The World's 10 Smallest Countries

Boat approaching small private island

Tony May / Stone / Getty Images 

While the fictitious island in the image above might look like paradise, it is not that far from the truth. Six of the world's smallest countries are island nations. These ten smallest independent countries range in size from 108 acres (a good-sized shopping mall) to 115 square miles (slightly smaller than the city limits of Little Rock, Arkansas).

All but one of these smallest independent countries are full-fledged members of the United Nations and the one outlier is a non-member by choice, not by inability. There are those who will argue that there are other, smaller microstates that exist in the world (such as Sealand or the Sovereign Military Order of Malta) however, these tiny "countries" are not fully independent as the following ten are.

Enjoy the gallery and information provided about each of these tiny countries.

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The World's 10th Smallest Country - Maldives

Maldives, Baa Atoll, aerial view

Sakis Papadopoulos / Getty Images

The Maldives is 115 square miles in area, slightly smaller than the city limits of Little Rock, Arkansas. However, only 200 of the 1000 Indian Ocean islands which make up this country are occupied. The Maldives is home to about 400,000 residents. The Maldives gained independence from the United Kingdom in 1965. Currently, the main concern for the islands is climate change and rising sea levels since the country's highest point is only 7.8 feet (2.4 m) above sea level.

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The World's 9th Smallest Country - Seychelles

Seychelles, Victoria

Ilya Lyubchenko / EyeEm / Getty Images

Seychelles is 107 square miles (just smaller than Yuma, Arizona). The 88,000 residents of this Indian Ocean island group have been independent of the United Kingdom since 1976. Seychelles is an island nation located in the Indian Ocean northeast of Madagascar and about 932 miles (1,500 km) east of mainland Africa. Seychelles is an archipelago with over 100 tropical islands. Seychelles is the smallest country that is considered part of Africa. Seychelles' capital and largest city is Victoria.

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The World's 8th Smallest Country - Saint Kitts and Nevis

Kittitian Village, Saint Kitts and Nevis

Juan Carlos Rodriguez Martinez / EyeEm / Getty Images

At 104 square miles (slightly smaller than the city of Fresno, California), Saint Kitts and Nevis is a Caribbean island country of 50,000 that gained independence from the United Kingdom in 1983. Of the two primary islands that make up Saint Kitts and Nevis, Nevis is the smaller island of the two and is guaranteed the right to secede from the union. Saint Kitts and Nevis is considered the smallest country in the Americas based on its area and population. Saint Kitts and Nevis is located in the Caribbean Sea between Puerto Rico and Trinidad and Tobago.

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The World's 7th Smallest Country - Marshall Islands

Rainbow over Marshall Islands

Pier-Mathieu Gagnon / Getty Images 

The Marshall Islands are the world's seventh smallest country and are 70 square miles in area. The Marshall Islands is made up of 29 coral atolls and five main islands that are spread out over 750,000 square miles of the Pacific Ocean. The Marshall Islands are located about halfway between Hawaii and Australia. The islands are also near the equator and the International Date Line. This small country with a population of 68,000 gained independence in 1986; they were formerly part of the Trust Territory of Pacific Islands (and administered by the United States).

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The World's 6th Smallest Country - Liechtenstein

Liechtenstein, Vaduz, View of Vaduz Castle

Michele Falzone / Getty Images

European Liechtenstein, doubly landlocked between Switzerland and Austria in the Alps, is merely 62 square miles in area. This microstate of about 36,000 is located on the Rhine River and became an independent country in 1806. The country abolished its army in 1868 and remained neutral and undamaged during World War I and World War II in Europe. Liechtenstein is a hereditary constitutional monarchy but the prime minister runs the day-to-day affairs of the country.

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The World's 5th Smallest Country - San Marino

Beautiful view of San Marino fortress with the city on the background.

Stefan Cioata / Getty Images 

San Marino is landlocked, completely surrounded by Italy and only 24 square miles in area. San Marino is located on Mt. Titano in north-central Italy and is home to 32,000 residents. The country claims to be the oldest state in Europe, having been founded in the fourth century. San Marino's topography mainly consists of rugged mountains and its highest elevation is Monte Titano at 2,477 feet (755 m). The lowest point in San Marino is Torrente Ausa at 180 feet (55 m).

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The World's 4th Smallest Country - Tuvalu

Satellite view of Funafuti, an atoll on which the capital of the island nation of Tuvalu is located.

Planet Observer / Getty Images 

Six of the nine islands or atolls comprising Tuvalu have lagoons open to the ocean, while two have significant non-beach land regions and one has no lagoons. In addition, none of the islands have any streams or rivers and because they are coral atolls, there is no drinkable groundwater. Therefore, all of the water used by Tuvalu's people is gathered via catchment systems and is kept in storage facilities.

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The World's 3rd Smallest Country - Nauru

The beachfront in Nauru, in the South Pacific, is dotted with rock pinnacles.

(c) HADI ZAHER / Getty Images 

Nauru is a very small island nation located in the South Pacific Ocean in the region of Oceania. Nauru is the world's smallest island country with an area of just 8.5 square miles (22 sq km). Nauru had a 2011 population estimate of 9,322 people. The country is known for its prosperous phosphate mining operations in the early 20th century. Nauru became independent from Australia in 1968 and was formerly known as Pleasant Island. Nauru has no official capital city.

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The World's 2nd Smallest Country - Monaco

Monte-Carlo at night

Jean-Pierre Lescourret / Getty Images

Monaco is the world's second-smallest country and is located between southeastern France and the Mediterranean Sea. Monaco had an area of only 0.77 square miles. The country has only one official city, Monte Carlo, which is its capital and is famous as being a resort area for some of the world's richest people. Monaco is famous due to its location on the French Riviera, its casino (the Monte Carlo Casino) and several smaller beach and resort communities. Monaco's population is about 33,000 people.

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The World's Smallest Country - Vatican City or Holy See

St. Peter's Basilica

Alexander Spatari / Getty Images 

Vatican City, officially called The Holy See, is the smallest country in the world and is located within a walled area of the Italian capital city of Rome. Its area is only about .17 square miles (.44 square km or 108 acres). Vatican City has a population of about 800, none of whom are native permanent residents. Many more commute into the country for work. The Vatican City officially came into existence in 1929 after the Lateran Treaty with Italy. Its government type is considered ecclesiastical and its chief of state is the Catholic Pope. The Vatican City is not a member of the United Nations by its own choice.

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Rosenberg, Matt. "The World's 10 Smallest Countries." ThoughtCo, Apr. 5, 2023, Rosenberg, Matt. (2023, April 5). The World's 10 Smallest Countries. Retrieved from Rosenberg, Matt. "The World's 10 Smallest Countries." ThoughtCo. (accessed June 1, 2023).