As far as nationhood goes, the rule is “the more the merrier.” The smallest states in the world exist as a result of special circumstances that keep them politically different from their neighbors. Statehood is a matter of exerting authority over an area, and proving the needs of your people. These states do just that!
Small states often exist in peaceful areas of the world, where their larger neighbors do not threaten their existence. There is a bit of argument about what constitutes a micro state; and some of the states find their sovereignty in contention. Nevertheless, the states with the smallest land areas in the world make for interesting reading.
Smallest States In The World 2023
1. Vatican City
The Vatican City, otherwise known as the Holy See is the world’s smallest fully recognized state. It is an enclave completely surrounded by the city of Rome, Italy.
This City-State has a population of 801, and even that population sometimes drops to 401. The city became independent from Italy in 1929 with the signing of the Lateran Treaty which gave it full sovereignty, and authority to function under its own laws.
The Vatican City is a monarchy; it is ruled by the Pope who is also the Bishop of Rome, and head of the Catholic Church. The Catholic Church has 1.4 billion baptized members who are therefore followers of the Pope, and could claim some form of allegiance to the Vatican City. Visitors come in from all over the world to see the Vatican City for themselves.
The Vatican is protected by the Italian Armed forces, although there is no formal agreement for this. However, members of the Swiss Guard are on ground, serving as the Pope’s personal protection, and also providing security for all the citizens of the State.
The Principality Of Monaco is a semi enclave in the Southern part of France, opening up to the Mediterranean Sea. This is widely believed to be the wealthiest and most expensive place in the world; and it is noted for its weather and beauty. Monaco is a Principality; it is ruled by the Prince of Monaco- although he is not an absolute monarch.
Monaco has a population of to 38,682 residents, making it one of the most densely populated places in the world. it is a favorite vacation spot for some of the richest people in the world.
Monaco has political, military, economic and cultural relationships with France dating back several centuries. The Prince of Monaco consults with the French government before making key appointments. Even the Prime Minister who is the head of government can either be Monégasque (citizen of Monaco) or a French citizen.
Nauru was formerly known as Pleasant Island. It is an island country and micro-state in Oceania, in the Central Pacific. This island has been settled since around 1000 B.C.E. External control came in the form of the island being claimed as a colony of Germany, and then after World War I it became administered by Australia, New Zealand, and United Kingdom. The country has been independent since 1968.
Nauru has a population of 10,840 people, and it is a democracy. This country has been rich in phosphorous since antiquity, but that resource only exists because the island is on an important bird migration route. The resource has since been exhausted, and now Nauru depends heavily on Australia for income.
Tuvalu is an island country and micro-state in Oceania in the Pacific Ocean. The country has a population of 10,507, and a total land area of 26 square kilometers. Tuvalu is so small that one can hardly spot it on a map, but it has been inhabited at least for more than 3000 years.
Such a small island in the middle of the middle of the Pacific Ocean needs to have strategic alliances in order to survive. Tuvalu became a British protectorate in 1892, and has been a constitutional monarchy with the Sovereign of Britain as its ruler.
5. San Marino
San Marino is a small city state surrounded by Italy. It covers a land area of just over 61 km2, and it is home to a population of 33,562. There is plenty of history surrounding the establishment of this country; it goes back to AD 301, when a stonemason and monk built a monastery and community in the mountains of Monte Titano.
That monastic community grew, and somehow remained intact, perhaps because of the difficult terrain which largely kept it isolated through the ages. Nevertheless, the official language is Italian, and the state has much political and economic ties with Italy. The economy of San Marino is based on finance, services, industry and tourism. San Marino is one of the richest states in the world.
One of the world’s smallest states, Liechtenstein is sandwiched between Switzerland and Austria. This is a German-speaking country located in the Alps, enjoying both beautiful scenery and cold weather. This country is a Monarchy, although the Prince is not an absolute ruler.
Liechtenstein has a land area of 160 square kilometers, and it has a population of 38,749. This is one of the richest countries in the world; as a tax haven it attracts hundreds of millionaires and billionaires, although most of the money remains idle in banks.
7. Marshall Islands
The Marshall Islands is an independent island country located in the Pacific Ocean. The country’s population stands at 58,413, while the total land area is 181.43 km2.
The economy is based on the services industry because the country has very little natural resources. However, it is difficult to see how this country will cope without foreign aid which it receives from a number of donors and lenders.
8. Saint Kitts and Nevis
Saint Kitts and Nevis is an island country in the West Indies, made up of two islands. The population of this country is 50,000, while the land area stands at 261 KM 2. This country is a constitutional monarchy; the ruler of Britain is the head of government.
This was the first island country in the West Indies to be colonized by Europeans; it has been called the mother colony in the West Indies.
Maldives is a state in South Asia, situated in the Indian Ocean. The country has a population of 579,330, and a total land area of 300 KM 2. Some of the neighbors of this country include Sri Lanka and India.
Maldives is a constitutional democracy, and the country has been independent from Britain since 1968. However, it struggles with socio political problems and with rising sea levels.
Malta is one of the most popular micro states; it is an island country in the Mediterranean Sea. Malta is located between Italy and Libya, and is often considered a part of Southern Europe. The official languages are Maltese and English, while most people in the country also speak Italian.
The country also has so many different influences; it is close to Italy, Tunisia, and Libya. Much of these influences came by force; many different powers have fought and ruled over this island over the course of history because of its strategic location.
The smallest states in the world survive by forming strategic alliances with their bigger neighbors. These alliances are not only military because many of these countries are islands, and so without any land borders to fight over, they may not really need armies. In other cases, they are enclaves within bigger countries, and are just allowed to live according to their own rules.