While the world’s population continues to increase year on year, some highly-populated states have become record holders when it comes to population density.
These aren’t necessarily the countries with the highest population numbers, but more often the countries with a small land surface where population has boomed in recent years, driving architects to come up with ever more inventive ways to find housing for everyone.
Let’s have a look at the world’s most densely populated countries.
List of Most Densely Populated Countries
The tiny country of Monaco often gets overlooked as a country altogether! Situated on the French riviera, the principality covers under 1 square mile, but is a highly desired place to live because of its tax rules, and mild climate. As such, lots of professional athletes have flocked to live in Monaco, particularly cyclists who enjoy its winding roads for training (and proximity to great cycling locations in France, too).
The population density of Monaco is 25,718.1 people per square kilometre, making Monaco the most densely populated country in the world.
The city state of Singapore embodies the architectural symbol of over-population. Its high-rise buildings are emblematic of this destination. Moreover, to handle its large population, Singapore has an excellent public transport system.
The land covered by Singapore is 277.6 square miles and its population density is 8,226.7 people per square km.
Bahrain is a rich Middle Eastern country and extends over only 295 square miles, making it the third smallest country in Asia after Singapore and the Maldives. Population density is 1969.2 people per square km, making Bahrain third most densely populated country on earth.
The Kingdom of Bahrain is exceptionally wealthy and also relies not just on oil for its economy, unlike many of its neighbours. They have invested heavily in banking and tourism, so many international financial institutions are represented there, which will explain additions to its heavily populated status. Bahrain also has a Formula 1 race track and started hosting the Bahrain Grand Prix in 2004.
4. The Vatican
As a country in its own right, Vatican City actually has a very large population compared to the surface it covers. There are around 1,000 people registered as living in the Vatican, and its surface is only 110 acres. This means that population density is 1,818.1 people per square km, on top of the thousands of tourists who crowd here every year to visit the sights.
Vatican City is an ecclesiastical and sacerdotal-monarchical state, unique in the world as it is ruled by the Pope who is the head of the Catholic Church. All its top functionaries are also Catholic clergy from all over the world. The country’s economy relies heavily on the tourism income from people visiting the famous St Peter’s Basilica, the Sistine Chapel, and other museums. The Vatican also gets an income from stamps, souvenirs, and sales of publications.
The small nation of Malta is part of the European Union and a popular tourist destination in the Mediterranean. Its capital city is the smallest in Europe at 0.8 square km – La Valletta.
Malta places fifth on our list of most densely populated countries with population density of 1,364.6 people per square km. This former British colony is part of the Commonwealth and a popular tourist destination with great climate and some interesting UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Whilst previous countries occupy a relatively small surface, Bangladesh covers 56,980 square miles and still has a density of 1,252 people per square km. This is close to three times the density of India which we are all used to thinking of as a densely populated state. Bangladesh is also the 8th most populous country in the world, with c. 161 million people living there. Despite challenges like corruption and climate change, Bangladesh is actually a growing economy where one can expect that the GDP per capita will continue to grow, and the country has recently been upgraded by the World Bank to the status of a middle-income country.
The Republic of Maldives is a small island nation and one of the most densely populated countries in the world. Located in the Arabian Sea, the Maldives are a very popular holiday destination due to their exotic landscapes and beautiful beaches, but little do tourists realise that the permanent population of this small country is actually so dense. Over only 115 square miles, the population is just under 400,000 people, hence population density is 1,102.5 people per square km. The Maldives’ capital, Malé, is the busiest city. The Maldives are also one of the world’s most geographically dispersed states because the country itself is made up of an archipelago of islands.
This Middle Eastern country has a whopping population density of 1,450.4 people per square km. It’s a relatively small country, but has a rich and diverse culture after a history of being ruled by the Ottoman Empire and then colonised by France. The Lebanese diaspora is very influential and many cultural figures obtained their education in France and went on to play an important role in the development of the Arab world. Lebanon also used to be known as the “Switzerland of the East” as it was very wealthy during the 1960s. Unfortunately, civil war wreaked havoc with the economy in 1975-1990 and the country is still recovering from the setback.
With only 167 square miles of surface, Barbados is a tiny country. However, its 227,821 people mean that its population density is 660 people per square km, one of the highest densely populated countries in the world. Independent since 1966, Barbados used to be a colony of the British Empire and is now part of the Commonwealth. Despite being geographically labelled as an Atlantic island, Barbados is seen as part of the Caribbean, and it’s one of the top tourist destinations in the Atlantic Ocean.
There you have it – the world’s most crowded countries, some tiny city states and some isolated islands where the population has congregated close together. If you’re looking for peace and quiet, these destinations would be the exact opposite, but they make for interesting sights nonetheless!
I hope that this article on countries with the highest population density was helpful. If you are interested, visit the Country Rankings Page!