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Which Countries Have the Largest Forests?

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A bar chart with the top 10 countries with the largest forests as measured in square kilometers.

Which Countries Have the Largest Forests?

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Since the last ice age, the Earth’s forest cover has fallen by 20 million km2 or 2 billion hectares. Half of the loss occurred since the year 1900 due to expanding agriculture and industrialization.

Now forests cover about 30% of the Earth’s land, about 40 million km2, distributed unevenly across the globe.

We visualize the top 15 countries with the largest forests, measured in square kilometers. Data for this visualization and article comes from the World Bank, using data for 2021 that was last updated in October 2023.

Ranked: Top 15 Countries with the Biggest Forests

Predictably, the largest country in the world also has the biggest forest area. Nearly 50% of Russia is forest, measuring roughly 8 million km2. This is bigger than the total land area of every other country in the world—with the exception of China, the U.S., Canada, Brazil, and Australia.

It also means one-fifth of the world’s entire forested area is in Russia.

A pie chart with how much the top five countries with the largest forests have of the world's entire forest cover.

Most of Russia’s forests are boreal, to survive the colder, drier climes in the country, and are made up of deciduous and coniferous tree species including larch, pine, spruce, and oak.

At second place, Brazil has nearly 5 million km2 of forest cover (about 12% of the world’s forests), thanks to almost two-thirds of the Amazon rainforest inside its borders. For context, Brazil’s forested area is almost twice the size of Saudi Arabia, the 12th largest country in the world.

RankCountryForest Area (Sq. km)Forest Area (% of
World's Forests)
1🇷🇺 Russia8,153,11620.1%
2🇧🇷 Brazil4,953,91412.3%
3🇨🇦 Canada3,468,9118.6%
4🇺🇸 U.S.3,097,9507.7%
5🇨🇳 China2,218,5785.5%
6🇦🇺 Australia1,340,0513.3%
7🇨🇩 DRC1,250,5393.1%
8🇮🇩 Indonesia915,2772.3%
9🇮🇳 India724,2641.8%
10🇵🇪 Peru721,5751.8%
11🇦🇴 Angola660,5231.6%
12🇲🇽 Mexico655,6431.6%
13🇨🇴 Colombia589,4261.5%
14🇧🇴 Bolivia506,2081.3%
15🇻🇪 Venezuela461,7341.1%
16🇹🇿 Tanzania452,7601.1%
17🇿🇲 Zambia446,2581.1%
18🇲🇿 Mozambique364,9760.9%
19🇵🇬 Papua New Guinea358,2220.9%
20🇦🇷 Argentina284,6370.7%

The Amazon also contributes significantly to Peru’s forest cover (ranked 10th on this list) along with Colombia (13th) Bolivia (14th) and Venezuela (15th).

Canada and the U.S., rank third and fourth with roughly the same forest cover—3 million km2— with several forests on both coasts extending across their shared border.

China rounds out the top five, its forests covering slightly more than 2 million km2.

Together the top five countries account for more than half of the world’s forests.

When taking in the top 10, which adds in forest cover from Australia, the DRC, Indonesia, India, and Peru, this grows to slightly more than two-third’s of the world’s forests. Expanding the ranks to the top 20 will then accounts for 80% of the Earth’s total forest cover.

Natural Forests vs. Planted Forests

Not all forests are created equal. Primary forests—forests undisturbed by human activity—are better carbon sinks and have greater biodiversity than human-planted ones.

Here’s how each country’s forest cover is divided between primary and naturally-regenerating forests (forest where there are clearly visible indications of human activities but are now slowly reverting back to their natural state) and human–planted ones.

TerritoryNaturally
Regenerating Forests
Planted Forests
🇦🇫 Afghanistan100%0%
🇦🇱 Albania90%10%
🇩🇿 Algeria71%29%
🇦🇸 American Samoa100%0%
🇦🇩 Andorra100%0%
🇦🇴 Angola99%1%
🇦🇷 Argentina95%5%
🇦🇲 Armenia94%6%
🇦🇼 Aruba100%0%
🇦🇺 Australia98%2%
🇦🇹 Austria57%43%
🇦🇿 Azerbaijan73%27%
🇧🇸 Bahamas100%0%
🇧🇭 Bahrain0%100%
🇧🇩 Bangladesh92%8%
🇧🇧 Barbados100%0%
🇧🇾 Belarus75%25%
🇧🇪 Belgium36%64%
🇧🇿 Belize100%0%
🇧🇯 Benin99%1%
🇧🇹 Bhutan99%1%
🇧🇴 Bolivia100%0%
🇧🇶 Bonaire100%0%
🇧🇦 Bosnia &
Herzegovina
94%6%
🇧🇼 Botswana100%0%
🇧🇷 Brazil98%2%
🇧🇳 Brunei99%1%
🇧🇬 Bulgaria80%20%
🇧🇫 Burkina Faso97%3%
🇧🇮 Burundi60%40%
🇨🇻 Cabo Verde30%70%
🇰🇭 Cambodia92%8%
🇨🇲 Cameroon100%0%
🇨🇦 Canada95%5%
🇰🇾 Cayman Islands100%0%
🇨🇫 Central African
Republic
100%0%
🇹🇩 Chad100%0%
🇨🇽 Channel Islands19%81%
🇨🇱 Chile82%18%
🇨🇳 China61%39%
🇨🇴 Colombia99%1%
🇰🇲 Comoros100%0%
🇨🇬 Congo100%0%
🇨🇰 Cook Islands93%7%
🇨🇷 Costa Rica97%3%
🇨🇮 Côte d'Ivoire99%1%
🇭🇷 Croatia97%3%
🇨🇺 Cuba84%16%
🇨🇼 Curaçao100%0%
🇨🇾 Cyprus81%19%
🇨🇿 Czechia5%95%
🇩🇰 Denmark36%64%
🇩🇯 Djibouti95%5%
🇩🇲 Dominica98%2%
🇩🇴 Dominican Republic91%9%
🇨🇩 DRC100%0%
🇪🇨 Ecuador99%1%
🇪🇬 Egypt0%100%
🇸🇻 El Salvador97%3%
🇬🇶 Equatorial Guinea95%5%
🇪🇷 Eritrea96%4%
🇪🇪 Estonia91%9%
🇸🇿 Eswatini80%20%
🇪🇹 Ethiopia93%7%
🇫🇴 Faroe Islands0%100%
🇫🇯 Fiji82%18%
🇫🇮 Finland67%33%
🇫🇷 France86%14%
🇬🇫 French Guiana100%0%
🇵🇫 French Polynesia94%6%
🇬🇦 Gabon100%0%
🇬🇲 Gambia99%1%
🇬🇪 Georgia97%3%
🇩🇪 Germany50%50%
🇬🇭 Ghana96%4%
🇬🇷 Greece96%4%
🇬🇱 Greenland0%100%
🇬🇩 Grenada99%1%
🇬🇵 Guadeloupe99%1%
🇬🇺 Guam100%0%
🇬🇹 Guatemala96%4%
🇬🇳 Guinea99%1%
🇬🇼 Guinea-Bissau100%0%
🇬🇾 Guyana100%0%
🇭🇹 Haiti91%9%
🇭🇳 Honduras100%0%
🇭🇺 Hungary62%38%
🇮🇸 Iceland23%77%
🇮🇳 India82%18%
🇮🇩 Indonesia95%5%
🇮🇷 Iran91%9%
🇮🇶 Iraq89%11%
🇮🇪 Ireland14%86%
🇮🇱 Israel39%61%
🇮🇹 Italy93%7%
🇯🇲 Jamaica99%1%
🇯🇵 Japan59%41%
🇯🇴 Jordan52%48%
🇰🇿 Kazakhstan88%12%
🇰🇪 Kenya96%4%
🇰🇼 Kuwait0%100%
🇰🇬 Kyrgyzstan82%18%
🇱🇦 Laos89%11%
🇱🇻 Latvia86%14%
🇱🇧 Lebanon100%0%
🇱🇸 Lesotho75%25%
🇱🇷 Liberia100%0%
🇱🇾 Libya0%100%
🇱🇮 Liechtenstein91%9%
🇱🇹 Lithuania72%28%
🇱🇺 Luxembourg66%34%
🇲🇬 Madagascar97%3%
🇲🇼 Malawi97%3%
🇲🇾 Malaysia91%9%
🇲🇻 Maldives100%0%
🇲🇱 Mali96%4%
🇲🇹 Malta91%9%
🇲🇭 Marshall Islands67%33%
🇲🇶 Martinique95%5%
🇲🇷 Mauritania85%15%
🇲🇺 Mauritius54%46%
🇾🇹 Mayotte96%4%
🇲🇽 Mexico100%0%
🇫🇲 Micronesia78%22%
🇲🇩 Moldova43%57%
🇲🇳 Mongolia100%0%
🇲🇪 Montenegro99%1%
🇲🇸 Montserrat100%0%
🇲🇦 Morocco89%11%
🇲🇿 Mozambique100%0%
🇲🇲 Myanmar98%2%
🇳🇦 Namibia100%0%
🇳🇵 Nepal96%4%
🇳🇱 Netherlands10%90%
🇳🇨 New Caledonia99%1%
🇳🇿 New Zealand79%21%
🇳🇮 Nicaragua98%2%
🇳🇪 Niger88%12%
🇳🇬 Nigeria99%1%
🇳🇺 Niue100%0%
🇳🇫 Norfolk Island90%10%
🇰🇵 North Korea84%16%
🇲🇵 Northern Mariana
Islands
100%0%
🇳🇴 Norway99%1%
🇴🇲 Oman82%18%
🇵🇰 Pakistan93%7%
🇵🇦 Panama98%2%
🇵🇬 Papua New Guinea100%0%
🇵🇾 Paraguay99%1%
🇵🇪 Peru98%2%
🇵🇭 Philippines95%5%
🇵🇱 Poland22%78%
🇵🇹 Portugal32%68%
🇵🇷 Puerto Rico100%0%
🇷🇪 Réunion89%11%
🇷🇴 Romania87%13%
🇷🇺 Russia98%2%
🇷🇼 Rwanda45%55%
🇧🇱 Saint Barthélemy100%0%
🇸🇭 Saint Helena100%0%
🇱🇨 Saint Lucia85%15%
🇫🇷 Saint Martin100%0%
🇵🇲 Saint Pierre100%0%
🇻🇨 Saint Vincent
& the Grenadines
99%1%
🇼🇸 Samoa97%3%
🇸🇲 San Marino100%0%
🇸🇹 Sao Tome
& Principe
100%0%
🇸🇦 Saudi Arabia100%0%
🇸🇳 Senegal100%0%
🇷🇸 Serbia96%4%
🇸🇨 Seychelles85%15%
🇸🇱 Sierra Leone99%1%
🇸🇬 Singapore100%0%
🇸🇽 Sint Maarten100%0%
🇸🇰 Slovakia61%39%
🇸🇮 Slovenia96%4%
🇸🇧 Solomon Islands99%1%
🇸🇴 Somalia100%0%
🇿🇦 South Africa82%18%
🇰🇷 South Korea64%36%
🇸🇸 South Sudan97%3%
🇪🇸 Spain86%14%
🇱🇰 Sri Lanka88%12%
🇸🇩 Sudan99%1%
🇸🇷 Suriname100%0%
🇸🇪 Sweden50%50%
🇨🇭 Switzerland88%12%
🇸🇾 Syrian59%41%
🇹🇯 Tajikistan72%28%
🇹🇿 Tanzania99%1%
🇹🇭 Thailand82%18%
🇹🇱 Timor-Leste100%0%
🇹🇬 Togo95%5%
🇹🇴 Tonga89%11%
🇹🇹 Trinidad
& Tobago
65%35%
🇹🇳 Tunisia69%31%
🇹🇷 Türkiye97%3%
🇹🇲 Turkmenistan100%0%
🇹🇨 Turks &
Caicos Islands
100%0%
🇹🇻 Tuvalu100%0%
🇺🇸 U.S.91%9%
🇺🇬 Uganda79%21%
🇬🇧 UK11%89%
🇺🇦 Ukraine50%50%
🇺🇾 Uruguay41%59%
🇺🇿 Uzbekistan38%62%
🇻🇪 Venezuela97%3%
🇻🇳 Viet Nam70%30%
🇻🇮 Virgin Islands (U.S.)100%0%
🇼🇫 Wallis &
Futuna Islands
89%11%
🇪🇭 Western Sahara100%0%
🇾🇪 Yemen100%0%
🇿🇲 Zambia100%0%
🇿🇼 Zimbabwe99%1%

Source: Our World in Data.

In countries like Bahrain and Kuwait, areas of extreme aridity, where forests would not occur naturally, human-planted forests account for all forest cover.

But even across large parts of Europe, planted forests vastly outnumber primary and naturally-regenerated ones, indicating how much deforestation occurred on the continent in the last three centuries, which is now being steadily reversed.

In China, which increased its forest cover by the size of Norway in the last three decades, nearly 40% of the total forested area is planted.

Experts say that reversing forest degradation and protecting primary forests—holders of an incredible amount of carbon that would be released into the atmosphere when logged—should be prioritized instead of just planting new forests.

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Environment

The Rise in America’s Billion-Dollar Extreme Weather Disasters

From tropical cyclones to severe storms, the number of extreme weather disasters with losses exceeding $1 billion has climbed over time.

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A bar chart showing rising U.S. extreme weather disasters for each decade since the 1980s, with the view cut off part way through the 2010s.

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The following content is sponsored by National Public Utilities Council

The Rise in U.S. Billion-Dollar Extreme Weather Disasters

Since 1980, there have been 383 extreme weather or climate disasters where the damages reached at least $1 billion. In total, these disasters have cost more than $2.7 trillion.

Created in partnership with the National Public Utilities Council, this chart shows how these disasters have been increasing with each passing decade.

A Growing Concern

The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) tracks each disaster and estimates the cost based on factors like physical damages and time losses such as business interruption. They adjust all costs by the Consumer Price Index to account for inflation.

DecadeTotal No. of EventsTotal Inflation-Adjusted Cost
1980s33$216B
1990s57$330B
2000s67$611B
2010s131$978B
2020s*95$568B

* Data is as of May 8, 2024.

Both the number and cost of extreme weather disasters has grown over time. In fact, not even halfway through the 2020s the number of disasters is over 70% of those seen during the entire 2010s. 

Severe storms have been the most common, accounting for half of all billion-dollar disasters since 1980. In terms of costs, tropical cyclones have caused the lion’s share—more than 50% of the total. Hurricane Katrina, which made landfall in 2005, remains the most expensive single event with $199 billion in inflation-adjusted costs.

Electricity and Extreme Weather Disasters

With severe storms and other disasters rising, the electricity people rely on is significantly impacted. For instance, droughts have been associated with a decline in hydropower, which is an important source of U.S. renewable electricity generation

Disasters can also lead to significant costs for utility companies. Hawaii Electric faces $5 billion in potential damages claims for the 2023 wildfire, which is nearly eight times its insurance coverage. Lawsuits accuse the company of negligence in maintaining its infrastructure, such as failing to strengthen power poles to withstand high winds. 

Given that the utilities industry is facing the highest risk from extreme weather and climate disasters, some companies have begun to prepare for such events. This means taking steps like burying power lines, increasing insurance coverage, and upgrading infrastructure. 

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Learn how the National Public Utilities Council is working toward the future of sustainable electricity.

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