Have you ever wanted to tour a country in a few days and feel like you’ve seen all of it or feel you have met a good percentage of the population? In these tiny countries, it is almost possible to achieve that! Going by the United Nations list of recognised countries and observer states, these countries are the smallest and least populated in the world. Let’s go on a little tour. (All population figures are estimates.)
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Looking for an expert's perspective?Uncover my top 3 recommended places from each continent on the map.
1. GuatemalaAn express adventure for those with limited time off. Prepare yourself incredible experiences. You will hike a volcano, visit mayan temples and witness a ceremony and take in beautiful colonial Antigua.
2. BelizeA quick trip not too far away for those seeking a relaxing mini break. You will have plenty of free time to relax but also some awesome activities to experience the rainforest and the caribbean sea.
3. MexicoAn exciting mini trip exploring the lesser known colonial towns of central Mexico. This is hte perfect trip for someone with limited time off and still wants to turn on explorer mode and do something different.
1. EcuadorA remarkable 8 days adventure through the Andes and the Amazon rainforest. The best choice for adventure seekers wishing to visit the 2 most iconic areas of South America, in only 1 week and no flights.
2. PeruAn alternative itinerary to classic Peru, from Cusco to Arequipa. This itinerary is great combination of highlights Cusco and Machu Picchu with the lesser known Arequipa and Colca Canyon.
1. ItalyThe ultimate Italian experience from the vibrant streets of Naples to the breathtaking sceneries of the Amalfi Coast followed by Matera and down to Puglia with its golden beaches, intense flavours and fascinating destinations.
2. ScotlandEmbark on this great adventure starting from London all the way to Scotland with a true Scottish experience made of breathtaking sceneries, whisky tasting and ..lots of fun! Ideal for train lovers and explorers.
3. PortugalA wonderful train journey around Portugal, from the romantic city of Porto to the Douro Valley, to the beautiful Aveiro all the way to Lisbon and Sintra. The perfect trip to train, culinary and culture lovers.
1. South KoreaDiscover incredible temples, mountains and modern cities on this 10 day adventure. This trip is perfect for those seeking immersion in the cuisine, culture and natural wonders of South Korea.
2. ThailandFrom Bankgok to Angkor Wat to Ho Chi Minh City and everything in between - adventure through the heart of South-East Asia. Taste the delights, see history brought to life and unwind on a Mekong River cruise.
3. Sri LankaA fantastic adventure that showcases Sri Lanka's fantastic landscapes, wildlife and flavours. With 3 epic rail journeys, 3 UNESCO heritage sites and time to relax, this trip has loads to offer at a great price
1. MoroccoAn epic journey across Morocco: from Casablanca to Marrakech, through the blue city of Chefchaouen to the wonders of the desert and deep to the High Atlas Mountains - this trip has it all! Ideal for true explorers!
2. EgyptFrom Cairo to Aswan, this trip brings the land of the pharaohs to life. You'll visit the Pyramids, Valley of the Kings and Luxor Temple and cruise down the Nile in style. This is the perfect way to explore Egypt.
Saint Kitts and Nevis
Population: 54, 821
The only Caribbean entry on the list is Saint Kitts and Nevis, which is basically a group of two islands. The capital, Basseterre, sits on Saint Kitts and houses around 13,000 people. Despite being a member of the UN, the country is also a Commonwealth realm, with Queen Elizabeth II still acting as head of state.
Interested in seeing more of the Caribbean? Join our eight-day premium Sailing Trip to the British Virgin Islands – you’ll relax on pristine beaches and sip local rum from the comfort of a fully crewed and catered catamaran.
The Marshall Islands are a single country of over 1,000 islands, most of which are uninhabited. The Marshalls are located near the equator in the Pacific Ocean, slightly west of the International Date Line. The country is part of the larger island group of Micronesia, but only geographically, as it is a separate political power and is a recognised UN member. The estimated population is 53,066. Of that number, 28,000 live on Majuro island, the capital.
One of only two official ‘doubly-landlocked’ countries in the world (the other is Uzbekistan), Liechtenstein has a slightly higher population than Monaco, and the pair often switch positions as more or less populated. The difference is Liechtenstein has a national football team and Monaco doesn’t. They even beat Iceland 3:0 in football in their capital city of Vaduz in 2007, one of the country’s finest moments. Liechtenstein is divided into 11 municipalities, the largest of which is Schaan. It borders only Switzerland and Austria, neither of whom have a coastline.
Monaco is an enigma as it is neither a Kingdom nor a Republic, but a Principality, yet it has been granted full United Nations membership and is a fully recognised country. Monaco is not officially a part of the European Union either, but it does participate in certain EU policies, including customs and border controls. You can get your passport stamped at the border, but it’s not essential. The people speak French, and the Euro is the unit of currency. Monaco is one of the rare UN countries that doesn’t have an international football team (other examples include the United Kingdom and the Vatican City State). The country is famous for its stunning harbour, Monte Carlo Casino and its grand prix circuit. It also has a local football team that plays in the French League and was a runner-up in the 2004 Champions League.
The first entry on this list to be fully surrounded by a country, and yet has stunning landscapes and mountains is San Marino. It also claims, with some documents to back up this theory, to be the world’s first ever Republic. Also of note, during World War I, when Italy declared war on Austria and Hungary in 1915, San Marino remained neutral. The Italians didn’t like this and suspected that San Marino was giving Austrian spies access to their new Italian radiotelegraph station. The capital, San Marino City, sits atop a mountain, yet the largest city in the country is the lower lying Serrvale.
Explore nearby Italy on our four-day foodie Mini Trip to Bologna – you’ll explore the wider Emilia-Romagna region while sampling the best local cuisine.
Palau is another group of islands to make the list, and again is in the Pacific. For pub quiz lovers, Ngerulmud is the capital, just in case the question ever comes up. The country has a whopping 340 islands for just 21,097 people, meaning that if you divided the population evenly between islands, each would have 62 people. That’s not feasible though as many islands are uninhabitable. This remote country is a great getaway for the intrepid traveller as there are remarkable buildings and sights to be seen.
The list wouldn’t be complete without the remote Pacific Island nations, and Nauru is often regarded as one of the most remote countries in the world. It was once known as Pleasant Island, and it is so isolated that its nearest neighbor, Banaba Island, is 300 kilometres (186 miles) away.
While it was badly bombed in 1943 by the Japanese, it hasn’t been bothered in quite some time. Recently, Nauruans have earned the reputation of being the most overweight people in the world, but it would be best not to mention this if you are visiting. Nauru’s national airline, Nauru Airlines, surprisingly flies to Brisbane, Australia from the country’s only airport, though the country remains the world’s smallest independent republic. Tourists need to plan their visit weeks in advance.
Tuvalu is also a Pacific Ocean-based country, but it’s not quite as remote as Nauru. It is situated midway between Hawaii and Australia. With a population (as of 2012) of just over 10,000, Tuvalu became a member of the United Nations in 2000. The country has a traditional national sport called ‘kilikiti’, which is similar to cricket. Queen Elizabeth II is still the reigning monarch, and the British flag still appears in the top left corner of the official Tuvalu flag.
While the Vatican’s most famous citizen, The Pope, is one of the most recognisable people on the planet, his country’s population doesn’t even amass the half-thousand mark. So by a long way, Vatican City is the world’s smallest UN recognised country by population. What this means is that the Pope not only leads the Catholic religion globally, he rules supreme in the smallest populated country in the world. The irony here is that the Vatican City’s population triples or quadruples on any given day due to the influx of tourists coming to St Peter’s Square, the Sistine Chapel and the country’s many museums.
To discover more of Italy, book our 10-day Northern Italy small-group adventure – the trip starts in Rome with a bike tour of the city’s top attractions.
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