When you think of the word “country,” it conjures up images of a massive land area with large populations. But do you know that there are countries that are so small that some cities are even giants compared to them? Click through this gallery to find out about the smallest countries in the world by land area, and some information about them. You think you might feel cozy living in any of these countries?
1. Vatican City
The Vatican City is a tiny city-state surrounded by Rome, the capital of Italy. As of 2014, Vatican City’s population had an estimated 842 people. Of course, it’s also the seat of the Roman Catholic Church, and its most famous landmark is also the biggest church in the world, the St. Peter’s Basilica. The church features some of the famous Renaissance-era artworks such as the Pieta and the Creation of Adam.
The Vatican City’s economy depends on the contributions of over a billion Roman Catholics around the world. The remainder of the tiny city-state’s income derives from the sale of postage stamps and tourist mementos, the sale of publications, and admission fees to museums.
When you think of a place where the filthy rich hang out and spend their money, you’d probably think of Monaco. Located on the French Riviera, the tiny sovereign-state is also one of the most densely populated countries with 36,371 (2011 estimate). However, it also has the lowest poverty and unemployment rate the world. No surprise, as Monaco is home to the highest number of millionaires and billionaires per capita in the world.
Monaco relies heavily on tourism and the gambling industry. While wealthy, jet-set foreigners are allowed to play in the casino there, its own citizens are otherwise prohibited from doing so. Monaco also holds the most popular event, the Formula 1 Race, with race cars speeding through the city streets.
Nauru is an island country in Micronesia in the Central Pacific, and is the smallest island country in the world. You can locate Nauru northeast of Australia. Although it has long been an independent country from the UK, Australia, and New Zealand, its colonial connections are still evident; even its currency is the Australian dollar.
Being quite a small island country, Nauru has no official capital but its largest city is Yaren. Nauru used to be a phosphorous-rich island and during the 1980s the country experienced a boom in phosphate mining. However, its phosphate sources are now diminishing, leading to a high unemployment rate. Formerly known as Pleasant Island, Nauru nowadays is a quiet little island republic — so much off the radar, even for tourists.
Like Nauru, Tuvalu is also a small island nation and part of the Oceania region. It is located west of Australia. While the neighboring island country Nauru belongs to the sub-region of Micronesia, Tuvalu otherwise belongs to Polynesia. As of 2012 estimate by the UN, the island country has 10,837 inhabitants.
Once known as Ellice Island, the country was a British territory but gained independence in 1978. Tuvalu has 8 kilometers of road, making transportation difficult and limited. It also has only one hospital and only one airport which are both located on the Funafuti atoll. Like Nauru, Tuvalu is off the radar for tourists because of its sheer remoteness.
5. San Marino
Landlocked by Italy, San Marino is also known as the Republic of San Marino, or the more royal-sounding the Most Serene Republic of San Marino. This tiny country claims to be the oldest surviving state and constitutional republic in the world.
With a population of 33,020 (as of 2015), San Marino is the third smallest country in Europe. The Italian-speaking country is also one of the wealthiest nations based on the GDP per capita, and boasts a very low unemployment rate. Its economy relies on a wide range of industries from finance to tourism.
Europe’s 4th smallest nation is also an alpine country, being completely surrounded by mountains. The doubly-landlocked country is located between Switzerland and Austria. In terms of GDP per capita, Liechtenstein is the richest country in the world with $98,432 in 2010 estimates.
Because Liechtenstein is the richest country, it certainly has the lowest unemployment rate at 1.5%. Tourism makes up a big chunk of the country’s economy. Fun fact: Liechtenstein leads the false teeth production in the world!
7. Saint Kitts and Nevis
Saint Kitts and Nevis are a dual-island federal nation located in the Caribbean, and one of the Commonwealth states. The islands’ economy depends heavily on tourism, agriculture, and cottage industries. It also boasts an abundant, diversified, and astounding marine life, making the Saint Kitts and Nevis a playing ground for enthusiastic divers.
The double-island country was once a major exporter of sugar for many centuries. Nowadays, the old sugar plantations have been converted into beautiful estates dotted with luxury hotels and resorts.
Seychelles is an archipelago in the Indian Ocean, southeast of the African continent and northeast of the island of Madagascar. Seychelles has 115 islands with about 92,000 people inhabiting in them. Its French and British colonial history is evident in its official languages, French and English; its third official language is the Seychellois Creole.
Almost half of Seychelles’ landmass consists of national parks and reserves, thanks to the government’s environment and ecosystem protection efforts as well as conservation policies. If you’re looking for unique adventures and out-of-this-world endemic fauna and flora species, book your flight to Seychelles!
Maldives is every beach-bumming vacationers’ dream. It is an island nation sitting between the Indian Ocean and Arabian Sea, and the smallest in all of Asia in terms of area and population. The country consists of 1,192 coral islands spread over roughly 35,000 square miles (90,000 square kilometers). This makes Maldives one of the most geographically scattered countries.
Maldives’ economy relies heavily on tourism, taking advantage of its stunning white sand beaches and crystal-clear blue waters. However, this low-lying country is also on the verge of getting inundated because of rising sea levels, and this provokes great concern for its citizens.
Malta is another island country but this one is located in the Mediterranean Sea, just south of Italy and north of Africa. An archipelago, Malta has three islands: Malta (the largest), Comino and Gozo. With a little over 120 square miles (or 316 square kilometers), Malta is quite densely populated, with 446,547 people (as of 2013). Therefore, it makes Malta one of the most densely populated small countries in the world.
Malta’s official languages are Italian and English, having been under British rule for several years. It is now one of the Commonwealth states. With its sunny Mediterranean weather, stunning beaches, captivating history, and dynamic nightlife, it’s no wonder Malta is a tourist destination.
Another island nation on the Caribbean, Grenada is located in northwest in Trinidad and Tobago, northeast of Venezuela, and southwest of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. Apart from Grenada itself, the country also has six other islands.
The country is dubbed “The Island of Spice” as it leads the world’s nutmeg and mace production. Having been under French and British rule for hundreds of years, Grenada’s culture and tradition tend to be more French, while their official language is English.
Andorra is a landlocked country and microstate, surrounded by Spain and France and located in the eastern Pyrenees mountains. It is the sixth smallest nation in Europe; its capital city, Andorra la Vella, is the highest capital city in the continent at an elevation of 3,356 feet (1,023 meters) above sea level.
Most of the over 85,000 inhabitants are Andorrans and Spanish. Its main and official language is Catalan, although Spanish, French, and Portuguese are also widely spoken. Like other European countries, Andorra relies on tourism which boosts its economy. It also has one of the world’s lowest unemployment rates.