25 Smallest Countries and Territories in the World

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Could you name the world’s smallest countries and territories by population? You’d be surprised, but chances are you’re familiar with quite a few. A strong majority of these lightly populated places are remote islands, with many relying heavily on tourism.

For example, only about 30,000 people actually call the British Virgin Islands home. For perspective, that’s about the same number of people who live in Lakeside, Florida. However, over 400,000 people visit the collection of islands every year, though, that was before COVID-19. Many of the Caribbean islands are trying to recover from the coronavirus pandemic, which hurt tourism.

Nine of the 25 smallest countries and territories in the world are located in the Oceania region, where dozens of islands are sprinkled throughout almost the entirety of the Pacific Ocean. Another eight are located in Latin America and the Caribbean. The rest are scattered across or near Europe, Africa, and even North America.

Some of the countries on the list have interesting stories about how they were named. Some take their moniker from the physical characteristics of their natives, while others tend to be named after geographic feature. These are the surprising stories behind 50 country names.

To identify the least populated countries and territories in the world, 24/7 Tempo reviewed social and economic data on 232 countries and territories recognized by the United Nations from its publication “World Population Prospects: 2019 Revision” from the Department of Economic and Social Affairs’ Population Division. Recognized designations include member UN states, non-member states, non-self-governing member states, and official designated areas. The surface area of each country also comes from the UN, and the U.S. towns closest in population was derived from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey for 2016 5-Year estimates.