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Largest Countries In The World - Top 15

Updated February 19, 2019
Which country on earth is largest by area? Here are the biggest countries according to the latest statistics from the United Nations.

A country in this list means a sovereign state, which has a firmer definition than a country. A sovereign state is a geographical area with an independent political government. The United Kingdom is for example a sovereign state but Scotland is not, since Scotland is partly governed by the UK Parliament. In the same way, China is a sovereign state but Tibet is not, since Tibet is unwillingly ruled by China. Nor is Greenland a sovereign state, even though it has become increasingly independent from Denmark.

So how big is Denmark? You'll find the answer in this list of the largest countries in the world, where all areas (and population numbers) are taken from UN's latest proper statistics, compiled in 2017 (population numbers in 2015). The area numbers in this list refers to the country's total surface area, comprising land area and inland waters (major rivers and lakes) and excluding polar regions and uninhabited islands.

15. Indonesia

Area: 1 910 931 km2 (737,815 mi2) [1]

The fact that Indonesia is one of the largest countries in the world can be difficult to see on a map since the country consists solely of islands. This means there are many different ethnic groups within the country. Most people live on Java, the elongated island northwest of Australia. This is where the country's capital Jakarta is located.

Indonesia has a total of 258 million inhabitants (2015)[2], which makes it the fourth most populous country in the world.

14. Mexico

Area: 1 964 375 km2 (758,449 mi2) [1]

Of Mexico's 127 million inhabitants (2015)[2], some are always on their way into the United States. For Mexico shares a more than three thousand kilometer long border with "the land of opportunity".

Mexico is traversed by four mountain ranges, which is the reason many cities are located at pretty high altitudes. The long and narrow peninsula is called La península de Baja California (The Baja California Peninsula in english), and it is separated from the rest of Mexico by the Colorado River.

13. Saudi Arabia

Area: 2 206 714 km2 (830,000 mi2) [1]

Saudi Arabia is the largest country in the Middle East and constitutes most of the Arabian Peninsula. Almost all of the country has a desert climate, except the Red Sea coast (to the southwest). This is where most of the population live in cities.

Saudi Arabia has 32 million inhabitants (2015).[2]

12. Denmark (including Greenland and Faroe Islands)

Area: 2 210 400 km2 (853,440 mi2) [1]

Greenland was a Danish colony in 1721-1953 and after that a Danish amt (sort of a county) in 1953-1979. The population of Greenland then got political self-government through a referendum in 1979 and is now considered an "autonomous country within in the Danish Realm". The same happened in 1948 with the Faroe Islands, a small group of islands between Norway, Great Britain and Iceland. The control of foreign affairs, defence and finances is however still retained by Denmark.

Greenland's area is 2,166,086 km2.[1] If Greenland and the Faroe Islands are considered part of Denmark, then Denmark's area is 2 210 400 km2.[1] Either way, Greenland/Denmark is number 12 on this list of the largest countries in the world.

Greenland has a population of only 56,000 (2015)[2], of which the great majority are inuits. Almost all people live along the fjords in southwestern Greenland, where the climate is relatively mild. Greenland is a lot like Scandinavia 10,000 years ago, in the way that almost the entire land is covered by a thich ice sheet.

11. Democratic Republic Of The Congo

Area: 2 344 858 km2 (905,355 mi2) [1]

The Democratic Republic of the Congo, formerly known as Zaire, also known as Congo-Kinshasa, is the second largest country in Africa. It should not be confused with the Republic of the Congo, also known as Congo-Brazzaville, which is a much smaller country situated just west of The Democratic Republic of the Congo.

The Democratic Republic of the Congo was hit hard by war in 1998-2003, and violence still rages in many areas. On a brighter note, there are beautiful rainforests in the country where you can find chimpanzees and gorillas.

The Democratic Republic of the Congo has 77 million inhabitants (2015).[2]

10. Algeria

Area: 2 381 741 km2 (919,595 mi2) [1]

Algeria is the tenth biggest country in the world, and the largest country in Africa. It is also one of the most arid countries on earth - a large part of Algeria is covered by the Sahara, so most of the 40 million inhabitants live along the north coast. The country is quite hilly and mountainous, with two mountain ranges traversing the country.

9. Kazakhstan

Area: 2 724 902 km2 (1,052,100 mi2) [1]

Kazakhstan is not only the home of Borat, but also the world's ninth largest country by area, and the largest country in world surrounded only by land borders (except for the Caspian Sea). Kazakhstan was part of the Soviet Union, and became independent in 1991.

Kazakhstan has many types of nature; 7,000 m high mountains, canyons, grasslands, steppe and more. The climate is a bit cold and dry in general, and the country has distinct seasons.

Kazakhstan has a population of only 18 million (2015)[2], which is not that much for such a large country.

8. Argentina

Area: 2 796 427 km2 (1,079,707 mi2) [1]

The second largest country in South America is Argentina. Like most countries of this size, it has many different types of nature, and you can find everything from snow-covered mountains to warm seashores. Since the country stretches far from the north to the south the climate varies from suptropical to subarctic. Central Argentina has a temperate climate, like most of Europe.

Argentina has a population of 43 million (2015).[2]

The map also shows the area in Antarctica that Argentina claimed until 1959, when the Antarctic Treaty was signed and all countries had to waive their claims.

7. India

Area: 3 287 263 km2 (1,269,219 mi2) [1]

India is the seventh largest and the second most populous country in the world. A total of 1.31 billions of people live in India (2015).[2]

The Indian subcontinent slowly moves to the north and pushes against the rest of Asia, which is the reason the Himalaya rises like a roof in the northern parts of the country. Besides mountains, India has deserts, great plains, rainforests, beaches and many other types of landscapes. The climate is either dry or wet and always warm, except in the mountainous parts where it obviously is colder.

6. Australia

Area: 7 692 024 km2 (2,969,907 mi2) [1]

Australia was in the 18th and 19th centuries literally invaded by Europeans, and they constitute the largest part of the 24 million inhabitants (2015)[2] today. The indigenous people of Australia, the Aboriginals, only constitute a fraction. The remaining population is mostly Asians.

The southwestern parts of the nation has a temperate climate, while the rest of the continent is hotter. In the middle of Australia are several large deserts, and the population density is very low here. The deserts are surrounded by grasslands, which in turn are surrounded by forests. But in northwestern Australia, the desert reaches all the way to the coast. In the northeastern part of the country there are rainforests.

5. Brazil

Area: 8 515 767 km2 (3,287,956 mi2) [1]

The largest country in South America, and the world's fifth largest country, is Brazil. With its 208 million inhabitants (2015)[2] it is also the world's fifth most populous country.

Rainforests are typical for Brazil, as the entire northwestern part of Brazil is covered by the Amazon rainforest. The rest of the country is mainly covered by "common" forests and shrubbery. The climate is tropical throughout the country, except along the south where it is temperate.

4. China

Area: 9 600 000 km2 (3,700,000 mi2) [1]

The largest of all countries in Asia, and fourth in the world, is China. China has the biggest population in the world - 1.38 billion (2015).[2]

From 1979 China had a policy about having only one child. This policy was strict in some areas and looser in others. A survey in 2007 showed its extent: 36 % were allowed only one child (mostly people in the cities), 53 % were allowed two children if the first child was a girl (people in cities and rural areas), 10 % were allowed two children regardless of the gender of the first child (mainly people in rural areas) and 2 % were allowed as many children as they wanted (mainly Tibetans).[3] The punishment for breaking the policy was mostly different kinds of fines. The policy led to newborn girls being abandoned, given away for adoption or murdered, since China's culture in different ways favours families with sons. In 2015, the one-child policy began to be phased out, mainly because there were now too many men, too few young and too many old.

The landscape in China is very varied and hard to describe briefly. Generally, southeastern China is covered in forests, while northwestern China has grasslands, steppes and deserts.

The light green areas on the map are Tibet and Taiwan, which involuntarily are under China's government.

3. United States

Area: 9 833 517 km2 (3,796,742 mi2) [1]

The Unites States of America constitutes the middle part of the North American continent. It only borders to Canada in the north and Mexico in the south, with the exception of the two states of Alaska and Hawaii, which are far away from the rest of the country.

Inland from the west coast are deserts, steppes and mountain chains. The eastern half of the United States is flatter. Here, the southern part has a subtropical climate while the northern part has a temperate climate.

USA has a population of 322 million people (2015)[2], which makes the country the third most populous in the world after China and India.

2. Canada

Area: 9 984 670 km2 (3,855,100 mi2) [1]

Number two on the list of the largest sovereign states in the world is Canada. Canada has Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom as its monarch, but is still defined as a sovereign state. The queen has power in certain rare situations, but she would hardly act against the parliament of Canada if such situations would occur.

The climate along the coasts close to the United States is somewhat like northern Europe, while the middle part of Canada has a more considerable difference between summer and winter.

The magnetic North Pole is in northern Canada.

Canada has 36 million inhabitants (2015)[2], most of which live near the US border.

1. Russia

Area: 17 098 246 km2 (6,601,670 mi2) [1]

The largest country in the world, by far, is Russia. The country spans across all of northern Asia and parts of Europe. Russia has a population of 143 million people (2015)[2], which makes it the ninth most populous country in the world.

Most of this big country consists of large, flat areas. To the south these areas are steppes, in the middle coniferous forests, and to the north tundra. There are also a fair amount of mountains, lakes and rivers. The largest part of the country has a temperate climate, but the northern parts (Siberia) has a subarctic climate with very cold winters. The north coast, which is often snow-covered all year round, has an arctic climate.
"World Population Prospects". UN. Published 2015. Retrieved Feb 19, 2019.
"China relaxes its one-child policy". The Australian. Published Jan 24, 2007. Retrieved Feb 19, 2019.