The Least Populated Countries In The World

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A street in San Marino, one of the world's least populated countries. Editorial credit: SimoneN /

When discussing the populations of countries, we usually expect the numbers to be in millions rather than tens of thousands. Nevertheless, there are countries with very small populations. According to data from the United Nations, 13 countries across the world have populations of less than 100,000 (as of 2019). The countries that are the least populated in the world are often some of the smallest by land area and are isolated. Most of the islands in the West Indies and the Caribbean have very small populations because of their small size. Therefore, they can only accommodate a small number of people. Some countries are located in places with very harsh weather conditions that do not appeal to many people. In many countries, a combination of various factors has contributed to their small populations. 

Countries With The Smallest Populations

Vatican City - 799

With a population of fewer than 1,000 people, Vatican City has the smallest population of any country in the world. Vatican City is also the smallest country in the world by land area at 0.17 square miles (0.44km2). An enclave of Rome, the Vatican is ruled by the Pope. The citizens that reside within the country are either clergy, state officials, or members of the Swiss Guard. 

Nauru - 10,756 

The island nation of Nauru, located in the Central Pacific in Micronesia, is the second least populated country in the world. It hosts a population of 10,756 individuals. The island, known officially as the Republic of Nauru and previously as Pleasant Island, is also the third smallest country in the world by size with only 8.1 square miles (21 km2) of land. The country has few job opportunities and a 90% unemployment rate. 

Tuvalu - 11,646

The third least populated country in the world is the island of Tuvalu. It has a population of 11,646 individuals. The island nation of Tuvalu is located in the Central Pacific in Polynesia. Tuvalu is composed of three reef islands and six atolls totaling 10 square miles (26 km2). Due to the lack of exploitable resources and economic potential, as well as its small size, Tuvalu has been designated a "least developed country" (LDC) by the United Nations. 

Other Small Populations

There are many other islands with minute populations, including the Pitcairn Islands (population of 54), Cocos Islands (596), Tokelau (1,285), and Niue (1,618) among others. However, as they are territories of the United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand respectively they are not included in the list of the world's least populated countries.

Least Populated Countries by Continent

Vatican City's position as the world's least populated country also places it as the least populated nation in Europe. With a population of 97,739, Seychelles is the 13th least populated country in the world. However, it is the least populated country in Africa. In South America, the least populated country in Suriname with a population of 581,372. It is also the smallest country on the continent at 63,252 square miles (163,821 km2). In Asia, the Maldives has the lowest population of 530,932 people. The country is composed of 26 atolls spread out over 115 square miles (298 km2).

Prospects For Growth

Statistics indicate that most people would rather use these less populated places for an exotic vacation while continuing to live in populated countries. Aside from a few countries like the Vatican City, Monaco, and Liechtenstein which border other European nations, most of the least populated countries are far more isolated and seem inaccessible to most people. There is little likelihood for many of these countries to witness a marked increase in the size of the population anytime soon. Many of the reasons that have left them with so few residents are largely unchangeable, and many of those listed are losing people as they seek lives elsewhere.

Countries With The Smallest Populations

1Vatican City799
5San Marino33,860
8Saint Kitts and Nevis52,823
9Marshall Islands58,791
12Antigua and Barbuda97,118
14Saint Vincent and the Grenadines110,589
17Federated States of Micronesia113,815
19Saint Lucia182,790
21Sao Tome and Principe215,056
30Cape Verde549,935

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