The World's Smallest Nations To Qualify In The World Cup (Soccer)

The smallest nations may be the fiercest competitors in the bid to win the World Cup.

The World Cup event is one of the most competitive soccer events in the world where the best national soccer teams compete against each other for the World Cup title. Since all the countries cannot compete in this event, each continent has to send their representatives. The team must win the qualification games which are held on a continental level and be the top in their group for a chance to represent the continent. These are some of the small nations that have participated in the World Cup championships:


After losing to Croatia during the qualification rounds for the 2014 World Cup, most people thought their hope of ever playing in the Cup was over. The team bounced back in 2016 by reaching their first major event after qualifying for Euro 2016, and this motivated them to defeated Kosovo 2-0 to secure their ticket to Russia in 2018. With a population of over 334, 252 citizens, Iceland became the smallest nation to qualify for these games.


Although they did not qualify for the 2018 tournament after losing eight of their matches and finishing number seven in South America, Paraguay was the smallest nation to qualify for the World Cup back in 1930 (with a population of 860,000 in 1930). During the 1930 World Cup Paraguay lost to the United States and defeated Belgium, and since then they have qualified for seven more FIFA World Cup tournaments with their last qualification being in 2010. In the 2010 World Cup, Paraguay reached the quarter-finals but was defeated by Spain.

Trinidad and Tobago

After trying for many years, Trinidad and Tobago qualified for the World Cup for the first time in the 2006 World Cup. With a population of 1.3 million in 2006, Trinidad and Tobago was the smallest nation to qualify for the 2006 FIFA World Cup, a record they held until 2017 when Iceland qualified for the 2018 World Cup. During the 2006 World Cup, Trinidad and Tobago finished last in their table behind Paraguay. They only managed to draw with Sweden while losing to Paraguay. The national team has qualified only once for the World Cup and got eliminated from the 2018 World Cup qualification campaign after losing eight games and winning only two.

Northern Ireland

Although they did not qualify for the coming global tournament, after losing to Switzerland, Northern Ireland made history in 1958 after becoming the smallest country to contest in the 1958 World Cup, a record they held until 2006. Their best World Cup performance was in the 1958 tournament where they reached the World Cup quarter-finals after defeating Czechoslovakia, but they were knocked out of the competition by France. Northern Ireland qualified for the 1982 World Cup, but they were knocked off by Spain in the group stages. The country set a record for the youngest player in the World Cup by playing Norman Whiteside, a 17 years old footballer, and the record stands to date.

Which Are The World's Smallest Nations To Qualify In The World Cup (Soccer)

RankCountryYear of qualification in World CupPopulation at the time of qualification
3Trinidad and Tobago20061.3 million
4Northern Ireland19581.4 million
5Kuwait19821.5 million
6United Arab Emirates19901.9 million
7Uruguay19301.9 million
8Slovenia20102.0 million
9Bolivia19302.0 million
10Jamaica19822.6 million

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