The 10 Least Populated Countries In The World

A priest walks at Saint Peter's Square in Vatican City, Vatican. Editorial credit: Alexandros Michailidis / Shutterstock.com
  • Vatican City is the least populous country in the world.
  • Monaco's population is small, but because of its small land mass, it is also the most densely populated country on Earth.
  • Five of the 10 least populous countries in the world are based on small islands.

There are countries in the world that have millions of people, even hundreds of millions. But there are also countries whose populations are dwarfed even by medium-sized cities. These countries have very limited space, which means that there are not too many places where people can live and work. Hence, the ability of the world’s least populated countries to generate wealth and prosperity is severely restricted due to lack of land and resources. Introducing the 10 least populated countries in the world.

  1. Vatican City - 825
  2. Tuvalu - 11,650
  3. Nauru - 12,580
  4. Palau - 18,010
  5. San Marino - 33,860
  6. Liechtenstein - 38,020
  7. Monaco - 38,960
  8. St. Kitts and Nevis - 52,830
  9. Marshall Islands - 58,790
  10. Dominica - 71,810

1. Vatican City - 825

Papal Swiss Guard in uniform at the Vatican City.

Vatican City, the headquarters of the Roman Catholic Church, is the least populous country on Earth. Just 825 people live in the Vatican. Most of them are priests and nuns from different parts of the world. The Vatican is surrounded on all sides by the city of Rome, the capital of Italy. Despite its small size, however, the Vatican is quite wealthy. In fact, the Vatican Bank has $8 billion worth of assets. Tourism also brings a lot of revenue to the tiny country. In fact, before the COVID-19 pandemic, tourism tripled from the time Pope Francis assumed the Papacy.

2. Tuvalu - 11,650

Kids playing in the street on the island of Tuvalu. Editorial credit: Romaine W / Shutterstock.com

The world’s second least populated country is a remote island nation in the South Pacific known as Tuvalu. Tuvalu is a small island archipelago in the region of Polynesia, about 1,000 km north of Fiji and around 2,000 km east of the Solomon Islands. The country has just 11,650 people living in it. Tuvalu’s land area is just shy of 26 sq. km. And this number is shrinking because of rising sea levels. In fact, there is a local catchphrase in the country, “Tuvalu is sinking”.

3. Nauru - 12,580

Participants of a walk against Diabetes and for general fitness around Nauru airport. Image credit: Lorrie Graham/AusAID,/Wikimedia.org

Nauru is another tiny island nation, situated virtually on top of the border between the North and South Pacific Ocean. In fact, Nauru is the smallest island country in the world, with a land area of just 8 sq. miles (approx. 12.9 sq. km). A population of just 12,580 people call Nauru home. At one time, the country had the world’s highest GDP per capita, as it had rich deposits of phosphate. Now, however, the phosphate is gone, and Nauru’s GDP is the lowest in the world. The country now suffers from the effects of over-mining and climate change. Nauru also has the dubious distinction of being the world’s fattest country, with 71.1% of its population being obese. 

4. Palau - 18,010

Palau Women's Conference 2013. UN WOMEN Pacific/Wikimedia Commons

Palau is another small island country in the South Pacific Ocean. It is also the newest country of the 10 least populous on Earth, as it gained independence in 1990. Palau is located around 700 km east of the Philippines. It is made up of 250 islands, and has a total population of just 18,010. Although Palau’s population is not significantly larger than those of Tuvalu and Nauru, it does have significantly more landmass. Its total land area is 152.53 sq. miles (395.06 sq. km).

5. San Marino - 33,860

Parade of city residents wearing historical medieval clothes in the streets of San Marino. Editorial credit: Alex_Po / Shutterstock.com

San Marino, the world’s fifth least populous country, can be found in the vicinity of north-central Italy, close to the Adriatic Sea. The country harkens back to a time when city-states were common in Europe. In fact, San Marino is thought to be the world’s oldest republic. Today, the country has a population of just 33,860. San Marino’s total land area is 23.6 sq. miles (61.2 sq. km). Before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, San Marino was visited by around 3 million visitors a year. 

6. Liechtenstein - 38,020

A street in the old part of the city Vaduz in Liechtenstein. 

Liechtenstein is a tiny European principality sandwiched between the two landlocked countries of Switzerland and Austria. The country is home to 38,020 people. Liechtenstein’s total land area is around 62 sq. miles (99.78 sq. km). Unlike San Marino, Liechtenstein does not see many visitors. In fact, it is the least visited country in Europe. Despite its size and small population, however, Liechtenstein is a very rich country. Indeed, the country has the second highest GDP per capita in the world.

7. Monaco - 38,960

The Festive changing of the guard of the palace of the prince of Monaco.

Monaco is another small European principality. It is located on the northern coast of the Mediterranean Sea, surrounded by France on its non-coastal borders. Monaco is home to only 38,960 people. However, because the country has such a small land area, measuring just 0.75 sq. miles (1.21 sq. km), it is also the most densely populated nation on Earth, at 68,212 people per square mile (26,337 per sq. km). Many people who call the small country home are very rich. In fact, millionaires make up 32% of Monaco’s population.

8. St. Kitts and Nevis - 52,830

The local music people at cruise port. Basseterre, Saint Kitts and Nevis. Editorial credit: Solarisys / Shutterstock.com

St. Kitts and Nevis is country in the eastern Caribbean Sea, consisting of two islands, St. Kitts and Nevis, hence the country’s name. Its population is just 52,830, though this does not include the hundreds of thousands of tourists that visit the country each year, many of them attracted by the country’s beaches. In 2019, for example, nearly 1.2 million tourists visited St. Kitts and Nevis. Thus, tourism is a big driver of the country’s economy. 

9. Marshall Islands - 58,790

Bird's-eye view of turquoise lagoon with vibrant island village in the Marshall Islands.

The title of ninth least populous country in the world goes to the island nation of the Marshall Islands, located in the Micronesia region of the Pacific Ocean. The Marshall Islands is an archipelago of 29 atolls and five individual islands, covering an area of 750,000 sq. miles, though the total land area of the country is just 70 sq. miles (181 sq. km). The population of the Marshall Islands is 58,790. Its largest city is the capital, Majuro, which has a population of approximately 25,000.

10. Dominica - 71,810

Carnival in Dominica. Editorial credit: Studiof20 / Shutterstock.com

Not to be confused with the Dominican Republic, Dominica is an island nation in the eastern Caribbean Sea. It consists of one island, bordered by Guadeloupe to the north and Martinique to the south, both of which are overseas territories of France. Dominica has a population of 71,810. This includes some 3,000 indigenous people known as Caribs. They are, in fact, the only indigenous population that remains in the islands of the eastern Caribbean.

The Future Of Earth’s Least Populous Countries

The world’s least populated countries have some problems in common with each other. The very existence of the aforementioned island countries in the Pacific is threatened by rising sea levels. In addition, most of these tiny countries lack natural resources, so they have had to find other ways of raising revenues and building economies. Some have been more successful than others. Whereas Monaco and Liechtenstein have become two of the richest countries in the world, other countries like Nauru have not fared as well. Still, it does show that a country does not have to be large or have a large population to be prosperous.

The 10 Least Populated Countries In The World

RankCountryTotal Population
1Vatican City825
2Tuvalu11,650
3Nauru12,580
4Palau18,010
5San Marino33,860
6Liechtenstein38,020
7Monaco38,960
8St. Kitts and Nevis52,830
9Marshall Islands58,790
10Dominica71,810
11Andorra77,140
12Antigua and Barbuda97,120
13Seychelles97,630
14Tonga104,490
15St. Vincent and the Grenadines110,590
16Grenada112,000
17Micronesia, Fed. Sts.113,810
18Kiribati117,610
19St. Lucia
182,790
20Samoa
197,100
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