There’s no doubt about it-our planet is full of some pretty incredible places. With 197 countries of the world, there is no shortage places for people to visit and be amazed, inspired, and enlightened. But not all countries are massive tracts of land with sprawling cities and huge populations. Some are quite small. What is the smallest country in the world? Below are a few of the smallest (in terms of area).
What Is the Smallest Country in the World?
1. Vatican City
With an area of 0.17 square miles (0.44 km2) and a population right around 1,000, Vatican City is the smallest country in the world, both in terms of size and population. The country is an enclave in Rome, and it sits on the west bank of the Tiber River. There are medieval and Renaissance walls that form its boundaries on all sides, with the exception of the southeast section at St. Peter’s Square. There are six entrances to the country, but only the Arch of the Bells, the piazza, and the Vatican Museums and Galleries are open to the public.
Vatican City is home to the Pope, who resides in the Vatican palace. The country was established in 1929 as the territorial identity for the Holy See in Rome. The country has its own pharmacy, telephone system, banking system, radio station, post office, gardens, and astronomical observatory. Swiss Guards are responsible for the protection of the Pope and have been in service since 1506.
Vatican City attracts an array of visitors and travelers each year, many of whom want to be part of a religious experience or see history in all its glory. Michelangelo’s painting in the Sistine Chapel is housed in Vatican City, as well as art by Pinturicchio and Raphael. People can also visit the Vatican Apostolic Library, which houses more than 150,000 manuscripts and 1.6 million printed books—some of which are from pre-Christian and Christian eras. Vatican City is a UNESCO World Heritage site, and has been since 1984.
After Vatican City, Monaco is the second smallest independent state in the world. Located on the Mediterranean coastline near France, Monaco has an area of 0.78 square miles (2.02 km2). Packed into this tiny area, however, are some 38,400 people, making Monaco the most densely-populated country in the world. Monaco is divided into ten wards, with Fontvieille, Monaco-Ville, Monte-Carlo, and La Condamine among them.
Monaco doesn’t have any natural resources, with the exception of its climate and location. It is popular among the wealthy because it is a tax haven. It also has upscale casinos and places for people to dock their yachts. The Grand Prix race runs through Monaco’s streets yearly and attracts viewers from all over the world.
Nauru is an island country that sits northeast of Australia in Micronesia. The island is 8.1 square miles (21 km2) and has a population of roughly 11,347 people. The island was first inhabited by the Polynesians approximately 3,000 years ago. The first Westerner to visit the island was John Fearn, a British sea captain and whale hunter, in 1798. After 1830, Europeans visited the island at an increasing rate.
In 1900, phosphate was discovered, and the exploitation of the island began. Today, there are some remaining phosphate resources, but they are no longer considered economically viable. The mining practices from the past had their impact on Nauru, and to recoup from the losses, the island became an illegal money laundering site and tax haven.
Nauru played a role in WWI and WWII, with the Japanese occupying the island in 1942. In January 1966, the island became self-governing and then earned its independence in 1968. Today, Nauru is known for its coral reef and white-sand beaches lined with palms.
Tuvalu is located in the South Pacific and is composed of nine islands within the British Commonwealth. The total land area of the islands of Tuvalu is 10 square miles (26 km2). The 2017 population estimate for the country was 11,192 people. The islands that make up Tuvalu are known for beaches and palm trees, as well as the Funafuti Conservation Area, which has calm waters and is a great place for snorkelers and divers to view tropical fish and sea turtles.
Tuvalu was formerly known as the Ellice Islands, and won its independence from the United Kingdom in 1978. There is no fresh water on the islands, so locals must collect rainwater to drink. Tuvalu is covered with a large number of coconut palms, making dried coconut kernel the only export.
However, Tuvalu also earns revenue in a rather genius way. During the 1990s, they sold their internet suffix of .tv to a California company, which pays the tiny nation millions of dollars each year. The California company then sells the suffix to television broadcasters across the world.
5. San Marino
Founded in by a Christian stonemason in 301 AD, San Marino is among the oldest countries in Europe. The nation sits on 23.6 square miles (61.2 km2) of mountainous land, and like Vatican City, is completely surrounded by Italy. In 2017, it had a population of roughly 33,400 people.
Tourism is the region’s greatest source of income, and visitors from all over the world check out the 11th century citadels called the Three Towers. The country also has a variety of modern amenities to keep visitors happy and comfortable while they check out the history of the region.
Agriculture also plays a lesser role in San Marino’s income, with barley, wheat, and grapes being the main crops. The vast majority of land in this country is reserved for agriculture, but urbanization has taken over, and industries and cities are encroaching on the agricultural way of life.
Okay, so you know the first five smallest countries in the world, but what about the rest? Test yourself in the quiz below!