Smallest countries in the world

Written by:
August 26, 2020
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Smallest countries in the world

The world’s biggest countries get the most attention, to be sure, whether it’s the presidential election in the United States, trade with China, politics in Russia, or the fate of the Amazon rainforest in Brazil.

But the countries with the smallest populations have big stories of their own.

Some are struggling with too many people, like Mauritania and its neighbors in West Africa, where resources and services are falling short and hunger and disease are spreading. Places like Papua New Guinea and the Comoros have too many children who are not yet old enough to work and contribute economically.

Many countries have what’s called a negative growth rate, meaning at the current pace, the number of people will dwindle as deaths outnumber births. That’s the case in Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and in the Balkans.

More than a few are having crises traced to political traumas, especially former Soviet republics and satellites like Moldova, Estonia, Latvia, and Bulgaria, which have struggled since the dissolution of the superpower in the early 1990s.

Some are small yet inundated with migrants and asylum seekers traveling in search of better lives. That’s true of Libya, Cyprus, and tiny Djibouti at the Suez Canal. Wealthy nations like Singapore, Qatar, Oman, Kuwait, and Bahrain are bursting with guest laborers brought in from other countries to cook, clean, and build.

Others are seeing waves of departures, as residents leave in droves, fleeing gang violence in El Salvador, harsh conscription in Eritrea, war in Lebanon, rising seas in Kiribati, and joblessness in Tonga.

Many small countries survive only because those who leave send money back home as remittances, such as Kyrgyzstan, the Gambia, Kosovo, Guyana, and Belize.

In some places, the birth rate is so high that governments like those in the Republic of the Congo and Liberia are trying to spread the word about family planning and contraception. Meanwhile, Albania’s population decline has been so steep that the government has offered money to entice parents to have children.

In honor of World Population Day on July 11 and for insight into these small, lesser-known populations, Stacker referenced data from the Central Intelligence Agency’s World Factbook 2020. The list features the 95 least-populous nations out of the 195 nations recognized by either the United Nations or the United States.

Read on to discover what’s going on in the world’s smallest nations.

Research note: The CIA’s 2020 population estimates come from a variety of sources, including countries’ government records and population censuses. Population estimates can vary from source to source as organizations calculate them differently based on migration, mortality, and fertility rates.

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Shelly Zohar // Wikimedia Commons

#95. Laos

- Population: 7,447,396 (+1.4% average population growth)
- Net migration rate per 1,000 people: -1%
- Urban population: 36.3% of total population (+3.3% annual rate of change)
- Birth rate per 1,000 people: 22.4 (median life expectancy at birth: 65.7 years)
- Death rate per 1,000 people: 7.2
- Median age: 24

The population of Laos grew rapidly in the late 1980s and 1990s following food shortages of previous years. It has since slowed. The country is mountainous, landlocked, and poor. About 80% of its population works in agriculture, mostly cultivating rice.

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#94. Papua New Guinea

- Population: 7,259,456 (+1.6% average population growth)
- Net migration rate per 1,000 people: 0%
- Urban population: 13.3% of total population (+2.5% annual rate of change)
- Birth rate per 1,000 people: 22.5 (median life expectancy at birth: 67.8 years)
- Death rate per 1,000 people: 6.7
- Median age: 24

Population growth in Papua New Guinea is pressing on its health care and educational systems, infrastructure, and economy. The fertility rate is relatively high, and the island nation has what is called a youth bulge, meaning a large number of young people not old enough to work. Its population is projected to nearly double by 2050.

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#93. Paraguay

- Population: 7,191,685 (+1.2% average population growth)
- Net migration rate per 1,000 people: -0.1%
- Urban population: 62.2% of total population (+1.7% annual rate of change)
- Birth rate per 1,000 people: 16.6 (median life expectancy at birth: 77.9 years)
- Death rate per 1,000 people: 4.9
- Median age: 29.7

Paraguay’s population growth is stable, although it is projected to decline over the next few decades. It is sparsely populated, and nearly two-thirds of the population lives in its sprawling, overcrowded, and impoverished urban and metropolitan areas.

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PIxabay

#92. Serbia

- Population: 7,012,165 (-0.5% average population growth)
- Net migration rate per 1,000 people: 0%
- Urban population: 56.4% of total population (-0.1% annual rate of change)
- Birth rate per 1,000 people: 8.8 (median life expectancy at birth: 76.3 years)
- Death rate per 1,000 people: 13.5
- Median age: 43.4

Serbia has one of the world’s highest negative population growth rates, and its population is estimated to drop almost by half at century’s end. Its fertility rate is extremely low, the age of the population is among the world’s 10 oldest, and it has suffered a brain drain as educated and skilled residents leave to find jobs elsewhere. The diminishing size of the workforce poses an economic problem, and the Balkan nation has sought international assistance to address the decline. Certain population estimates include Kosovo in its figures as well.

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#91. Bulgaria

- Population: 6,966,899 (-0.7% average population growth)
- Net migration rate per 1,000 people: -0.3%
- Urban population: 75.7% of total population (-0.2% annual rate of change)
- Birth rate per 1,000 people: 8.3 (median life expectancy at birth: 75 years)
- Death rate per 1,000 people: 14.6
- Median age: 43.7

Bulgaria is one of just two countries, along with Latvia, where the current population is lower than it was in 1950. An economic collapse in the 1990s precipitated the departure of some 1 million people from the former Soviet satellite by 2005. Its fertility rate is one of the world’s lowest, and its death rate is high. At its current pace, Bulgaria is losing about 50,000 citizens each year.

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#90. Libya

- Population: 6,890,535 (+1.9% average population growth)
- Net migration rate per 1,000 people: -0.7%
- Urban population: 80.7% of total population (+1.7% annual rate of change)
- Birth rate per 1,000 people: 23 (median life expectancy at birth: 76.7 years)
- Death rate per 1,000 people: 3.5
- Median age: 25.8

Libya’s population has been growing steadily for decades, although precise numbers are difficult for international agencies to obtain from the conflict-ridden and unstable country. Since the ouster of Muammar al-Gaddafi in 2011, the country has fractured into military and political factions. Oil-rich Libya is mostly uninhabitable desert, and most of its residents live in urban areas. The country has become a major departure point for migrants, many of them sub-Saharan, trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea to reach Italy and beyond.

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#89. Sierra Leone

- Population: 6,624,933 (+2.4% average population growth)
- Net migration rate per 1,000 people: -1.2%
- Urban population: 42.9% of total population (+3.1% annual rate of change)
- Birth rate per 1,000 people: 35.4 (median life expectancy at birth: 59.8 years)
- Death rate per 1,000 people: 9.8
- Median age: 19.1

The population in Sierra Leone has been growing at a substantial pace. The birth rate is high, and women on average have more than four children. With a median age of just 19, the population is quite young. Projections show the growth rate in the West African nation, which in recent decades has suffered bitter civil war, accusations of human rights violations, and an Ebola epidemic, dropping 50% by 2050.

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#88. El Salvador

- Population: 6,481,102 (+0.8% average population growth)
- Net migration rate per 1,000 people: -4.8%
- Urban population: 73.4% of total population (+1.6% annual rate of change)
- Birth rate per 1,000 people: 18.6 (median life expectancy at birth: 74.8 years)
- Death rate per 1,000 people: 5.9
- Median age: 27.7

The rate of population growth in El Salvador has been slowing in large part due to the many people who flee its gang-driven violence. An estimated 454,000 people were displaced last year, mostly due to threats, extortion and killings by criminal gangs. Growth in the population is projected to end by 2050 due to the ongoing exodus.

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PIxabay

#87. Singapore

- Population: 6,209,660 (+1.7% average population growth)
- Net migration rate per 1,000 people: +11.8%
- Urban population: 100% of total population (+1.4% annual rate of change)
- Birth rate per 1,000 people: 8.9 (median life expectancy at birth: 86 years)
- Death rate per 1,000 people: 3.6
- Median age: 35.6

Growth in Singapore’s population has been driven by immigration of foreign laborers needed to work in its industries. The government has been campaigning to increase the fertility rate, one of the lowest in the world, with little success.

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#86. Nicaragua

- Population: 6,203,441 (+1% average population growth)
- Net migration rate per 1,000 people: -2.4%
- Urban population: 59% of total population (+1.5% annual rate of change)
- Birth rate per 1,000 people: 17.1 (median life expectancy at birth: 74.2 years)
- Death rate per 1,000 people: 5.2
- Median age: 27.3

In Nicaragua, the population has been growing but at a slowing rate with fewer births. The growth is considered manageable for the country’s economy, but the declining rate is seen as a welcome development in efforts to address the country’s poverty. It is one of the Western hemisphere’s poorest nations.

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Yohana Negusse // Shutterstock

#85. Eritrea

- Population: 6,081,196 (+0.9% average population growth)
- Net migration rate per 1,000 people: -11.6%
- Urban population: 41.3% of total population (+3.9% annual rate of change)
- Birth rate per 1,000 people: 27.9 (median life expectancy at birth: 66.2 years)
- Death rate per 1,000 people: 6.9
- Median age: 20.3

The population is growing rapidly in Eritrea, one of Africa’s poorest countries long battered by severe drought and conflict. Its birth rate is extremely high, offsetting its high migration of young people seeking work and fleeing its indefinite national conscription system. Child mortality rates have dropped dramatically in Eritrea, and life expectancy has grown from just 39 years in 1960.

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#84. Central African Republic

- Population: 5,990,855 (+2.1% average population growth)
- Net migration rate per 1,000 people: 0%
- Urban population: 42.2% of total population (+2.5% annual rate of change)
- Birth rate per 1,000 people: 33.2 (median life expectancy at birth: 54.2 years)
- Death rate per 1,000 people: 12.3
- Median age: 20

The population of the Central African Republic has been growing, despite having one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the world and a high child mortality rate as well. Some 70% of people in the country live under the World Bank’s international poverty line of $1.90 a day.

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Pixabay

#83. Kyrgyzstan

- Population: 5,964,897 (+1% average population growth)
- Net migration rate per 1,000 people: -5%
- Urban population: 36.9% of total population (+2% annual rate of change)
- Birth rate per 1,000 people: 20.6 (median life expectancy at birth: 71.8 years)
- Death rate per 1,000 people: 6.3
- Median age: 27.3

Kyrgyzstan’s population has been growing steadily. Its above-average birth rate is counterbalanced by sizable emigration. The country has been politically unstable since its independence in 1991, and its economy relies upon production at a single gold mine and upon remittances sent home by workers overseas.

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Pixabay

#82. Denmark

- Population: 5,869,410 (+0.5% average population growth)
- Net migration rate per 1,000 people: +2.8%
- Urban population: 88.1% of total population (+0.5% annual rate of change)
- Birth rate per 1,000 people: 11.1 (median life expectancy at birth: 81.2 years)
- Death rate per 1,000 people: 9.5
- Median age: 42

Denmark’s population growth has been slow and steady. The pace is projected to decrease over the next three decades in the kingdom, which has higher standards of living than much of Europe.

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#81. Finland

- Population: 5,571,665 (+0.3% average population growth)
- Net migration rate per 1,000 people: +2.6%
- Urban population: 85.5% of total population (+0.4% annual rate of change)
- Birth rate per 1,000 people: 10.6 (median life expectancy at birth: 81.3 years)
- Death rate per 1,000 people: 10.3
- Median age: 42.8

In Finland, population growth has been steady. The rate is likely to slow considerably in coming years, as the birth rate declines, particularly in rural areas, which the government sees as cause for economic concern.

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#80. Turkmenistan

- Population: 5,528,627 (+1.1% average population growth)
- Net migration rate per 1,000 people: -1.7%
- Urban population: 52.5% of total population (+2.5% annual rate of change)
- Birth rate per 1,000 people: 18.3 (median life expectancy at birth: 71.3 years)
- Death rate per 1,000 people: 6.1
- Median age: 29.2

In the Central Asian nation of Turkmenistan, population growth peaked when it became independent in 1990. It has slowed since, and is expected to continue to do so. The country is a major natural gas producer, but most people live in poverty.

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Pixabay

#79. Lebanon

- Population: 5,469,612 (-6.7% average population growth)
- Net migration rate per 1,000 people: -88.7%
- Urban population: 88.9% of total population (+0.8% annual rate of change)
- Birth rate per 1,000 people: 13.6 (median life expectancy at birth: 78.3 years)
- Death rate per 1,000 people: 5.4
- Median age: 33.7

Population growth has been uneven in Lebanon over the past several decades, and it has seen significant waves of migration, particularly during the 15-year civil war, which began in 1975, and its aftermath. The country also is home to as many as an estimated 1 million Syrian refugees. Lebanon was in the midst of the worst economic crisis in its history before the pandemic, and now businesses have closed, more than a third of the population is jobless, and nearly half are living below the poverty line.

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Pixabay

#78. Norway


- Population: 5,467,439 (+0.9% average population growth)
- Net migration rate per 1,000 people: +4%
- Urban population: 83% of total population (+1.4% annual rate of change)
- Birth rate per 1,000 people: 12.2 (median life expectancy at birth: 82.1 years)
- Death rate per 1,000 people: 8.1
- Median age: 39.5

Population growth in Norway is stable. Its birth rate is slightly low, but that is offset by the number of immigrants flowing into the country. At its current rate, Norway is growing by about 50,000 people annually.

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Pixabay

#77. Slovakia

- Population: 5,440,602 (-0.1% average population growth)
- Net migration rate per 1,000 people: +0.2%
- Urban population: 53.8% of total population (0% annual rate of change)
- Birth rate per 1,000 people: 9.3 (median life expectancy at birth: 77.8 years)
- Death rate per 1,000 people: 10.1
- Median age: 41.8

Population growth has been slow since Slovakia’s independence in 1992. It’s been one of the fastest-growing economies in the European Union, although the benefits favor the thriving Bratislava region. Poverty and unemployment are high in the Prešov region, where many of the Roma people live.

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#76. Republic of the Congo

- Population: 5,293,070 (+2.3% average population growth)
- Net migration rate per 1,000 people: -0.9%
- Urban population: 67.8% of total population (+3.3% annual rate of change)
- Birth rate per 1,000 people: 32.6 (median life expectancy at birth: 61.3 years)
- Death rate per 1,000 people: 8.7
- Median age: 19.5

The Birth rate in the Republic of the Congo is extremely high, pushing its population to numbers that its economy cannot sustain. Efforts have been made to improve education and awareness about contraception and family planning. The population growth is kept in check somewhat by a high number of migrants leaving for economic opportunity elsewhere. The country is one of the biggest oil producers in sub-Saharan Africa, but almost half the population lives in poverty.

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#75. Ireland

- Population: 5,176,569 (+1% average population growth)
- Net migration rate per 1,000 people: +3.9%
- Urban population: 63.7% of total population (+1.1% annual rate of change)
- Birth rate per 1,000 people: 13 (median life expectancy at birth: 81.2 years)
- Death rate per 1,000 people: 6.8
- Median age: 37.8

In the 1840s, before the Potato Famine, some 6.5 million people lived in Ireland, many more than today. Its current population is growing at a moderate and steady rate, boosted by a flow of immigrants. A study in 2015 found that nearly one in eight people in Ireland had been born elsewhere.

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Pixabay

#74. Costa Rica

- Population: 5,097,988 (+1.1% average population growth)
- Net migration rate per 1,000 people: +0.8%
- Urban population: 80.8% of total population (+1.5% annual rate of change)
- Birth rate per 1,000 people: 14.8 (median life expectancy at birth: 79.2 years)
- Death rate per 1,000 people: 4.9
- Median age: 32.6

Costa Rica’s population growth is slow and steady. The rate is expected to continue to slow and then decline in about 30 years in the stable, prosperous Central American nation, where the economy relies heavily on eco-tourism.

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#73. Liberia

- Population: 5,073,296 (+2.7% average population growth)
- Net migration rate per 1,000 people: -2.9%
- Urban population: 52.1% of total population (+3.4% annual rate of change)
- Birth rate per 1,000 people: 37.3 (median life expectancy at birth: 64.7 years)
- Death rate per 1,000 people: 7
- Median age: 18

In impoverished Liberia, an extremely high birth rate has fueled its rapid population growth, even amid a high migration rate. Campaigns are underway to increase awareness of contraception and family planning. The growth rate is seen trending downward in coming years.

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Pixabay

#72. New Zealand

- Population: 4,925,477 (+1.4% average population growth)
- Net migration rate per 1,000 people: +8%
- Urban population: 86.7% of total population (+1% annual rate of change)
- Birth rate per 1,000 people: 12.8 (median life expectancy at birth: 82.1 years)
- Death rate per 1,000 people: 6.9
- Median age: 37.2

New Zealand’s population has grown slowly but accelerated in recent years due to a major increase in immigration. Between census-taking in 2013 and 2018, it added 270,000 migrant residents, many from China, India, and the Philippines. The growth is seen straining services and pressuring the environment.

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Pixabay

#71. Oman

- Population: 4,664,844 (+2% average population growth)
- Net migration rate per 1,000 people: -0.4%
- Urban population: 86.3% of total population (+5.3% annual rate of change)
- Birth rate per 1,000 people: 23.1 (median life expectancy at birth: 76.3 years)
- Death rate per 1,000 people: 3.3
- Median age: 26.2

The population has grown rapidly in Oman, in part due to more births and fewer deaths as its health care system has improved. It also has had a large influx of immigrant workers, typically from India and Bangladesh, employed in the country’s giant infrastructure construction projects. As the projects are completed, the population growth is likely to decline.

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#70. Croatia

- Population: 4,227,746 (-0.5% average population growth)
- Net migration rate per 1,000 people: -1%
- Urban population: 57.6% of total population (-0.1% annual rate of change)
- Birth rate per 1,000 people: 8.7 (median life expectancy at birth: 76.7 years)
- Death rate per 1,000 people: 12.8
- Median age: 43.9

Croatia’s population has been declining for several decades. Its birth rate is low, its population is aged, and its emigration rate is high. Of the people who have left, many of them young and of working age, most have gone to Germany. Croatia’s population loss has manifested in a shortage of labor in construction and its seasonal tourism industry. The United Nations has predicted its population will fall to less than 3.5 million people by 2050.

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#69. Mauritania

- Population: 4,005,475 (+2.1% average population growth)
- Net migration rate per 1,000 people: -0.8%
- Urban population: 55.3% of total population (+4.3% annual rate of change)
- Birth rate per 1,000 people: 29 (median life expectancy at birth: 64.5 years)
- Death rate per 1,000 people: 7.5
- Median age: 21

West Africa’s Mauritania has an extremely high birth rate that has propelled its population growth. The growth rate is seen dropping between now and 2050, but the number is nevertheless expected to hit nearly 9 million residents by then. The population growth already is outpacing food supplies in the Western Sahel, which also includes Senegal, Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger, Chad, and northern Nigeria. Hunger and malnutrition are widespread.

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#68. Georgia

- Population: 3,997,000 (+0.1% average population growth)
- Net migration rate per 1,000 people: +0.1%
- Urban population: 59.5% of total population (+0.4% annual rate of change)
- Birth rate per 1,000 people: 11.6 (median life expectancy at birth: 77 years)
- Death rate per 1,000 people: 11
- Median age: 38.6

Georgia’s population has been dropping since 1991, the end of the Soviet Union.

Emigration rate is high, and having more than one child means financial hardship for many. Projections show the former Soviet republic having fewer than 3.4 million people in 2050.

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Pixabay

#67. Panama

- Population: 3,894,082 (+1.2% average population growth)
- Net migration rate per 1,000 people: -0.1%
- Urban population: 68.4% of total population (+2.1% annual rate of change)
- Birth rate per 1,000 people: 17.1 (median life expectancy at birth: 79.2 years)
- Death rate per 1,000 people: 5.1
- Median age: 30.1

Population growth has been stable in Panama, one of the world’s fastest-growing economies. But the COVID-19 pandemic will take a toll on its economy, which is based in large part on traffic through its canal. Progress is severe in rural areas where indigenous people live. The maternal mortality rate among indigenous women in tribal territories is four times higher than the national average.

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Pixabay

#66. Bosnia and Herzegovina

- Population: 3,835,586 (-0.2% average population growth)
- Net migration rate per 1,000 people: -0.4%
- Urban population: 49% of total population (+0.6% annual rate of change)
- Birth rate per 1,000 people: 8.6 (median life expectancy at birth: 77.5 years)
- Death rate per 1,000 people: 10.2
- Median age: 43.3

Bosnia and Herzegovina lost nearly a third of its population during the war and genocide of the 1990s, and the growth rate is negative. There are more older people than young, and the rate of emigration has risen. Current projections show its population dropping to less than 3 million in about 35 years.

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#65. Uruguay

- Population: 3,387,605 (+0.3% average population growth)
- Net migration rate per 1,000 people: -0.9%
- Urban population: 95.5% of total population (+0.5% annual rate of change)
- Birth rate per 1,000 people: 12.9 (median life expectancy at birth: 77.9 years)
- Death rate per 1,000 people: 9.3
- Median age: 35.5

Uruguay’s population growth rate is lower than much of Latin America, due to a low birth rate and a relatively high life expectancy. It also has been losing population to emigration for decades. Compared with its neighbors, its poverty rate is low and its per capita income is high, and more than 60% of the population is considered middle class. Uruguay’s policies and strategies to diversify its production and its export trading partners are credited with allowing the country to withstand economic downturns.

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#64. Moldova

- Population: 3,364,496 (-1.1% average population growth)
- Net migration rate per 1,000 people: -9%
- Urban population: 42.8% of total population (-0.1% annual rate of change)
- Birth rate per 1,000 people: 10.7 (median life expectancy at birth: 71.9 years)
- Death rate per 1,000 people: 12.6
- Median age: 37.7

The population of Moldova has been decreasing since the 1990s disintegration of the Soviet Union. Its fertility rate is extremely low, and it has battled high rates of tuberculosis. Its emigration rate is so high that an estimated 25% of the country's citizens work outside of the country. Located between Ukraine and Romania, it is one of Europe’s poorest countries.

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#63. Mongolia

- Population: 3,168,026 (+1% average population growth)
- Net migration rate per 1,000 people: -0.8%
- Urban population: 68.7% of total population (+1.6% annual rate of change)
- Birth rate per 1,000 people: 16.6 (median life expectancy at birth: 70.8 years)
- Death rate per 1,000 people: 6.3
- Median age: 29.8

Mongolia’s population rate is growing steadily, with longer life spans but declining fertility rates. Migration numbers are low. About 40% of Mongolia’s population is nomadic—raising goats, sheep, cattle, horses, and camels on its vast grasslands.

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#62. Albania

- Population: 3,074,579 (+0.3% average population growth)
- Net migration rate per 1,000 people: -3.3%
- Urban population: 62.1% of total population (+1.7% annual rate of change)
- Birth rate per 1,000 people: 13 (median life expectancy at birth: 79 years)
- Death rate per 1,000 people: 7.1
- Median age: 34.3

Albania’s population is projected to decline until the end of the century, largely due to a fertility rate that is roughly half of what it was in 1990 and less than a third of what it was in the early 1960s under Stalinist dictator Enver Hoxha. The government has offered financial bonuses to parents to have more children, hoping to avert the negative effect of a shrinking population on its economy and social services. About 1.2 million Albanians live elsewhere, mostly in Italy and Greece, leaving it with one of the world’s highest per capita migration rates.

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#61. Armenia

- Population: 3,021,324 (-0.3% average population growth)
- Net migration rate per 1,000 people: -5.5%
- Urban population: 63.3% of total population (+0.2% annual rate of change)
- Birth rate per 1,000 people: 11.9 (median life expectancy at birth: 75.6 years)
- Death rate per 1,000 people: 9.5
- Median age: 36.6

Since the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the population of Armenia has declined from more than 3.4 million people. The decline has slowed in the past decades, however, as the country showed strong economic growth. The migration rate is high, and the birth rate is low, as is the number of women of child-bearing age. The population growth rate is expected to be negative by 2050.

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#60. Kuwait

- Population: 2,993,706 (+1.3% average population growth)
- Net migration rate per 1,000 people: -3.3%
- Urban population: 100% of total population (+1.8% annual rate of change)
- Birth rate per 1,000 people: 18 (median life expectancy at birth: 78.6 years)
- Death rate per 1,000 people: 2.3
- Median age: 29.7

Kuwait’s population growth rate is high, owing to about 2 million residents who are non-nationals. Most are contract workers from India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, the Philippines, and Egypt, who work in the oil-rich nation’s construction and service sectors, while female migrants tend to be domestic workers. It is projected that Kuwait’s population will nearly double to 5.9 million by 2050.

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#59. Jamaica

- Population: 2,808,570 (-0.1% average population growth)
- Net migration rate per 1,000 people: -9.4%
- Urban population: 56.3% of total population (+0.8% annual rate of change)
- Birth rate per 1,000 people: 16.1 (median life expectancy at birth: 75.2 years)
- Death rate per 1,000 people: 7.5
- Median age: 29.4

Jamaica’s population has been on the decline, especially in the past 15 years. One segment that is shrinking considerably is the number of persons 14 and under. Despite inequality being lower than in surrounding countries, about one in five people live in poverty. Jamaicans who leave typically move to the United Kingdom, the United States, and Canada.

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#58. Lithuania

- Population: 2,731,464 (-1.1% average population growth)
- Net migration rate per 1,000 people: -5.9%
- Urban population: 68% of total population (-0.3% annual rate of change)
- Birth rate per 1,000 people: 9.5 (median life expectancy at birth: 75.5 years)
- Death rate per 1,000 people: 15
- Median age: 44.5

Lithuania’s population is the lowest it has been since the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Its residents tend to leave for opportunities in more-affluent countries in Western Europe, especially the United Kingdom.

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Nate Hovee // Shutterstock

#57. Namibia

- Population: 2,630,073 (+1.9% average population growth)
- Net migration rate per 1,000 people: 0%
- Urban population: 52% of total population (+4.2% annual rate of change)
- Birth rate per 1,000 people: 25.7 (median life expectancy at birth: 65.3 years)
- Death rate per 1,000 people: 7.3
- Median age: 21.8

Namibia’s population has been growing steadily and is projected to continue to grow. The country on Africa’s southwestern coast, which is one of the continent’s most politically stable republics, is one of the world’s least densely populated, second only to Mongolia.

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Pixabay

#56. Qatar

- Population: 2,444,174 (+1.6% average population growth)
- Net migration rate per 1,000 people: +6.5%
- Urban population: 99.2% of total population (+2.4% annual rate of change)
- Birth rate per 1,000 people: 9.3 (median life expectancy at birth: 79.4 years)
- Death rate per 1,000 people: 1.6
- Median age: 33.7

Qatar’s population has soared in the past two decades. More than 2 million people are migrant workers, many from South Asia. They mostly work on construction projects for the FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Association) World Cup, being hosted by the Gulf state in 2022 .

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Hiromi Ito Ame // Shutterstock

#55. Botswana

- Population: 2,317,233 (+1.5% average population growth)
- Net migration rate per 1,000 people: +2.9%
- Urban population: 70.9% of total population (+2.9% annual rate of change)
- Birth rate per 1,000 people: 20.9 (median life expectancy at birth: 64.8 years)
- Death rate per 1,000 people: 9.2
- Median age: 25.7

The population in landlocked Botswana has soared since 1950, when it was just over 400,000. It’s expected to top 3 million in 20 years. It remains one of the world’s most sparsely populated countries. Safari-based tourism is a key industry.

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StreetVJ // Shutterstock

#54. Gabon

- Population: 2,230,908 (+2.5% average population growth)
- Net migration rate per 1,000 people: +3.9%
- Urban population: 90.1% of total population (+2.6% annual rate of change)
- Birth rate per 1,000 people: 26.3 (median life expectancy at birth: 69 years)
- Death rate per 1,000 people: 5.9
- Median age: 21

Gabon’s population has been rising steadily over the past decade, and it is projected to continue increasing. The population is largely young, and the fertility rate is high. More than 80% of the population lives in its cities.

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Damian Pankowiec // Shutterstock

#53. Gambia

- Population: 2,173,999 (+1.9% average population growth)
- Net migration rate per 1,000 people: -1.6%
- Urban population: 62.6% of total population (+4.1% annual rate of change)
- Birth rate per 1,000 people: 27 (median life expectancy at birth: 65.8 years)
- Death rate per 1,000 people: 6.7
- Median age: 21.8

The Gambia’s population is on the rise and has been for more than 50 years. The country is poor, and its economy relies on agriculture, mostly the cultivation of peanuts; tourism; and remittances from Gambians living abroad.

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trabantos // Shutterstock

#52. Macedonia

- Population: 2,125,971 (+0.2% average population growth)
- Net migration rate per 1,000 people: +0.4%
- Urban population: data not available (+data not available annual rate of change)
- Birth rate per 1,000 people: 10.7 (median life expectancy at birth: 76.3 years)
- Death rate per 1,000 people: 9.6
- Median age: 39 years

Macedonia's population has been rising modestly over the past decade, but it is projected to drop dramatically in coming decades. Births have been dropping among its majority population, but rising among its ethnic Albanian population. Macedonia has had stable economic growth over the past two decades, and its per capita income doubled.

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RossHelen // Shutterstock

#51. Slovenia

- Population: 2,102,678 (+0% average population growth)
- Net migration rate per 1,000 people: +1.5%
- Urban population: 55.1% of total population (+0.6% annual rate of change)
- Birth rate per 1,000 people: 8.7 (median life expectancy at birth: 81.4 years)
- Death rate per 1,000 people: 10.3
- Median age: 44.9

Slovenia’s population has been growing for the past decade, but is projected to start dropping. The population is aging, and the nation has a low birth rate. The size of its working-age sector also is dropping, despite an influx of immigrants.

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sfriessner // Shutterstock

#50. Lesotho

- Population: 1,969,334 (+0.2% average population growth)
- Net migration rate per 1,000 people: -6.1%
- Urban population: 29% of total population (+2.8% annual rate of change)
- Birth rate per 1,000 people: 23.2 (median life expectancy at birth: 53 years)
- Death rate per 1,000 people: 15.4
- Median age: 24.7

Lesotho’s population has been rising since 2010 and is projected to keep rising. It has a high infant mortality rate and the HIV prevalence rate is 25% among adults, but the fertility rate is high. The kingdom is remote and heavily dependent upon South Africa, which surrounds it.

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Pixabay

#49. Kosovo

- Population: 1,932,774 (+0.7% average population growth)
- Net migration rate per 1,000 people: -1.8%
- Urban population: data not available (+data not available annual rate of change)
- Birth rate per 1,000 people: 15.4 (median life expectancy at birth: 72.7 years)
- Death rate per 1,000 people: 7
- Median age: 30.5

Kosovo’s population has been recovering since 1999, when North Atlantic Treaty Organization forces bombed the country’s military positions held by the Serbs, who were conducting ethnic cleansing. Its economy has been growing, but unemployment remains high, and it relies heavily on remittances.

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Albert Herring // Wikimedia Commons

#48. Guinea-Bissau

- Population: 1,927,104 (+2.5% average population growth)
- Net migration rate per 1,000 people: -3.8%
- Urban population: 44.2% of total population (+3.4% annual rate of change)
- Birth rate per 1,000 people: 36.9 (median life expectancy at birth: 62.8 years)
- Death rate per 1,000 people: 7.9
- Median age: 18

The population in Guinea-Bissau has been growing for several decades and is projected to continue rising. Its main source of foreign exchange is its cashew crop. It is one of the poorest countries in the world and heavily reliant on foreign aid.

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Olesya Kuznetsova // Shutterstock

#47. Latvia

- Population: 1,881,232 (-1.1% average population growth)
- Net migration rate per 1,000 people: -5.9%
- Urban population: 68.3% of total population (-0.9% annual rate of change)
- Birth rate per 1,000 people: 9.2 (median life expectancy at birth: 75.4 years)
- Death rate per 1,000 people: 14.6
- Median age: 44.4

Latvia’s population has been declining precipitously since 1992, right after its independence. The Baltic region overall has lost more than 20% of its population since then. Latvia’s fertility rate is extremely low, and young people are rushing to leave due to a lack of good jobs.

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Wadiia // Wikimedia Commons

#46. Bahrain

- Population: 1,505,003 (+2.1% average population growth)
- Net migration rate per 1,000 people: +10.6%
- Urban population: 89.5% of total population (+4.4% annual rate of change)
- Birth rate per 1,000 people: 12.7 (median life expectancy at birth: 79.4 years)
- Death rate per 1,000 people: 2.8
- Median age: 32.9

The population has been growing steadily in the island kingdom of Bahrain. About half its population is made up of immigrants, most of them Asian. With its oil reserves declining, Bahrain has invested in petroleum processing and refining and is a major banking center.

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Graham Crumb // Flickr

#45. Timor-Leste

- Population: 1,383,723 (+2.3% average population growth)
- Net migration rate per 1,000 people: -3.9%
- Urban population: 31.3% of total population (+3.4% annual rate of change)
- Birth rate per 1,000 people: 32 (median life expectancy at birth: 69.3 years)
- Death rate per 1,000 people: 5.7
- Median age: 19.6

The population of Southeast Asia’s Timor-Leste has been rising for the past four decades. More than a third of its population lives in poverty, and the country is still recovering from violent occupation by Indonesia, which ended in 1999.

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Tejcoomar Luchmun // Wikimedia Commons

#44. Mauritius

- Population: 1,379,365 (+0.5% average population growth)
- Net migration rate per 1,000 people: 0%
- Urban population: 40.8% of total population (+0.1% annual rate of change)
- Birth rate per 1,000 people: 12.6 (median life expectancy at birth: 76.5 years)
- Death rate per 1,000 people: 7.3
- Median age: 36.3

The population on the island nation of Mauritius has grown slowly in the past decade. With an economy based upon financial services and tourism, it has one of the highest per capita incomes in Africa.

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GoodFreePhotos

#43. Cyprus

- Population: 1,266,676 (+1.2% average population growth)
- Net migration rate per 1,000 people: +7.6%
- Urban population: 66.8% of total population (+0.8% annual rate of change)
- Birth rate per 1,000 people: 10.9 (median life expectancy at birth: 79.3 years)
- Death rate per 1,000 people: 7

– Median age: 37.9

The island of Cyprus has been deluged with asylum seekers attempting to get to mainland Europe. The number of asylum seekers in Cyprus was five times higher last year than four years ago, and per capita, it has the most refugees in the European Union.

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Pixabay

#42. Estonia

- Population: 1,228,624 (-0.7% average population growth)
- Net migration rate per 1,000 people: -3.1%
- Urban population: 69.2% of total population (+0% annual rate of change)
- Birth rate per 1,000 people: 9.3 (median life expectancy at birth: 77.4 years)
- Death rate per 1,000 people: 12.9
- Median age: 43.7

Estonia’s population has been dropping since the end of the Soviet Union and continues to decline. It’s projected to hit just 860,000 by 2060. The country’s economic growth has been strong, with little public debt and a concentration in commerce and service industries.

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Kalamazadkhan // Wikimedia Commons

#41. Trinidad and Tobago

- Population: 1,208,789 (-0.3% average population growth)
- Net migration rate per 1,000 people: -5.4%
- Urban population: 53.2% of total population (+0.2% annual rate of change)
- Birth rate per 1,000 people: 11.4 (median life expectancy at birth: 73.9 years)
- Death rate per 1,000 people: 9.1
- Median age: 37.8

The population of Trinidad and Tobago has been growing but is projected to drop in about a decade. The population of the two-island nation off the coast of northeastern Venezuela is descended from Africans brought as slaves and later, East Indians brought as indentured servants. With gas and oil reserves, it has a per capita income higher than its neighbors, but gang-related violence is threatening its tourism.

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Antonio Olmedo // Wikimedia Commons

#40. Eswatini

- Population: 1,104,479 (+0.8% average population growth)
- Net migration rate per 1,000 people: -6.8%
- Urban population: 24.2% of total population (+2.5% annual rate of change)
- Birth rate per 1,000 people: 24.5 (median life expectancy at birth: 58.6 years)
- Death rate per 1,000 people: 10.1
- Median age: 23.7

The population of eSwatini, formerly Swaziland, has been growing in spite of having the lowest life expectancy in the world. The kingdom, an absolute monarchy, has a wealth of natural resources, but two-thirds of the population lives in poverty. It has the highest adult prevalence of HIV/AIDS in the world, at 26%.

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Heinz Albers // Wikimedia Commons

#39. Fiji

- Population: 935,974 (+0.5% average population growth)
- Net migration rate per 1,000 people: -6.2%
- Urban population: 57.2% of total population (+1.6% annual rate of change)
- Birth rate per 1,000 people: 17.4 (median life expectancy at birth: 73.7 years)
- Death rate per 1,000 people: 6.3
- Median age: 29.9

The population of Fiji has been growing steadily. The economy of the Pacific Ocean archipelago of more than 300 islands relies on sugar production and tourism.

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Fishercd // Wikimedia Commons

#38. Djibouti

- Population: 921,804 (+2.1% average population growth)
- Net migration rate per 1,000 people: +5.1%
- Urban population: 78.1% of total population (+1.7% annual rate of change)
- Birth rate per 1,000 people: 22.7 (median life expectancy at birth: 64.7 years)
- Death rate per 1,000 people: 7.3
- Median age: 24.9

The population of Djibouti is growing, despite a fertility rate that is lower than that of neighboring countries. A gateway to the Suez Canal, in the past decade Djibouti has become a destination and transit point for thousands of migrants and asylum seekers, many from Somalia and Ethiopia.

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Harayamouji // Wikimedia Commons

#37. Comoros

- Population: 846,281 (+1.5% average population growth)
- Net migration rate per 1,000 people: -2.3%
- Urban population: 29.4% of total population (+2.9% annual rate of change)
- Birth rate per 1,000 people: 23.6 (median life expectancy at birth: 65.7 years)
- Death rate per 1,000 people: 6.9
- Median age: 20.9

The population has been growing in the Comoros since the 1970s. Its fertility rate is high, and half of the population is younger than 15. The islands off the east coast of Africa have been politically unstable, and remittance from workers living abroad are critical.

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Embassy of Equatorial Guinea // Flickr

#36. Equatorial Guinea

- Population: 836,178 (+2.4% average population growth)
- Net migration rate per 1,000 people: 0%
- Urban population: 73.1% of total population (+4.3% annual rate of change)
- Birth rate per 1,000 people: 30.7 (median life expectancy at birth: 65.7 years)
- Death rate per 1,000 people: 7.3
- Median age: 20.3

The population is growing in Equatorial Guinea, where longtime President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo governs and wields absolute executive power. The country is criticized for human rights violations and human trafficking. The country has significant gas and oil reserves.

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Jean-Marie Hullot // Wikimedia Commons

#35. Bhutan

- Population: 782,318 (+1% average population growth)
- Net migration rate per 1,000 people: 0%
- Urban population: 42.3% of total population (+3% annual rate of change)
- Birth rate per 1,000 people: 16.3 (median life expectancy at birth: 72.1 years)
- Death rate per 1,000 people: 6.3
- Median age: 29.1

The population of Bhutan has slowly grown since 2005. It is projected to remain at fewer than 1 million people for the next two decades, with a declining fertility rate in the tiny Himalayan monarchy.

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amanderson2 // Wikimedia Commons

#34. Guyana

- Population: 750,204 (+0.7% average population growth)
- Net migration rate per 1,000 people: 0%
- Urban population: 26.8% of total population (+0.8% annual rate of change)
- Birth rate per 1,000 people: 15.5 (median life expectancy at birth: 69.5 years)
- Death rate per 1,000 people: 7.5
- Median age: 27.5

Guyana’s population has been growing at a very slow pace. About one-third of its people live in poverty, many of them Indigenous. More than half of Guyana’s citizens live abroad, including the bulk of the most highly educated, and remittances are critical to its impoverished economy.

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ravilacoya // Flickr

#33. Solomon Islands

- Population: 685,097 (+1.8% average population growth)
- Net migration rate per 1,000 people: -1.6%
- Urban population: 24.7% of total population (+3.9% annual rate of change)
- Birth rate per 1,000 people: 23.6 (median life expectancy at birth: 76.2 years)
- Death rate per 1,000 people: 3.8
- Median age: 23.5 years

The Solomon Islands’ population has been growing slowly. Births are outpacing deaths, but it does lose population due to migration. The Pacific Islands nation has been recovering from conflict between its indigenous Isatabus and immigrants from neighboring Malaita at the turn of the century.

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Cayambe // Wikimedia Commons

#32. Luxembourg

- Population: 628,381 (+1.8% average population growth)
- Net migration rate per 1,000 people: +13.3%
- Urban population: 91.5% of total population (+1.6% annual rate of change)
- Birth rate per 1,000 people: 11.6 (median life expectancy at birth: 82.6 years)
- Death rate per 1,000 people: 7.3
- Median age: 39.5

Luxembourg's population growth has been steady. Its rising numbers are due in part to new residents from France, Italy, and Portugal. The economy of the tiny, landlocked country is concentrated in financial and investment industries.

 

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Островский Александр, Киев // Wikimedia Commons

#31. Montenegro

- Population: 609,859 (-0.4% average population growth)
- Net migration rate per 1,000 people: -4.9%
- Urban population: 67.5% of total population (+0.5% annual rate of change)
- Birth rate per 1,000 people: 11.5 (median life expectancy at birth: 77.3 years)
- Death rate per 1,000 people: 10.4
- Median age: 39.6

Montenegro’s population has been in a decline but is largely unchanged from the 1980s. It is one of Europe’s poorest countries, with about a quarter of its population living below the poverty line and a high unemployment rate.

 

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Max Pixel

#30. Suriname

- Population: 609,569 (+1% average population growth)
- Net migration rate per 1,000 people: +0.5%
- Urban population: 66.1% of total population (+0.9% annual rate of change)
- Birth rate per 1,000 people: 14.9 (median life expectancy at birth: 73.3 years)
- Death rate per 1,000 people: 6.2
- Median age: 31

The population has been on the rise in Suriname, one of the world’s least densely populated countries. Nine in 10 people live in the capital city of Paramaribo or along the coast. The country has an array of ethnic groups, including many descendents of African slaves and Indian and Javanese indentured workers.

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Manuel de Sousa // Wikimedia Commons

#29. Cabo Verde

- Population: 583,255 (+1.3% average population growth)
- Net migration rate per 1,000 people: -0.6%
- Urban population: 66.7% of total population (+2% annual rate of change)
- Birth rate per 1,000 people: 19.1 (median life expectancy at birth: 73.2 years)
- Death rate per 1,000 people: 5.9
- Median age: 26.8

Cabo Verde’s population has been rising for more than four decades. The economy of the former Portugese colony of 10 islands is reliant on tourism and remittances from its emigrants.

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Bernard Spragg. NZ // Wikimedia Commons

#28. Brunei

- Population: 464,478 (+1.5% average population growth)
- Net migration rate per 1,000 people: +2.3%
- Urban population: 78.3% of total population (+1.7% annual rate of change)
- Birth rate per 1,000 people: 16.5 (median life expectancy at birth: 77.9 years)
- Death rate per 1,000 people: 3.8
- Median age: 31.1

Brunei’s population has been steadily growing since the 1960’s, and it is expected to add another 100,000 people in the next decade. The country is rich with oil and gas reserves.

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Public Domain

#27. Malta

- Population: 457,267 (+0.9% average population growth)
- Net migration rate per 1,000 people: +6.6%
- Urban population: 94.7% of total population (+0.4% annual rate of change)
- Birth rate per 1,000 people: 9.9 (median life expectancy at birth: 82.8 years)
- Death rate per 1,000 people: 8.3
- Median age: 42.3

Although it has been growing, Malta’s population is aging, and the fertility rate is low. By 2025, the population is projected to drop to 424,000. The Mediterranean archipelago is a trade and shipping center, and tourism is its biggest income producer.

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Dronepicr // Wikimedia Commons

#26. Belize

- Population: 399,598 (+1.7% average population growth)
- Net migration rate per 1,000 people: -1%
- Urban population: 46% of total population (+2.3% annual rate of change)
- Birth rate per 1,000 people: 22 (median life expectancy at birth: 75.3 years)
- Death rate per 1,000 people: 4.1
- Median age: 23.9

The population of Belize, former British Honduras, is growing at a robust pace. It is expected to hit 700,000 by the end of the century. Tourism is important to the economy of Belize, which has struggled with drug-related violent crime and trafficking. Some 15% of people born in Belize live abroad, sending remittances but leaving the country with a limited workforce and reduced capacities.

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Gzzz // Wikimedia Commons

#25. Maldives

- Population: 391,904 (-0.1% average population growth)
- Net migration rate per 1,000 people: -12.7%
- Urban population: 40.7% of total population (+2.9% annual rate of change)
- Birth rate per 1,000 people: 16 (median life expectancy at birth: 76.4 years)
- Death rate per 1,000 people: 4.1
- Median age: 29.5

The population of the Maldives has been growing since around the time of its independence in 1965. Now it is densely populated, but its population is expected to drop in the coming years. Its fertility rate has dropped to less than half of what it was in 1990, while the population of older people has grown. One-third of the Maldives population are migrants, mostly from Bangladesh, who work in tourism and construction.

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Mark Fischer // Wikimedia Commons

#24. Iceland

- Population: 350,734 (+1% average population growth)
- Net migration rate per 1,000 people: +3.3%
- Urban population: 93.9% of total population (+0.8% annual rate of change)
- Birth rate per 1,000 people: 13.3 (median life expectancy at birth: 83.3 years)
- Death rate per 1,000 people: 6.6
- Median age: 37.1

Iceland’s population is projected to continue to grow and to top half a million people in the second half of the century. The population density of the island nation is the lowest in all of Europe.

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Vanessa Vancour // Flickr

#23. The Bahamas

- Population: 337,721 (+0.8% average population growth)
- Net migration rate per 1,000 people: 0%
- Urban population: 83.2% of total population (+1.1% annual rate of change)
- Birth rate per 1,000 people: 14.8 (median life expectancy at birth: 73.3 years)
- Death rate per 1,000 people: 7.4
- Median age: 32.8

The population of the Bahamas is growing at a slow pace, and that trend is expected to continue. About half of the archipelago’s workforce is employed directly or indirectly by the tourism industry, which fuels about half of its economy as well.

 

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Phillip Capper // Wikimedia Commons

#22. Vanuatu

- Population: 298,333 (+1.7% average population growth)
- Net migration rate per 1,000 people: -1.3%
- Urban population: 25.5% of total population (+2.6% annual rate of change)
- Birth rate per 1,000 people: 22.4 (median life expectancy at birth: 74.6 years)
- Death rate per 1,000 people: 4
- Median age: 23

The size of Vanuatu’s population is growing at a healthy pace. The fertility rate is high, although it has dropped over the past several decades. Most of Vanuatu’s residents live on subsistence agriculture. The 83 islands in the South Pacific are highly vulnerable to natural disasters such as cyclones, tsunamis, and volcanic eruptions

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Sandman5 // Flickr

#21. Barbados

- Population: 294,560 (+0.2% average population growth)
- Net migration rate per 1,000 people: -0.3%
- Urban population: 31.2% of total population (+0.2% annual rate of change)
- Birth rate per 1,000 people: 11.3 (median life expectancy at birth: 76 years)
- Death rate per 1,000 people: 8.8
- Median age: 39.5

In Barbados, the population is growing slowly and, after 2025, it is expected to ebb. Barbados has offshore oil and natural gas reserves, and it is one of the most stable of the Caribbean islands. Tourism and finance are the underpinnings of its economy.

 

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David Stanley // Wikimedia Commons

#20. Sao Tome and Principe

- Population: 211,122 (+1.6% average population growth)
- Net migration rate per 1,000 people: -7.9%
- Urban population: 74.4% of total population (+3.3% annual rate of change)
- Birth rate per 1,000 people: 29.7 (median life expectancy at birth: 66.3 years)
- Death rate per 1,000 people: 6.3
- Median age: 19.3

The population of Sao Tome and Principe is, and has been, growing at a high rate. Consisting of two islands off the African coast, it is one of the least-developed countries in the world.

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Public Domain

#19. Samoa

- Population: 203,774 (+0.6% average population growth)
- Net migration rate per 1,000 people: -8.1%
- Urban population: 17.9% of total population (-0.5% annual rate of change)
- Birth rate per 1,000 people: 19.6 (median life expectancy at birth: 74.7 years)
- Death rate per 1,000 people: 5.4
- Median age: 25.6

Samoa’s population has been growing at a stable pace that is expected to continue. Its economy has diversified from fishing and agriculture into tourism, but many of its young people move to New Zealand, the United States, and American Samoa.

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XeresNelro // Wikimedia Commons

#18. Saint Lucia

- Population: 166,487 (+0.3% average population growth)
- Net migration rate per 1,000 people: -1.7%
- Urban population: 18.8% of total population (+0.8% annual rate of change)
- Birth rate per 1,000 people: 12.5 (median life expectancy at birth: 78.5 years)
- Death rate per 1,000 people: 8.1
- Median age: 36.9

 

St Lucia has a high emigration rate, and many people leave for the United Kingdom and the United States. Nevertheless, the population is growing on the island nation, where tourism is the biggest employer.

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Pixabay

#17. Grenada

- Population: 113,094 (+0.4% average population growth)
- Net migration rate per 1,000 people: -2.6%
- Urban population: 36.5% of total population (+0.8% annual rate of change)
- Birth rate per 1,000 people: 14.6 (median life expectancy at birth: 75.2 years)
- Death rate per 1,000 people: 8.3
- Median age: 33.3

Grenada's population is relatively stable and has been for several decades. Its economy—dependent on tourism and revenues from St.George’s University, the country’s medical school, plus some construction and manufacturing—has been growing steadily.

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Erin Magee/DFAT // Wikimedia Commons

#16. Kiribati

- Population: 111,796 (+1.1% average population growth)
- Net migration rate per 1,000 people: -2.8%
- Urban population: 55.6% of total population (+3.2% annual rate of change)
- Birth rate per 1,000 people: 20.5 (median life expectancy at birth: 67.5 years)
- Death rate per 1,000 people: 6.9
- Median age: 25.7

A remote country of 33 coral atolls that is the only nation in the world to occupy each of the four hemispheres, Kiribati is not very developed. Remittances from residents who work at sea are critical to this Pacific Island’s economy. Residents have been emigrating as rising sea levels have caused storm surges that cause flooding, destroy crops, and contaminate freshwater reserves.

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David Broad // Wikimedia Commons

#15. Tonga

- Population: 106,095 (-0.2% average population growth)
- Net migration rate per 1,000 people: -17.9%
- Urban population: 23.1% of total population (+0.7% annual rate of change)
- Birth rate per 1,000 people: 21 (median life expectancy at birth: 77 years)
- Death rate per 1,000 people: 4.9
- Median age: 24.1

Emigration is high in Tonga, with people leaving for New Zealand, the United States, and elsewhere. But its population has shown modest growth. Joblessness is high, and the economy relies upon fishing, agriculture, and remittances.

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Department of Foreign Affairs // Flickr

#14. Micronesia

- Population: 102,436 (-0.6% average population growth)
- Net migration rate per 1,000 people: -20.9%
- Urban population: 22.9% of total population (+1.1% annual rate of change)
- Birth rate per 1,000 people: 18.9 (median life expectancy at birth: 73.9 years)
- Death rate per 1,000 people: 4.3
- Median age: 26.3

The population of Micronesia has tripled from 1950, when it was about 32,000, and growth is expected to continue. The country consists of more than 600 islands across more than 1 million square miles of the Pacific Ocean. More than 6% of the population consists of expatriates coming from the United States and Australia as well as Europe. Micronesia has a Compact of Free Association with the United States, giving the United States the right to set up military bases and giving Micronesians financial assistance and the right to live and work in the states.

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David Broad // Wikimedia Commons

#13. Saint Vincent and the Grenadines

- Population: 101,390 (-0.2% average population growth)
- Net migration rate per 1,000 people: -7.2%
- Urban population: 53% of total population (+1% annual rate of change)
- Birth rate per 1,000 people: 12.6 (median life expectancy at birth: 76.2 years)
- Death rate per 1,000 people: 7.6
- Median age: 35.3

The island nation of St Vincent and the Grenadines, with its high-end tourism, is part of the Windward Islands, along the line where the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean meet. The size of its population has been largely unchanged since 1990. The former British colony became independent in 1979.

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Sean Pavone // Shutterstock

#12. Antigua and Barbuda

- Population: 98,179 (+1.2% average population growth)
- Net migration rate per 1,000 people: +2.1%
- Urban population: 24.4% of total population (+0.6% annual rate of change)
- Birth rate per 1,000 people: 15.4 (median life expectancy at birth: 77.3 years)
- Death rate per 1,000 people: 5.8
- Median age: 32.7

Part of the Leeward Islands in the Caribbean, Antigua and Barbuda consists of two inhabited islands and other smaller islands. Its highest peak is Mt. Obama, at 1,319 feet, named after the former U.S. president. Most residents live in Antigua. The population has shown steady growth for three decades, and its economy is fueled by tourism and the financial services industry.

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dronepicr // Flickr

#11. Seychelles

- Population: 95,981 (+0.7% average population growth)
- Net migration rate per 1,000 people: +1%
- Urban population: 57.5% of total population (+1.3% annual rate of change)
- Birth rate per 1,000 people: 12.8 (median life expectancy at birth: 75.6 years)
- Death rate per 1,000 people: 7.1
- Median age: 36.8

The population of Seychelles has been on an upward path since the 1960s. These days, it adds 1,000 to 2,000 people each year, a trend that is seen continuing. The archipelago in the Indian Ocean offers high-end tourism, and its economy depends upon fishing as well.

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Hendrik Scholz // Wikimedia Commons

#10. Marshall Islands

- Population: 77,917 (+1.4% average population growth)
- Net migration rate per 1,000 people: -4.5%
- Urban population: 77.8% of total population (+0.6% annual rate of change)
- Birth rate per 1,000 people: 22.8 (median life expectancy at birth: 74.1 years)
- Death rate per 1,000 people: 4.3
- Median age: 23.8

The population has been rising since 2010 in the Marshall Islands, which consist of 29 coral atolls. Like Micronesia, the Marshall Islands has an arrangement with the United States that allows it to set up military bases. The deal allows Marshall Islanders to live and work in the United states.

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Public Domain

#9. Andorra

- Population: 77,000 (-0.1% average population growth)
- Net migration rate per 1,000 people: 0%
- Urban population: 87.9% of total population (-0.3% annual rate of change)
- Birth rate per 1,000 people: 7 (median life expectancy at birth: 83 years)
- Death rate per 1,000 people: 7.7
- Median age: 46.2

The wealthy principality of Andorra, in the Pyrenees Mountains between France and Spain, lives largely on tourism, and its banking system offers some tax havens. Its population has been growing steadily and is projected to continue doing so for the next few decades.

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Konstantin Krismer // Wikimedia Commons

#8. Dominica

- Population: 74,243 (+0.1% average population growth)
- Net migration rate per 1,000 people: -5.3%
- Urban population: 71.1% of total population (+0.9% annual rate of change)
- Birth rate per 1,000 people: 14.5 (median life expectancy at birth: 77.7 years)
- Death rate per 1,000 people: 8
- Median age: 34.9

Dominica’s population growth has been slow because many people leave to move to the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, and France. The tropical Caribbean island has the potential to be a tourist destination, but lacks infrastructure and a major airport.

 

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Nesnad // Wikimedia Commons

#7. Saint Kitts and Nevis

- Population: 53,821 (+0.7% average population growth)
- Net migration rate per 1,000 people: +1.2%
- Urban population: 30.8% of total population (+0.9% annual rate of change)
- Birth rate per 1,000 people: 12.6 (median life expectancy at birth: 76.6 years)
- Death rate per 1,000 people: 7.3
- Median age: 36.5

In the two-island nation of Saint Kitts and Nevis, the population has risen from about 40,000 in 1990. A high emigration rate has put pressure on population growth in the islands, which are popular with tourists.

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George McCord // Flickr

#6. Liechtenstein

- Population: 39,137 (+0.8% average population growth)
- Net migration rate per 1,000 people: +4.9%
- Urban population: 14.4% of total population (+0.8% annual rate of change)
- Birth rate per 1,000 people: 10.4 (median life expectancy at birth: 82.2 years)
- Death rate per 1,000 people: 7.8
- Median age: 43.7

Europe’s tiny principality of Liechtenstein has become rich as a tax haven and financial center. Its gross domestic product is one of the highest in the world. About a third of its steadily-rising population was born elsewhere, most commonly Austria, Germany, and Switzerland.

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Tobi 87 // Wikimedia Commons

#5. Monaco

- Population: 39,000 (+0.4% average population growth)
- Net migration rate per 1,000 people: +8.3%
- Urban population: 100% of total population (+0.5% annual rate of change)
- Birth rate per 1,000 people: 6.4 (median life expectancy at birth: 89.3 years)
- Death rate per 1,000 people: 10.8
- Median age: 55.4

At 0.780 square miles, Monaco is the most densely-populated country in the world. It’s a draw for tourists, a high-end gambling mecca, and a major banking services center. Riddled with millionaires and billionaires, it has the lowest poverty rate in the world.

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Max_Ryazanov // Wikimedia Commons

#4. San Marino

- Population: 34,232 (+0.7% average population growth)
- Net migration rate per 1,000 people: +6.6%
- Urban population: 97.5% of total population (+0.7% annual rate of change)
- Birth rate per 1,000 people: 8.8 (median life expectancy at birth: 83.5 years)
- Death rate per 1,000 people: 9
- Median age: 45.2

More than 3 million visitors a year fuel the tourist-based economy of San Marino on the Italian Peninsula. About 4,800 people in San Marino are foreigners, mostly from surrounding Italy. Its population has been growing, but is expected to level off in the next decade.

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LuxTonnerre // Wikimedia Commons

#3. Palau

- Population: 21,685 (+0.4% average population growth)
- Net migration rate per 1,000 people: +0.9%
- Urban population: 81% of total population (+1.8% annual rate of change)
- Birth rate per 1,000 people: 11.3 (median life expectancy at birth: 74.1 years)
- Death rate per 1,000 people: 8.3
- Median age: 33.9

The Pacific Ocean nation of Palau consists of some 340 islands, and sustainable tourism is key to its economy. Its population has been growing and nearly doubled in size since the 1970s. Like Micronesia and the Marshall Islands, it signed a Compact of Free Association with the United States.

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INABA Tomoaki // Wikimedia Commons

#2. Tuvalu

- Population: 11,342 (+0.9% average population growth)
- Net migration rate per 1,000 people: -6.5%
- Urban population: 64% of total population (+2.3% annual rate of change)
- Birth rate per 1,000 people: 23.4 (median life expectancy at birth: 67.9 years)
- Death rate per 1,000 people: 8.2
- Median age: 26.6

Three islands and six atolls comprise the nation of Tuvalu in the Pacific Ocean, where the population has been growing slowly and evenly in recent years. Fresh water must be collected from rain, and rising seas and salination threaten its subsistence farming.

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Public Domain

#1. Nauru

- Population: 11,000 (+0.5% average population growth)
- Net migration rate per 1,000 people: -11.3%
- Urban population: 100% of total population (-0.1% annual rate of change)
- Birth rate per 1,000 people: 21.9 (median life expectancy at birth: 68.4 years)
- Death rate per 1,000 people: 6
- Median age: 27

The population in the tiny Pacific Island nation of Nauru has been growing but is likely to level off. Its population dropped by about 1,500 in recent years when immigrant workers were sent home. A major employer is a detention center where Australia sends and holds asylum-seekers rather than allowing them entry.

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