Special Report

The Least Crowded Countries in the World

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30. Algeria
> Population density: 44.9 people per square mile
> Population: 41,318,142
> Land area: 919,595 square miles
> Population growth (1990-2017): 59.5%

Algeria is the largest nation in Africa by physical size. Four-fifths of it is covered by the unforgiving Sahara Desert and most of the roughly 41 million Algerians live on the Mediterranean coast. The capital Algiers is densely populated with an estimated 3.7 million people — more than 11,000 people per square mile.

Algeria was once rife with landmines along its borders. However, the nation removed nearly 9 million of the devices dating back to the colonial time and declared itself landmine-free in January 2017.

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29. Paraguay
> Population density: 44.4 people per square mile
> Population: 6,811,297
> Land area: 153,398 square miles
> Population growth (1990-2017): 61.6%

Rivers have played an important role in the history of the landlocked South American nation of Paraguay. Among them are the Paraguay and the Pilcomayo Rivers. Indeed, the latter half of the country’s name means “river that gives birth to the sea.” Only a small percentage of the nation of 6.8 million lives west of the Paraguay River. More land is becoming arable, however. In 2015, 12.1% of Paraguay’s land was deemed arable, compared with just 1.8% in 1961, according to data from theGlobalEconomy.com and the World Bank that surveyed 193 countries.

Paraguay’s population has more than doubled since 1970 to over 6 million. A big reason is the drop in the nation’s infant mortality rate, to 18.8 per 1,000 live births in 2017, from 30.8 in 2000.

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28. Sudan
> Population density: 44.2 people per square mile
> Population: 40,533,330
> Land area: 917,378 square miles
> Population growth (1990-2017): 101.2%

Sudan is one of the biggest nations in Africa, bordered by Libya, Egypt, Eritrea, and Ethiopia, South Sudan, the Central African Republic, and Chad. Sudan also has a coastline on the Red Sea. The central and eastern areas of Sudan have the highest mean annual temperatures, climbing above 100 degrees. There is almost no rainfall in the north, while the country’s southern part gets up to 30 inches of precipitation yearly.

Sudan has been riven by violence throughout its history. More recently, conflict between Muslims in the northand Christians and animists in the south led to a splitting of the country and the creation of South Sudan in 2011. These battles have claimed about 1.5 million lives.

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27. Niger
> Population density: 43.9 people per square mile
> Population: 21,477,348
> Land area: 489,075 square miles
> Population growth (1990-2017): 168%

Niger is an arid nation beset by a host of problems — drought, famine, disease, political uncertainty, and slavery. Landlocked and in western Africa, Niger is bordered by Algeria, Libya, Chad, Nigeria, Benin, Burkina Faso, and Mali. Despite its troubles, Niger’s population is increasing: It has posted a 168% gain since 1990. According to data from theGlobalEconomy.com and the World Bank, the amount of arable land has risen to 13.3% in 2015 from 9.1% in 1961. Most of Niger’s population lives in the south, where there is more rainfall and arable land.

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26. Belize
> Population density: 42.5 people per square mile
> Population: 374,681
> Land area: 8,807 square miles
> Population growth (1990-2017): 99.8%

Belize, a Central American nation, was the last British colony on the Western Hemisphere mainland (it was formerly known as British Honduras). Its population is growing at a rate of 2.5% a year, and by 2020, the number could reach about 390,000. Mestizos, a mix of Maya and Spanish peoples, comprise 50% of the country’s population Belize has 3.4% of arable land, a jump from 1.6% in 1961, according to theGlobalEconomy.com and the World Bank.

An ongoing concern for Belize is its relations with neighboring Guatemala, which has made territorial claims on it.

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