Sometimes good things come in small packages. So with that in mind, join us as we visit the top 5 smallest countries in the world – from the Pacific all the way to Italy!
5. San Marino
San Marino is the fifth smallest country in the world and third smallest European state after the Vatican and Monaco. It’s a landlocked enclave that is completely surrounded by Italy. San Marino has historically been unengaged in major wars, remaining neutral until forced to act in the Napoleonic wars, the First and the Second World War. However, in 1944 the British Royal Air Force mistakenly bombed San Marino, believing it was overrun by German forces. The railway was destroyed and 63 civilians were wrongfully killed.
Its cobblestone streets, quaint shops and churches attract many tourists every year. Tourists can visit the Cathedral of San Marino and the famous Three Towers of San Marino.
Tuvalu is the fourth smallest country in the world, covering only about 26 square kilometers. It is located in the Pacific Ocean between Hawaii and Australia; a remote location that detracts tourists. However, it is a beautiful spot for ecotourism, with the Funafuti Conservation Area deemed a protected marine area in 1999. The protected region includes 33 square kilometers of reef, lagoon and islets and is home to fish, coral reef, invertebrates, turtles, reef sharks, sharks, dolphins, and whales. Green sea turtles are classified as endangered and nest on the islets while endangered reef sharks also call Funafuti home.
The potato-shaped island of Nauru is the third smallest country in the world, and the smallest in the South Pacific. Nauru was once wealthy due to its phosphate resources, however they have now been exhausted and exploited.
During World War Two, Nauru was targeted by Japan for its phosphate mines and geographic location. Japan occupied Nauru from 1942 to 1945, holding the country for eleven days even after surrendering. Although Japanese soldiers were unsuccessful in reopening the mines, Nauru was successfully used as a stronghold. Many citizens were deported and enslaved, further cementing the Japanese occupation of Nauru as a significant event in the Pacific theatre.
Nauru is not a popular tourist location. However (like many Pacific islands) it offers some attractive activities such as; deep sea fishing, scuba diving, wreck diving and sunbathing on the beach.
Monaco is the second smallest country in the world, coming in at only about 2 square kilometers. However, it is the most densely populated. Monaco is well-known for its luxury and wealth, with an estimated 30% of that population millionaires (sugar babies rejoice!). Tourist attracting activities range from gambling at extravagant casinos to basking in the sun on a beach or lavish yacht.
Every May, the narrow, sharp-cornered Monaco streets are turned into a racetrack to host the most prestigious Formula One event. The layout of the streets creates a challenging track for drivers; but an entertaining one for spectators.
1. Vatican City
Vatican City is the smallest independent state in the world. It is most famously known as the home of the Roman Catholic Church and Pope Francis. People have fallen in love with the Pope and his progressive, LGTBQ, anti-capitalism views (for me, it was when he confirmed that dogs do indeed go to heaven). It’s not just all about the pontiff however, as there is another draw worth mentioning: St Peter’s Square and Basilica.
After a fire destroyed much of Rome in 64 A.D, Emperor Nero shifted the blame onto Christians, using them as a scapegoat for the tragedy. Christians were burned at the stake and executed in other horrendous ways. Among them was St Peter, one of Jesus Christ’s apostles, who was allegedly buried in a shallow grave. In the 4th century, the Basilica was rebuilt atop catacombs and perhaps even St Peter’s grave.
In the center of the square stands the obelisk; a 3,000 year-old Egyptian pylon made of granite and weighing over 350 tons. It originally stood in Heliopolis but was brought to the Vatican by Roman emperor Caligula to act as the centerpiece of his amphitheater. It also doubles as a sundial in St Peter’s Square.
Written by Megan Cary
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