sort by …
The World of Small CountriesCountries are considered "small" - at least for this visualization - if their population lies between 100,000 and 5,000,000 people.
There are 69 countries that currently match this description (2018). Most of them can be found in Europe, Africa and the Caribbean.
To get a feeling for their characteristics, lets compare them with "large" countries, starting with population. Hovering over the bar or the map will give you more detailed information like the actual data and the rank compared to all other countries.
No surprises here: China is the largest nation with about 1,4 billion people. Costa Rica is one of the larger small countries (4,9 million), at the bottom of the ranking are islands like the Seychelles, Dominica or Kiribati.
Small often also means small in terms of land area. But there are exceptions, countries like Mongolia, Namibia and New Zealand are rather vast, even compared to larger nations.Note that several countries have the same value (e.g. population), so they share a "rank" - therefore the lowest rank varies between the categories.
The result of the aforementioned categories is density (population by area): Several small countries have some of the highest population density worldwide, especially states in the Middle East and islands like the Maldives. In Iceland there live on average three people per kmĀ².
Some more data to compare. The GDP (gross domestic product) is an indicator for economic performance, it's the value of all goods and services produced in a country. The Human Development Index (HDI) measures health, knowledge and living standard to rate countries. The Happy Planet Index calculates a score on sustainable wellbeing, and the World Happiness Report is a global survey on, well, happiness.Grey bars indicate missing data.
Relatively more people leave small countries, which can be connected to the economic situation but might also be linked to other aspects like wars (e.g. Bosnia).

Economically larger countries generate a higher GDP in absolute numbers, but broken down per capita, the ranking is mixed with small countries like Qatar, Luxembourg or Brunei on top.
To get an overview: The bars show the median value, the small lines the maximum value for large/small countries per category. In some categories small countries have a higher median, like Human Development Index or Happiness.The values cannot be compared across categories as they are based on different scales. However, they always span from the minimum to the maximum value in the respective category.
Now for a closer look on small countries by region. The size of the circles indicates their population. You can filter them by using the legend on the right.
Just two observations: The percentage of foreign born population is very high in the Middle East and North Africa (exceeding 60 percent in some cases), the Human Development Index is lead by European countries (and New Zealand).
So far we only ranked the countries - which is fine for an overview but can obscure the real differences between them. So lets switch to a linear scale.
Again just two notes: A lot of countries can be found in the upper regions of the Human Development Index, with almost only African countries at the bottom. The GDP per capita is dominated by Qatar which clusters most of the other nations at the bottom. You can toggle the outliers to make the picture more clear.Outliers are defined as the ten highest/lowest values.
Another view, this time to look for connections between two indicators. For instance, as the population size increases, so does the GDP (going from top left to bottom right). There are of course exceptions.

change x-axis:

change y-axis:
The three groups per axis contain the lowest, middle and highest scoring third of the countries (aka the terciles).
One could also divide small countries into two categories: Islands and all the other ones. The distinction is not always clear, like in the case of Ireland or New Zealand.
Back to the comparison. Click here to switch between the regional and the island-view.

change x-axis:

change y-axis:
One final experiment: The indicators in this visualization can be roughly grouped into four categories. Population, area and density are basic informations, foreign born population and population abroad show the number of incoming and outgoing people. GDP and GDP per capita give an idea about the economy, and the three indices at the end rank the countries for development, good and happy life.
Connecting these (admittedly arbitrary) data points for a country (here Malta), we get some sort of profile.
So lets do this for all 69 of them.
One final picture on the World of Small Countries. The blocks from left to right are

foreign born and population abroad,
GDP and GDP per capita and
Human Development Index, Happy Planet Index and World Happiness Report.

Gaps in the lines indicate missing values. You can use the menu at the top to re-arrange the countries by category (high to low).

Thanks for your time.
sort by …