World Facts

The Largest Countries in the World

The worlds largest nations, measured in square kilometers of land area.

From Cape Horn all the way to the Arctic Circle, the world’s largest countries provide a beautiful snapshot of the variety of geography, climate and wildlife on the planet. Collectively, the world’s largest countries contain rainforest and tundra, mountains and valleys, coastline and desert.

As this we explore the largest nations, we visit five different continents, some of the world’s most spectacular geography, and every type of climate imaginable.

Excitingly, it’s always changing, too: history has taught that geopolitical boundaries shift dramatically as centuries pass. In the next decades, who’s to say which countries will become the world’s largest?

When 11.5 percent of all the land in the entire world is claimed by just one country, it’s not surprising to learn that the tenth largest country (Algeria) could fit into the largest (Russia) seven times over. When all 10 of the world's largest countries are taken together, they total 49% of the earth's entire 149 million square kilometres of land.

10 – Algeria

The Algerian Sahara, the largest expanse of Saharan desert

Algeria, at 2.38 million square kilometers, is the tenth-largest country in the world by area and the only African country in the top 10.

Situated in Northern Africa, Algeria has a Mediterranean coastline 998 km long. 90 percent of the country is desert, and much of its desert regions are highly elevated. The Tell Atlas mountain range runs along the country’s northern border, while the interior, much of it hundreds of meters above sea level, contains the Algerian portion of the Sahara desert. The massive Algerian Sahara extends all the way to the south of the country past its borders with Niger and Mali.

9 – Kazakhstan

Kazakhstan is the world's largest landlocked country

Kazakhstan’s 2.72 million square kilometers stretch over vast plains and highlands. A cool and dry, but not quite desert-like, climate prevails for most of the year. Kazakhstanis experience a great range of temperatures throughout the year, though it doesn’t get as cold in Kazakhstan as it does in parts of its northern neighbor, Russia.

Formerly part of the USSR, the largest nation in the world for most of the 20th century, Kazakhstan’s current main claim to fame is its status as the largest landlocked country in the world—and the only landlocked country in the top 10.

8 – Argentina

Mount Fitz Roy in Patagonia, Argentina

Argentina, the world’s 32nd most populous country, is the world’s eighth largest, and the largest Spanish-speaking nation in the world by area. Its 2.78 million square kilometers include some of the most varied geography and climate in the world.

Swampy, tropical conditions in the very north give way to freezing glacial regions in the south. Patagonia, one of the most spectacular and dangerous places on the planet, stretches from the southern Andes in the west to the Atlantic Ocean in the east. The southern tip of Argentina, known as Cape Horn, is one of the stormiest locations on the globe.

7 – India

India is the second largest nation in terms of population, and seventh largest in terms of area

India’s boundaries have changed quite a few times over the past century, and even still, India claims that the northern region of Kashmir (an area disputed with Pakistan) belongs under Indian control completely. As it stands, without Kashmir, India’s territory stretches for 3.29 million square kilometers.

China, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal each share a border with India, and its geography ranges from the majestic Himalayan Mountains to the tropical shores of the southern peninsula. Geologically, India is found on it’s own subcontinent, and geological studies show that this whole nation and it’s close neighbours were at one time separated from Asia by a sea.

6 – Australia

The Twelve Apostles, Victoria State, Australia

The approximately 4.4 million square kilometer difference between Australia and India represents the second-largest size difference between countries ranked consecutively in the top 10. Australia, at around 7.69 million square kilometers, is over twice the size of India.

It’s the largest country in Oceania by far. Technically it is so large that it doesn’t even qualify as an island, it is a continental landmass.

The vast majority of its population live in coastal cities like Sydney in the east and Perth in the west, and with good reason: the Australian Outback is one of the world’s driest and hottest regions. Along with extreme climate and geography, Australia is known for its spectacular—and often deadly—wildlife.

5 – Brazil

Copacabana beach, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

The largest country in South America at over 8.51 million square kilometers, Brazil plays home to much of the world’s largest rainforest, the Amazon. The Amazon is so dense and vast that explorers and scientists have found human civilizations that had never made contact with the outside world.

Brazil also has a lengthy Atlantic coastline on the eastern side, which stretches approximately 8,000 km. Most of its major cities, including Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo exist near the coastline.

4 – People’s Republic of China

The Great Wall of China stretches along a long stretch of the northern border of China

China, the United States of America, and Canada each occupy just under seven percent of the globe’s surface. Of these three, China is the smallest—just barely—at approximately 9.6 million square kilometers. It shares a border with 14 different countries, including Afghanistan to the east, Russia to the north, and Vietnam to the south.

Its climate and its people vary dramatically. In the north, temperatures drop to subarctic levels, the center of the nation holds the Gobi, the world’s 4th largest desert, and in the south temperatures reach tropical levels regularly. With over 1.35 billion citizens, China is home to 56 recognized ethnic groups, has the world’s 18th largest Muslim population, the 19th largest Christian population, and with 1.9 doctors per 1000 people, China has more doctors than the entire population of Qatar.

3 – United States of America

Long meandering rivers of North Dakota cut through plains and canyons

The United States, just bigger than China but slightly smaller than Canada, occupies 9.63 million square kilometers. Bordered by Mexico to the south, and Canada to the north, the United States is home to a diverse array of geography and wildlife.

Two North-South features split the nation into three distinct pieces. West of the Rocky Mountains, the Pacific states are known for year round temperate weather and long expanses of beach along the California coast. Sandwiched between the Rockies and the Mississippi River, the great plains stretch from Canada to Mexico, giving the United States one of the world's most fertile growing areas. Lastly, the third of the nation east of the Mississippi is the industrial and economic hub of America, with major cities spread all along the Eastern seaboard.

2 – Canada

The vast wilderness of Canada is popular for outdoor activity

Canada’s 9.984 million square kilometers make it the largest country in the western hemisphere, and its 202,080 kilometer coastline means that it has a longer shoreline than any other nation. With a population density of 4 people per square kilometer, this means that each of Canada's 35 million people could have 61 acres for themselves.

Positioned between the Arctic and the United States, Canada’s massive frozen tundra extends into the Arctic Circle. Split similar to the USA; in the western half of the country, the Rocky Mountains run north to south, and prairies provide huge grain and canola growing areas. Eastern Canada is the traditional heart of the nation, with Toronto, Montreal, and the national capital of Ottawa, all located in the East.

1 – Russia

The Trans-Siberian Railroad is the world's longest railroad

Russia’s 17.1 million square kilometres easily make it the world’s largest by area. In fact, if Russia were to lop off 7 million square kilometers, it would still be the largest—and the lopped-off section would rank seventh overall!

Like China, Russia borders 14 different countries. Unlike China, none of Russia is tropical, though humid summers prevail in much of southern Russia. The Taiga, the world’s largest terrestrial biome, extends all the way from Eastern Canada throughout the vast majority of northern Russia. Massive oil reserves exist underneath Russia’s frozen forests and tundra; however, due to the expense and difficulty of extracting it, much of Russia’s oil wealth remains untapped.

50 Largest Countries in the World By Area

RankCountryArea sq.km
1Russia17,098,242
2Canada9,984,670
3United States9,826,675
4China9,596,960
5Brazil8,514,877
6Australia7,741,220
7India3,287,263
8Argentina2,780,400
9Kazakhstan2,724,900
10Algeria2,381,741
11Congo, Democratic Republic of the2,344,858
12Greenland (Denmark) 2,166,086
13Saudi Arabia2,149,690
14Mexico1,964,375
15Indonesia1,904,569
16Sudan1,861,484
17Libya1,759,540
18Iran1,648,195
19Mongolia1,564,116
20Peru1,285,216
21Chad1,284,000
22Niger1,267,000
23Angola1,246,700
24Mali1,240,192
25South Africa1,219,090
26Colombia1,138,910
27Ethiopia1,104,300
28Bolivia1,098,581
29Mauritania1,030,700
30Egypt1,001,450
31Tanzania947,300
32Nigeria923,768
33Venezuela912,050
34Namibia824,292
35Mozambique799,380
36Pakistan796,095
37Turkey783,562
38Chile756,102
39Zambia752,618
40Burma676,578
41Afghanistan652,230
42South Sudan644,329
43France643,801
44Somalia637,657
45Central African Republic622,984
46Ukraine603,550
47Madagascar587,041
48Botswana581,730
49Kenya580,367
50Yemen527,968

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