The World's 17 Smallest Countries

Vatican City
Vatican City is the world's smallest state, with an area of only 0.2 square miles. Sylvain Sonnet/The Image Bank/Getty Images

The 17 smallest countries in the world each contain less than 200 square miles in area, and if you were to combine them, their total size would be just a bit larger than that of the state of Rhode Island. These independent nations range in size from 108 acres (a good sized shopping mall) to just over 191 square miles.

From Vatican City to Palau, these small countries have maintained their independence and established themselves as contributors to the worlds' economy, politics, and even human rights initiatives. All but one of these countries are full-fledged members of the United Nations and the one outlier is a nonmember by choice, not by inability. This photo gallery lists the world's tiniest countries, from smallest to largest.

Vatican City: 0.2 Square Mile

Of these 17 smallest countries in the world, Vatican City—which in fact is the smallest country in the world—is perhaps the most influential in terms of religion: It serves as the spiritual center of the Roman Catholic church and home of the Pope. Vatican City, officially called The Holy See, is located within a walled area of the Italian capital city of Rome.

Vatican City has a population of about 800 citizens, none of whom is a native permanent resident. Many more commute into the country for work. Vatican City officially came into existence in 1929 after the Lateran Treaty with Italy. Its government type is ecclesiastical and its chief of state is, actually, the Pope. Vatican City is not a member of the United Nations by its own choice.

Monaco: 0.77 Square Mile

Monaco, the world's second smallest country, is located between southeastern France and the Mediterranean Sea. 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 also famous due to its location on the French Riviera, its casino (the Monte Carlo Casino), several smaller beaches, and resort communities—all squeezed into less than one square mile.

Nauru: 8.5 Square Miles

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. Nauru's population is about 11,000 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.

Tuvalu: 10 Square Miles

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 has 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. Tuvalu has a population of about 12,000, 96 percent of whom are Polynesian. This small country's capital is Funafuti, which is also Tuvalu's largest city. Its official languages are Tuvaluan and English.

San Marino: 24 Square Miles

San Marino is landlocked, completely surrounded by Italy. It 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. The lowest point in San Marino is Torrente Ausa at 180 feet.

Liechtenstein: 62 Square Miles

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. Liechtenstein is a hereditary constitutional monarchy, but the prime minister runs its day-to-day affairs.

Marshall Islands: 70 Square Miles

The Marshall Islands, the world's seventh smallest country, consists of 29 coral atolls and five main islands 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; it was formerly part of the Trust Territory of Pacific Islands, administered by the United States.

Saint Kitts and Nevis: 104 Square Miles

At 104 square miles (slightly smaller than the city of Fresno, California), Saint Kitts and Nevis is a Caribbean island country of 50,000 residents 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 of the two and is guaranteed the right to secede from the union. Saint Kitts and Nevis, located in the Caribbean Sea between Puerto Rico and Trinidad and Tobago, is the smallest country in the Americas based on its area and population.

Seychelles: 107 Square Miles

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. It is located northeast of Madagascar and about 932 miles east of mainland Africa. Seychelles is an archipelago with over 100 tropical islands and is the smallest country that is considered part of Africa. Seychelles' capital and largest city is Victoria.

Maldives: 115 Square Miles

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 above sea level.

Malta: 122 Square Miles

Malta, officially called the Republic of Malta, is an island nation located in southern Europe. Malta is one of the world's smallest and most densely populated countries with a population of over 475,000. The archipelago making up Malta is located in the Mediterranean Sea about 58 miles south of the island of Sicily and 55 miles east of Tunisia. Its capital is Valletta, and the country's highest point is Ta'Dmerjrek, located on the Dingli Cliffs, which tops out at just 830 feet.

Grenada: 133 Square Miles

The island nation of Grenada features the volcanic Mount St. Catherine. Nearby, underwater and to the north, lie the playfully named volcanoes Kick 'Em Jenny and Kick 'Em Jack. Grenada, whose population is about 107,000, has a capital named Saint George's. After the overthrown and execution of Prime Minister Maurice Bishop in 1983, which led to the installation of a pro-communist government, U.S. forces invaded and captured the island. After U.S. forces withdrew in late 1983, elections were held in 1984 and Grenada's constitution was restored.

Saint Vincent and the Grenadines: 150 Square Miles

St. Vincent is known for its pristine coastline, which provided an authentic colonial backdrop for the filming of "Pirates of the Caribbean."The country is located between the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean, north of Trinidad and Tobago. Most of the residents of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, whose capital is Kingstown, are Anglican, Methodist, and Roman Catholic. The country's currency is the Eastern Caribbean dollar, which is fixed to the U.S. dollar.

Barbados: 166 Square Miles

Barbados is not a sleepy Carribean island. The island nation's vibrant culture is expressed in its lively Bajan festivalsnightlife, and friendly people. Barbados is located in the easternmost section of the Caribbean islands, in the West Indies north of Venezuela. Its capital is Bridgetown, and its 286,000 residents speak English and are mainly Protestant or Roman Catholic. The country's currency is officially the Barbadian Dollar, but the U.S. dollar widely accepted.

Antigua and Barbuda: 171 Square Miles

Antigua and Barbuda, a British Commonwealth, is nicknamed the "Land of 365 Beaches" and maintains a​ very low crime rate. The country is also located in the Eastern Caribbean Sea on the boundary with the Atlantic Ocean. Its capital is St. John's, and its nearly 101,000 residents speak English, the official language, as well as Antiguan Creole. The residents are mainly Anglican, followed by Roman Catholic and other Protestant denominations. Antigua and Barbuda's currency is also the Eastern Caribbean dollar.

Andorra: 180 Square Miles

The independent Principality of Andorra is co-governed by the president of France and Spain's Bishop of Urgel. With just over 70,000 people, this mountainous tourist destination tucked in the Pyrenees between France and Spain has been independent since 1278 but serves as a testament to multinationalism celebrated throughout the European Union.

Palau: 191 Square Miles

Palau is known as a mecca for divers, who say its waters are some of the planet's best. This republic is made up of 340 islands, but only nine are inhabited. The country was featured a few years ago on a season of the television show "Survivor." Palau has been independent since 1994 and is home to about 21,500 residents, two-thirds of whom live in and around the capital Koror. The country also offers forests, waterfalls, and beautiful beaches.