Visualizing Countries by Share of Earth’s Surface

By Matt Dallisson, 12/03/2021

Visualizing Countries by Share of Earth’s Surface

There are over 510 million square kilometers of area on the surface of Earth, but less than 30% of this is covered by land. The rest is water, in the form of vast oceans.

Today’s visualization uses data primarily from the United Nations Statistics Division (UNSD) to rank the world’s countries by their share of Earth’s surface.

Breakdown of Countries Share of Earth’s Surface

The largest countries by surface area are Russia (3.35%), Canada (1.96%), and China (1.88%).

Together they occupy roughly 7.2% of Earth’s surface. Russia is so big that even if we divided the country between its Asian and European sections, those new regions would still be the largest in their respective continents.

Country / Dependency Total in km² (mi²) Percentage of Earth’s Surface
Russia 17,098,246 (6,601,670) 3.352%
Antarctica 14,000,000 (5,400,000) 2.745%
Canada 9,984,670 (3,855,100) 1.958%
China 9,596,961 (3,705,407) 1.881%
United States 9,525,067 (3,677,649) 1.867%
Brazil 8,515,767 (3,287,956) 1.670%
Australia 7,692,024 (2,969,907) 1.508%
India 3,287,263 (1,269,219) 0.644%
Argentina 2,780,400 (1,073,500) 0.545%
Kazakhstan 2,724,900 (1,052,100) 0.534%
Algeria 2,381,741 (919,595) 0.467%
D.R. Congo 2,344,858 (905,355) 0.460%
Greenland (Denmark) 2,166,086 (836,330) 0.425%
Saudi Arabia 2,149,690 (830,000) 0.421%
Mexico 1,964,375 (758,449) 0.385%
Indonesia 1,910,931 (737,815) 0.375%
Sudan 1,861,484 (718,723) 0.365%
Libya 1,759,540 (679,360) 0.345%
Iran 1,648,195 (636,372) 0.323%
Mongolia 1,564,110 (603,910) 0.307%
Peru 1,285,216 (496,225) 0.252%
Chad 1,284,000 (496,000) 0.252%
Niger 1,267,000 (489,000) 0.248%
Angola 1,246,700 (481,400) 0.244%
Mali 1,240,192 (478,841) 0.243%
South Africa 1,221,037 (471,445) 0.239%
Colombia 1,141,748 (440,831) 0.224%
Ethiopia 1,104,300 (426,400) 0.216%
Bolivia 1,098,581 (424,164) 0.215%
Mauritania 1,030,700 (398,000) 0.202%
Egypt 1,002,450 (387,050) 0.197%
Tanzania 945,087 (364,900) 0.185%
Nigeria 923,768 (356,669) 0.181%
Venezuela 916,445 (353,841) 0.180%
Pakistan 907,843 (350,520) 0.178%
Namibia 825,615 (318,772) 0.162%
Mozambique 801,590 (309,500) 0.157%
Turkey 783,562 (302,535) 0.154%
Chile 756,102 (291,933) 0.148%
Zambia 752,612 (290,585) 0.148%
Myanmar 676,578 (261,228) 0.133%
Afghanistan 652,230 (251,830) 0.128%
South Sudan 644,329 (248,777) 0.126%
France 640,679 (247,368) 0.126%
Somalia 637,657 (246,201) 0.125%
Central African Republic 622,984 (240,535) 0.122%
Ukraine 603,500 (233,000) 0.118%
Madagascar 587,041 (226,658) 0.115%
Botswana 581,730 (224,610) 0.114%
Kenya 580,367 (224,081) 0.114%
France 543,940 (210,020) 0.107%
Yemen 527,968 (203,850) 0.104%
Thailand 513,120 (198,120) 0.101%
Spain 505,992 (195,365) 0.099%
Turkmenistan 488,100 (188,500) 0.096%
Cameroon 475,442 (183,569) 0.093%
Papua New Guinea 462,840 (178,700) 0.091%
Sweden 450,295 (173,860) 0.088%
Uzbekistan 447,400 (172,700) 0.088%
Morocco 446,550 (172,410) 0.088%
Iraq 438,317 (169,235) 0.086%
Paraguay 406,752 (157,048) 0.080%
Zimbabwe 390,757 (150,872) 0.077%
Norway 385,207 (148,729) 0.076%
Japan 377,976 (145,937) 0.074%
Germany 357,114 (137,882) 0.070%
Republic of the Congo 342,000 (132,000) 0.067%
Finland 338,424 (130,666) 0.066%
Vietnam 331,212 (127,882) 0.065%
Malaysia 330,803 (127,724) 0.065%
Ivory Coast 322,463 (124,504) 0.063%
Poland 312,696 (120,733) 0.061%
Oman 309,500 (119,500) 0.061%
Italy 301,339 (116,348) 0.059%
Philippines 300,000 (120,000) 0.059%
Ecuador 276,841 (106,889) 0.054%
Burkina Faso 274,222 (105,878) 0.054%
New Zealand 270,467 (104,428) 0.053%
Gabon 267,668 (103,347) 0.052%
Guinea 245,857 (94,926) 0.048%
United Kingdom 242,495 (93,628) 0.048%
Uganda 241,550 (93,260) 0.047%
Ghana 238,533 (92,098) 0.047%
Romania 238,397 (92,046) 0.047%
Laos 236,800 (91,400) 0.046%
Guyana 214,969 (83,000) 0.042%
Belarus 207,600 (80,200) 0.041%
Kyrgyzstan 199,951 (77,202) 0.039%
Senegal 196,722 (75,955) 0.039%
Syria 185,180 (71,500) 0.036%
Cambodia 181,035 (69,898) 0.035%
Uruguay 176,215 (68,037) 0.035%
Somaliland 176,120 (68,000) 0.035%
Suriname 163,820 (63,250) 0.032%
Tunisia 163,610 (63,170) 0.032%
Bangladesh 148,460 (57,320) 0.029%
Nepal 147,181 (56,827) 0.029%
Tajikistan 143,100 (55,300) 0.028%
Greece 131,957 (50,949) 0.026%
Nicaragua 130,373 (50,337) 0.026%
North Korea 120,540 (46,540) 0.024%
Malawi 118,484 (45,747) 0.023%
Eritrea 117,600 (45,400) 0.023%
Benin 114,763 (44,310) 0.022%
Honduras 112,492 (43,433) 0.022%
Liberia 111,369 (43,000) 0.022%
Bulgaria 111,002 (42,858) 0.022%
Cuba 109,884 (42,426) 0.022%
Guatemala 108,889 (42,042) 0.021%
Iceland 103,000 (40,000) 0.020%
South Korea 100,210 (38,690) 0.020%
Hungary 93,028 (35,918) 0.018%
Portugal 92,226 (35,609) 0.018%
Jordan 89,342 (34,495) 0.018%
Serbia 88,361 (34,116) 0.017%
Azerbaijan 86,600 (33,400) 0.017%
Austria 83,871 (32,383) 0.016%
United Arab Emirates 83,600 (32,300) 0.016%
Czech Republic 78,865 (30,450) 0.015%
Panama 75,417 (29,119) 0.015%
Sierra Leone 71,740 (27,700) 0.014%
Ireland 70,273 (27,133) 0.014%
Georgia 69,700 (26,900) 0.014%
Sri Lanka 65,610 (25,330) 0.013%
Lithuania 65,300 (25,200) 0.013%
Latvia 64,559 (24,926) 0.013%
Togo 56,785 (21,925) 0.011%
Croatia 56,594 (21,851) 0.011%
Bosnia and Herzegovina 51,209 (19,772) 0.010%
Costa Rica 51,100 (19,700) 0.010%
Slovakia 49,037 (18,933) 0.010%
Dominican Republic 48,671 (18,792) 0.010%
Estonia 45,227 (17,462) 0.009%
Denmark 43,094 (16,639) 0.008%
Netherlands 41,850 (16,160) 0.008%
Switzerland 41,284 (15,940) 0.008%
Bhutan 38,394 (14,824) 0.008%
Taiwan 36,193 (13,974) 0.007%
Guinea-Bissau 36,125 (13,948) 0.007%
Moldova 33,846 (13,068) 0.007%
Belgium 30,528 (11,787) 0.006%
Lesotho 30,355 (11,720) 0.006%
Armenia 29,743 (11,484) 0.006%
Solomon Islands 28,896 (11,157) 0.006%
Albania 28,748 (11,100) 0.006%
Equatorial Guinea 28,051 (10,831) 0.005%
Burundi 27,834 (10,747) 0.005%
Haiti 27,750 (10,710) 0.005%
Rwanda 26,338 (10,169) 0.005%
North Macedonia 25,713 (9,928) 0.005%
Djibouti 23,200 (9,000) 0.005%
Belize 22,966 (8,867) 0.005%
El Salvador 21,041 (8,124) 0.004%
Israel 20,770 (8,020) 0.004%
Slovenia 20,273 (7,827) 0.004%
Fiji 18,272 (7,055) 0.004%
Kuwait 17,818 (6,880) 0.003%
Eswatini 17,364 (6,704) 0.003%
East Timor 14,919 (5,760) 0.003%
The Bahamas 13,943 (5,383) 0.003%
Montenegro 13,812 (5,333) 0.003%
Vanuatu 12,189 (4,706) 0.002%
Qatar 11,586 (4,473) 0.002%
The Gambia 11,295 (4,361) 0.002%
Jamaica 10,991 (4,244) 0.002%
Kosovo 10,887 (4,203) 0.002%
Lebanon 10,452 (4,036) 0.002%
Cyprus 9,251 (3,572) 0.002%
State of Palestine 6,020 (2,320) 0.001%
Brunei 5,765 (2,226) 0.001%
Trinidad and Tobago 5,130 (1,980) 0.001%
Cape Verde 4,033 (1,557) 0.001%
Samoa 2,842 (1,097) 0.001%
Luxembourg 2,586 (998) 0.001%
Mauritius 2,040 (790) 0.000%
Comoros 1,862 (719) 0.000%
São Tomé and Príncipe 964 (372) 0.000%
Kiribati 811 (313) 0.000%
Bahrain 778 (300) 0.000%
Dominica 751 (290) 0.000%
Tonga 747 (288) 0.000%
Singapore 728 (281) 0.000%
Federated States of Micronesia 702 (271) 0.000%
Saint Lucia 616 (238) 0.000%
Andorra 468 (181) 0.000%
Palau 459 (177) 0.000%
Seychelles 452 (175) 0.000%
Antigua and Barbuda 442 (171) 0.000%
Barbados 430 (170) 0.000%
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines 389 (150) 0.000%
Grenada 344 (133) 0.000%
Malta 316 (122) 0.000%
Maldives 300 (120) 0.000%
Saint Kitts and Nevis 261 (101) 0.000%
Marshall Islands 181 (70) 0.000%
Liechtenstein 160 (62) 0.000%
San Marino 61 (24) 0.000%
Tuvalu 26 (10) 0.000%
Nauru 21 (8.1) 0.000%
Monaco 2.02 (0.78) 0.000%
Vatican City 0.49 (0.19) 0.000%

Antarctica, although not a country, covers the second largest amount of land overall at 2.75%. Meanwhile, the other nations that surpass the 1% mark for surface area include the United States (1.87%), Brazil (1.67%), and Australia (1.51%).

The remaining 195 countries and regions below 1%, combined, account for the other half of Earth’s land surface. Among the world’s smallest countries are the island nations of the Caribbean and the South Pacific Ocean. However, the tiniest of the tiny are Vatican City and Monaco, which combine for a total area of just 2.51 km².

The remaining 70% of Earth’s surface is water: 27% territorial waters and 43% international waters or areas beyond national jurisdiction.

Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction

In the past, nations adhered to the freedom-of-the-seas doctrine, a 17th century principle that limited jurisdiction over the oceans to a narrow area along a nation’s coastline. The rest of the seas did not belong to any nation and were free for countries to travel and exploit.

This situation lasted into the 20th century, but by mid-century there was an effort to extend national claims as competition for offshore resources became increasingly fierce and ocean pollution became an issue.

In 1982, the United Nations adopted the Law of the Sea Convention which extended international law over the extra-territorial waters. The convention established freedom-of-navigation rights and set territorial sea boundaries 12 miles (19 km) offshore with exclusive economic zones up to 200 miles (322 km) offshore, extending a country’s influence over maritime resources.

Does Size Matter?

The size of countries is the outcome of politics, economics, history, and geography. Put simply, borders can change over time.

In 1946, there were 76 independent countries in the world, and today there are 195. There are forces that push together or pull apart landscapes over time. While physical geography plays a role in the identity of nations, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the former ruler of Qatar, a tiny Gulf nation, put it best:

“A country is not measured by the size of its area on the map. A country is truly measured by its heritage and culture.”

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The post Visualizing Countries by Share of Earth’s Surface appeared first on Visual Capitalist.

This content was originally published here.

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