Mapped: Visualizing the World’s 100 Smallest Countries
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Visualized: The World’s 100 Smallest Countries

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Visualized: The World’s 100 Smallest Countries

The World’s 100 Smallest Countries

National borders may be mere human constructs, but they are powerful ones.

Russia, Canada, the U.S., and so on—it’s easy to focus on the countries with the largest landmasses and seemingly endless borders. Their sheer size makes them hard to ignore, and their natural resources are often vast.

But with the above graphic from TitleMax, we can focus on the power of small.

From economic might to religious influence, many of the smallest countries in the world are surprisingly powerful. Let’s take a closer look at the world’s 100 smallest countries and their spheres of influence.

RankCountrySize (mi²)
1Vatican City0.19
2Monaco0.78
3Nauru8.1
4Tuvalu10
5San Marino24
6Liechtenstein62
7Marshall Islands70
8Saint Kitts and Nevis101
9Maldives120
10Malta122
11Grenada133
12Saint Vincent and the Grenadines150
13Barbados170
14Antigua and Barbuda171
15Seychelles175
16Palau177
17Andorra181
18Saint Lucia238
19Federated States of Micronesia271
20Singapore280
21Tonga288
22Dominica290
23Bahrain300
24Kiribati313
25São Tomé and Príncipe372
26Comoros719
27Mauritius790
28Luxembourg998
29Samoa1,097
30Cape Verde1,557
31Trinidad and Tobago1,980
32Brunei2,226
33Cyprus3,572
34Lebanon4,036
35Jamaica4,244
36The Gambia4,361
37Qatar4,473
38Vanuatu4,706
39Montenegro5,333
40The Bahamas5,383
41imor-Leste5,760
42Eswatini6,704
43Kuwait6,880
44Fiji7,055
45Slovenia7,827
46Israel8,020
47El Salvador8,124
48Belize8,867
49Djibouti9,000
50North Macedonia9,928
51Rwanda10,169
52Haiti10,710
53Burundi10,747
54Equatorial Guinea10,831
55Albania11,100
56Solomon Islands11,157
57Armenia11,484
58Lesotho11,720
59Belgium11,787
60Moldova13,068
61Guinea-Bissau13,948
62Bhutan14,824
63Switzerland15,940
64Netherlands16,160
65Denmark16,639
66Estonia17,462
67Dominican Republic18,792
68Slovakia18,933
69Costa Rica19,700
70Bosnia and Herzegovina19,772
71Croatia21,851
72Togo21,925
73Latvia24,926
74Lithuania25,200
75Sri Lanka25,330
76Georgia26,900
77Ireland27,133
78Sierra Leone27,700
79Panama29,119
80Czech Republic30,450
81United Arab Emirates32,300
82Austria32,383
83Azerbaijan33,400
84Serbia34,116
85Jordan34,495
86Portugal35,560
87Hungary35,918
88South Korea38,690
89Iceland40,000
90Guatemala42,042
91Cuba42,426
92Bulgaria42,858
93Liberia43,000
94Honduras43,433
95Benin44,310
96Eritrea45,400
97Malawi45,747
98North Korea46,540
99Nicaragua50,337
100Greece50,949

Although several of the national borders shown above may be contested, the graphic gives us a clear overview of the globe’s smallest nations.

The Power of Small

Small size doesn’t mean less power. In many cases, it’s the contrary.

The Vatican—the smallest country on Earth at 0.19 square miles—is renowned for its leader and main inhabitant, the Pope. As leader of the Catholic Church, the pontiff and his papal staff make up a sizable part of the country’s tiny population of 825. Most of the Church’s 219 Cardinals, its leading dignitaries, live in their respective dioceses.

With more than 1.2 billion Roman Catholics in the world, the Vatican’s sphere of influence is of course far larger than its small physical size. Although the walls of the Vatican are situated inside the city of Rome, Italy, its centuries-old influence spans continents.

Nearly 40% of Roman Catholics live in the Americas, while the fastest-growing Catholic population can be found in Africa—home to more than 17% of the world’s Catholics.

Purchasing Power

Where the Vatican’s power lies in religion, plenty of spending power is held by the tiny country of Monaco, the second smallest country on Earth.

Situated along the French Riviera, Monaco is surrounded entirely by France—but it also sits fewer than 10 miles from the Italian border.

At 0.78 square miles, Monaco could be compared to the size of a large farm in the U.S. Midwest. Despite its small size, Monaco has a GDP of nearly US$7.2 billion, and boasts over 12,000 millionaires living within one square mile.

Along with Luxembourg and Liechtenstein—both of which are included in the smallest countries list—Monaco is one of the only countries globally with a GDP per capita higher than $100,000.

Switzerland and the Netherlands, both found in this graphic at ranks 63 and 64, also hold large shares of the global economy given their size. These two nations rank 20th and 17th in the world in economic output, respectively.

Similarly, Singapore is the 20th smallest country on the planet, but it ranks in the top 10 in terms of GDP per capita ($65,233) and sits in 34th place globally in terms of nominal GDP.

Perspective is Everything

To give us a better idea of just how small the tiniest countries are, let’s take a look at some simple size comparisons:

  • Monaco could fit inside New York City’s Central Park, with room to spare
  • Brunei is roughly the same size as Delaware
  • Nicaragua, the largest country in Central America, is similar in size to the state of Mississippi
  • Nauru is the smallest island nation, and smaller than Rhode Island
  • North Korea is roughly the size of Pennsylvania

“Small,” of course, is a qualitative factor. It depends on your vantage point.

As of September 2020, there are 195 countries on Earth. Although this graphic shows the smallest countries in the world, it is worth noting that a list of the world’s 100 largest countries would also include some of the same countries on this list, including North Korea, Nicaragua, and Greece.

Is It A Small World Afterall?

Viewed from space, there are no borders on our tiny blue dot. But from ground level, we know how much power national borders hold.

Although globalization may make our world feel smaller, our nations significantly impact our lives, societally and economically.

And, as this chart shows, power comes in all sizes.

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Misc

Animated Map: Visualizing Earth’s Seasons

This map visualizes Earth’s seasons, showing how our planet’s Arctic sea ice and vegetation changes throughout the year.

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Animated Map: Visualizing Earth’s Seasons

Why does Earth have seasons?

Many people think the seasons are dictated by Earth’s proximity to the Sun, but this isn’t the case. It’s the Earth’s tilt, not its closeness to the Sun, that influences our seasons.

This animated map by Eleanor Lutz visualizes Earth’s seasons, showing how the temperature changes impact ice levels in the Arctic as well as vegetation more broadly. It also highlights the cloud cover and sunlight each hemisphere receives throughout the year, with each frame in the animation representing a month of time.

Why is Earth Tilted?

Unlike some of the planets that sit completely upright and rotate perpendicularly, Earth rotates on a 23.5-degree axis.

But why? A commonly accepted theory among the scientific community is the giant impact hypothesis. According to this theory, a celestial object called Theia collided with Earth many years ago, when the planet was still forming. This collision not only knocked Earth into its tilted position—some believe that the dust and debris from this impact ended up forming our moon.

Ever since, our planet has been rotating with a slight tilt (which itself is not fixed, as it “wobbles” in cycles), giving us our varying seasons throughout the year.

How Earth’s Tilt Influences our Seasons

As our planet orbits the Sun, it’s always leaning in the same direction. Because of its tilt, the different hemispheres receive varying amounts of sunlight at different times of the year.

In December, Earth is technically closer to the Sun than it is in June or July. However, because the Northern Hemisphere is tilted away from the Sun during December, that part of the planet experiences winter during that time.

Earth's Seasonal Climates

The graphic above by the Smithsonian Science Education Center (SSEC) visualizes Earth’s orbit throughout the year, showing when each hemisphere receives the most direct sunlight (and thus, experiences summer).

The Climate Change Impact

While our seasons have always varied, it’s worth noting that climate change has impacted our seasons, and changed how much Arctic ice we lose each summer.

In the past, millions of miles of ice remained frozen throughout the summer months. In the 1980s, there were 3.8 million square miles of ice in July—that’s roughly the same size as Australia.

Over the years, Arctic ice cover has steadily declined. In July 2020, the ice cover was only 2.8 million square miles—a million less than the amount four decades ago.

Some scientists are predicting that we could lose our summer sea ice entirely by 2035, which would have a devastating impact on the Artic’s wildlife and the indigenous people who live there.

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Misc

10 Travel Destinations for Post-Pandemic Life

Excited to get back to travelling the world? This infographic highlights the 10 most popular tourist destinations.

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10 Travel Destinations for Post-Pandemic Life

On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization formally classified the COVID-19 outbreak as a pandemic. The resulting travel bans decimated the tourism industry, and international air travel initially fell by as much as 98%.

Almost two years later, travel is finally back on the table, though there are many restrictions to consider. Regardless, a survey conducted in September 2021 found that, as things revert to normalcy, 82% of Americans are looking forward to international travel more than anything else.

To give inspiration for your next vacation (whenever that may be), this infographic lists the 10 most visited countries in 2019, as well as three of their top attractions according to Google Maps.

Bon Voyage

Here were the 10 most popular travel destinations in 2019, measured by their number of international arrivals.

CountryNumber of international arrivals in 2019 (millions)
🇫🇷 France*90.0
🇪🇸 Spain83.5
🇺🇸 U.S.79.3
🇨🇳 China65.7
🇮🇹 Italy64.5
🇹🇷 Turkey51.2
🇲🇽 Mexico45.0
🇹🇭 Thailand39.8
🇩🇪 Germany39.6
🇬🇧 United Kingdom39.4

*Estimate | Source: World Bank

France was the most popular travel destination by a significant margin, and it’s easy to see why. The country is home to many of the world’s most renowned sights, including the Arc de Triomphe and Louvre Museum.

The Arc de Triomphe was built in the early 1800s, and honors those who died in the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars. In 1944, Allied soldiers marched through the monument after Paris was liberated from the Nazis.

The Louvre Museum, on the other hand, is often recognized by its giant glass pyramid. The museum houses over 480,000 works of art, including Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa.

Art isn’t the only thing that France has to offer. The country has a reputation for culinary excellence, and is home to 632 Michelin-starred restaurants, the most out of any country. Japan comes in at second, with 413.

While You’re There…

After seeing the sights in Paris, you may want to consider a visit to Spain. The country is the southern neighbor of France and is known for its beautiful villages and beaches.

One of its most impressive sights is the Sagrada Familia, a massive 440,000 square feet church which began construction in 1882, and is still being worked on today (139 years in the making). The video below shows the structure’s striking evolution.

At a height of 172 meters, the Sagrada Familia is approximately 52 stories tall.

Another popular spot is Ibiza, an island off the coast of Spain that is famous for its robust nightlife scene. The island is frequently mentioned in pop culture—Netflix released an adventure/romance movie titled Ibiza in 2018, and the remix of Mike Posner’s song I Took a Pill in Ibiza has over 1.4 billion views on YouTube.

Beaches Galore

If you’re looking for something outside of Europe, consider Mexico or Thailand, which are the 7th and 8th most popular travel destinations. Both offer hot weather and an abundance of white sand beaches.

If you need even more convincing, check out these links:

Expect Turbulence

Under normal circumstances, hundreds of billions of dollars are spent each year by international tourists. According to the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTCC), this spending accounted for an impressive 10.4% of global GDP in 2019.

Travel restrictions introduced in 2020 dealt a serious blow to the industry, reducing its share of global GDP to 5.5%, and wiping out an estimated 62 million jobs. While the WTCC believes these jobs could return by 2022, the emerging Omicron variant has already prompted many countries to tighten restrictions once again.

To avoid headaches in the future, make sure you fully understand the rules and restrictions of where you’re heading.

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