The Smallest Country in the World

The Marshall Islands is an independent island country near the Equator in the Pacific Ocean, and it also happens to be the smallest country in the world. With a population of just 58,413 people, it’s spread out over five islands and 29 coral atolls that make up 1,156 individual islands. Spain claimed the islands in 1592, and the European powers recognized its sovereignty over the islands in 1874. Later, Spain sold some of the islands to the German Empire in 1885, and the United States took control of the islands in 1944. Politically, the Marshall Islands is a parliamentary republic with an executive presidency in free association with the United States, with the U.S. providing defense, subsidies, and access to U.S.-based agencies such as the FCC and the U.S. Postal Service. With few natural resources, the islands' wealth is based on a service economy, as well as fishing and agriculture. Almost the entire population of the islands practices some religion, with three-quarters of the country following the United Church of Christ.