They may be diminutive in size, but the smallest countries in the world pack plenty of charm into petite packages. The following examples are a fine reminder of why bigger is not always better.
Size: 0.44 km²
Yes, the seat of the Holy See is its own independent country located right in the heart of Rome and this is the smallest country in the world. It may be micro, but Vatican City features an unbelievable concentration of art and artifacts, including the Sistine Chapel. Michelangelo’s magnificent ceiling frescos are still a wonder to behold, thanks to painstaking restoration efforts over the years.
Size: 2 km²
It may be smaller than many cities, but the Principality of Monaco has the wealth of a far larger nation. All that capital manifests in opulent yachts, sports cars, and other luxe trappings of the finer side of life. The best time to partake in all this grandeur is at the annual Monaco Grand Prix, when Europe’s glitterati descend en masse to watch the spectacle.
Size: 21 km²
Also known as Pleasant Island, this minuscule speck in Micronesia off the coast of Australia has been independent since 1968. A coral reef surrounds the island, making for spectacular snorkeling.
Size: 26 km²
These nine sparsely populated islands in the South Pacific make for an interesting stop between Australia and Hawaii. Nature-lovers should be sure to bring their binoculars to spot exotic species of tropical birds and their snorkeling gear to swim with passing sea turtles.
Size: 61 km²
Nicknamed La Serenissima Repubblica di San Marino, or the “Most Serene Republic of San Marino,” in Italian, this ancient landlocked microstate has historic architecture and scenic vistas for days.
Size: 160 km²
Wedged in a visually stunning alpine stretch between Switzerland and Austria, this German-speaking country has an impressive collection of well-preserved medieval castles, as well as a surprisingly slick modern art museum.
Size: 181 km²
Sadly, this island nation’s greatest claim to fame may be the Bikini Atolls, which were bombed beyond recognition during nuclear tests during the 1940s. These days, though, the islets are a popular wreck diving site, while the neighboring coral atolls are best known for their cerulean waters and unspoiled coastlines.
Size: 261 km²
These two diminutive islands surrounded by turquoise Caribbean waters are about as paradisiacal as it gets. Travelers can hike up to the crater lake on top of Mount Liamuiga, a dormant volcano on Saint Kitts, or spy on local wildlife in lush rainforests dotted with abandoned sugar plantations.
Size: 300 km²
Although this nation in the Indian Ocean consists of approximately 1,200 islands, its total landmass is still tiny. All that oceanfront means that this is a favored destination of beach bums and sun-worshippers; the Maldives boasts more than 100 resorts, many of which occupy entire private islands.
Size: 316 km²
Set foot in Valletta, the capital of this miniature archipelago not far from Sicily, and you’ll immediately see why the entire city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Picture Mediterranean flair sprinkled with North African influences.