Have you ever wondered which is the smallest country in Europe? I certainly did, and have even visited some of them, I decided to write a post about it.
The EU covers over 4 million km² and has 446 million inhabitants – the world’s third-largest population after China and India. By surface area, France is the biggest EU country and Malta the smallest (Source: europa.eu). From Monaco to Malta, and beyond, let’s go on a quick tour of Europe’s five smallest nations.
The European Union often refers to these nations as microstates. The term is typically used to refer to the smallest states in Europe: Liechtenstein, Malta, Monaco, San Marino, and Vatican City.
The European microstates are all of the limited size and population and have limited natural resources. As a result, they have adopted special economic policies, typically involving low levels of taxation and few restrictions on external financial investment.
10. Montenegro (13,812 km²)
9. Kosovo (10,887km²)
8. Cyprus (9,251km²)
7. Luxembourg (2,586km²)
6. Andorra (468km²)
A country close to my heart, The Republic of Malta, is a group of three tiny islands (well seven technically), Malta, Gozo and Comino, with a population of over 450,000. Due to its location in the Med, Malta has hot weather all year round, beautifully clean waters and some incredible prehistoric sites across the island. The republic is also famous for the beautiful waters of The Blue Lagoon.
It was also an important naval base throughout history and there are an array of museums and exhibitions to showcase this for visitors. It also has some of the best beaches in Europe!
Malta was made more famous in recent years, since appearing in the HBO TV programme Game of Thrones, and many of it’s iconic landmarks making their way on to our screens, including Mdina Gate or King’s Landing Gate, Fort Ricasoli, the Red Keep Gate, and the Azure Window, where the marriage of Daenerys and Drogo took place, however it did collapse in 2017.
Malta gained independence from the United Kingdom as a Commonwealth realm in 1964 and became a republic in 1974. This small county is also a member of the Commonwealth of Nations and the only microstate to be a full member of the European Union, making is an iconic country to begin this list of the smallest country in Europe.
READ MORE: 10 Things to do in Malta
I have never visited Liechtenstein, but I have been told it’s beautiful. The country is located between Switzerland and Austria, and only has a population of around 37,000 residents.
The country is a mere 25km long but that doesn’t mean they aren’t making their mark on the world, and the country is estimated to be the richest country in the world per capita. And the Principality of Liechtenstein is the sole remaining polity of the Holy Roman Empire, which is iconic.
Liechtenstein is landlocked, which means it’s been influenced by the countries that it is surrounded by for centuries. Liechtenstein is a wonderful country for winter sports, foodie adventures and much more. The capital Vaduz is stunning, with an array of museums, shops and it’s stunning 12th-century castle.
3. San Marino
Located smack bang in the middle of one of my favourite countries in Europe, is the small state of San Marino. Have you guessed where? That’s right it’s located in Italy!
The state is perched on the top of a hill, offering views of the surround Italian landscape, and is home to just 35,000 people.
And the Republic of San Marino is also the oldest surviving sovereign state and constitutional republic in the world, founded on 3 September 301. It is the last survivor of a large number of self-governing Italian communes from the Middle Ages, having survived the consolidation of Italy into medium-sized territorial states in the 15th century and the unification of Italy in the 19th century. Now that’s impressive!
It’s a great day trip from Tuscany, offering visitors the change to climb up to Castello della Cesta, enjoy some pizza and learn more about this tiny nation’s long history!
Photo by JÉSHOOTS from Pexels
If you want to feel like a queen for a day, then Monaco is for you, although remember to bring your credit card. In Monaco, you can expect mega-yachts, casinos and the iconic Monte Carlo Grand Prix. The Principality of Monaco is a sovereign state surrounded by France and the sea, and is home to around 38,600 people.
Located on the French Mediterranean coastline, Monaco is an independent nation, famous for its beautiful blue clear waters, but more impressively for the millionaires and billionaires that call this nation home. It’s gained a lavish reputation over the last century, as the playground for the rich and famous. It’s also close to neighbouring French regions Provence, and towns, Nice and Cannes
But there’s a lot more to Monaco than the post restaurants, and is also incredibly beautiful, an adrenaline junkies heaven, perfect for hiking, cycling and watersports.
The Principality of Monaco was ruled by the House of Grimaldi since the 13th century and achieved full independence from France in 1860, and has its own Royals, Prince Albert II.
1. Vatican City
And last but not least, the Vatican City tops the list as the smallest country in Europe. And to give it even bigger standing is not only the smallest country in Europe but also the smallest country in the world!
Vatican City is located in the very heart of Rome and is widely known as the seat of the Pope, the leader of the worldwide Catholic Church. With a mere 800 residents, Vatican City is small, and only has a garden, St Peter’s Basilica and the Vatican Museums within its borders.
The State of the Vatican City is the last remnant of the former Papal States, the lands in central Italy ruled directly by the Pope after being formally made a state in 1929.
I would add a day trip to Vatican City, whilst on a weekend in Rome, so you can experience this tiny country in Europe for everything it offers, including religion, art and the iconic ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.
Photo by Javon Swaby from Pexels
Did you expect Vatican City to be the smallest country in Europe?
FOR YOUR INFORMATION
There is also another micronation known as Kugelmugel, a micronation located at the Prater in Vienna, Austria. The Republic declared independence in 1976, after disputes between artist Edwin Lipburger and Austrian authorities over building permits for a ball-shaped house which he erected at in Katzelsdorf, in 1971. Kugelmugel was founded as a “republic” both as an artistic intervention and in order to protect the house from being demolished, and it still stands today. People visit from all over the world and admire the work of Edwin Lipburger.
If you on a bigger trip exploring more of Europe check out my guides to France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Italy, Portugal, Spain and United Kingdom.
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