71% of the Earth’s surface is covered by water, meaning only 29% is actual land. Given this small percentage, it might not seem like there’s enough room for large, sprawling countries. But there is! There are a variety of large countries on the planet, and they are incredibly unique and diverse. Below is a list of the biggest countries in the world.
What Is the Biggest Country in the World?
Russia is by far the largest country in the world with a land mass of 6.6 million square miles. In 2017, it had a population of 144.5 million people. It is bordered by 14 countries and has coasts on three oceans: the Arctic, Atlantic, and Pacific. The capital of Russia is Moscow.
There are more than 100,000 rivers in Russia, and that includes some of the most powerful and longest rivers in the world. There are also a lot of lakes in the region, including two of the largest that can be found in Europe: Onega and Ladoga. One of the lakes, Lake Baikal, which is located in Siberia, has more water in it than any other lake in the entire world.
Russia has approximately 120 ethnic groups with more than 100 languages. The country has produced several of the world’s greatest artists and thinkers, including Fyodor Dostoevsky, Leo Tolstoy, composer Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, and ballet dancer Rudolf Nureyev.
Further reading: What Continent is Russia in?
Coming in as the second largest country in the world is Canada. It has a land mass of 3.9 million square miles and a 2017 population of 36.71 million people. It is bordered by the U.S. and has the longest coastline in the world. The capital of Canada is Ottawa.
Coasts in Canada touch the Arctic, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans, and it is composed of 13 provinces and territories. This country has more bodies of water than the rest of the world combined. It is believed there may be as many as 2 million. Some of the largest lakes include Lake Huron, Great Bear Lake, and Lake Superior.
More than 200 ethnic groups call Canada home, and it was the first country in the world to adopt a multiculturalism policy. Out of their population, one-fifth of the people are immigrants.
A variety of different inventions have come out of Canada, including the game of basketball, IMAX, the Blackberry phone, and the pacemaker. Their national pastime is hockey in the winter and lacrosse in the summer.
Further reading: Interesting Facts about Canadian Provinces
3. United States*
*This is where things get a little tricky. Many sources, including the often cited CIA World Factbook, list the United States as the third largest country in the world. These sources put the U.S. at about 3.97 million square miles, which is larger than China. However, critics of this estimate assert that these figures are biased towards the U.S., and that China is actually larger when considering disputed territories, like Taiwan, and coastal and territorial waters. Depending on the source, you will see either the U.S. or China listed as third.
Land area estimates of the United States range from 3.6 to 3.97 million square miles, with a 2017 population of 325.7 million people—this is the third largest population in the world. The U.S. has the world’s largest economy. The most populated cities in the country are New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago.
The U.S. is bordered to the north by Canada and to the south by Mexico. There is no official language in the country, but English and Spanish are the two most common spoken languages. The Mississippi and Missouri rivers together form the longest river system in the country, and the largest lake in the country is Lake Superior.
The most popular sports include basketball, baseball, American football, and ice hockey. The U.S. has contributed a vast amount of inventions to the world, including the internet and nuclear weapons.
Further reading: Will There Ever Be More Than 50 States?
*See note above
China has a land mass of 3.7 million square miles, making it the fourth (or third) largest country in the world. In 2017, the population of the country was 1.4 billion people, making this country the most populated country in the world. The capital of China is Beijing, and this city is a mix of traditional and modern architecture.
China is bordered by Afghanistan, Burma, Bhutan, India, North Korea, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Mongolia, Pakistan, Nepal, Russia, Tajikistan, and Vietnam. Mt. Everest sits on the border between Nepal and China. Numerous languages are spoken in the country, including Yue, Wu, Mandarin, Minbei, Minnan, Gan, Xiang, and Hakka.
This country has the fourth and sixth longest rivers in the world, the Yangtze River and the Yellow River, respectively. It is also home to the largest man-made structure in the world, the Great Wall, which is 5,500 miles long.
Further reading: Is Hong Kong Part of China?
Rounding out the top 5 largest countries in the world is Brazil. This country has a land mass of 3.3 million square miles with a population of 209.3 million people in 2017. The capital is Brasilia, but the largest city is Sao Paulo.
Brazil is bordered by all countries in South America, with the exception of Ecuador and Chile. Interesting, Brazil also borders France. It has a large coastline on the east side that stretches for 4,655 miles. The language spoken in Brazil is Portuguese, and it is the only country in South America that speaks this language.
Approximately 60% of the Amazon Rainforest is located in this country, and it is home to a wide variety of animals, including jaguars, pumas, tapirs, and armadillo, among others. Millions of tourists visit Brazil every year. The most popular sport is soccer.
Further reading: List of the Capitals of South America