In a world dominated by sprawling landmasses and vast countries, it’s easy to overlook the minuscule marvels scattered across our globe. As the old adage goes, “size doesn’t always matter,” and this couldn’t be truer when examining some of the world’s tiniest nations. While they may lack expansive territories, many of these nations more than compensate with thriving economies, rich cultures, and global significance.
From the religious epicenter of Vatican City to the economic powerhouse that is Monaco, the diminutive stature of these countries is inversely proportional to their global impact. Their success challenges conventional wisdom and serves as a reminder that prosperity, culture, and influence are not exclusive to sheer land area.
Join us as we count down the top 10 smallest countries in the world. As always, do comment below with your thoughts and if you’ve visited any of these places too!
10) Saint Vincent and the Grenadines (389 square km)
Continent: North America
Key Facts: It has a chain of 32 islands and cays, but only 9 are inhabited; home to the oldest botanical garden in the west; has an active volcano called La Soufriere
Most Famous Person: Kevin Lyttle, a musician known for his hit song “Turn Me On.”
Population: 103,700 (approx)
This Caribbean nation achieved independence from the UK in 1979. Comprising a main island and several smaller ones, it’s celebrated for its beautiful beaches, lush rainforests, and the Tobago Cays marine park. The country’s blend of African, Carib, Portuguese, and French heritage is reflected in its music, festivals, and cuisine.
9) Maldives (300 square km)
Key Facts: Less than a fifth of its 1,200 islands are inhabited; the weekend here is on Friday and Saturday; whale sharks can be seen all year round
Most Famous Person: Mohamed Nasheed, a political leader and environmental activist, and former president.
Population: 521,000 (approx)
The Maldives established its sovereignty on 26th July 1965 after nearly 80 years as a British protectorate. Known for its overwater bungalows, clear blue waters, and vibrant coral reefs, the Maldives is a top luxury destination. The cuisine, with its strong emphasis on fish, coconut, and spices, offers a unique taste of the Indian Ocean.
8) Saint Kitts and Nevis (261 square km)
Continent: North America
Key Facts: Home to green vervet monkeys; was the birthplace of Alexander Hamilton; once one of the richest islands in the West Indies
Most Famous Person: Kim Collins, a sprinter and world champion in athletics.
Population: 47,800 (Approx)
Achieving independence in 1983, this two-island nation boasts volcanic landscapes, historic forts, and beautiful beaches. The country’s rich history is showcased in its well-preserved sugar plantations. Local cuisine is a blend of African, West Indian, and European flavors, offering a treat to the palate.
7) Marshall Islands (181 square km)
Key Facts: It contains a total of 1,225 islands, 870 reef systems, and 160 species of coral; home to the world’s largest shark sanctuary, fourth most obese country in the world.
Most Famous Person: Tony A. deBrum, a climate change activist and diplomat.
Population: 42,000 (Approx)
Achieving full independence in 1986, the Marshall Islands comprise scenic atolls and islands. Known for its rich marine life and pristine beaches, it’s a paradise for divers and those seeking seclusion. The Bikini Atoll, a UNESCO World Heritage site, offers both natural beauty and historical significance.
6) Liechtenstein (160 square km)
Key Facts: The country has virtually zero national debt; per capita GDP is the second-highest in the world; second-least-visited country in Europe.
Most Famous Person: Prince Hans-Adam II, the reigning monarch of Liechtenstein.
Population: 39,600 (Approx)
Despite being established in 1719, on 12th July 1806 it established independence from the Holy Roman Empire. Liechtenstein is situated between Switzerland and Austria, and the country is famous for its castles, museums, and hiking trails through the Alpine landscapes. Vaduz Castle, the prince’s residence, overlooks the capital city and adds a fairy-tale ambiance.
5) San Marino (61 square km)
Key Facts: It has never lost an invasion; Former American President Abraham Lincoln is an honourary citizen
Most Famous Person: Manuel Poggiali, a world champion motorcycle racer.
Population: 33,600 (Approx)
Claiming to be the world’s oldest republic, San Marino was founded in AD 301. Its mountaintop setting offers panoramic views of the surrounding region. Given its ancient roots, San Marino is notable for its medieval architecture, including the Three Towers, which stand as sentinels above the capital.
4) Tuvalu (26 square km)
Key Facts: Tuvalu is vulnerable to rising sea levels due to climate change; it has one of the world’s lowest elevations; there are no cash machines on the island; It has no standing army; one of the world’s smallest economies
Most Famous Person: Ionatana Ionatana, a former Prime Minister of Tuvalu.
Population: 11,400 (Approx)
Tuvalu became independent from the UK in 1978. Its nine islands in the Pacific boast stunning beaches and turquoise waters that are ideal for snorkeling and diving. The Polynesian culture can be experienced through traditional dance, music, and local crafts.
3) Nauru (21 square km)
Key Facts: Nauru is a phosphate-rock island nation; the least-visited country in the world; Australia uses Nauru as an asylum-seeker detention camp
Most Famous Person: Marcus Stephen, a former president of Nauru and a weightlifter who competed in the Olympics.
Population: 12,780 (Approx)
Nauru became an independent nation in 1968. Its scenery has been greatly affected by phosphate mining but Nauru offers a glimpse of a lesser-known Pacific island nation. Traditional Nauruan feasts, which include various seafood dishes and a lot of coconut too, which is used extensively.
2) Monaco (2.02 square km)
Key Facts: Known for being a tax haven; one in three people who live here are millionaires; more police per capita than any other country; most expensive residential market in the world
Most Famous Person: Grace Kelly, the American actress who became Princess Grace of Monaco.
Population: 36,300 (Approx)
While Monaco’s history dates back to ancient times, its current incarnation as a principality began on 10th June 1215, with a detachment of Genoese Ghibellines, led by Fulco del Cassello, began construction of a fortress atop the Rock of Monaco.
Nestled along the French Riviera, Monaco boasts stunning views of the Mediterranean, the famous Monte Carlo Casino, and exquisite French and Mediterranean cuisine. The yachts lining its harbour and the infamous Monaco Grand Prix also add to its glamorous allure.
1) Vatican City (0.49 square km)
Key Facts: Vatican City Has No Prison, Highest crime rate of any country in the world, Shortest rail track in the world
Most Famous Person: Pope Francis
Population: 520 (Approx)
Founded as an independent sovereign state in 1929 with the signing of the Lateran Treaty, Vatican City serves as the religious and administrative heart of the Roman Catholic Church. It is renowned for its architecture, especially St. Peter’s Basilica, and the Vatican Museums, which host an immense collection of art including Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel ceiling.
So there we have it, our countdown of the top 10 smallest countries in the world. Did any of these surprise you? Which have you visited? Let us know in the comments below!