largest countries

Top 10 Largest Countries in the World (by Area Size)

Whether limited by natural borders, wars, treaties, or other historical events, many factors play and have played major roles in the formation of countries. And those many factors therefore primarily determine why some countries are bigger than others. From countries that span different time zones to landlocked countries to micro countries, countries truly come in all sizes. The largest countries in the world, however, all have sizes of well above a million square kilometers.

The following ranking lists the top ten biggest countries in the world by area size. The ranking is based on each country’s area size within its respective internationally recognized borders.

Note: This ranking lists the ten largest countries by area size. Click the following for the ranking of the ten biggest countries by population.

The 10 Largest Countries by Area Size

1. Russia

russia - largest country in the world

Area size: 17,098,246 km² / 6,601,670 mi²

Continents: Asia & Europe
Timezones: 11
Capital: Moscow

Russia is, by far, the largest country in the world. At a total size of 17,098,246 km² / 6,601,670 mi², the country spans over eleven time zones. Russia borders 14 countries, which alongside China is the highest number of neighbors any country has in the world. Russia is also among the few bi-continental countries in the world. Around 75% of Russia lies in Asia, and roughly 25% in Europe. The major population centers, however, can be found in the European part of Russia, including the capital of Moscow. Around 77% of Russia’s almost 147 million inhabitants live in the smaller European part, while only 23% of Russians call the very sparsely populated Asian part their home.

Even if you split Russia into a European Russia and an Asian Russia, both these new countries would still be their respective continent’s largest country. The vast largeness of Russia really cannot be understated.

2. Canada

canada - number 2 of top 10 largest countries in the world

Land size: 9,984,670 km² / 3,855,100 mi²

Continent: North America
Timezones: 6
Capital: Ottawa

Canada is the second largest country in the world by area size. The North American country has an area size of 9,984,670 km² / 3,855,100 mi² and is therefore only slightly off the ten million mark. Canada spans six different time zones. It is also among the countries with the most islands, contributing to Canada’s overall size. While Canada’s northern shore reaches the Arctic Sea, the vast majority of Canadians live in the Southernmost parts of their country, right at or near the border with Canada’s only land neighbor – the United States. Canada’s capital Ottawa is consequently also located in the Southeastern part of the “Great White North” as Canada is known.

3. China

china - third largest country in the world

Land size: 9,596,961 km² / 3,705,407 mi²

Continent: Asia
Timezones: 5
Capital: Beijing

China is not only the second-most populous country in the world, but it is also the world’s third-largest country by area size and the largest country that lies entirely in Asia. China stretches over a territory of 9,596,961 km² / 3,705,407 mi² which spans five different timezones. Like Russia, China has 14 neighboring countries. China additionally also has the world’s highest number of cities with a population of over one million and the largest city in the world by population. That being said, most of the country’s population is concentrated in the Eastern half of China. The country’s capital Beijing is also located in the East, in the Northeast to be more exact.

4. United States of America

USA - fourth of the largest countries on earth

Land size: 9,525,067 km² / 3,677,649 mi²

Continent: North America
Timezones: 6
Capital: Washington, D.C.

The USA comes fourth among the largest countries in the world by area size. The total area size of the country, which not only includes the mainland but also Alaska, the islands of Hawaii, and the overseas territories, is 9,525,067 km² / 3,677,649 mi². This makes the USA only slightly smaller than China, and even a bit larger if one would include the sea areas around the various U.S. island territories. The country shares two land borders: With Canada to the north and with Mexico to the south. The USA spans six time zones and has a very spread out population. Still, the largest concentration does live in the Eastern half. It is also where the capital, Washington (D.C.) is located.

5. Brazil

brazil - 5 out of top 10 largest countries in the world by area size

Land size: 8,515,767 km² / 3,287,956 mi²

Continent: South America
Timezones: 4
Capital: Brasilia

Brazil is the last of the top five largest countries in the world by area size. As the largest country in South America, Brazil spans an area of 8,515,767 km² / 3,287,956 mi² and four different timezones. The country, which includes the largest portion of the Amazon rainforest, the world’s largest forest, borders a total of ten other countries. It is also the only country among the largest countries in the world to partly lie at the equator. Most of Brazil’s population lives near the shoreline. But the country’s capital of Brasilia can be found in almost the exact center of Brazil.

6. Australia

Land size: 7,692,024 km² / 2,969,907 mi²

Continent: Australia
Timezones: 3
Capital: Canberra

Australia is the sixth-largest country in the world. Located on the continent of the same name, Australia boasts an expansive land area of 7,692,024 km² / 2,969,907 mi². The country spans three time zones. Notably, Australia is entirely surrounded by both the Indian and Pacific Oceans and therefore does not have any neighboring countries. Despite its colossal size, Australia’s population is primarily concentrated along its eastern and southeastern coasts. Though Canberra, the capital of Australia, is strategically located in the southeastern part of the continent, away from the coast.

7. India

biggest countries in the world - india seventh

Land size: 3,287,263 km² / 1,269,219 mi²

Continent: Asia
Timezones: 2 (but only one in use)
Capital: New Delhi

India stands as the seventh-largest country in the world by area size. With a sprawling area of 3,287,263 km² / 1,269,219 mi², India is a subcontinent in its own right. The country in South Asia spans two main time zones but is only using one. India is flanked by Pakistan to the northwest, China and Nepal to the north, Bhutan to the northeast, and Bangladesh and Myanmar to the east, thus neighboring six countries in total. As the world’s biggest country by population, India’s population is quite evenly distributed, although the Northern half is more densely inhabited. New Delhi, India’s capital, is also located in the northern part of the country.

8. Argentina

Land size: 2,780,400 km² / 1,073,518 mi²

Continent: South America
Timezones: 1
Capital: Buenos Aires

Argentina owns the title of the eighth-largest country in the world. The country has an area that covers 2,780,400 km² / 1,073,518 mi², stretching to the icy waters of the Southern Ocean with its southern tip. Since it stretches more southwards, the country lies in only one timezone, despite its vastness. Situated in the southern part of South America, Argentina shares borders with five countries: Chile to the west, Bolivia to the northwest, Paraguay to the north, Brazil to the northeast, and Uruguay to the east. The capital Buenos Aires is also located in the east, as are most population centers of the country.

9. Kazakhstan

Land size: 2,724,900 km² / 1,052,089 mi²

Continent: Asia & Europe
Timezones: 4 (but only two in use)
Capital: Astana

Kazakhstan places ninth among the largest countries in the world by area size. At the same time, Kazakhstan is also the largest landlocked country in the world, although it does lie by the Caspian Sea, the world’s largest lake. Kazakhstan’s area of 2,724,900 km² / 1,052,089 mi² is situated at the crossroads of Europe and Asia, making the country bi-continental, although 99% of its territory lies in Asia. Kazakhstan shares borders with five countries: Russia to the north, China to the east, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, and Turkmenistan to the south. The country spans four time zones, but only two of those are used in Kazakhstan. Its capital Astana lies around the center of the Kazakh territory.

10. Algeria

Land size: 2,381,741 km² / 919,595 mi²

Continent: Africa
Timezones: 1
Capital: Algiers

Algeria concludes the ranking of the largest countries in the world as the tenth largest country on Earth, while also being the largest country in Africa by area size. Algeria’s territory measures 2,381,741 km² / 919,595 mi², but it is located in a single time zone and stretches from the Mediterranean coastline through much of the Sahara, the largest hot desert in the world. Algeria borders six countries, including Tunisia, Libya, and Niger to the east, and Morocco, Mauritania and Mali to the west. Because most of its territory consists of desert land, the majority of Algeria’s population, including its capital Algiers, is concentrated in the northernmost part of the country, right by the Mediterranean Sea.

Source for images: TUBS/ CC BY-SA 3.0

The 10 Largest Countries by Area Size

Top 10 Largest Countries by Area Size:
17,098,246 km² / 6,601,670 mi²
9,984,670 km² / 3,855,100 mi²
9,596,961 km² / 3,705,407 mi²
9,525,067 km² / 3,677,649 mi²
8,515,767 km² / 3,287,956 mi²
7,692,024 km² / 2,969,907 mi²
3,287,263 km² / 1,269,219 mi²
2,780,400 km² / 1,073,500 mi²
2,724,900 km² / 1,052,100 mi²
2,381,741 km² / 919,595 mi²

By the way, if you’re missing Greenland in this Top Ten Largest Countries ranking, the world’s largest island is not among the ten largest countries, even though it seems it should be if you look at a standard map. Responsible for this phenomenon is the so-called “Greenland problem” on Mercator maps which distort the actual size of countries the further away from the Equator they are. Greenland’s actual size is much smaller than it appears to be on maps:

Greenland as part of the Kingdom of Denmark is “only” the twelfth largest country in the world, therefore slightly missing the top ten of the largest countries in the world by area size.

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