Countries With The Most Low-Lying Urban Areas

Badwater Basin in Death Valley, the lowest point in the US.
Badwater Basin in Death Valley, the lowest point in the US.

Most of the land area on Earth sits below the sea level. The Dead Sea depression is the lowest point on Earth while the Caspian depression is the largest area below the sea level in the whole world. About 33 countries around the world are below the sea level, and most of their populated and urban areas are at, near, or below the sea level. The Netherlands is one of the countries with most of its towns and cities below the sea level with a larger section of the country's population living in those towns. The cities and towns with lower elevation are always at risk of experiencing floods. Some of the countries with the most low-lying land urban areas include China, the United States, and Japan.


China is the country with the highest population, besides being the second largest country measuring 9.6 million square km. Most of its landscape ranges from forest to desert. The southern part of China is predominantly mountain ranges and hills while the east-central part boasts of rivers. The world’s highest point is in China at the peak of Mount Everest at 8,848m (29,029 ft) and is found on the Sino-Nepalese border while Ayding Lake is the lowest point at 154m below sea level. Of the country's total land, 23,929 square kilometers of urban land lies below 5m of elevation.

United States

The US is a federal state comprising of 50 states and has a total area of 9.8 million square kilometers with a population of 320 million people. It is an ethnically diverse and multicultural country. The lowest and the highest points in the US are in California. Alaska’s Mount McKinley is the highest peak in the US at 6190.5m while Death Valley is the lowest point at 85m below the sea level. Most of the populations of the US live in urban areas. Some of these metropolitan areas lie below 5m above sea level. A total of 17,520 square kilometers of urban land has an elevation below 5m. These cities include Delaware, Wyoming, and Oregon.


72% of Japans’ topography is mountainous with Mount Fuji being the highest mountain with an elevation of 3,776m. Due to several industries and economic activities in Japan, the rate of urbanization is quickly rising. However, of the total land area considered as urban, 9,225 square kilometers lie below 5m of elevation. The low elevation has not hindered the growth or population in these areas neither has it affected the rate of industrial growth.


The Netherlands, as the name suggests means a lower country with only 50% of its land exceeding 1m above sea level. Most parts of the Netherlands are below sea level and are man-made, reclaimed from the sea area. Most of its urban areas are below the sea level with 7,749 square kilometers of urban land under the elevation of 5m. Agriculture is suitable in these areas because of high soil fertility.

Other Countries

Thailand, Indonesia, Italy, India, Brazil, and France have a total of 25,000 square kilometers of urban land under the elevation of 5m above sea level. However, these towns and urban areas continue to thrive because of the various industries and urban facilities making them suitable for the population. Some of these urban centers in the low lying area are prone to flooding and occasionally experience floods, but necessary measures have been put in place for instance in the Netherlands and the US to deal with effects of floods.

Countries With The Most Largest Low Lying Land Urban Area

RankCountryUrban Land Area Below 5 meters in Elevation (sq km)
2United States17,520

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