World Facts

The Least Populated Countries In The World

Geographical isolation, small land areas, and harsh weather all contribute to many of these minute population sizes.

The images that we are used to when we talk about many countries are usually those of excess: large masses of land, numerous roads and buildings, and large groups of people. Particularly, when discussing the populations of countries, people expect such numbers to be in the millions rather the tens of thousands. Nevertheless, there are indeed countries with very small populations. According to data from the World Factbook, there are 13 countries with populations under 100,000 as of July 2017 estimates. The countries that are the least populated in the world are often also some of the smallest and most isolated. Most of the Islands in the West Indies and the Caribbean have very small populations because of the small sizes of their landmasses. They can therefore only accommodate a small number of people because of limited space resources. There are also countries that are located in places with very harsh weather conditions that do not appeal to many people. In many places, a combination of adverse weather conditions and small size has greatly contributed to their small populations. 

Countries With The Smallest Populations

Vatican City

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). Enclosed within the Italian city 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. 

Tuvalu

The second least populated country in the world is the island of Tuvalu with a population of 11,052. 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. 

Nauru

The island nation of Nauru, located in the Central Pacific in Micronesia, is the third least populated country in the world at 11,359, closely following neighboring Tuvalu. The island, known officially as the Republic of Nauru and previously as Pleasant Island, is also the third smallest country in the world with only 8.1 square miles (21 km2) of land. The country has little by means of job opportunities, with a 90% unemployment rate. 

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 on the list of the world's least populated countries.

Least Populated Countries by Continent

Vatican City's position as the least populated nation in the world also places it as the least populated nation in Europe. Across the other continents, however, the smallest nation fluctuates in size. With a population of 93,920, Seychelles is the 12th least populated country in the world. However, it is the least populated country in Africa. The population of Seychelles is significantly smaller than the second least populated Africa country, São Tomé and Príncipe, with 201,025 placing it as the 21st least populated country in the world. In South America, the least populated country is Suriname with a population of 591,919. It is also the smallest country on the continent at 63,252 square miles (163,821 km2). In Asia, the Maldives is the least populated nation with 392,709 people, placing it 27th in the world. The country is composed of 26 atolls spread out over 115 square miles (298 km2). The country's small population still puts a strain on the limited resources. 

Prospects for Growth

Statistics indicate that most people would rather use these less populated places for a remote 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 the least populated countries in the world to witness a marked increase in the size of population anytime soon. In fact, many of the reasons that have left them with so few residents are largely unchangeable, and many of those listed are actually losing people as they seek lives elsewhere.

Countries With The Smallest Populations

RankCountryPopulation
1 Vatican City1,000
2 Tuvalu11,052
3 Nauru11,359
4 Palau21,431
5 Monaco30,645
6 San Marino33,537
7 Liechtenstein38,244
8 Saint Kitts and Nevis52,715
9 Dominica73,897
10 Marshall Islands74,539
11 Andorra76,965
12 Seychelles93,920
13 Antigua and Barbuda94,731
14 Saint Vincent and the Grenadines102,089
15 Federated States of Micronesia104,196
16 Tonga106,479
17 Kiribati108,145
18 Grenada111,724
19 Saint Lucia164,994
20 Samoa200,108
21 São Tomé and Príncipe201,025
22 Vanuatu282,814
23 Barbados292,336
24 Bahamas329,988
25 Iceland339,747
26 Belize360,346
27 Maldives392,709
28 Malta416,338
29 Brunei443,593
30 Cape Verde560,899

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