The Vatican in the center of Rome

The 30 smallest countries

With only 0.44 km², Vatican City in the heart of Rome is by far the smallest country in the world. In second place is the city-state of Monaco on the French Mediterranean coast at 2.0 km².

Determining third place is more difficult because Gibraltar, which is also located in southern Europe, is a "country", depending on the definition, but not a sovereign state. If one only takes sovereign states, Nauru and Tuvalu would follow next.

Smallest countries by area
Smallest countries by population

List of the largest countries

The smallest countries by area

We have marked with an asterisk (explanation at the end of the page) all those countries that are not independent and sovereign states. In this table it is clearly noticeable that a significant portion of the smallest "countries" are dependent on other states. A full 21 out of 30 countries are not independent states. After all, seven of them are in Europe, and eight are in the Caribbean. A full 21 are small island states.

RankCountryAreaPopulationPopulation per km²
1Vatican0.4 km²1,0002,272.73
2Monaco2.0 km²36,68618,161.39
3Gibraltar *6.8 km²32,6694,804.26
4Tokelau *12.2 km²1,647135.00
5Cocos Islands *14.2 km²59641.97
6Saint Barthelemy *21.0 km²7,103338.24
7Nauru21.1 km²12,511592.94
8Tuvalu26.0 km²11,204430.92
9Macao *30.4 km²686,60722,585.76
10Saint Martin *34.0 km²42,8461,260.18
11Norfolk Island *34.6 km²1,74850.52
12Pitcairn Islands *49.0 km²501.02
13Bermuda *53.2 km²63,8671,200.51
14St. Martin *53.2 km²31,948600.53
15San Marino61.2 km²33,745551.48
16British Indian Ocean Territory *63.2 km²3,50055.41
17Guernsey *78.0 km²67,491865.27
18Anguilla *96.0 km²18,741195.22
19Montserrat *102.0 km²5,41453.08
20Jersey *119.6 km²102,146854.06
21Christmas Island *135.0 km²2,20516.33
22Wallis and Futuna *142.0 km²15,891111.91
23British Virgin Islands *150.0 km²31,122207.48
24Liechtenstein160.5 km²39,039243.23
25Aruba *178.9 km²106,537595.48
26Marshall Islands181.4 km²42,050231.78
27American Samoa *199.0 km²45,035226.31
28Cook Islands241.7 km²8,12833.63
29Saint Pierre and Miquelon *242.0 km²5,25721.72
30Saint Kitts and Nevis260.0 km²47,606183.10

The smallest countries by population

A somewhat different picture emerges when the smallest countries in the world are calculated according to their number of inhabitants. Many of the small island states reappear. In addition, there are countries with a large surface area, but which are extremely sparsely populated. South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands lie deep in the south near Antarctica and are largely covered with ice. The Falkland Islands lie only a little further north. Svalbard (Spitsbergen) and Jan Mayen lie high in the north and are sparsely inhabited due to their proximity to the Arctic for the same reasons. Only 2,926 people share an area of over 62,000 km² here.

The Vatican in the center of RomeWith such small populations, however, it's important to look behind the statistics because even small deviations or differently interpreted definitions can have a big impact. For example, the official population figure for Vatican City is about 1,000. In fact, only about 600 of them live within the holy city in Rome. More than 400 others are considered citizens but live outside. The population density is therefore merely a theoretical value.

RankCountryPopulationAreaPopulation per km²
1South Georgia *303,903.0 km²0.01
2Pitcairn Islands *5049.0 km²1.02
3Cocos Islands *59614.2 km²41.97
4Vatican1,0000.4 km²2,272.73
5Tokelau *1,64712.2 km²135.00
6Norfolk Island *1,74834.6 km²50.52
7Niue2,000261.5 km²7.65
8Christmas Island *2,205135.0 km²16.33
9Svalbard *2,92662,045.0 km²0.05
10Falkland Islands *3,19812,173.0 km²0.26
11British Indian Ocean Territory *3,50063.2 km²55.41
12Saint Pierre and Miquelon *5,257242.0 km²21.72
13Montserrat *5,414102.0 km²53.08
14Saint Barthelemy *7,10321.0 km²338.24
15Saint Helena *7,925391.0 km²20.27
16Cook Islands8,128241.7 km²33.63
17Tuvalu11,20426.0 km²430.92
18Nauru12,51121.1 km²592.94
19Wallis and Futuna *15,891142.0 km²111.91
20Palau18,024460.0 km²39.18
21Anguilla *18,74196.0 km²195.22
22Caribbean Netherlands *24,548322.0 km²76.24
23Åland *29,0131,580.0 km²18.36
24British Virgin Islands *31,122150.0 km²207.48
25St. Martin *31,94853.2 km²600.53
26Gibraltar *32,6696.8 km²4,804.26
27San Marino33,74561.2 km²551.48
28Monaco36,6862.0 km²18,161.39
29Liechtenstein39,039160.5 km²243.23
30Marshall Islands42,050181.4 km²231.78

Dwarf states are often former colonies

It is not only striking that the smallest countries are often (still) dependent foreign territories. The microstates that are considered sovereign are also often former colonies of other countries. Far ahead are the external territories of France and the British Empire. As a rule, these were small islands that could be captured without much military effort and were simply overrun by large colonial powers hundreds of years ago. However, over time, in most cases within the last 50 to 100 years, they were given back their independence.

* The marked countries are not independent and sovereign states, but dependent territories of other states. Cf. also our article What is a country?
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