The Largest Countries in the World

If you take a look at a globe or a map of the world, it's not too hard to find the largest country, Russia. Covering more than 6.5 million square miles and stretching 11 time zones, no other nation can match Russia for sheer size. But can you name all 10 of the largest nations on Earth based on land mass?

Here are a few hints. The second-largest country in the world is Russia's neighbor, but it's just two-thirds as big. Two other geographic giants share the longest international border in the world. And one occupies an entire continent. 

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Aerial view of Moscow's suburb
Soltan Frédéric / Getty Images

Russia, as we know it today, is a very new country, born out of the Soviet Union's collapse in 1991. But the nation can trace its roots all the way back to the 9th century A.D. when the state of Rus was founded.

Size: 6,592,771 square miles

Population: 142,355,415

Capital city: Moscow

Date of independence: Aug. 24, 1991

Primary languages: Russian (official), Tatar, Chechen

Primary religions: Russian Orthodox, Muslim

National symbol: Bear, double-headed eagle

National colors: White, blue and red

National anthem: "Gimn Rossiyskoy Federatsii" (National Anthem of the Russian Federation)

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Icefields Parkway, Banff National Park, Alberta
Witold Skrypczak / Getty Images

Canada's ceremonial head of state is Queen Elizabeth II, which shouldn't come as a surprise because Canada was once part of the British empire. The longest international border in the world is shared by Canada and the United States.

Size: 3,854,082 square miles

Population: 35,362,905

Capital cityOttawa

Date of independence: July 1, 1867

Primary languages: English and French (official)

Primary religions: Catholic, Protestant

National symbol: Maple leaf, beaver

National colors: Red and white

National anthem: "O, Canada"

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United States

Map with many pins
Shan Shui / Getty Images

If it weren't for the state of Alaska, the U.S wouldn't be nearly as large as it is today. The largest state in the nation is more than 660,000 square miles, bigger than Texas and California put together.

Size: 3,717,727 square miles

Population: 323,995,528

Capital city: Washington, D.C.

Date of independence: July 4, 1776

Primary languages: English, Spanish

Primary religions: Protestant, Roman Catholic

National symbol: Bald eagle

National colors: Red, white and blue

National anthem: "The Star-Spangled Banner"

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DuKai photographer / Getty Images

China may only be the fourth-largest nation in the world, but with more than a billion people, it's No. 1 when it comes to population. China is also home to the largest man-made structure in the world, the Great Wall.

Size: 3,704,426 square miles

Population: 1,373,541,278

Capital city: Beijing

Date of independence: Oct. 1, 1949

Primary language: Mandarin Chinese (official)

Primary religions: Buddhist, Christian, Muslim

National symbol: Dragon

National colors: Red and yellow

National anthem: "Yiyongjun Jinxingqu" (The March of the Volunteers)

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Aerial view of Amazon River, Amazon Jungle, Brazil, South America
Eurasia / Getty Images

Brazil isn't just the largest nation in terms of land mass in South America; it's also the most populous. This former colony of Portugal is also the largest Portuguese-speaking country on earth.

Size: 3,285,618 square miles

Population: 205,823,665

Capital city: Brasilia

Date of independence: Sept. 7, 1822

Primary languages: Portuguese (official)

Primary religions: Roman Catholic, Protestant

National symbol: Southern Cross constellation

National colors: Green, yellow and blue

National anthem: "Hino Nacional Brasileiro" (Brazilian National Anthem)

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Aerial view of Sydney cityscape, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Spaces Images / Getty Images

Australia is the only nation to occupy an entire continent. Like Canada, it is part of the Commonwealth of Nations, a group of more than 50 former British colonies.

Size: 2,967,124 square miles

Population: 22,992,654

Capital city: Canberra

Date of independence: Jan. 1, 1901

Primary language: English

Primary religions: Protestant, Roman Catholic

National symbol: Southern Cross constellation, kangaroo

National colors: Green and gold

National anthem: "Advance Australia Fair"

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Old Delhi
Mani Babbar / / Getty Images

India is much smaller than China in terms of land mass, but it's expected to overtake its neighbor in population sometime in the 2020s. India holds the distinction of being the largest nation with a democratic form of governance.

Size: 1,269,009 square miles

Population: 1,266,883,598

Capital city: New Delhi

Date of independence: Aug. 15, 1947

Primary languages: Hindi, Bengali, Telugu

Primary religions: Hindu, Muslim

National symbol: The Lion Capital of Ashoka, Bengal tiger; lotus flower

National colors: Saffron, white and green 

National anthem: "Jana-Gana-Mana" (Thou Art the Ruler of the Minds of All People)

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Foz de Iguazu (Iguacu Falls), Iguazu National Park, UNESCO World Heritage Site, Argentina, South America
Michael Runkel / Getty Images

Argentina is a distant second to its neighbor Brazil in terms of land mass and population, but the two countries share one big notable. Iguazu Falls, the largest waterfall system on the planet, lies between these two countries.

Size: 1,068,019 square miles

Population: 43,886,748

Capital city: Buenos Aires

Date of independence: July 9, 1816

Primary languages: Spanish (official), Italian, English

Primary religions: Roman Catholic

National symbol: Sun of May 

National colors: Sky blue and white 

National anthem: "Himno Nacional Argentino" (Argentine National Anthem)

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Kolsay Lake at early morning, Tien Shan Mountains, Kazakhstan, Central Asia, Asia
G&M Therin-Weise / Getty Images

Kazakhstan is another former state of the Soviet Union that declared its independence in 1991. It is the largest land-locked nation in the world.

Size: 1,048,877 square miles

Population: 18,360,353

Capital city: Astana

Date of independence: Dec. 16, 1991

Primary languages:  Kazakh and Russian (official)

Primary religions:  Muslim, Russian Orthodox)

National symbol: Golden eagle

National colors:  Blue and yellow

National anthem: "Menin Qazaqstanim" (My Kazakhstan)

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Life In The Algerian Capital
Pascal Parrot / Getty Images

The 10th-largest nation on the planet is also the biggest country in Africa. Although Arabic and Berber are the official languages, French is also widely spoken because Algeria is a former French colony.

Size: 919,352 square miles

Population: 40,263,711

Capital city: Algiers

Date of independence: July 5, 1962

Primary languages: Arabic and Berber (official), French

Primary religions: Muslim (official)

National symbol: Star and crescent, fennec fox

National colors: Green, white and red

National anthem: "Kassaman" (We Pledge)

Other Ways of Judging the Largest Nations

Land mass is not the only way to measure the size of a country. Population is another common metric for ranking the largest nations. Economic output can also be used to measure a nation's size in terms of financial and political power. In both cases, many of the same nations on this list can also rank among the top 10 in terms of population and economy, although not always.
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Your Citation
Rosenberg, Matt. "The Largest Countries in the World." ThoughtCo, Mar. 13, 2018, Rosenberg, Matt. (2018, March 13). The Largest Countries in the World. Retrieved from Rosenberg, Matt. "The Largest Countries in the World." ThoughtCo. (accessed March 21, 2018).