What Are the 7 Largest Countries in the World by Area?

By: Jesslyn Shields  | 
largest countries
This Dymaxion map of the world shows the 30 largest countries according to area. A Dymaxion map, or Fuller map, is a projection of a world map onto the surface of an icosahedron, a shape with 20 faces, which can be unfolded and flattened to two dimensions. Wikimedia (CC BY-SA 4.0)

Countries are human-made things, with borders decided by human institutions. Sometimes the borders of a country are decided by aspects of the landscape like rivers, mountain ranges and oceans, but other times the borders are invisible to the eye.

The size of countries varies widely — the area of Russia is over 6.6 million square miles (17,098,242 square kilometers), while Vatican city is only 0.27 square miles (0.43 square kilometers). Also, the borders of countries change frequently over time — in fact, many counties are getting smaller as nations secede from others: In 1946 there were 76 independent countries in the world, and in 2023 there are 195.


According to modern estimates, the surface area of the world is 196,900,000 square miles (510,072,000 square kilometers), and 71 percent of that is covered in ocean. This means only 29 percent of the Earth is dry. Countries measure their total size based on above-sea-level land area, but squeak in a bit of the continental shelf extending into the sea. This makes ranking the total area of these countries a little tricky, as you'll see.

The following are the seven largest countries in the world:


1. Russia — 6,601,668 Square Miles (17,098,242 Square Kilometers)

Russia is the largest country in the world by a long shot. More than twice as big as Brazil (the 5th largest country in the world). Russia accounts for one-tenth of the world's landmass, occupies two different continents, spans 11 time zones and borders 14 other countries.

Russia has borders on three oceans — the Atlantic, Pacific, and Arctic — and is home to around 100,000 rivers, as well as Lake Baikal, the oldest, deepest lake in the world. Its landscape varies widely, from deserts to mountain ranges to sprawling deciduous forests, most of Russia is covered in treeless grasslands called steppes and taiga, or coniferous boreal forests. Russia is also home to incredible animals like snow leopards, polar bears, arctic foxes, the Siberian tiger, bighorn sheep and its official national animal, the Eurasian brown bear.


2. Canada — 3,855,103 Square Miles (9,984,670 Square Kilometers)

Canada is the second-largest country in the world, covering over half of the Northern Hemisphere. From east to west, Canada covers 4,700 miles (7,560 kilometers) of North America from the Atlantic to the Pacific, spanning six time zones. Its northern border is the Arctic Ocean, and it shares a border with the United States to the south.

Canada is a very remote country — although it's so large, it is home to only one-half of one percent of the world's human population. This leaves lots of wildlife like beavers, moose, polar bears, bison, orcas, caribou and grizzly bears.


Canada is known for its coastal and territorial waters. Its lakes and rivers contain 20 percent of the world's freshwater supply, and it boasts the world's longest coastline. The country's interior houses the majestic Rocky Mountains, vast boreal forests, tundras, rolling plains and the Canadian Shield, a hilly, swampy region where scientists have found some of the oldest geological formations in the world.

3. U.S.A. — 3,794,100 Square Miles (9,826,675 Square Kilometers)

The U.S. is the third-largest country, although its landmass is not contiguous. Of its 50 states located in the North American continent, only 48 are connected to each other, bordered by Canada to the north and Mexico to the south. One-fifth of the country's land area is accounted for by Alaska, which is not connected to the other states, but extends off the western side of Canada. Hawaii, another non-contiguous (though extremely small) state, is located about 2,000 miles (3,200 kilometers) from the U.S. mainland in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.

Because of its size and the fact that its states are not all connected, the U.S. contains examples of every type of climate in the world. Tropical regions in Hawaii and Florida, dry desert in its Southwestern states, polar regions in Alaska and pockets of arctic weather in the Rocky Mountain West, are just some examples. Most of the contiguous 48 states, however, is either classified as temperate, with plenty of rain, hot summers and mild winters, or continental, with balmy summers and very cold winters.


4. China — 3,747,879 Square Miles (9,706,961 Square Kilometers)

China is so close in size to the U.S. and Canada that its comparative area to the two North American monsters is up for debate for some geographers. China has much less coastline than the other three largest countries, and because nations include some of the continental shelf extending into the sea as their territory, China is technically fourth-largest in the world; if, on the other hand, we were measuring only the above-water area of each country, China would actually be second largest, followed by the United States, and then Canada.

China is bordered by 14 countries, and although it spans five geographical time zones, the country itself observes only one standard time called Beijing Time. China has a little of everything — forests; deserts; grasslands; high, arid plateaus; humid coastlines and thousands of rivers, including the Yangtze, the world's third-largest river. A third of China it is covered in mountains, and Mount Everest, the tallest mountain in the world, sits on the border between China and Nepal.


5. Brazil — 3,287,612 Square Miles (8,514,877 Square Kilometers)

Brazil is the largest country in South America, and the fifth-largest in the world. Shaped like a giant wedge, it shares borders with 10 of the 12 countries on the continent. Brazil is home to the Amazon River, the largest river in the world by volume, the watershed of which covers thousands of miles of the northern part of the country. Though Brazil is famous for the Amazon and its rainforest, the country has 4,600 miles (7,400 kilometers) of coastline along the Atlantic ocean, as well as pine forests, wetlands, plateaus and arid grasslands called pampas.


6. Australia — 2,988,902 Square Miles (7,741,220 Square Kilometers)

Australia is the sixth-largest country in the world, and is the only one that takes up an entire continent. Despite having 21,126 miles (34,000 kilometers) of fertile coastline and rainforests, more than a third of Australia's land area is covered desert. It's also home to some of the most dangerous animals in the world, including the box jellyfish (Chironex fleckeri), the saltwater crocodile (Crocodylus porosus), the eastern brown snake (Pseudonaja textilis) and many more.


7. India — 1,269,210 Square Miles (3,287,263 Square Kilometers)

India is the seventh-largest country, and the second-largest on the Asian continent. It is a peninsula, surrounded on three sides by the Indian Ocean. Although it's not as large as some other countries, it has the largest human population of any country besides China, which it's expected to surpass in 2023.

India is covered by desert in the west and rainforest in the northeast, as well as the fertile Ganges River floodplain in the north. India is also the recipient of the Indian monsoon, a wind system that blows wet air onto the Indian subcontinent in the summer, and then sweeps cool, dry air from the Plateau of Tibet out to sea in the winter, resulting in a dry season in India.