Special Report

25 Smallest Countries and Territories in the World

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The ancient Greek philosophers Plato and Aristotle were big fans of city-states, by definition modest in size — like their hometown of Athens –, because they felt the most reasonable and virtuous governing systems originate from citizens who are directly acquainted with each other. This perception that all (good) politics is local was echoed by the founders of the United States who lauded federalism because they felt states adhered to this classical ideal that, when it comes to governing, smaller is better.

Smaller populations do tend to have shared values and experiences, which helps make them more governable and content — especially if they’re relatively rich on a per-capita basis. An oft-cited example is Norway, with 5.5 million mostly ethnically similar people living on 149,000 square miles. It’s easy to see why a small and wealthy capitalist democracy with a strong socialist safety net would be home to what the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network has described as some of the world’s happiest people. (These are the richest countries in the world.)

Countries and territories with tiny populations and limited land size might be easier to govern and, generally speaking, have more content populations, but what they get in manageability they lose in military and economic muscle — even though a number remain dependent territories of larger countries, vestiges of their colonial pasts.

Tiny countries and territories depend on fewer revenue-generating channels. Some micro-countries provide offshore tax-haven services to wealthy individuals and corporations. Many are islands that rely heavily on tourism. (Small islands around the world are also particularly vulnerable to the effects of global warming. These are 20 islands that will disappear in your lifetime.)

To identify the least populated states in the world, 24/7 Tempo reviewed social and economic data for 232 states and territories — including member states, non-member states, non-self-governing member states, and official designated areas — recognized by the United Nations from from World Population Prospects 2019, published by the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs.

Click here to see the 25 smallest countries and territories in the world

Source: mikolajn / Getty Images

25. Saint Kitts and Nevis
> 2020 population: 53,192
> Land area: 100 square miles
> Geographic location: Caribbean
> Sovereignty: United Kingdom
> Comparably populated U.S. city: Hoboken, New Jersey

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Source: stone973 / Getty Images

24. Faroe Islands
> 2020 population: 48,865
> Land area: 540 square miles
> Geographic location: Northern Europe
> Sovereignty: Kingdom of Denmark
> Comparably populated U.S. city: Cypress, California

Source: elvirkin / iStock via Getty Images

23. Sint Maarten (Dutch part)
> 2020 population: 42,882
> Land area: 13 square miles
> Geographic location: Caribbean
> Sovereignty: Kingdom of the Netherlands
> Comparably populated U.S. city: Rohnert Park, California

Source: OSTILL / iStock via Getty Images

22. Monaco
> 2020 population: 39,244
> Land area: .77 square miles
> Geographic location: Western Europe
> Sovereignty: Sovereign
> Comparably populated U.S. city: Norwich, Connecticut

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Source: eyfoto / iStock via Getty Images

21. Turks and Caicos Islands
> 2020 population: 38,718
> Land area: 366 square miles
> Geographic location: Caribbean
> Sovereignty: United Kingdom
> Comparably populated U.S. city: Wausau, Wisconsin

Source: Leonid Andronov / iStock via Getty Images

20. Saint Martin (French part)
> 2020 population: 38,659
> Land area: 19 square miles
> Geographic location: Caribbean
> Sovereignty: France
> Comparably populated U.S. city: Hollister, California

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Source: RossHelen / Getty Images

19. Liechtenstein
> 2020 population: 38,137
> Land area: 61 square miles
> Geographic location: Western Europe
> Sovereignty: Sovereign
> Comparably populated U.S. city: Lynnwood, Washington

Source: MickeyNG / Getty Images

18. San Marino
> 2020 population: 33,938
> Land area: 23 square miles
> Geographic location: Southern Europe
> Sovereignty: Italy
> Comparably populated U.S. city: Seaside, California

Source: mussikatz / Flickr

17. Gibraltar
> 2020 population: 33,691
> Land area: 2.6 square miles
> Geographic location: Southern Europe
> Sovereignty: United Kingdom
> Comparably populated U.S. city: Adelanto, California

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16. British Virgin Islands
> 2020 population: 30,237
> Land area: 58 square miles
> Geographic location: Caribbean
> Sovereignty: United Kingdom
> Comparably populated U.S. city: Newington, Connecticut

Source: dronepicr, CC BY 2.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

15. Bonaire, Sint Eustatius, and Saba
> 2020 population: 26,221
> Land area: 171 square miles
> Geographic location: Caribbean
> Sovereignty: Kingdom of the Netherlands
> Comparably populated U.S. city: Superior, Wisconsin

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Source: Norimoto / Getty Images

14. Palau
> 2020 population: 18,092
> Land area: 177 square miles
> Geographic location: Micronesia
> Sovereignty: United States
> Comparably populated U.S. city: Oxon Hill, Maryland

Source: patrickoberem / iStock via Getty Images

13. Cook Islands
> 2020 population: 17,564
> Land area: 91 square miles
> Geographic location: Polynesia
> Sovereignty: New Zealand
> Comparably populated U.S. city: White Settlement, Texas

Source: noblige / Getty Images

12. Anguilla
> 2020 population: 15,002
> Land area: 35 square miles
> Geographic location: Caribbean
> Sovereignty: United Kingdom
> Comparably populated U.S. city: Swampscott, Massachusetts

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Source: mrlins / Wikimedia Commons

11. Tuvalu
> 2020 population: 11,792
> Land area: 10 square miles
> Geographic location: Polynesia
> Sovereignty: United Kingdom
> Comparably populated U.S. city: Viera East, Florida

Source: Serge Melesan / iStock via Getty Images

10. Wallis and Futuna Islands
> 2020 population: 11,246
> Land area: 77 square miles
> Geographic location: Polynesia
> Sovereignty: France
> Comparably populated U.S. city: Westview, Florida

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Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

9. Nauru
> 2020 population: 10,834
> Land area: 8 square miles
> Geographic location: Micronesia
> Sovereignty: Australia
> Comparably populated U.S. city: Oak Grove, South Carolina

8. Saint Barthélemy
> 2020 population: 9,885
> Land area: 8 square miles
> Geographic location: Caribbean
> Sovereignty: France
> Comparably populated U.S. city: Smithville, Missouri

Source: rosn123 / iStock via Getty Images

7. Saint Helena
> 2020 population: 6,071
> Land area: 118 square miles
> Geographic location: Western Africa
> Sovereignty: United Kingdom
> Comparably populated U.S. city: Tequesta, Florida

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Source: Pierre-Olivier Valiquette / iStock via Getty Images

6. Saint Pierre and Miquelon
> 2020 population: 5,795
> Land area: 93 square miles
> Geographic location: North America
> Sovereignty: France
> Comparably populated U.S. city: Piedmont, South Carolina

Source: Derek Galon / Getty Images

5. Montserrat
> 2020 population: 4,999
> Land area: 39 square miles
> Geographic location: Caribbean
> Sovereignty: United Kingdom
> Comparably populated U.S. city: Centreville, Illinois

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Source: Cheryl Ramalho / iStock via Getty Images

4. Falkland Islands (Malvinas)
> 2020 population: 3,483
> Land area: 4,700 square miles
> Geographic location: South America
> Sovereignty: United Kingdom
> Comparably populated U.S. city: Delshire, Ohio

Source: MollyBrownNZ / iStock via Getty Images

3. Niue
> 2020 population: 1,618
> Land area: 100 square miles
> Geographic location: Polynesia
> Sovereignty: Sovereign
> Comparably populated U.S. city: Taylorsville, Kentucky

Source: CloudSurfer / Wikimedia Commons

2. Tokelau
> 2020 population: 1,350
> Land area: 04 square miles
> Geographic location: Polynesia
> Sovereignty: Sovereign

strong>> Comparably populated U.S. city: Ardmore, Alabama

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Source: MichalLudwiczak / iStock via Getty Images

1. Vatican City
> 2020 population: 809
> Land area: .17 square miles
> Geographic location: Southern Europe
> Sovereignty: Sovereign
> Comparably populated U.S. city: Ogden, Illinois

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