Of the 193 independent countries in the world, the smallest in population is Vatican City. It is home to just 800 people, none of whom are permanent residents.
Not surprisingly, Vatican City also ranks as the world’s smallest country in area. Covering less than a quarter of a square mile, it is actually an enclave within the city of Rome, the capital of Italy. (An enclave is a distinct territory within a foreign territory.) It is separated from Rome by walls built hundreds of years ago.
Vatican City is the headquarters and spiritual center of the Roman Catholic Church. It is home to the Pope, who is the head of the church, and his advisors. For this reason, the country is sometimes called “The Holy See.” (The word “see” can mean a center of power or authority.)
Vatican City’s tiny population is made up of priests, nuns, diplomats, guards, and other people who work in the service of the Roman Catholic Church. These people come from many different countries.
Ranking second and third on the list of the world’s least populous countries are two island nations in the South Pacific Ocean: Tuvalu and Nauru. Tuvalu is home to 12,000 people and Nauru to 14,000.
Rounding out the top 10 or perhaps it would be more accurate to say the bottom 10 in this category are these seven countries:
Palau (population 21,000)
San Marino (30,000)
Saint Kitts and Nevis (40,000)
Marshall Islands (64,000)
Added together, the populations of the 10 least-populous countries total about 297,000. By comparison, the least-populous U.S. state Wyoming is home to about 510,000 people.
The combined area of the 10 least-populous countries is about 755 square miles. This is less than the area of Rhode Island, the smallest U.S. state. Rhode Island covers 1,545 square miles.
(Question submitted by a 3rd-grade teacher at Public School 168x in New York City, New York.)