Living shoulder-to-shoulder, side by side in tight spaces is not something most of us want. In some places in the world, this is a reality, however. Some countries, like Canada, have so much open space no one really knows what to do with it all, but in other locations around the globe, space is at a premium. Some of the most densely populated countries on Earth include the Vatican City, South Korea, and Bangladesh. These countries enjoy few square miles and have soaring populations that can be difficult to accommodate. Who has it the worst? It is the most difficult to walk down the street and not meet a single soul in Macau, Monaco, and Singapore. If you love having many neighbors however, these places may be for you.
Technically speaking, like Hong Kong, Macau is a special administrative region (SAR) of China and as such is not entirely a country in its own right. It does, however, have its own currency, flag, economy, government, and unique history and as such, we will consider it a country for the purposes of this article.
Macau is located southwest of Hong Kong across the Pearl River estuary, and is much smaller geographically speaking. The SAR covers just 12 square miles (30 square km), and is home to over 640,000 people. Yes, it’s that tightly packed! This means there are about 54,111 people per square mile living in the country.
Macau was once ruled by the Portuguese, and even though it is now an SAR of China, it still abides by laws based on the Portuguese system of government. When Macau was returned to China, the autonomy of the area was promised to last for 50 years, up until December 2049. Today, most people in Macau are Chinese and many speak Cantonese, Hakka, Portuguese, and English.
Monaco is the second-most densely populated country on Earth with about 50,818 people per square mile. This independent state sits right next to France on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea, and is a constitutional monarchy that thrives on tourism. Monaco is small but mighty. It is a major banking center that keeps its client list private, and is popular among its residents for not levying taxes on its people and as such, is considered a tax haven for the rich.
Known for its casinos in Monte Carlo, as well as for hosting the Formula One Grand Prix auto race each May, this country is home to one of the world’s top economies. Low unemployment (2%) and state-controlled networks such as tobacco, the postal service, and telephone service contribute to its stability. Intriguingly, Monaco uses the Euro as currency, but it is not part of the European Union, despite having France defend it on the military front. The official language in Monaco is French, but inhabitants also speak Italian, English, and other dialects like Monégasque.
Singapore is a third country that tops the list when it comes to population density. There are about 21,341 people in every square mile in this city-state located at the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula, less than 100 miles north of the equator. Singapore, like just a handful of others in the world, is home to a political system whereby an independent city is at the center of the economic, political and cultural workings of the country, and is not governed by any other government.
As the largest port in Southeast Asia, Singapore is alive with a high level of diversity and action. The country was once a colony governed by the British, but is now a member of the Commonwealth, a place with one of the strongest economies in the world.
Living in places with a high density of people can be exciting. There is almost always something to do, there are many places to eat, and street life can be both entertaining and educational. Of course, those who have grown up in densely packed cities may often say they dream of the open spaces of the countryside. Those living in Macau, Monaco, and Singapore must be able to tolerate high rates of population as the most densely packed places on Earth, and adjust to a style of living that is fast-paced as well as compact.