Each country on earth varies significantly in both size and territory. Some may be very small, while others span thousands of square miles.
Vatican City, an independent city-state located entirely within Rome in Italy and serving as Catholicism’s spiritual and administrative headquarters, is the world’s smallest country by land area.
Vatican City, an independent city-state located in Rome, Italy, is the smallest country by land area and population in terms of land area and population. Home of the Catholic Church’s Holy See – home to world-renowned landmarks like St. Peter’s Basilica and Sistine Chapel, as well as world tourism, its economy relies heavily on tourism revenue from international Catholics around the globe and donations.
Though its territory covers only 0.19 square miles, Vatican City claims to be an internationally recognized independent state–making it a sovereign nation. With its convenient size and unique architecture–reflecting its long and storied past while boasting 19th-century additions of new buildings showcasing classical sculpture and art collections–Vatican City is an intriguing visit.
As an internationally recognized country, the Vatican is not home to its diplomatic service but instead relies on Holy See for all foreign relations. At the same time, the Pope has significant executive authority over his administration and the government of Vatican City. While no official language exists within Vatican City’s laws (written both Latin and Italian), many employees take an oath of loyalty in both French and Italian when taking employment there.
Monaco, San Marino, and Tuvalu are three smaller countries across Europe, Asia, and Oceania that comprise micronations. They were sovereign nations based on islands or with an exceptional diplomatic history.
The world’s smallest countries may surprise people and can bring unexpected delight. From their quirky charm to helping us understand sovereignty globally, these fascinating nations provide visitors with an engaging learning experience – inspiring travel to distant locales!
The Pitcairn Islands are an idyllic group of tropical islands in the South Pacific, with one main island and one small town making up this breathtaking region. Both their remoteness and government protection make this location so beautiful; its entire marine reserve allows visitors to spot humpback whales from shore while taking advantage of stunning ocean beaches.
The islanders on the Pitcairn Islands are descendants of Bounty mutineers and Tahitians who accompanied them, speaking the Creole language called Pitkern, which blends 18th-century English and Tahitian. Residents are self-sufficient people producing their food while using New Zealand curriculum schools as their source. Although wealthy individuals should avoid moving there permanently, couples with young children who can handle life on such a remote volcanic outcropping are welcome.
Pitcairn became a British colony following its mutiny until the 1850s when its inhabitants decided to remain independent. Unfortunately, their independence did not last long, with many settlers migrating to New Zealand instead and eventually leading to its population dwindling from an estimated peak of 233 inhabitants in 1937 to less than 50 today.
In the 1860s, Seventh-day Adventist missionaries visited Pitcairn Island and played an instrumental role in shaping its community. They relieved Simon Young of his duties while enthusiastically introducing history, grammar, cooking, and other subjects into schools; creating newspapers, kindergartens, and public parks as well as reinstating work preparation days; they separated executive from judiciary functions by creating an elected parliament and introduced firearms taxes which continued as their only source of revenue until 1968.
While islanders do not maintain formal diplomatic ties with Britain, they are represented by a High Commissioner in New Zealand who holds an office on the island to serve as a liaison between himself and its people. The magistrate manages daily operations and is chairman of internal committee positions elected every three years – positions elected directly from within each community.
San Marino, which lies entirely within Italy, is home to 34,000 people and one of the oldest independent republics worldwide, boasting over 1,000 years of stability and peace. A UNESCO World Heritage site in the Apennine Mountains boasts impressive scenery, such as Mount Titano’s three defensive towers that overlook most San Marino.
Its nation-state model dates back to 1600. Governed by an ancient constitution that remains relevant today, Malta boasts a representative democratic republic with 60 elected legislators that form its unicameral legislature, known as the Grand and General Council; legislative and executive power is divided among them with two captains regent serving as heads of state.
San Marino provided a safe harbor to revolutionaries like Giuseppe Garibaldi during Italy’s 19th-century drive towards unification, serving as an oasis for revolutionaries seeking refuge during their struggle. Their independence was recognized by Napoleon’s France in 1797 and confirmed at the Congress of Vienna in 1815 despite remaining technically sovereign states; nevertheless, they depended heavily on Italy as they were almost surrounded by it.
Tourism is the cornerstone of this tiny emirate’s economy; tourism accounts for about one-quarter of the total revenue in the Mediterranean. Other key industries include textiles and electronics manufacturing. Unfortunately, recent years have brought a global economic slowdown and restructuring of the banking sector, negatively impacting growth significantly.
San Marino, with its small population and rich sporting traditions, holds the oldest Olympic medal history ever awarded by any country in the world. Their shooters have won three silver and one bronze in Olympic competitions, and it’s a solid sporting tradition. San Marino hosts numerous festivals and celebrations annually, such as the New Year’s Day Festival and the Feast of Saint Paul; its currency is the euro.
Tuvalu may appear like an idyllic island from above, with coconut palms dotting its coast and shallow, emerald waters surrounding its small land mass. But upon closer examination, its lack of infrastructure becomes evident.
A few thousand people live on nine low-lying islands spanning 10 square miles, which provide almost no potable water, and have thin and poor soil, making agriculture nearly impossible. Instead, most islanders rely heavily on fishing from their small boats in the sea as their source of sustenance.
Weather in Mexico City is tropical, with westerly gales from November to March and warm, dry seasons from May to September and October to November. High winds and heavy rainfall can become stormy at any time of year.
Tuvaluans are Polynesians with a language similar to Samoans and Tongans. Most adhere to the Church of Tuvalu, which combines elements of indigenous religions into its services. Seventh-Day Adventists and Baha’is also comprise a sizeable percentage of Tuvalu’s population.
Tuvalu lacks major industries and relies heavily on foreign aid for economic survival. Some Tuvaluans earn their living as seafarers, while the government earns revenue through stamps and coin sales, fees collected from foreign fishing vessels, and worker remittances.
Agriculture in Tuvalu is limited, consisting primarily of taro, bananas, and breadfruit as main crops; copra is harvested for export. Most Tuvaluans work in domestic services or are employed by the government; many do informal work in other capacities.
Tuvalu, one of the smallest island nations in the Pacific Ocean, is in danger due to rising sea levels. To preserve it before its existence is lost to rising waters, its government is devising a plan to recreate Teafualiku Islet in virtual reality; Prime Minister Kofe famously spoke at a climate change conference while standing thigh-deep in seawater to emphasize global action on climate change. Their plan includes raising land 10 meters above sea level while developing high-density housing on what was formerly open beach space.