There are 195 countries in this world. That is unless you count Taiwan (which some countries, such as America, don’t). Then you would say the world has 196 countries.
Every single one of the 196 countries has its own centralized government. That is what ultimately sets one country apart from another. Over time, every country’s rich history has created a set of traditions, norms, and cultures that make them all unique.
When most people hear the word “country,” they equate it to a large mass of land. However, not every country is 6.6. million square miles like Russia. There are some countries out there that are barely even a fraction of that number.
Here is a list of the 10 smallest countries on our planet:
Coming in at 134.6 square miles, it’s hard to believe that Grenada is not the smallest country in the world. However, there are nine more that cover even less land. The tenth smallest country is situated in the Caribbean. It has one mainland and six smaller islands.
Grenada first came on the radar of the Spanish in 1498. Christopher Columbus noticed the future tenth smallest country on his third journey back to the Americas. Originally, the explorer named the island “Concepcion.” Shortly after, its name was changed to Grenada, which is also the name of a prominent city in Spain. The name itself translates to “pomegranate.”
Although Columbus noticed the islands, they remained free of colonization for almost a century. The French became the first to inhabit the land and give it a semblance of a centralized government. In 1763, the British received the land due to the historical agreement called the Treaty of Paris. The British had plans to increase sugar production with the use of Grenada’s land. Grenada remained under British rule until it gained its independence on February 7, 1974.
Today, Grenada is dubbed the “Isle of Spice” due to it being one of the world’s largest manufacturers of nutmeg. The tenth smallest country also holds the honour of being home to the first underwater sculpture park in the world. The sculptures are created with materials such as concrete and rebar and are placed so that they don’t disrupt the habitat and reefs underwater.
Standing at 122 square miles, this archipelago is situated in the heart of the Mediterranean Sea. Its placement in the Sea, directly under Italy, Tunisia, and Libya has made these islands prime real estate for naval bases. In fact, King George VI of the United Kingdom awarded the Republic of Malta the Award of George Cross for the country’s bravery during the Second World War.
With the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869, the country’s economy began to boom with an influx of imports and exports. However, the country saw a bit of a decline come in the 1940s when newer merchant ships were created. This resulted in those travelling through the Mediterranean not needing to make stops on Malta to refuel. To this day, the country struggles with growing its own food and obtaining freshwater due to drought-stricken summers.
Although the country has had its struggles financially, it is still a popular tourist spot. Malta is rich in historical architecture. Many visitors love to check out spots such as the 16th-century-built St. John’s Co-Cathedral and Ħaġar Qim, ancient temple ruins that were built back in 3200 B.C.
8. The Maldives
This group of 26 atolls (ring-shaped pieces of coral reef) spans over 115 square miles. Situated in South Asia, the Maldives are known for their breathtaking beaches. Tourism accounts for 90 per cent of the government tax in this country. That is why since 1972, the number of resorts spiked from just 2 to 92.
Being surrounded by diverse underwater ecosystems, Conrad Resorts and Hotels built the first-ever undersea restaurant. Exclusive to the Maldives, Ithaa offers a six-course meal while taking in a panoramic view of the coral reefs that comprise the island.
7. Saint Kitts and Nevis
Better known as The Federation of Saint Christopher and Nevis, these two Caribbean-based islands are the smallest sovereign state of America, only covering 100.8 square miles. The island of Nevis got its name from Christopher Columbus, who felt the island looked like a snow-capped mountain. He took the Spanish word for snow, “nieves,” and adopted the word “Nevis.”
Those who live on the island mostly work in one of two fields–tourism or sugar plantation. Due to the high level of volcanic activity that created these two islands, they both boast white sand on one side, and black sand on the other. If you are a tourist to this country, be sure to try their native dish, “goat water,” which is made up of the neck bones and meat of goats.
This country situated between Switzerland and Austria runs at 61.78 square miles. Liechtenstein is a German-speaking nation that has adopted a hybrid of the Swiss language, making it an Alemannic dialect that teeters on Swiss Standard German.
Not only is the language so unique, but this country also has the dubious honour of being the manufacturer of the most false teeth. Local company, Ivoclar Vivadent produces 20 per cent of the world’s false teeth, pumping out 60 million sets in 10,000 variations annually.
The country has an official lunch break between the hours of noon and 1:30. During that time, noisy activities such as mowing the lawn are frowned upon. Loud noises are also discouraged after 10:00 pm.
5. San Marino
We are halfway through the countdown and the countries are getting smaller by the second. This mountainous area is located on the Italian Peninsula and is only 23.63 square miles. San Marino was founded in 301 A.D. by Marinus, a Stoneman of the Christian faith who fled religious persecution from the Roman Empire. He is situated at the base of Mount Titano.
This country has an open-door policy with Italy, as it does not require a passport to grant access. In fact, if an Italian would like their passport stamped in San Marino for nostalgic purposes, there is a 5-euro fee.
There are no universities in San Marino. If a person is looking to pursue higher education, they usually live at home with their parents while they commute back and forth to Italy.
Spanning 10.04 square miles, Tuvalu is an independent island in the South Pacific that identifies as a British commonwealth. Not too far from Hawaii and Australia, this nation consists of six true atolls and three reef islands.
Diet in Tuvalu is very unique to the area. Their most cultivated plant is called pulaka, or swamp taro. It has a high salinity rate and is resistant to drought.
Also, common dietary staples for those in Tuvalu include coconut palms, pandanus, breadfruit, and bananas. For protein, fish is the main staple in the country’s diet.
This 8.108 square mile country is a part of Micronesia, just northeast of Australia. It is the smallest country in the South Pacific. Interestingly enough, it is the only Republic State that does not have a capital.
Nauru has the highest level of obesity in the world. Most of the blame falls on the western influence on their diet with the introduction of fast food into their culture.
Although they only have one football field, Australian-rules football is still the number one pastime of Nauru. The country has their own 12-team league. They also have a National League that participates in the annual Arafura Games. The Nauru Chiefs are currently ranked 8th in the International Cup.
At 499 acres, the average person can walk coast-to-coast of this country in 56 minutes. The Principality of Monaco is an independent city-state that rests on the French coast of the Mediterranean. The second smallest country in the world is a very popular tourist spot for the wealthy. Yachts fill the harbour as visitors patrol the country’s upscale casinos. Sports betting is also popular in Monaco, mainly the annual Grand Prix motor race that emanates in the country’s streets.
Monaco has a strong economy. So much so that only one helicopter at a time can leave the country, and air travel must be regulated to 20-minute intervals. Travelling to Monaco is ideal at any time of the year. Not only is the temperature always moderate to beautiful, but there’s a litany of events going on each month. Some of the most popular festivities include the Princess of Hanover’s Rose Ball in March the Monte-Carlo Philharmonic Orchestra’s annual concert at the Prince’s Palace in July to the International Marathon in November.
1. The Vatican
The home of the Pope is officially the smallest country in the world, spanning over 109 acres. This city-state is surrounded by Rome, Italy and serves as the headquarters for the Roman Catholic Church. Although it may be small, Vatican City is efficient. The country distributes its own stamps and has such an efficient mailing system that the Romans use it as their default. The Vatican’s radio station is located in the Vatican Gardens and transmits content in over 20 languages.
Although the Vatican is the smallest country, it does have the largest Square in Rome. St. Peter’s Square (or Piazza di San Pietro) stands 314 meters long and 240 meters wide.
It was completed in 1667 by designer, Bernini. With the help of his students, Bernini designed the 140 statues that are used to decorate the whole colonnade.