Which States Are the Smallest in the United States?

Land Area or Population, What State Ranks as the Smallest?

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The United States is made up of 50 individual states that vary greatly in size. When talking about land area, Rhode Island ranks as the smallest. Yet, when we discuss population, Wyoming — the 10th largest state in area — comes in with the smallest population.

The 5 Smallest States in Land Area

If you're familiar with U.S. geography, you might be able to guess which are the smallest states in the country. Notice that four of the five smallest states are along the eastern coast where the states seem to be crammed into a very small area. 

  1. Rhode Island—1,034 square miles (2,678 square kilometers)
    • Rhode Island is only 48 miles in length and 37 miles wide (77 x 59 kilometers).
    • Rhode Island has over 384 miles (618 kilometers) of coastline.
    • The highest point is Jerimoth Hill in Foster at 812 feet (247.5 meters).
  2. Delaware—1,949 square miles (5,047 square kilometers)
    • Delaware is 96 miles (154 kilometers) in length. At its thinnest point, it is only 9 miles (14 kilometers) wide.
    • Delaware has 117 miles of coastline.
    • The highest point is Ebright Azimuth at 447.85 feet (136.5 meters).
  3. Connecticut—4,842 square miles (12,542 square kilometers)?
    • Connecticut is only 110 miles long and 70 miles wide (177 x 112 kilometers).
    • Connecticut has 618 miles (994.5 kilometers) of shoreline.
    • The highest point is the southern slope of Mt. Frissell at 2,380 feet (725 meters).
  4. Hawaii—6,423 square miles (16,635 square kilometers)
    • Hawaii is a chain of 132 islands, eight of which are considered principal islands. These include Hawaii (4028 square miles), Maui (727 square miles), Oahu (597 square miles), Kauai (562 square miles), Molokai (260 square miles), Lanai (140 square miles), Niihau (69 square miles), and Kahoolawe (45 square miles).
    • Hawaii has 750 miles of coastline.
    • The highest point is Mauna Kea at 13,796 feet (4,205 meters).
  1. New Jersey—7,354 square miles (19,047 square kilometers)
    • New Jersey is only 170 miles long and 70 miles wide (273 x 112 kilometers).
    • New Jersey has 1,792 miles (2884 kilometers) of shoreline.
    • The highest point is High Point at 1,803 feet (549.5 meters).

The 5 Smallest States in Population

When we turn to look at population, we get an entirely different perspective of the country. With the exception of Vermont, the states with the lowest population are among the largest in land area and they're all in the western half of the country.

A low population with a large amount of land means a very low population density (or people per square mile).

  1. Wyoming—579,315 people
    • Ranks as the 10th largest in land area - 97,093 square miles (251,470 square kilometers)
    • Population density: 5.8 people per square mile
  2. Vermont—623,657 people
    • Ranks as the 45th largest in land area - 9,217 square miles (23,872 square kilometers)
    • Population density: 67.9 people per square mile
  3. North Dakota—755,393 
    • Ranks as the 19th largest in land area—69,000 square miles (178,709 square kilometers)
    • Population density: 9.7 people per square mile
  4. Alaska—739,795 
    • Ranks as the largest state in land area—570,641 square miles (1,477,953 square kilometers)
    • Population density: 1.2 people per square mile
  5. South Dakota—869,666
    • Ranks as the 17th largest in land area—75,811 square miles (196,349 square kilometers
    • Population density: 10.7 people per square mile

(Population counts according to the July 2017 census estimates.)