23 May 30 Of The Least Populated Countries You Have To Visit!
Walking through the streets of Bangkok the other day, I was getting on their public transportation system, when I realized just how many people live and work in this city. Bangkok is huge.
And I began to think to myself, “What about visiting one of the least populated countries of the world?” The idea started to roll around in my head, and the more it did, the more I liked it!
Not one to just run off and book a flight, I began by doing some research. I’ve been around Southeast Asia quite a bit; I know some of these places have to be in the South Pacific, so… I’m already halfway there!
So with help from Redshed, I put together a list of 30 of the least populated countries in the world, and this is what we found:
- New Caledonia is what they call a collectivity of France, though it looks like at the end of this year they’re going to finally get their full independence.
It’s a small Island that’s east of Australia that has about 266,000 people. It looks like the only way to get there is to fly from Australia, as it doesn’t look like there are even any flights from Papua New Guinea that go straight there.
The climate is tropical, which is what you’d expect in the South Pacific, and most of the year it’s pretty hot and humid. I like the idea of any place with beautiful beaches!
- Just northeast of New Caledonia is Vanuatu, another South Pacific Island that is almost half the size but with 259,000 people.
Made up of 82 small volcanically formed islands (65 are inhabited) they’ve had their independence since 1980. Regular volcanic activity is still a regular occurrence.
They do have tourism in the country, and you can fly there either through Australia or from Papua New Guinea via the Salmon Islands. Just a hop, skip, and a jump from my first stop!
- Going further out into the Pacific from there is the little island of Samoa. You can get there either from Japan (via Fiji) or Australia.
Samoa is the first country on our list to have a population of less than 200,000, coming in at about 192,000. It’s another South Pacific tropical climate, and it’s about halfway between New Zealand and Hawaii. This is a country I’ve always wanted to visit!
- São Tomé and Príncipe is a small island off the West Coast of Central Africa. Despite their small size (386 square miles!) they also have about 192,000 people.
Apparently deserted until the Portuguese settled it in 1470. Just a short flight from the African coast, I think this could be an exciting adventure!
- Guam is another tiny Island in the South Pacific that seems even farther removed from regular society. They have a population of roughly 162,000.
The only direct flights are from the Philippines or Japan, though Papua New Guinea has a flight via Weno. Very close to the International Date Line, and another country I’ve always wanted to see.
- The Republic of Kiribati, in the South Pacific, is 32 atolls and one main island (Banaba). Made up of 310 square miles of actual land mass, spread out over 1.3 million miles along the equator and International Date Line.
Home to 110,000 people, half of whom reside on the overcrowded Tarawa Atoll; it features just what you’d expect of South Pacific Islands.
It’s not a difficult place to get to; it’s just a sometimes complicated flight plan, though there is a direct flight from the Solomon Islands (if you just happen to be there).
- Way down near the bottom of the Caribbean islands is St. Vincent and the Grenadines, sometimes referred to as just St. Vincent. Made up of 32 islands and cays, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, only have nine that are inhabited, but they are beautiful!
The main volcanic island of St. Vincent makes up 133 of the 150 square miles of land, and the total population of the islands is 109.643.
The Caribbean has always been on my to-do list, so I’ll check them all out one by one.
- South of the St. Vincent and the Grenadines islands, and northeast of Venezuela is the ‘Island of Spice’, Grenada. Made up of the Island of Grenada and six smaller islands, it has a land mass of 134 square miles.
Home to 106,000 people, tourism is Grenada’s primary economy, and ecotourism is growing in popularity. Cruise Ships visit daily, as it’s an attractive spot for beachgoers and scuba divers. Sound good to you? Sounds good to me!
- Even further out from Australia in the South Pacific is Tonga, a sovereign state of 169 islands, 36 of which are inhabited. The thought of visiting one of those uninhabited islands is both thrilling and frightening to me at the same time.
Tonga has a land mass of 289 square miles, though it’s largest and most inhabited island, Tongatapu is 99 square miles of that. The islands are home to 103,036 people, and though tourism is considered underdeveloped there, many cruise ships still visit, for the beautiful beaches and South Pacific activities.
- 40 miles east of Puerto Rico, are the OTHER Virgin Islands, what is known as the U.S. Virgin Islands. The main islands are St. Croix, St. John, and Saint Thomas, but there are many small islands that also make up the area. (133 square miles).
106,405 people live and work on the U.S. Virgin Islands; many are there for the 2.5 million tourists a year, which makes up a large percentage of their economy. Many travel there via Cruise Ships, for the beaches and beautiful weather. Sounds like a plan!
- The Federated States of Micronesia is made up of 607 islands (How am I going to visit all of them?) with a combined landmass of 271 square miles.
Home to beautiful beaches, tropical climate, lush jungles and about 104,000 people. They don’t even really have their tourism set up, because of the remoteness of their location. Investment opportunity?
- Off the north coast of Venezuela is the little island of Aruba (69 square miles), one of three islands that are referred to as the ABC Islands. Made up of Dutch Nationals, the three islands are a part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.
Densely populated (104,822), its Caribbean climate make it a popular destination, and it is known for having one of the highest standards of living and the lowest unemployment rate in the Caribbean. Cool.
One of the islands is referred to in the Beach Boys song ‘Kokomo’.
- Seychelles, off the eastern coast of Central Africa in the Indian Ocean, consists of 115 islands. Most of these are uninhabited, and considered natural reserves, but the 42 inland islands feature beautiful beaches and waters available to tourists from around the world.
A total land mass of 177 square miles, it is home to 94,228 people. Glad to add this to the list.
- Southeast of Puerto Rico is Antigua and Barbuda, two islands (with some smaller islands), that has a population of about 90,000 people.
Known for its beautiful beaches the area was devastated when in 2017, Hurricane Irma destroyed 95% of Barbuda’s livable land mass. Evaluation onto the larger island of Antigua took place, and the area is in the process of trying to rebuild its sister island.
- Andorra is a microstate bordered by France and Spain, made up of 180 square miles of mountainous land. It is home to 77,281 people (up from 5000 in 1900!) though two-thirds of them are considered non-nationals. I always enjoy the South of France, so I’ll make this a quick stop on my way there.
- Southeast of Cuba, the Dominican Republic, and Puerto Rico is Dominica. It primary thrives off of tourism, particularly eco-tourism, as it is covered in rainforests, freshwater lakes, natural springs, and mountains. It does have beaches, just not in the abundance that other islands in the area have.
Its 289 square miles is home to 73,543 people. Part of the Caribbean run for me.
- Out in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, just a 6-hour flight from North Carolina lies the little island of Bermuda. Made up of low forming volcanoes in the Atlantic Ocean, creating 181 islands, it is just 20.5 square miles of land, home to 63,799 people.
Tourists travel here year round for the beautiful blue waters and pink sand beaches, though it is in the hurricane belt. It may be, but all I hear is ‘pink sand beaches!’
- You may have heard of the Cayman Islands, a popular tax shelter for the wealthy, just south of Cuba. The Seven Mile Beach on the western shore is considered one of the ‘Ultimate Beaches’, and scuba diving is a popular pastime here.
Covering 549 square miles it is home to 60,765 people, and I hope to one day be rich enough to retire here!
- The largest island in the world is Greenland. 836,880 square miles big, it dwarfs the landmass of most of the countries on this list.
With all that land, why does it only have a population of 56,483 people? Well, for one thing, three-quarters of it is covered in a permanent ice sheet.
North of Canada, it has an average daily temperature that fluctuates between 18 and 45 degrees °F (−8 to 7 °C). I might have to make this a quick summer stop.
- Southeast of Samoa is American Samoa, an unincorporated territory of the United States. Consisting of 5 islands and two atolls it is spread across 77 square miles.
Its population of 54,194 is known for having the highest percentage of military enlisted personnel anywhere in the world.
It’s a tropical climate obviously but gets hit by a lot of cyclones during the season (November through April). Duly noted.
- St. Kitts and Nevis are another West Indies island country, composed of just the two islands (St. Kitts and Nevis).
Mountainous landscapes of volcanic origin, covered with rainforests, flatten out toward the sea where most of the population of 54,821 resides. Both islands combined cover 101 square miles. We’re getting down to some small populations here!
- East of the Philippines are 15 islands that make up the Northern Mariana Islands. A majority of the 53,467 people live on three primary islands, Saipan, Tinian, and Rota.
A tropical rainforest climate, it experiences very little weather change, a big plus if you like the sun and sand! And I do!
- The Marshall Islands in the South Pacific are made up of 1156 islands and little islets (and 29 atolls). Spread out over 70 square miles; it is home to 53,066 people.
East of Philippines, it is considered the most endangered nation due to climate change, as it low elevation makes it a threat to rising sea levels. Better get there fast!
- Monaco is a city-state, country, and microstate in a small area of the French Riviera. You’d think it was a part of France if you didn’t know any better, but it is its own independent microstate.
It is the second smallest (0.78 sq. miles) and most densely populated (38,400) sovereign state in the world. Because of its tax laws (and beautiful landscape), it is a place where the wealthy love to live and play. 30% of its population is millionaires. Well known in America for Monaco’s Prince Rainier marrying actress Grace Kelly in 1956.
- Lichtenstein is a doubly landlocked microstate in Central Europe. Only 8.1 square miles big it is surrounded by Switzerland to the west and south and Austria to the north and east.
It has a population of 37,340 (2014 est.) covering 62 square miles. It has more registered companies than people and a robust economy.
- The world’s smallest republic, San Marino is an enclave microstate in Italy. With a population of 33,000 people, it gets 2 million tourists a year.
Only 8.1 square miles big, San Marino, was neutral during Italy’s involvement in both World Wars. It has a Mediterranean climate, which sounds good to me.
- Palau is west of the Philippines in the South Pacific. Its 177 square miles of 340 islands where over 20,000 people live. Wow, there are colleges in the United States that have more enrolled students than that! In 2009 it created the world’s first shark sanctuary, which means you’ll see me at the hotel pool. Just kidding!
- North of the Solomon Islands in the South Pacific is Nauru, with 11,300 people within 8 square miles. It is the third smallest state in the world. It is just one little small island, surrounded by the coral reef with no seaport. Skip the monsoon weather between November and February.
- Tuvalu is another South Pacific Island, midway between Hawaii and Australia. It has a population of only 10,600 people. Taking up just 10 square miles of space. It’s made up of 3 reef islands and six atolls and is the fourth smaller country in the world. I will have visit most of the South Pacific by this point!
And of course, number one is the Vatican, or Vatican City, which is precisely what you think it is. The home of the Pope. It is the world’s least populated independent state, with under 1000 people on a land mass of 0.17 square miles. 74% of that population is clergy.
By comparison, the District of Columbia in Washington D.C. covers 68 square miles and has over 600,000 people!
So what’s the tourist attraction of Vatican City? Seriously? Well besides, the Vatican City itself, there’s St. Peter’s Basilica, the Vatican Museums, the Sistine Chapel, and other historical places.
So there you have it. Your map to 30 of the world’s smallest population places. You have your challenge, now, how many can you visit?
Alkire Leanna is a North Carolina-based freelance writer and work-from-home mother of two. In her 10 years as a professional writer, she’s worked in proposal management, grant writing, and content creation. Personally, she’s passionate about teaching her family how to stay safe, secure and action-ready in the event of a disaster or emergency.