What Are the Least Populated Countries to Live in?

by Diego Navarro | LAST UPDATED October 13, 2021

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Have you ever wondered which country is the least populated? No? Well, here’s the answer to that question anyway.

All joking aside, the world is actually full of quite a few locations that it’s challenging to live in, even for locals, let alone tourists or digital nomads that don’t know what they’re getting themselves into.

We’ve made a few lists for digital nomads in the past, but most of them either revolve around the best places to visit on vacation or the cheapest locations to live in as a location-independent worker.

On the other hand, this list is purely meant to determine the all-time least populated countries in the world, and more importantly, which countries are the most difficult to live in and might be avoided by digital nomads if you are looking for a long term stay.

The Rules

This list is purely going to be based on the number of citizens that a specific country has, and not other factors such as population density or how many square miles the territory of the country takes up.

For example, countries like Russia, Kazakhstan, Canada, Afghanistan, and Pakistan are known for having a small population density compared to the size of the country itself, but a decent number of citizens, so they’re out of the running.

We’re also going to skip peculiar countries like Hong Kong, Greenland, or Western Sahara and countries that aren’t part of the United Nations like Guam, Gibraltar, and French Polynesia.

Additionally, while countries like Namibia, Iceland, or Mongolia are known as some of the least populated countries in the world, they still beat out all of the countries on our list, so that’s why we don’t mention them.

Now that we’ve gotten all of the disclaimers out of the way let’s get on to the actual list to least populated countries out there.

15. Samoa ~ 190,000

Samoa is a country on two main islands and two smaller islands located to the east of Australia and past Fiji. It takes up 181 square miles, and all of the islands are inhabited.

Samoa is known for its rich culture and the fantastic music events that are so frequent that you’d swear a new festival takes place each week.

Leaving the country’s economic structure aside, the frequent earthquakes and typhoons should probably tell you that you shouldn’t invest in buying property on this island any time soon. But it could be an excellent option for a tropical vacation with crystal clear waters. 

14. Kiribati ~ 120,000

The island is located right on the border of the North Pacific Ocean and the Indian Ocean and has a territory that’s 313 square feet. However, the territory is shrinking fast, and the sea level on the island is rising at a rapid rate each year.

After gaining independence from the United Kingdom, the country has never really had a stable economy or any economy. The fact that not many tourists visit this island definitely isn’t going to improve that.

Frankly speaking, the island doesn’t have any attractions aside from the beaches and the seafood restaurants, so we’d recommend skipping this particular country as both a vacation and a temporary living location.

13. Micronesia ~ 102,000

Micronesia is a group of islands located directly to the north of Papua New Guinea and have a collective size of 271 square miles.

The islands see a lot less tourist traffic than their neighbors, which is strange considering the abundant natural beauty. This is also unfortunate since the island doesn’t have a strongly developed infrastructure, and a large part of its yearly earnings come from fishing and farming rather than tourism.

This is a great place to visit if you enjoy diving or surfing, but otherwise, it’s unremarkable.

12. Antigua and Barbuda ~ 86,000

Antigua and Barbuda

Antigua and Barbuda are three relatively small islands located in the Caribbean Sea and have a total territory of 170 square miles. Despite the country’s name, there is a third island as well, called Redonda.

Most of the major cities are located in Antigua, but there are more than 300 beautiful beaches all over the country that are open to tourists. The islands are also popular among bird watchers for being home to many colorful avians.

While this is a popular vacation spot, the islands don’t have much to offer past the beaches and the seaside bars, so that you might get sick of the repetitiveness after a few weeks.

11. Andorra ~ 78,000

Andorra is a Country that borders Spain to the south and France to the north. The country spans 180 square miles and is very well known for its ski resorts.

Only one-third of the population of Andorra is Andorran, with the other two-thirds consisting of Spanish and French nationals that live in the country but don’t have an Andorran nationality.

The country is an excellent vacation spot in the winter, and you can easily find an apartment or house that you can rent out if you want to stay there all year long. But, there aren’t many local attractions or entertainment venues that might encourage you to do so.

10. Dominica ~ 73,000

a picture of a beach

Dominica is a relatively small island that’s located in the Caribbean Sea. The island is measured at 290 square miles, which might be a giant compared to a few entries on our list, but that sort of landmass still isn’t all that large for an island that receives many yearly visitors.

The country is acclaimed for the beautiful forests and beaches that make it a great vacation spot for millions of people annually. Unfortunately, similarly to other countries that thrive through tourism, living on this island isn’t really possible since it will require you to rent out a hotel room all year round with virtually no apartments that you can rent.

9. The Marshall Islands ~ 55,000

The Marshall Islands are located to the northeast of Australia and pretty close to Tuvalu and Kiribati, which are both countries that appear on this list. Another similarity that these countries share is that they’re all Atoll islands.

The islands being Atolls essentially means ring-shaped coral reefs, which is a distinction that very few inhabited islands have.

The islands are known for the large variety of fish that you can find swimming around in the sea, making it a great place for divers. It’s also a fantastic place to go to if you’re someone that likes fish for dinner since you can live there for a full year and not have the same seafood meal twice.

Aside from that, though, the islands offer very little else in the way of local attractions.

8. Saint Kitts and Nevis ~ 52,000

Saint Kitts and Nevis are two islands that make one nation located in the Caribbean Sea. Both of the islands together give you a territory that’s roughly 420 square miles across.

While the country does have a thriving agriculture industry, the majority of the GDP comes from tourism, and with good reason. Like many Caribbean islands, this country has some fantastic beaches, visited by millions of people each year.

Anyhow, you won’t be able to live on the islands unless you can cover year-round hotel fees, but you can definitely vacation on them. The vacation in question won’t exactly be cheap, but there are more expensive choices, so this is actually a good choice for tourists.

7. Liechtenstein ~ 38,000

Liechtenstein is located between the borders of Switzerland and Austria on a 62 square mile stretch of territory. Both Liechtenstein and Monaco have roughly the same number of citizens, so consider both of their positions on our list to be interchangeable.

The country doesn’t have any notable tourist spots, and it’s actually ranked as the least visited country in Europe. Despite this, the country’s GDP is very high, as are the rent costs and bills.

The lack of scenic locations and the undesirable housing prices make it pretty obvious why people prefer to go to Germany or Brazil instead.

6. Monaco ~ 38,000

Monaco is a tiny country in the south of France near the border with Switzerland. It’s one of two city-states that appear on our list (the second one being Vatican City), and the total square miles it takes up is 0.78.

The country is known for the F1 Circuit, its harbor full of yachts, and its streets full of sports cars. Unfortunately, this also means that many restaurants and bars you can visit here are a bit on the costlier side, making this a less than ideal location to visit or live in unless you have bottomless pockets. 

5. San Marino ~ 33,000

picture of a city

San Marino is a country that takes up a small land area of 24 square miles in the middle of Italy and is self-proclaimed to be the oldest republic in the world.

The country has a few architectural marvels and is known to have been named for Saint Marinus, who was an acclaimed stonemason. Thanks to the sightseeing opportunities, the country heavily relies on the tourism industry, and it has an annual influx of around 3 million tourists.

However, aside from the castles, the country has very few entertainment venues or other notable locations that you can visit.

4. Palau ~ 18,000

Palau is an island nation located to the east of the Philippines and northeast of Indonesia. The archipelago consists of more than 340 individual islands, all of which combined result in a territory of 177 square miles.

Palau is a very scenic location to visit, and the capital city even has a few hotels and restaurants that you can enjoy; however, most of the islands are either coral reefs or volcanic, so you’ll have to stay on the main islands during your visit.

Unfortunately, aside from the few beautiful sites that you can visit, the island really doesn’t have much else to offer unless you’re interested in fishing.

3. Tuvalu ~ 12,000

Tuvalu is an island country that lies just north of New Zealand and just above Fiji and that spans a total area of 10 square miles. Of course, the island itself is only 10 square miles, but the most remarkable thing about it is that the highest point on the island stands at 15 feet above sea level, beating out even places like Denmark that are known for being virtually flat.

This means that the island has no mountains, no hills, no rivers, no notable architecture to speak of, and basically no sightseeing locations at all. This makes the island a less than ideal location for tourists and a pretty tricky place to move to.

2. Nauru ~ 10,000

Nauru is a small island that’s 8.1 square miles in size, located northeast of Australia and right on the Equator line. The island is formally known as Pleasant Island, but it’s a pretty unpleasant place to visit despite the name.

The employment rate in Nauru is estimated to be somewhere around 20%, and the country doesn’t even make any money from tourism, which is understandable considering the lack of hotels or cafes.

We’re trying to say that the islands aren’t exactly a good place for tourists and regular inhabitants alike.

1. Vatican City ~ 1,000

a building with statues on top

The Vatican City is a city-state located in the Italian city of Rome, and it’s without a doubt the smallest country and the least populated country in the world. The country spans the circumference of the city itself, which is a measly 0,17 square miles.

While there have been many city-states in the past in Europe, India, and even China, today, the Vatican is only one of three city-states in existence, the other two being Monaco and Singapore. Vatican City has no bars, no cafes, and no means of employment outside of the priesthood, so you can see why it’s not an ideal place to live or visit for long.

Conclusion

The number of citizens from all of these countries combined won’t even amount to the population of some cities elsewhere in the world. While this may seem like an upside to many people since going to the least populated country in the world would be a great chance for some alone time, the reality is very different.

The small number of citizens generally means an unstable economy or one based almost exclusively on tourism. This means that while some of these countries might make for good vacation spots (albeit expensive ones), they make for bad places to think about living in.

Diego Navarro
Diego became interested in a nomadic lifestyle during a semester abroad during college. He spends most of his time in central Europe and the American southwest (where his family is from). He loves exotic food and playing video games on his Nintendo Switch.

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