They say good things come in small packages, and that’s absolutely true for these three tiny countries. Don’t let their size fool you—each is packed with exciting culture, beautiful buildings and charming people.
The world’s smallest state, Vatican City is unlike any other in the world. Comprising just 110 acres and boasting a population of fewer than 1,000 people, Vatican City serves as both the official temporal seat of Roman Catholicism (the “Holy See”) and a functional, independent nation-state. Nearly half of Vatican City is comprised of the Vatican Gardens, while the other half consists of the Vatican Museums and St. Peter’s Basilica. St. Peter’s massive dome dominates the Roman skyline and is visible from throughout the city. Inside the Vatican, travelers will find priceless works of art, including Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel. Most Vatican residents are powerful clergy within the Church, but you won’t just see red-robed Cardinals here—the colorful Swiss Guard has been the Pope’s personal bodyguard for hundreds of years, and their red, yellow and blue uniforms are easy to spot.
The tiny principality of Liechtenstein is a rarity in that it is one of the two countries in the world considered “doubly landlocked”—that is, it’s completely surrounded by countries that are also landlocked (Uzbekistan is the other doubly landlocked country). Located entirely within the Alps, Liechtenstein is a mecca for winter sports enthusiasts, even though the country has only one ski resort. In the capital city of Vaduz, you’ll find Castle Vaduz, home to the Princely Family of Liechtenstein. The castle is visible throughout the town with which it shares a name, demonstrating the close relationship Liechtenstein’s royalty keeps with its citizens.
What many consider the crown jewel of the French Riviera isn’t actually part of France at all. Anchored by the glittering Monte Carlo Casino and the glamorous yachts in its harbor, Monaco has long been considered a playground for the wealthy, the powerful and the simply fabulous. Monaco occupies a glitzy place in our imagination thanks to the annual Monaco Grand Prix, Ian Fleming’s James Bond novels and the marriage of American actress Grace Kelly to Monaco’s Prince Rainier in 1956, when 20,000 people packed the country’s narrow streets to glimpse their new princess. Monaco is blessed by its proximity to the Mediterranean—the summers are warm and dry and winters are pleasantly mild.
Which tiny country would you like to visit? Tell us in the comments!