The smallest countries in the world span every continent, and surprisingly, the list changes slightly if you measure by population or by size. This post will cover the smallest countries in the world by area, but you can see the smallest countries by population here.
And jump to the end to see which are the smallest countries on each continent.
This post covers recognized countries, but most of the unrecognized countries in the world would be on this list. Note that this was written using the most up-to-date population estimates and that these countries can move around on the list.
Smallest countries in the world by size
|#||Country||Continent||Square km (mi)||Population|
|10||Malta||Europe||316 (122)||475,701 (29th)|
|9||Maldives||Asia||300 (115)||378,114 (25th)|
|8||Saint Kitts and Nevis||North America||261 (101)||52,823 (8th)|
|7||Marshall Islands||Oceania||181 (70)||55,000 (9th)|
|6||Liechtenstein||Europe||160 (52)||38,380 (7th)|
|5||San Marino||Europe||61 (24)||33,431 (5th)|
|4||Tuvalu||Oceania||26 (10)||10,200 (2nd)|
|3||Nauru||Oceania||21 (8.1)||11,000 (3rd)|
|2||Monaco||Europe||2 (.78)||38,300 (6th)|
|1||Vatican City||Europe||.44 (.17)||799 (1st)|
You can find a full list of countries by area here.
Learn more about each of the smallest countries in the world:
Population: 475,701 (29th)
Area: 316 km²
The Republic of Malta is in the Mediterranean Sea, south of Italy. The country has three islands, Gozo Comino and Malta. Though it’s one of the smallest countries by area in the world, it has a population of over 450,000. The Azure Window in Gozo was one of its most trademark geographic features, but it collapsed into the sea in 2017.
Population: 378,114 (25th)
Area: 300 km²
The Maldives is the smallest country in Asia both by population and area, though it is spread across about 1200 islands and 90,000 square kilometers of ocean. The islands are each either designated as tourist islands or locals islands, though recently the government has started allowing for guesthouses in the local islands. It is famous for being the picture of a beach holiday destination, with huts out over the water, snorkeling and diving and pristine beaches.
Population: 52,823 (8th)
Continent: North America (Caribbean)
Area: 261 km²
Saint Kitts and Nevis is the smallest country in the Caribbean with its small population split between two islands.
Population: 55,000 (9th)
Area: 181 km²
The Marshall Islands are in the Pacific Ocean, with about 55,000 people spread over 1,000 islands (though most are uninhabited). Half of the population live on the capital island, Majuro.
Population: 38,380 (7th)
Area: 160 km²
Liechtenstein often trades spots with Monaco on the list as populations change. Its bordering countries are Switzerland and Austria and they make it one of two double-landlocked countries (meaning its bordering countries are also landlocked). It boasts being one of the richest countries per capita in the world.
Population: 33,431 (5th)
Area: 61 km²
The Republic of San Marino is the world’s oldest republic, founded in 301 AD. It is completely landlocked by Italy. The historic city center sits atop Mount Titano and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. With an area of 61 square kilometers, it’s the fifth smallest country by area. San Marinese value freedom above all and enjoy long-held traditions of crossbow competitions and rotating leaders into their two-headed government.
Read more about visiting San Marino here.
Population: 10,200 (2nd)
Area: 26 km²
The tiny island nation of Tuvalu is in Oceania, in the Pacific Ocean. It is the country with the lowest maximum elevation in the world, with its highest point 5 meters (15 feet) above sea level.
Population: 11,000 (3rd)
Area: 21 km²
The most remote country in the world is the tiny, Pacific island nation of Nauru. It can only be reached on its national airline, Nauru Airlines. It was dependent on phosphate mining, but the main reserves were exhausted by 2006 and in recent years, has been more known as the nucleus of Australia’s immigration controversy.
Population: 38,300 (6th)
Area: 2.02 km²
The Principality of Monaco is located on the French Riviera and with a population of 38,300 in its world’s second-smallest area of 2 square kilometers, it is the most densely populated in the world. Home to the Monte Carlo casino, the Formula 1 Grand Prix, countless yachts, luxury shopping and beautiful architecture. It’s also Europe’s only microstate with a seaport.
Population: 799 (1st)
Area: .44 km²
Vatican City boasts being the smallest country in the world both by size and population. Also known as Holy See, it is the smallest in the world that is also recognized by the UN. It is .44 square kilometers and within the borders of Rome. With less than 1000 actual residents, it isn’t hard that the population triples with visitors every day. It’s home to the Pope, the Catholic Church and the largest church in the world, St. Peter’s Basilica.
Its small citizenship is only granted to those who work in the Vatican itself, and its missions. It is the most controversial of the recognized “states” on this list as many argue that it doesn’t meet the traditional requirements for statehood.
Smallest countries in the world by continent
The smallest populations in the world on this list are primarily in the microstates of Europe, the Pacific and the Caribbean. But here are the smallest populations if you look at it by continent.
Smallest country in Africa:
Seychelles (451 km²)
Smallest country in Asia:
The Maldives (345,000)
The Maldives (300 km²)
Smallest country in Europe:
Vatican City (799)
Vatican City (.44 km²)
Smallest country in Oceania:
Nauru (21 km²)
Smallest country in North America:
Saint Kitts and Nevis (46,204)
Saint Kitts and Nevis (261 km²)
Smallest country in South America:
Suriname (163,820 km²)