Did you know that the tiniest country in the world is seven times smaller than Central Park in New York? And are you aware of the fact that the tiniest state on the globe is ruled by the only remaining absolute monarch in Europe? These and many other interesting facts about the world’s ten smallest countries you will find below…
316 km² (122 sq mi)
Around 400,000 citizens inhabiting Malta make this mini state one of the most densely populated countries in Europe. No wonder if the area of Malta’s islands covers just around 300 km². Located centrally in the Mediterranean Sea, the archipelago was a melting pot of many cultures and influences. From Phoenicians, Greek, Romans to French and British, invading the islands throughout history, Malta gained independence in 1964 and since 2004 it is a member of the European Union.
Today, Malta’s unique mix of European, North African and Arabic influences can be heard in the Maltese language, seen in the country’s rich cultural heritage and architecture and tasted in its fresh and yummy traditional cuisine.
300 km² (120 sq mi)
The azure islands of Maldives make up the smallest nation in Asia in both the population and the area. It is not only one of the tiniest countries in the world but also one of the most disparate countries as the Maldivian atolls are spread over 90,000 km² in the Indian Ocean. Moreover, the Maldives is the lowest country on the globe, with an average ground level of 1.5 m (4.11 ft) above sea level. The official language of around 400,000 citizens inhabiting the islands is Divehi (Mahl), though English is widely spoken.
Over 1,000 coral islands make the Maldives one of the most beautiful and wanted tourist destinations on the globe. Today, tourism accounts for 28% of the country’s GDP, though until the 1970s the Maldivian islands were ‘terra incognita’ for international travellers. The first tourist resort opened in 1972!
8. Saint Kitts and Nevis
261 km² (101 sq mi)
Two Caribbean islands constitute the smallest state both in terms of area and population in the Americas. The Federation of Saint Kitts and Nevis has around 42,000 citizens inhabiting a beautiful land of white sandy beaches, lush mountains and azure waters.
St Kitts and Nevis were among the first Caribbean islands settled by Europeans colonizers. Saint Kitts became the first colony of Great Britain in the West Indies in 1624 and then became the first French colony in the Caribbean in 1625, to achieve full independence only in 1983. Today, it is an independent Commonwealth realm with Queen Elizabeth II being the head of state.
7. Marshall Islands
181 km² (70 sq mi)
29 atolls and 5 islands scattered in the middle of the Pacific Ocean make up the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI). The country of roughly 62,000 citizens gained its independence in 1986. Before, the islands were a playground for many colonizers and occupants – Great Britain, Russia, Germany, Japan and the USA. Between 1946 and 1958, the latter country tested 67 nuclear weapons in the islands, including the largest nuclear test ever conducted by the USA.
Despite its traumatic nuclear experience, today RMI is one of the most rewarding tourist destinations. Stunning lagoons, pristine waters and tropical surroundings attract divers, beach addicts and honeymoon makers from all over the world.
160 km² (62 sq mi)
Although small in size, Liechtenstein is grand in terms of wealth. The state boasts the world’s highest gross domestic product per capita. Surrounded by Switzerland and Austria, this microstate is the smallest German-speaking country and the only alpine country lying entirely within the Alps.
Covering just 160 km², Liechtenstein is only a bit larger than Manhattan. Inhabited by 30,000 people, the country has more registered companies than citizens. The head of state is the Prince of Liechtenstein who is the sixth wealthiest leader in the world and his wealth is estimated at USD $5 billion.
5. San Marino
61 km² (24 sq mi)
Another tiny country located in Europe is a state of a beautiful and dignified name Serenissima Repubblica di San Marino (the Most Serene Republic of San Marino). It is an enclave, completely surrounded by Italy, therefore its official language is Italian and its currency is the euro. Inhabited by only 30,000 people, the country has the smallest population among the member states of the Council of Europe – the oldest international organisation working towards European integration.
This lovely state, situated in the Apennine Mountains, is the world’s oldest sovereign state – its history dates back to 301 and its constitution, enacted in 1600, is the oldest constitution still in effect.
San Marino is entirely built on top of the range and the highest point of the country is the breathtaking summit of Monte Titano (749 m/ 2,450 ft above sea level), a home to the Three Towers of San Marino where three historical castles are situated.
26 km² (10 sq mi)
Nine islands, numerous islets, lagoons and reefs form the microstate of Tuvalu. This fourth smallest country on our planet, covering just 26 km² and inhabited by around 12,000 residents, is located at the heart of the vast Pacific Ocean, midway between Hawaii and Australia.
Tuvalu is has one of the lowest elevation in the world and therefore it is threate
ned by the sea level rise. Moreover, the country is affected by the king tide, which can raise the sea level higher than a normal tide and submerge the nation entirely.
The languages spoken in the country are English and Tuvaluan and the head of state is Queen Elizabeth II, as Tuvalu is a Commonwealth realm.
21 km² (8.1 sq mi)
Throughout its history, the tiny oval-shaped country of Nauru, the world’s smallest island nation located in Micronesia, has been a tasty morsel for many empires. In the late 19th century the island was annexed by the German Empire, after World War I it became a region administrated by Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom and during World War II it was occupied by Japan. Finally, in 1968 Nauru gained its independence.
Today, the small island surrounded by coral reef is inhabited by around 9,000 people, who speak two official languages – English and Nauruan and pay in Australian dollar.
1.95 km² (0.75 sq mi)
Surrounded on three sides by France, Monaco is the second smallest country in the world. A beautiful location on the northern central coast of the Mediterranean Sea makes the state a popular tourist destination. Monaco is also famed for its liberal tax policy – wealthy foreigners make up around 84% of the state’s population which totals to around 33,000 people squeezed into 1.95 km².
The head of state is Prince of Monaco and the official language is French, though English and Italian are widely spoken. Despite the fact that the state is not a member of the European Union its currency is the euro. Monaco has even acquired the right to mint euro coins with Monegasque designs on one side.
1. Vatican City
0.44 km² (0.17 sq mi)
The spiritual centre of the Catholic world, ruled by the bishop of Rome, i.e., the Pope, Vatican City is a city-state landlocked by Italy. With a population of around 800 inhabitants and an area of 0.44 km², the City is the smallest country in the world. It was established in 1929 under the terms of the Lateran Treaty.
This walled enclave within the city of Rome has unusual political system – the Pope is the head of government. He has full executive, legislative and judicial power and therefore he is the only absolute monarch in Europe. The official language of Vatican is Italian and the currency is the euro.
Today, Vatican is one of the most visited places on the Italian Peninsula, with St Peter’s Basilica and Piazza San Pietro being the most popular iconic sites of the state.