map of the largest countries

The Largest Countries In The World

Given the rounded shape of our planet, projecting its surface onto flat maps can introduce errors, often making maps deceptive, particularly when comparing the sizes of different countries. A more precise approach is to evaluate the total area of each country, either in square miles (mi²) or in square kilometers (km²).

A country's area can be measured in two ways: land area, covering just the terrestrial regions, and total area, which includes land plus bodies of water like lakes, reservoirs, rivers, and sometimes coastal and territorial waters. In this article, we rank the world's largest countries based on total area.

The Largest Countries By Total Area

Rank Country Name Total Area
1 Russia 17,098,242 km² (6,601,668 mi²)
2 Canada 9,984,670 km² (3,855,102 mi²)
3 United States 9,826,675 km² (3,794,100 mi²)
4 China 9,596,960 km² (3,705,407 mi²)
5 Brazil 8,515,770 km² (3,287,957 mi²)
6 Australia 7,741,220 km² (2,988,901 mi²)
7 India 3,287,263 km² (1,269,219 mi²)
8 Argentina 2,780,400 km² (1,073,518 mi²)
9 Kazakhstan 2,724,900 km² (1,052,089 mi²)
10 Algeria 2,381,741 km² (919,595 mi²)

Jump to the table of the 50 largest countries in the world.

1. Russia - 17,098,242 km2

St. Basil's Cathedral in Moscow on Red Square on a summer evening and a blue cloud
St. Basil's Cathedral in Moscow on Red Square on a summer evening.
  • Population: 144,995,000
  • Time zones: UTC +2:00 to +12:00

Covering 17,098,242 km2, Russia is the world's largest country, extending across the northern hemisphere and reaching into parts of Europe and all of Northern Asia. The country spans 11 time zones and shares borders with 14 nations. Despite being smaller than the Caspian Sea, Lake Baikal contains one-fifth of the global liquid freshwater supply, owing to its great depth. Russia's 80-plus national parks and reserves constitute around one-fifth of the world's forest areas, approximately 763.5 million hectares.

Ruling the landscape, brown bears of Kamchatka, Russia
Ruling the landscape, brown bears of Kamchatka, Russia

The incorporation of Siberia, Russia's vast eastern holdings, occurred due to the expansion of the Tsardom of Muscovy in the late 1500s. The infamous Ivan the Terrible oversaw much of this early expansion eastward. Ivan's reign saw Russian territories stretch from Moscow to the Ural Mountains and beyond, enabling the conquest of Siberian tribes and other lands. Over the centuries, leaders like Peter the Great and Catherine II further expanded Russia's borders into Europe and the Black Sea, shaping much of modern-day Russia.

2. Canada - 9,984,670 km2

A skier on Mount Seymour, North Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
A skier on Mount Seymour, North Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
  • Population: 37,808,000
  • Time Zones: UTC −8:00 to UTC −03:30

Canada, the globe's second-largest nation, extends across 9.984 million square kilometers. This space covers five time zones, borders the United States along 7,885 km (4,900 miles), and envelops 243,042 km (151,019 miles) of coastline, a global high. The northern region reaches into the Arctic Circle, hosting tundra, ice-covered territories, and diverse fauna. The country consists of 10 provinces and three territories that vary greatly in climate and geography.

The western half, with the Rockies straddling the boundary of British Columbia's interior and Alberta's forests, extends 1,200 km up to the Liard River Basin. The prairies, located in Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba, display extensive grasslands and plains.

Eastern Canada features Quebec and Toronto's bustling cities, Nova Scotia's rugged coastal landscape, and the heavily populated Central Canada (Ontario and Quebec). The Atlantic region, the earliest to be explored by Europeans, comprises four provinces.

Lastly, Northern Canada, a thinly inhabited territory of Yukon, Northwest Territories, and Nunavut, houses the Arctic Tundra and the striking Innuitian Mountains.

Canada's immense size can be credited to a series of French and British settlers that arrived in the early 17th century. Originally, most European settlements were intended as trading posts but these soon grew in influence and power. The Hudson Bay Company, in particular, ended up controlling nearly all of Western Canada, Northern Quebec, and parts of what is today Nunavut. These territories were later surrendered to the Canadian government in 1869.

3. United States - 9,826,675 km2

Man in the Grand Canyon at sunrise. Tourist in America
Man in the Grand Canyon at sunrise. Tourist in America
  • Population: 339,277,000
  • Time Zones: UTC −10:00 to UTC −5:00

The continental United States spans about 9.6 million square kilometers, including 48 connected states, Alaska in the northwestern corner of North America, and Hawaii in the Pacific. The region has been inhabited for approximately 12,000 years and was found at the 15th century's conclusion. Independence from Britain was achieved in 1776, formalized in the 1783 Treaty of Paris, which also expanded the colonies past the Proclamation Line to the Mississippi.

In 1803, the Louisiana Purchase significantly enlarged the country's holdings after the remaining French territory was sold to the United States by Napoleon Bonaparte. Texas's annexation in 1845 indirectly contributed to gaining the territory now known as California as well as much of the American Southwest during the Mexican-American War. The 19th-century notion of Manifest Destiny drove westward expansion, and the 1856 Guano Islands Act fostered expansion outside North America, leading to Hawaii's annexation in 1898. Alaska was acquired from Russia in 1867. The United States controlled the Panama Canal Zone from 1904 to 1979. The final contiguous state was admitted in 1912, with Hawaii becoming the fiftieth state in 1959.

Note: When excluding the area of coastal and territorial waters, China is technically larger than the United States, but because these figures are unknown for China, the United States is consistently ranked as a larger country.

4. China 9,596,960 km2

China's Zhangjiajie Forest Park. View above the cliffs and mountains to the colorful valley at sunrise.
China's Zhangjiajie Forest Park. View above the cliffs and mountains to the colorful valley at sunrise.
  • Population: 1,413,659,000
  • Time Zones: UTC +8:00

China, Asia's biggest country, shares borders with 14 nations, similar to Russia, but operates in just one time zone. With a population larger than any other nation, it plays a crucial role in global economics. Its history spans thousands of years, marked by various cultural periods and significant figures like Mao. Intriguingly, despite spanning 5 geographic timezones the People's Republic of China chooses to operate on a single timezone, UTC +8:00, following a decision in 1949 where the country had previously operated from UTC+5:30 to UTC+8:30

The Zhou Dynasty established the first capitals, while the king of Qin unified the country. Different dynasties expanded China's territory through military, migration, and trade. For two thousand years, scholars managed administrative tasks until the Republic of China was founded in 1912.

In 1949, mainland China became the People's Republic of China, and the Republic of China moved to Taiwan. Despite ongoing disputes, the UN has recognized the People's Republic of China since 1971. Lastly, Hong Kong and Macau joined China in 1997 and 1999 after the UK and Portugal transferred their sovereignty.

5. Brazil - 8,515,770 km2

Aerial view of Rio with Corcovado Mountain - Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Aerial view of Rio's Christ The Redeemer with Corcovado Mountain - Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
  • Population: 216,285,000
  • Time Zones: UTC −5:00 to UTC −2:00

Brazil, occupying more than 47% of South America, is its largest country and shares boundaries with every nation on the continent except Ecuador and Chile. Comprising 26 states and one federal district, it has São Paulo as its most populous city. Within the last century, Brazil gained a wonderful blend of culture from high levels of immigration. Brazil is the largest global user of Portuguese as an official language.

Its growth can be attributed to successful independence movements from Portugal in 1822 and the preservation of territorial integrity across various government forms. Brazil's territory grew rapidly whilst under Portuguese colonial rule. During the 1500s and 1600s, there was an influx of Europeans who traveled to Brazil in search of wealth and fortune. These daring newcomers became known as Bandeiras and were quick to gain a reputation of recklessness in search of gold, silver, and slaves.

Recognizable for its expansive beaches, iconic Christ the Redeemer statue, and vibrant Rio de Janeiro, Brazil offers more than 7,000 km of tropical coastline, diverse cities, and varied natural landscapes. Attractions include the Amazon River, the Iguaçu Falls, and the Pantanal, the world's largest wetland. The nation is also renowned for its samba, football, and Rio's Carnival.

6. Australia - 7,741,220 km2

View of Murchison River from Nature's Window, Kalbarri National Park, Western Australia
View of Murchison River from Nature's Window, Kalbarri National Park, Western Australia
  • Population: 26,231,000
  • Time Zones: UTC +8:00 to +10:00

Australia, the largest country in Oceania, is unique for being coterminous with its continent. Populated as early as 65,000 years ago, it was first colonized by Europeans in the 17th century. Becoming independent from Britain in 1901, it has evolved into a multicultural nation with ancient roots seen in its Aboriginal people groups.

In 1825, the western boundary of New South Wales was extended to become the modern states of Western Australia, Queensland, Victoria, Tasmania, South Australia, and the Northern Territory. Victoria separated in 1851, and by 1890, political unity was emphasized. Worries over European interests in the region precipitated a unified defense force and railway network, and by 1942, uniform tax laws consolidated federal power, lessening state autonomy.

The states of Australia each have their own character, with cities like Sydney, Melbourne, and Perth offering vibrant experiences. The landscape encompasses wilderness, beaches, islands, and the Great Barrier Reef, providing plenty of opportunities for wildlife spotting and adventure tourism.

7. India - 3,287,263 km2

A beautiful Himalayan Mountain View from Leh Palace, Ladakh India
A beautiful Himalayan Mountain View from Leh Palace, Ladakh India
  • Population: 1,370,695,000
  • Time Zones: UTC +5:30

India, Asia's second-largest and the world's soon-to-be most populous country, is almost half the size of Australia and shares borders with Bangladesh, Bhutan, Myanmar, China, Nepal, and Pakistan. The country is not for the faint of heart: it is subject to monsoons and hot weather, but it also has many must-see places and spectacular topography.

British control of India was a gradual process that began in 1757 when the British East India Company overthrew the ruler of Bengal with a puppet loyal to London. The rest of the Indian Subcontinent was either subdued in similar ways or was conquered militarily. The Russian advance into Central Asia in the 1860s prompted the British to push the frontier beyond the Hindu Kush to Afghanistan's northern border. By the century's end, the foundation for modern India had been laid, with independence from Pakistan achieved in 1947.

Approximately 10% of India is composed of water, deserts, beaches, and sections of the Himalayas. Its capital, New Delhi, is within the National Capital Territory. Notwithstanding its challenges, India retains an intrinsic allure, evidenced by destinations that combine faith, tradition, culture, and nature, along with impressive ancient temples and palatial architecture.

8. Argentina - 2,780,400 km2

Aconcagua, the highest mountain in the Americas at 6.960 mts., located in the Andes mountain range in Mendoza, Argentina.
Aconcagua, the highest mountain in the Americas, located in the Andes mountain range in Mendoza, Argentina.
  • Population: 46,655,000
  • Time Zones: UTC −3:00

Argentina, South America's second-largest country, is characterized by its elongated geography encompassing Patagonia and bordered by the Atlantic Ocean. It houses the Andes Mountain Range and maintains disputed claims over parts of Antarctica, the Falkland Islands, South Georgia, and the South Sandwich Islands.

Settled by Europeans in 1580, Argentina mirrors its colonizers in societal structure and economic aspects. Post-WWI institutional disruptions marked a decline in its power. Dissatisfied with their Spanish rulers, in 1810, Argentina fought an 8-year-long war for independence. The rest of the 19th century was far from peaceful, Argentina was engulfed in a series of civil wars that lasted from 1814 to 1853.

Today, Argentina, larger than Mexico and Texas combined, has over 60% of its population of Italian descent. Its geographic variation from north to south includes varied landscapes like tundras, arid plateaus, snowy peaks, forests, and tropical beaches along extensive ocean coastlines. Despite being the most "Westernized" nation in South America, Argentina maintains its authenticity, evident in its cities and cuisine.

9. Kazakhstan - 2,724,900 km2

Girl Watching over Charyn Canyon in South East Kazakhstan
Girl Watching over Charyn Canyon in South East Kazakhstan
  • Population: 20,086,000
  • Time Zones: UTC +5:00 to +6:00

Kazakhstan, Central Asia's largest and most influential country, touches both Eastern Europe and the Caspian Sea, sharing borders with multiple nations including Russia and China. It's notable for its sparse population density, extreme winters, and diverse geography that includes deserts, national parks, and mountains. Almaty, its largest city, served as the capital until 1997 before giving way to the emerging metropolis of Astana.

Historians and archeologists estimate that the Kazakh people have lived in the region that is now Kazakhstan since around 1000 AD. During the height of the Mongol Empire, they were just one of the thousands of ethnic groups who now found themselves under the rule of the Khan. In the 15th and 16th centuries, the Kazakhs were able to break away and form their own Khanate, but it was short-lived. It soon fell to internal conflict which made it easy pickings for the growing might of the Russian Empire.

Kazakhstan remained a part of the Russian world up until the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991. Kazakhstan is now a culturally varied nation, with influences from Russian, Chinese, and the Caspian Sea regions. Its history includes the taming of horses by the Kazakhs, and it is known for hosting the Russian Baikonur Cosmodrome and being the homeland of comedian Borat. However, recent controversial statements by Russian politicians disputing Kazakhstan's pre-Russian existence and sovereignty have raised concerns, especially in the context of ongoing Russia-Ukraine tensions.

10. Algeria - 2,381,741 km2

Jeep in Sahara sands, Hoggar mountains, Djanet area, Algeria
Jeep in Sahara sands, Hoggar mountains, Djanet area, Algeria
  • Population: 46,116,000
  • Time Zones: UTC +1:00

Algeria, Africa's largest nation, is situated in the continent's north, stretching from the Mediterranean Sea to the Saharan Desert's edge. Its landscape consists largely of fruit-laden northern plains and southern desert sands, with the Atlas Mountains separating these distinct regions. Historically under Ottoman and later French control as a département, Algeria absorbed various cultural influences and economic modernizations, particularly in agriculture and commerce, though ethnic tensions eventually led to a war of independence from 1954 to 1962. Post-independence, while French linguistic and cultural elements persisted, the country reinstated its Arab and Islamic identities and capitalized on its oil and mineral resources, becoming one of Africa's robust economies by the 21st century's onset. Most Algerians reside along the fertile northern coast, primarily of Arab-Berber descent and practicing Islam. The nation's official languages are Arabic and Berber, though French is often employed in administrative and educational spheres.

What's Next:

Out of 195 total countries, these ten countries represent the world's largest states by area. They dwarf the majority of other countries. For reference, the smallest country in the world (Vatican City) can fit inside Algeria 4.8 million times, or it can fit inside Russia almost 35 million times. In the future, borders can change: large countries might separate into separate entities, or even absorb other territories.

The Largest Countries by Area in Each Continent

The 50 Largest Countries In the World Ranked By Total Area

Rank Country (Including Territories) Total in km2 (mi2)
1 Russia 17,098,242 (6,601,668)
2 Canada 9,984,670 (3,855,102)
3 United States 9,826,675 (3,794,100)
4 China 9,596,960 (3,705,407)
- United States (No Territories) 9,525,067 (3,677,649
5 Brazil 8,515,770 (3,287,957)
6 Australia 7,741,220 (2,988,901)
7 India 3,287,263 (1,269,219)
8 Argentina 2,780,400 (1,073,518)
9 Kazakhstan 2,724,900 (1,052,089)
10 Algeria 2,381,741 (919,595)
11 DR Congo 2,344,858 (905,355)
12 Danish Realm Kingdom of Denmark (includes Greenland) 2,220,093 (857,183)
- Greenland (Denmark) 2,166,086 (836,330)
13 Saudi Arabia 2,149,690 (830,000)
14 Mexico 1,964,375 (758,449)
15 Indonesia 1,904,569 (735,358)
16 Sudan 1,861,484 (718,723)
17 Libya 1,759,540 (679,360)
18 Iran 1,648,195 (636,372)
19 Mongolia 1,564,110 (603,910)
20 Peru 1,285,216 (496,225)
21 Chad 1,284,000 (496,000)
22 Niger 1,267,000 (489,000)
23 Angola 1,246,700 (481,400)
24 Mali 1,240,192 (478,841)
25 South Africa 1,221,037 (471,445)
26 Colombia 1,141,748 (440,831)
27 Ethiopia 1,104,300 (426,400)
28 Bolivia 1,098,581 (424,164)
29 Mauritania 1,030,700 (398,000)
30 Egypt 1,002,450 (387,050)
31 Tanzania 945,087 (364,900)
32 Nigeria 923,768 (356,669)
33 Venezuela 916,445 (353,841)
34 Pakistan 881,913 (340,509)
35 Namibia 825,615 (318,772)
36 Mozambique 801,590 (309,500)
37 Turkey 783,562 (302,535)
38 Chile 756,102 (291,933)
39 Zambia 752,612 (290,585)
40 Myanmar 676,578 (261,228)
41 Afghanistan 652,867 (252,073)
42 South Sudan 644,329 (248,777)
43 France (Including All Territories) 640,679 (247,368)
44 Somalia 637,657 (246,201)
45 Central African Republic 622,984 (240,535)
46 Ukraine 603,550 (233,030)
47 Madagascar 587,041 (226,658)
48 Botswana 581,730 (224,610)
49 Kenya 580,367 (224,081)
50 Yemen 555,000 (214,000)
- France (No Territories) 543,940 (210,020)
- Denmark (No Territories) 43,094 (16,639)

Total Area is the combined value of a country's land area and water area.Data is sourced from The World Bank and CIA World Factbook.


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