Houston is America’s fourth largest city. It has a population of approximately 2.3 million. Every one of the least populated countries on this list has fewer people than Houston. Just to put it in perspective.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at the countries with the fewest citizens. From the small to the microscopic, we’ll rank them all. Which will prove the least populous? Stick around and find out.
Lesotho is a tiny Kingdom completely landlocked and surrounded by South Africa. It is the only country in the world that is entirely at least 1km above sea level. The result is spectacular vistas. But since this is one of the least populated countries, few get to see them.
Latvia is a small Baltic state. It is famous for its coast, castle ruins, and its capital of Riga. Riga’s old town is full of art nouveau architecture, making it a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Guinea Bissau is a small West African nation on the Atlantic coast. It is seldom visited by tourists, and sadly remains one of the poorest countries in the world. However, the Bijagos Islands off the coast offer deep sea fishing.
Bahrain is a small island nation in the Persian Gulf. It is famously the most liberal country in the Middle East. Lots of people come here to party, since the laws are far less strict than Saudi Arabia. Since it’s one of the least populated countries, it probably has more tourists than permanent residents.
46. East Timor
East Timor is a small and relatively new nation just north of Australia in the Indonesian archipelago. It became independent in 2002. Travelers haven’t discovered it yet, but it’s hoping to emerge as an ecotourism hotspot.
45. Trinidad and Tobago
Trinidad and Tobago is a small island nation just off the coast of South America — barely in the Caribbean. It’s not only one of the least populated countries, but one of the less visited. As a result, you’ll find an untouched natural paradise.
44. Equatorial Guinea
Equatorial Guinea is a tiny country on the Atlantic coast of Central Africa. The discovery of oil here has given it a GDP per capita comparable to Spain. However, most people live in poverty. All that wealth is sadly concentrated in a very few hands.
Like Latvia, Estonia is a small Baltic nation. Also like Latvia, it has an historic capital, Tallinn. The Medieval old town of Tallinn was built by German crusaders and remains one of the prettiest quarters in Europe.
Mauritius is an island nation in the Indian Ocean, off the coast of Madagascar. It’s a premium tourist destination, with shopping, leisure, and beaches you will never want to leave. The island was originally discovered by Arab sailors in the 9th century.
Eswatini is a small South African country. It’s one of the last remaining absolute monarchies on earth. It is famous for being one of the friendliest countries in Africa. Tourists also come for its splendid game parks and reserves.
Djibouti is a small country in East Africa. It shares borders with Ethiopia and Somalia. One of the reasons it’s among the least populated countries is the lack of arable land. Much of Djibouti is basically wasteland.
Fiji is the opposite of a wasteland. It’s a lush tropical paradise. Fiji is an archipelago of more than 300 islands. Located somewhere between New Zealand and Hawaii, it’s certainly remote. Tourists still flock here for the coral reefs.
Cyprus is a tiny Mediterranean island. But that hasn’t stopped people from fighting over it. (Cyprus is now divided into a Greek half and a Turkish half.) The Cypriot beaches remain a draw for travelers.
Comoros is another island gem in the Indian Ocean. Though tiny, it has seen even more infighting than Cyprus. Comoros gained independence in 1975. Since then, it has suffered more than 20 coups.
Guyana is tiny nation on the north coast of South America. It remains largely undiscovered. Much of the country is rainforest. So if you’re looking to explore jungle terrain… Guyana is waiting.
Bhutan is a landlocked country in the Himalayas. It is the world’s only Buddhist Kingdom. Tourists will be amazed by the mountain temples and views. However, what’s most impressive is the country’s attitude. They measure progress by happiness, not just money. It’s called ‘Gross National Happiness.’
34. Solomon Islands
The Solomon Islands are northeast of Australia. Historians say the islands have been inhabited for at least 32,000 years. Today, it offers some of the best scuba diving in the Pacific.
Montenegro is a sliver of the Balkan Adriatic coast. Tourists love the mountains, the coasts, the walled cities. It may be small, but Montenegro is not boring.
Luxembourg is the second-smallest country in the EU. It’s also one of the least populated countries in Europe. Full of historic castles, Luxembourg is not cheap to visit. That’s because, despite its size, it’s one of the richest countries on earth.
Suriname is on the northern coast of South America. Formerly a Dutch colony, it gained independence in 1975. Almost a third of the country is national parks. The main appeal here is therefore natural. Here, you’ll find untainted rainforest… if you’re not afraid to rough it!
30. Cape Verde
Cape Verde is an island nation off the west coast of Africa. Although isolated and one of the least populated countries, it is celebrated for its democracy. The islands themselves are largely mountainous. They’re also spread out, so you’ll want to rent a boat if you visit.
Malta is a small island in the heart of the Mediterranean. Its medieval capital Valetta is a World Heritage Site. But it also has some of the most ancient ruins in all Europe. The temples of Hagar Qim and Mnajdra are older than the pyramids.
Brunei is one of the least populated countries, but also one of the wealthiest. It’s a small sultanate in the South China Sea. However, it has acquired great wealth through its oil reserves.
Belize has recently been discovered by tourists. It’s a thin country on the Caribbean coast of Central America. It boasts lush jungles, Mayan ruins, and excellent diving. It’s a must-visit for outdoorsy types.
26. The Bahamas
The Bahamas is among the most famous countries on this list. It consists of about 2,000 islands and cays. It’s an ideal spot for yachters, because the waters are so shallow. It also attracts wealth with its no-tax policy. Christopher Columbus first landed on the Bahamian island of San Salvador.
The Maldives is a bucket list destination in the Indian Ocean. It’s a string of islands with breathtaking resorts that seem to pop right out of the sea itself. There are 97 islands with resorts. 90% of government income comes from tourism.
What can we say about Iceland? For one thing, someone mixed up the names of Iceland and Greenland. Iceland is surprisingly green and lush in parts — part of its volcanic legacy. Beautiful and friendly, it is nonetheless one of the least populated countries in the world.
Vanuatu is a nation of 83 islands. You’ll find it northeast of Australia. With so many islands, you have choices. You can hike volcanoes. Go diving. Or just relax on a beach. Again… this is an ideal spot to rent a boat. Or bring your own if you’re a lucky devil.
Barbados is often called “little Britain” because it was a former British colony. As a result, it has retained some British flavor. You can golf, play cricket, dive, or swim with the turtles.
21. São Tomé and Príncipe
São Tomé and Príncipe is a small maritime nation off the west coast of Central Africa. This is truly undiscovered territory. These islands welcome only about 13,000 guests per year.
Those who have made the trip describe it as a laid back, friendly, largely forested nation. It boasts a number of unusual nearly vertical peaks and volcanic plugs towering above the trees.
Samoa is about halfway between New Zealand and Hawaii. The islands were created by volcanic eruption and are very fertile. Mountains, jungles and farmland combine to create a lush tropical paradise.
19. Saint Lucia
Saint Lucia is a gem of the Caribbean. Tourists flock here for its beaches, resorts, and iconic cone volcanoes. Also bananas. Lots of bananas.
Kiribati is a country of many islands in Micronesia. The total land is only 811 km², but spread over 3.5 million km² of ocean. Because it’s so remote, it’s not popular with tourists. Although people here are super friendly, don’t expect a luxury resort vacation.
Grenada is comprised of three Caribbean islands and some smaller islets. It is most famous for its spices. Ginger, cloves, cinnamon, and cocoa all grow here in great abundance. Also rum!
16. Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines is a Caribbean island chain slightly north of the coast of South America. Not among the more famous island destinations, the country still relies on tourism for income.
The hiking here is top-notch. For example, you can climb the La Soufrière Volcano. It’s not leisurely stroll, but the view is rewarding.
15. Federated States of Micronesia
The FS of Micronesia comprises 607 islands near the equator in the Pacific. Heavy rainfall is common here, and the islands are often in the path of typhoons. The islands themselves range from volcanic peaks to low coral atolls.
The South Pacific nation of Tonga is nicknamed “the friendly islands.” For good reason. You’ll find no big chains here. Instead, business is mostly local. Ma’ and Pa’ shops provide everything the Tongan people need.
This collection of 115 islands is off the east coast of Africa in the Indian Ocean. The main attractions here are the beaches and the water sports. You’ll be guaranteed to find a spot to lay your towel in the sand, since the Seychelles don’t attract a ton of tourists. There are also many uninhabited islands to explore.
12. Antigua and Barbuda
Antigua and Barbuda is on the outer northeast edge of the Caribbean. Although it’s one of the least populated countries, Antigua is popular with tourists. It has many high-end resorts. Barbuda is less trendy but also features stunning beaches.
Andorra is one of Europe’s string of microstates. The Pyrenees Mountains nestle it between France and Spain. Unlike some of the other least populated countries, Andorra has a booming tourism industry. It attracts around 10 million guests annually — about 129 times its population. In fact, tourism provides about four-fifths of this tiny country’s income.
Not to be confused with the more famous Dominican Republic, Dominca is a small island in the East Caribbean. It is best known (if known at all) for its wonderful national parks. These protect a remarkably lush ecosystem. The island also features volcanic peaks that offer quite a view to the few who do visit.
9. Marshall Islands
Formerly a territory of the United States, the Marshall Islands was the site of nuclear testing. The most infamous site was Bikini Atoll. As a result, many islands remain off-limits, both due to American military presence and the lingering effects of nuclear waste.
The Marshall Islands are right in the middle of the Pacific. That makes them even trickier to visit.
8. Saint Kitts and Nevis
St. Kitts and Nevis is a pair of Caribbean islands. Though small and among the least populated countries in the region, it has a lot to offer. Visitors are attracted to its diving hotspots and colonial fortresses.
Liechtenstein is the most famous micronation in the world, thanks perhaps to its whimsical name. Landlocked between Switzerland and Austria, it’s a beautiful, rich country surrounded by mountains. However, it’s surprisingly difficult to reach. There’s no airport and no train link. So you’ll either have to drive in yourself or take the bus.
Monaco is the second smallest independent country in the world. It’s a port city on the Mediterranean coast, surrounded by France. Its most famous attraction is Monte Carlo. There are plenty of harbors to house your super yacht while you’re gambling away your millions too. Relatable.
5. San Marino
How about a country you can explore in its entirety on foot? San Marino is a micronation surrounded by Italy, close to the Adriatic Sea. This small country is built around (and on) Mount Titano, which provides splendid views of the surrounding countryside. The border with Italy is open, but get your passport stamped just to prove you’ve been here!
Located just to the southeast of the Philippines, the islands of Palau are a tropical paradise. The capital city, Melekeok, has a population of 400 people! So if you’re in the market for urbane destinations, Palau isn’t for you.
Nauru is the third smallest country in the world, as well as the third least populated. Located in the Pacific, this island nation was once one of the richest per capita on earth. The reason? Phosphate deposits. You can still see left-over mining equipment, even though reserves have pretty much been depleted.
Tuvalu isn’t just one of the world’s least populous countries. It’s also the least visited. The whole country is only 16 square miles. You’ll have a hard time getting there, since the only way to fly in is via Fiji. And even these flights are sporadic.
1. Vatican City
The home of the pope is both the smallest country in the world and the least populated. Although thousands of people work here, only about 800 are official residents. These are mostly the Swiss Guards who protect the pope. They even have their own competitive soccer team.