If you’re thinking Switzerland, Macau or even Iceland, think again! The world’s smallest countries are much tinier and each of them is unique in its own way:
Ever wondered which country is the smallest and least populated in the world?
Hello, Vatican City! This sovereign city-state has been home to the Pope since the late 1300s (although Vatican City itself wasn’t officially established until 1929). It takes up a mere 44 hectares and is also known as the ‘Holy See’.
Unique Factor: If you visit Vatican City you can choose from one of the dozens of professional exorcists available who claim to help hundreds of possessed people each year.
Home to roughly 30,000 people, Monaco sits on the border of the Mediterranean Sea and is the second smallest country in the world. If you are rich, famous, or otherwise awesome in every way, don’t be surprised if you feel compelled to travel here. This country is famous for its natural coastal beauty and for its jet setter lifestyle.
Unique Factor: You may be a jet setter, but don’t expect to arrive on one! Monaco is one of the only countries in the world without an airport.
Nauru is the world’s smallest island nation and gained its independence in 1968. It has a rather unfortunate past of detaining refugees who had been denied entry into Australia, but was totally redeemed when it was given the name: “Pleasant Island”.
Unique Factor: Nauru is the only country in the world that does not have an official capital city.
Tuvalu is located roughly halfway between Hawaii and Australia and has a total land mass of 26 square kilometres! The locals here are famous for playing a traditional game called ‘kill-kiti’, which is said to be similar to cricket. Just to clarify: no kittens are involved!
Unique Factor: Forget tourism or natural resource development! Tuvalu makes millions of dollars each year leasing its Internet domain suffix, which just happens to be .TV.
Founded in 301 A.D., San Marino is the oldest republic in the world and home to just 29,000 residents. Landlocked by northern Italy, this tiny country does a pretty good job of living up to its unofficial name of the ‘Most Serene Republic of San Marino’.
Unique Factor: Despite being ranked by FIFA as having the worst soccer team in the world, San Marino holds the record for the fastest goal in a World Cup qualifying game – 8 seconds!
Located high in the Alps between Austria and Switzerland, Liechtenstein has a land mass of just over 160 square kilometres. Since being blacklisted by the OECD in 2002 for money laundering, it is now better known for being the world’s largest exporter of false teeth.
Unique Factor: More than 51% of Liechtenstein’s labour force commutes to work each day from outside of the country. At least they all have really nice teeth!
This tiny country comprises 24 coral atolls and has a population of around 60,000 people. That’s one atoll for every 2,500 people! During World War II, the US used the Marshall Islands to test 67 nuclear weapons, leading to widespread radioactive contamination. Worst tenants ever!
Unique Factor: The Marshall Islands has only one indigenous land mammal, the Polynesian Rat.
The smallest and least populated nation in the Americas, Saint Kitts and Nevis is home to 39,000 people, most of whom are descendants of African slaves. Well known for its athletic prowess and cricketing talent, this tropical paradise also specialises in relaxation.
Unique Factor: Half of Saint Kitts and Nevis’s beaches have black sand due to the long history of volcanic activity.
Consisting of 115 small islands, Seychelles rests in the Indian Ocean and is one of Africa’s least populated countries. Despite once being used as a hideout for pirates, Seychellois society is far less macho these days and is based on a matriarchal system.
Unique Factor: The Seychelles is home to the world’s heaviest nut, the female Coco de Mer.
While the Maldives encompasses more than 2,000 islands, less than 200 of them are inhabited. This beautiful country is also home to some incredibly stunning marine life, which may be about to inherit a lot more real estate. The nation is under threat of disappearing within the next 10 years due to rising sea levels.
Unique Factor: In 2013, police in the Maldives confiscated a coconut after it was accused of being part of a black magic plot to rig the presidential elections. If you visit, beware of any shifty-eyed tropical fruit!