The World’s 10 Smallest Countries:
In Malta, the world’s 10th smallest country, there are many “festas” throughout the year, often focusing on traditional religious celebrations. Visit Malta
A New Travel Bucket List?
What’s in a name? How many of these ten smallest countries have you heard of? How many can you pinpoint on a map? Some are rarely visited, except by travelers on business or collecting visa stamps. Most are island nations, but the majority are easy to reach. Their wealth varies from nearly the highest per capita GDP in the world to nearly the lowest. For travelers looking for a new bucket list challenge, a chance to visit these 10 countries may be just the ticket. From smallest to largest, we present some interesting facts and help readers get oriented about each one:
Vatican City (0.44 sq km or 0.17 sq mi)
The Stato della Cittia del Vaticano is the smallest independent state in the world with a resident population of only 800 people. Vatican Palace is the Pope’s residence, and the most famous Catholic church in the world, St. Peter’s Basilica, is there too. Vatican City and its sites are among the most visited places in the western world.
Monaco (2.02 sq km or .78 sq mi, including some recent land reclamation)
As a sovereign microstate, Monaco was established in 1297 long before the French Riviera became a destination. Beyond being a playground for the fabulously rich and famous and a tax haven, there is plenty to interest a visitor besides the casino. Exploration on foot is facilitated by public lifts and escalators to help overcome steep hills.
Nauru (21 sq km or 8 sq mi)
In the South Pacific Micronesia region is the tiny country of Nauru, formerly known as Pleasant Island. Population is about 9,000. In the 1970s and 80s, it became very rich from massively strip mining of phosphate minerals for fertilizer export. Now depleted, the sad legacy is 80% of the land area is devastated.
Tuvalu (26 sq km or 10 sq mi) Gaining independence in 1978, Tuvalu with a population of 10,000 is mid-way between Hawaii and Australia. In 2010 only 360 tourists visited the country, which is a classic South Pacific destination, known for superb beaches with reefs and palm trees, coral reefs and beautiful lagoons. Lots of room for visitors!
San Marino (61.2 sq km or 23.63 sq mi)
The Most Serene Republic of San Marino is a tiny landlocked enclave in rugged mountains on the northeast side of Italy. It has stood the test of time, having founded its republic in 301, yes, that is 1,713 years ago. Lots of historic churches and museums, a venue for Formula One racing and a vintage car museum with two million tourists visiting annually.
Liechenstein (160 sq km or 62 sq mi)
Here is another mountainous European principality between Switzerland and Austria, totally located in the Alps. It is a very wealthy country with a population of 31,000, a unique fusion of tradition and modernity, and the only country to have more registered companies than citizens.
Marshall Islands (181 sq km or 70 sq mi)
The strategic mid-Pacific Republic of the Marshall Islands gained independence from the United States in 1986, having been occupied earlier by Spain, Germany, and Japan before the U.S which used it as a nuclear test site. Today it has beautiful islands, atolls, pristine waters and lots of sunken WWII ships as a dive attraction.
Saint Kitts and Nevis (261 sq km or 104 sq mi)
It is the smallest sovereign state in the Americas in both area and population. It was among the first islands in the Caribbean to be settled by Europeans though it was first settled 5,000 years earlier by Native Americans. Both islands are volcanic in origin and offer plenty of rainforest as well as fabulous beaches and festivals.
Maldives (298 sq km or 115 sq miles of land) Located in the Indian Ocean/Arabian Sea region, the Maldives may be small but it has a large population of 338,000 spread across 200 inhabited islands (out of 1,192 coral islands). With an average ground level elevation of 1.5 m (4ft 11 in) above sea level, it is the planet’s lowest country but for now the resorts, beaches and waters are exquisite.
Malta (316 sq km or 122 sq mi)
Located between Sicily and Tunisia in the Mediterranean, Malta has proved to be a very successful small country with plenty to do for visitors including an endless number of festivals throughout the year. Its culture and very long history intertwine nicely with unspoiled countryside, caves, cliffs and beaches.
To see all ten microstates in context, Maps of the World has created a fine map. If the “world” is just too big a mission for your bucket list, take a look at the list of Europe’s 10 smallest countries. Some of them also appear on the World List, but there are plenty of additional discoveries to keep you busy.