Wouldn’t you love to visit the countries where you only need a few hours or probably a half-day to criss-cross the entire country? Go off the beaten path and get ready to tour the smallest countries in the world to experience their gorgeous natural beauty, culture and history. This list of the world’s smallest countries by population includes some places that are smaller than the world’s largest metropolitan cities. You will need just a day or two to explore the whole country. And don’t be fooled by the size of their population, some of them are also the richest countries on earth and offer luxurious experiences unrivalled by others.
Also Read: Oldest countries in the world
The Least Populated And Smallest Countries In The World
1. Visit The Pope’s Residence At Vatican City (801)
Although it sits within Rome itself, the Vatican is its own country. The residence of its most famous citizen, the Pope, has less than 500 citizens, making it the smallest country in the world by population. With its history and culture, the country packs a punch. Also known as Holy See, it is the world’s smallest UN-recognised country by population. However, the population of this small country triples or quadruples on any given day due to the influx of tourists. With monumental churches, lavish decorations and celebrated art, it is incredible to behold. Some of the most popular attractions in Vatican City are St Peter’s Basilica, the Sistine Chapel, St Peter’s Square, Vatican Necropolis and its museums—Museo Pio Clementino, Etruscan Museum and the Egyptian Museum.
- St. Peter’s Basilica
- Sistine Chapel
- Piazza San Pietro
- Vatican Museums
How to reach:
The Vatican maintains an open border with Italy and is treated as part of the Schengen Area. From central Rome, the #64 bus goes right to the southern end of the Vatican.
Take theMetro Line Awhich you can catch from some of the most popular parts of town (i.e. the Spanish Steps, Barberini / the Trevi Fountain, Piazza Repubblica, Piazza del Popolo, Termini Station), and get off at either the Lepanto stop or the Ottaviano stop.
Also Read: 12 Of The Best Day Trips From Rome
2. Visit The Timeless Beauty Of Tuvalu (11,840)
With more than 100 tiny islands scattered across the South Pacific, the country of Tuvalu has a population of fewer than 12,000. Known as one of the world’s most isolated countries, Tuvalu has the lowest maximum elevation in the world, with its highest point just five metres (15 feet) above sea level.
The thinly populated atolls of this tiny island country are fringed with palm trees and outlined with stark white sand. With its vast variety of marine life, Tuvalu is the ultimate diving and snorkelling vacation destination. You can spend a lazy afternoon in a hammock or explore the inhabited islets or even visit the historic WWII sites. Tuvalu is still ruled by Queen Elizabeth II and the British flag appears in the top left corner of the official flag.
- Island of Funafuti
- WWII Plane Wreckage Sites
- Philatelic Bureau
How to reach:
There is one international airport in Tuvalu, on the island of Funafuti. According to FlightAware, the flight service here is quite stable apart from occasional disruption due to cyclones in the area. So be prepared to wait some days beyond your intended departure date.
Tuvalu is a sailing haven. You can sail here from Fiji or Samoa. Islands are very dispersed and travelling to some of them can take some time.
3. Experience WWII History In Nauru (10,847)
Once known as “Pleasant Island”, Nauru is a tiny, Pacific island nation, located 3,000 km (1,800 miles) northeast of Australia. This raised coral island was a former British colony, which now has 10,000 citizens approximately. Nauru’s central plateau is surrounded by coral reefs and its closest neighbour is Banaba Island in Kiribati, which is 300 kilometres (186 miles) away. Its economy is dependent on phosphate mining, but the main reserves were exhausted by 2006.
This tiny island country in Micronesia will offer you remnants of Japanese WWII occupation, small “sandy” beaches with massive pinnacles, and a Buada Lagoon which is the only body of water on the island in a very picturesque spot in the lower middle of the island. However, swimming isn’t really recommended in this tropical body of water. While it is a freshwater lagoon surrounded on all sides by dense palm trees and other vegetation, the water is dirty. Nauru used to be one of the richest countries in the world (in terms of per capita GDP) but as the phosphate reserves were exhausted, the country’s economy took a downward turn. With not a lot of tourists visiting this country, it’s your best chance for a completely offbeat experience.
- Command Range
- Anibare Bay
How to reach:
The sole airport of the island is the Nauru International Airport and the national airline carrier is Nauru Airlines. At this airport, virtually everyone arrives at and departs from Nauru. As of March 2016, Nauru Airlines flies to Nauru from Brisbane, Nadi and Honiara. Flights are rather irregular, with each destination being served one to three times a week.
Neither of the two ports in Aiwo and Anibare can accommodate passenger traffic or yachts; they are used for export of phosphate or by local fishermen. As the water is shallow near the coast, larger ships must anchor offshore.
4. Catch The Untamed Paradise That Is Palau (18,123)
Another country with a group of islands in the Pacific, Palau lies in the southwest corner of Micronesia. The country is perched on the Kyushu-Palau Ridge and is spread across 340 coral and volcanic islands, though many of them are uninhabited. With a population of about 17,900 (July 2018), Palau is one of the top scuba-diving spots in the world. A Great Barrier Reef system surrounds most of the country which might also be the reason why it is the first country in the world to implement a responsible tourism policy for visitors. This policy particularly focuses on niche tourism markets where the aim is to reduce over-tourism (and its subsequent economic impact), and encourage forms of tourism that are more nature-based and culturally oriented. This allows you to immerse yourself in local activities that also boosts local communities.
- Rock Islands
- Jelly Fish Lake
- Belau National Museum
How to reach:
The only realistic choice. There is only one airport, Airai (ROR), on Babeldaob. There are daily flights with United Airlines from Manila, Philippines, via Guam or you may also fly via Seoul or Taipei with China Airways and Asiana Airlines.
5. Get Ready To Be Charmed By San Marino (33,955)
Founded in 301 AD, the Republic of San Marino is the world’s oldest constitutional republic as well as the oldest sovereign state in existence. This charming little country is located near Italy in Southern Europe and has a population of 33,553 (March 2020). Nestled between the mountains near the Adriatic Sea, wherever you go within this 61 square feet of territory, there is a dazzling panorama at your disposal. The country is made up of nine municipalities each hosting its own settlement, but Italian is the dominant language spoken in the country.
San Marino sits on the coast near Rimini (one of Italy’s premier resort areas) and on the northeastern side of the Apennine Mountains. The capital, San Marino City, sits atop Mount Titano and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. So get ready to witness a maze of hilly, medieval streets, dotted with cafes and small shops.
- Rocca Guaita
- Torre Cesta
- Torre del Montale
- Mount Titano
How to reach:
San Marino does not have an international airport. The closest airports with regular national and international flights are Guglielmo Marconi Airport (Bologna) which is 140 Km away and Marche Airport (Ancona) which is 110 Km away.
If you are taking a car, from the A14 Motorway exit at Rimini Sud and follow the Rimini – San Marino highway.
From Rimini railway station in Italy, there is a regular connection to San Marino’s Old Town. The bus stop is opposite the railway station, at about 50 metres on the right. The service is provided every day with separate summer and winter timetables.
6. Experience Luxury In Monaco (39,335)
Located on the French Riviera, the Principality of Monaco is neither a kingdom nor a republic but has been granted full United Nations membership. This fully recognised country has a population of just 38,100 (Dec 2019), and is governed by a form of constitutional monarchy. Bordered by France and the Mediterranean Sea, Monaco is known for its stunning harbour, Monte Carlo Casino, the Formula 1 Grand Prix, countless yachts, luxury shopping and beautiful architecture.
- Monte Carlo
- Port de Fontvieille
- Oceanographic Museum
- Larvotto Beach
How to reach:
The nearest airport to Monaco is Côte d’Azur Airport in Nice which is around 40 km away from Monaco. The airport connects Monaco to over 86 destinations across the world.
Monaco has a well-connected railway network. Most major trains halt at the Monte Carlo station and other important stations, making accessibility easy.
7. Lose Yourself In The Dreamy Landscapes Of Liechtenstein (38,165)
Monaco and Liechtenstein, due to their similar population size, keep trading ranks on the list of smallest countries sorted by population. Located in the heart of Europe, snuggled between Austria and Switzerland, the Principality of Liechtenstein is a tiny landlocked nation that is one of the only two official ‘doubly-landlocked’ countries in the world (the other is Uzbekistan). ‘Double-landlocked’ means the bordering countries (Switzerland and Austria) are also landlocked. This German-speaking, 25km-long mountain principality with a population of 37,000 people is one of the world’s smallest and richest countries. Governed by an iron-willed monarch, peppered with mountainside castles, veined with skiing and hiking trails, Liechtenstein feels and looks like something straight out of a storybook.
- State Art Gallery (Kunstmuseum Liechtenstein)
- Vaduz Castle
- Cathedral of St. Florin
- Gutenberg Castle
How to reach:
Liechtenstein has no airports due to its size. You can take a flight to Zürich Airport which is 115 km away. There was also a private airport in Bad Ragaz, very near the country. Another popular point of entry is through Friedrichshafen in Germany, which is served by low-cost airlines and Turkish Airlines.
Liechenstein is 15 min by bus and 10 min by taxi from Buchs.
The best rail access to Liechtenstein is via the Swiss border stations at Buchs or Sargans, or via the Austrian station at Feldkirch. All are well served by express trains and connected with Vaduz by bus.
8. Check Out The Dual-Island Nation Of Saint Kitts And Nevis (53,324)
A dual-island nation situated between the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, Saint Kitts and Nevis is known for its tall mountains, rainforests, and calm beaches. Once full of sugar plantations, they have all now been converted into inns or atmospheric ruins. With its small population, 52,823 (July 2019), split between two islands, Saint Kitts and Nevis is known to be the smallest country in the Caribbean. It’s is a member of the UN, but is also a Commonwealth realm, with Queen Elizabeth II still acting as head of state.
How to reach:
- Brimstone Hill Fortress
- St Kitts Scenic Railway
- Pinney’s Beach
- Mount Liamuiga
There is Vance W. Amory International Airport on Nevis (NEV) which accommodates only smaller aircraft and private jets and the Robert L. Bradshaw International Airport (SKB) on St Kitts which accommodates aircraft sizes up to commercial jets. Direct flights from the United States and the UK arrive into St Kitts (SKB), and all Nevis guests are met by their hotels and seamlessly escorted to the water taxi for the six-minute transfer to Nevis.
Arriving by sea is the ideal choice for those flying into St Kitts from Europe or North America. Boats will travel to Charlestown, the capital of Nevis, while the Seabridge ferry docks at Cades Bay. On-demand water taxis from St Kitts normally arrive at Oualie Beach on the island’s north side. Small cruise ships and ferries dock at Charlestown, from where it’s easy to get taxis and other road transportation.
9. Dive In The Volcanic Islands Of Marshall Islands (59,324)
The Marshall Islands consists of a group of atolls, isolated islands and reefs in the Pacific Ocean, located just about halfway between Hawaii and Australia. The country’s Enewetak Atoll and Bikini Atoll used to be US nuclear test sites, and Kwajalein was a famous World War II battleground. Today the latter is used as a US missile test range. Covering over 1,000 islands, most of which are inhabited, Marshall Islands has an estimated population of 53,066 (UN estimate 2016). These atolls are surrounded by at least 160 species of coral and are noted for their coconut and papaya plantations. Geographically, it is a part of the larger island group of Micronesia, but is a separate political power and is a recognised UN member.
- Kalalin pass
- Ebeye Island
- Bokolap Islands
- Majuro Bridge
How to reach:
The Marshall Islands International Airport is located on the south side of Majuro Atoll. Two airlines serve the islands bringing guests in, Air Marshall Islands and United Airlines. There are taxis and hotel transport from the airport into the town.
There are currently no regular passenger shipping services to the Marshall Islands.
10. Indulge In The Caribbean Beauty That Is Dominica (72,046)
Officially the Commonwealth of Dominica, the country Dominica is located in the West Indies in the Caribbean. This mountainous country is filled with natural hot springs and tropical rainforests. While it was never a commonwealth realm, it sports a parliamentary democracy. Nicknamed ‘the nature island’ Dominica is known for its colourful towns, snorkelling and scuba diving.
- Morne Trois Pitons National Park
- Trafalgar Falls
- Boiling Lake
- Papillote Tropical Gardens
How to reach:
The island has two airports, Melville Hall Airport in the north and Canefield airport in the South. Since these are not international airports, it is necessary to take a connecting flight from the nearby islands such as Puerto Rico, Guadeloupe, Martinique etc
There are ferries which operate between Dominica and various neighbouring islands including St Lucia, Martinique and Guadeloupe.
Explore The World’s Smallest Countries By Population
Which of the aforementioned world’s smallest countries by population has caught your eye? According to the United Nations list of recognised countries and observer states, these countries are the smallest and least populated in the world. However, do note, that the population will change from time to time and that these countries can move around on the list accordingly. Looking for a sparsely populated paradise to head to? Let us know which one of the world’s smallest countries by population, you plan to choose and why in the comments below!
The smallest country in the world is the Vatican city.
As of 2020, Vatican city has a population of 801 people.
Monaco is the world’s second-smallest country.
The smallest city in the world by area is Vatican City.