Catholic clergy from various nationalities.
Following the Avignon Papacy (1309–1437), the popes have primarily resided at the Apostolic Palace in what is now Vatican City, though they have also resided at the Quirinal Palace in Rome or elsewhere.
The Vatican demonstrates that being small does not imply being uninteresting or unimportant. It also has a significant cultural impact. St. Peter’s Basilica is a baroque masterpiece,
Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel is magnificently painted, and the Vatican Museums house the world’s richest art collection. If you’re looking for something a little different, book a tour of the Vatican Gardens.