Smallest Countries in the World

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Smallest Countries in the World

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 I've provided about each of these tiny countries.

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The World's 10th Smallest Country - Maldives

Male, Maldives
This photo of the Maldives capital city of Male. 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 Ninth Smallest Country - Seychelles

Seychelles
An aerial view of La Digue Island in the Seychelles. 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 Eighth Smallest Country - Saint Kitts and Nevis

Saint Kitts and Nevis
The beach and coastline of Frigate Bay on the Caribbean island of Saint Kitts, in the eighth smallest country of Saint Kitts and Nevis. Oliver Benn/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 are located in the Caribbean Sea between Puerto Rico and Trinidad and Tobago.

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The World's Seventh Smallest Country - Marshall Islands

Marshall Islands
Likiep Atoll of the Marshall Islands. Wayne Levin/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 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 Sixth Smallest Country - Liechtenstein

Vaduz Castle, Liechtenstein
Vaduz Castle is the palace and official residence of the Prince of Liechtenstein. The castle gave its name to the town of Vaduz, the capital of Liechtenstein, which it overlooks. Stuart Dee/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 Fifth Smallest Country - San Marino

San Marino
La Rocca tower in the foreground is the oldest of three guard towers that overlook the city and independent country of San Marino. Shaun Egan/Getty Images

San Marino

is landlocked completely surrounded by Italy and is 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 Fourth Smallest Country - Tuvalu

Tuvalu
Sunset on Fongafale island, Tuvalu. Miroku/Getty Images

Tuvalu

is a tiny island country located in Oceania about halfway between the state of Hawaii and Australia. It consists of five coral atolls and four reef islands but none are more than 15 feet (5 meters) above sea level. The total area of Tuvalu is a mere nine square miles. Tuvalu gained independence from the United States in 1978. Tuvalu, formerly known as the Ellice Islands, are home to 12,000.

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 ground water. 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 Third Smallest Country - Nauru

Nauru
Nauruans dress in traditional Pacific island costumes to welcome the Commonwealth Games baton during the Nauru leg of the baton's journey in 2005 in Nauru. 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 at 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 Second Smallest Country - Monaco

Monte Carlo, Monaco
Elevated view of Monte-Carlo and harbor in the Principality of Monaco on the Mediterranean Sea. VisionsofAmerica/Joe Sohm/Getty Images

Monaco

is the world's second smallest country and is located between southeastern France and the Mediterranean Sea. Monaco is only 0.77 square miles in area. 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

Vatican City
Domes of San Carlo al Corso Church and St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican City. Sylvain Sonnet/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. For more about the Vatican City's status as an independent country, you might want to read my on the status of the Vatican City/Holy See.

For more small countries, take a look at my list of the seventeen smallest countries in the world, all those smaller than 200 square miles (a bit larger than Tulsa, Oklahoma).