Officially, there are more than 200 countries in the world. Even if many of them are not nearly as large as massive nations like China, Russia, or the United States, you’re probably at least vaguely familiar with most of them, or at least, you can recognize them by name.
There are several countries, however, that you’re probably not familiar with. That’s partially because a number of them are not officially recognized, but also because they’re so tiny that you’d be hard-pressed to find them on a map!
That’s certainly the case with these 10 tiny places. They’re the smallest countries on earth, but each one is hugely intriguing!
1. The Republic of Palau: Found in the Western Pacific Ocean near Indonesia, the Republic of Palau is 285 square miles and has a population of just 21,347. It may be an island country, but it’s actually made up of several different islands—over 300 of them, in fact! Still, for such a small place, it boasts a surprisingly diverse array of wildlife.
LuxTonnere / Flickr
The Republic of Palau’s rainforests are home to all sorts of birds and plants, and there are 130 different shark species inhabiting the surrounding waters. It also has a lake filled with two million jellyfish that no longer have the ability to sting!
2. Saint Kitts and Nevitts: Two Caribbean islands make up this 162-square-mile country with a population of 52,329. Its economic citizenship program is one of its primary sources of income, as you can invest in the sugar industry… so long as you have upwards of $250,000 to invest and you become a St. Kitts citizen. Similarly, for at least $400,000, you can buy property on either island.
Carolyn Sugg / Flickr
3. Niue: This country in Oceania is 162.46 square miles and it boasts a population of just 1,190 people. It may be beautiful, but it’s not a popular tourist destination, so it relies a great deal on foreign aid, particularly from New Zealand. Its capital city is actually a small village that has just 600 people residing in it.
Sandwich Girl / Flickr
They only have one, fully functional supermarket, but they also have their own airport!
4. Principality of Hutt River: The 46.6-square-mile country, which is located in an Australian province of the same name, boasts just 30 individuals. It’s not officially recognized by any other country, but it still has its own stamps, passports, and even currency!
Leonard Casley founded the country when he declared that his farm was to be an independent nation, and tourists can even find His Royal Highness Prince Leonard I of Hutt’s busts within its borders.
5. Tuvalu: Not only is this Polynesian island, located roughly midway between Australia and Hawaii, one of the smallest nations on Earth, but unfortunately it’s also one of the poorest. Luckily, it receives millions of dollars each year because it owns the internet domain “.tv.” The country is just 16 square miles with a population of 10,959.
Michael Coghlan / Flickr
6. Nauru: At just 13 square miles, this Micronesian country in the Central Pacific is not only the smallest island nation on Earth, but it’s also the smallest independent republic in general. It has no public transportation system, nor does it have an official capital city.
7. The Principality of Seborga: Right on the border of France, this place technically lies in Italian territory, but His Tremendousness Marcello I rules the three-square-mile country and its 312 citizens. The Minister of Defense and two border guards serve as the only people in the army of this unrecognized state!
Principato de Seborga / Flickr
8. Republic of Molossia: A man named Kevin Baugh founded this 0.03-square-mile republic near Nevada. Only Kevin and his six other family members live there, as do his pet rabbit, cat, and three dogs. They have their own flag, national anthem, national emblem, “space program,” and passports. They even claim to have the death penalty for serious crimes!
9. Sovereign Military Order of Malta: Vatican City isn’t the only independent nation-state in Rome! The Sovereign Military Order of Malta is home to 113,500 people within its 0.007-square-mile territory. It consists of only three buildings, one of which is in the island of Malta itself, and two of which are found in Rome.
It’s also the only nation on Earth with Latin as its official language!
10. The Principality of Sealand: This place is just .002 square miles and it consists of 27 citizens, though it’s not officially recognized. The single sea platform is just six miles away from the English coast, and Prince Regent is its self-proclaimed ruler.
Ryan Lackey / Flickr
If you like what you see, you can buy the title of baron, count, or even duke for a pittance of just a few hundred pounds. It’s all available on the country’s website!
Each one of these countries is absolutely spectacular, if only because of the sheer oddity of their existences. Which ones would you like to visit?
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