Here is an overview of the smallest countries in Africa by size of their territory. Africa is the second largest continent and features some of the largest countries in the world. However, it also contains some of the smallest countries in the world.
We start with the ‘largest’ of the small African countries and work our way down to the smallest country in Africa
10) Burundi (27,830 km2)
Burundi is located in Central Africa, next to Rwanda, Tanzania and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Burundi is one of the poorest countries in Africa with an income of just $818 per person per year (in purchasing power). Almost the entire population (90%) works in agriculture and more than 80% lives below the poverty line. Only 2% of the population has access to a bank and telecommunications almost does not exist.
Only 600 square kilometers of forest remains in the country and it is rapidly shrinking due to clearcutting for agriculture. In 2016 Burundi was named the least happy nation in the world due to its crushing poverty, corruption, low health & education services and widespread hunger.
9) Rwanda(26,798 km2)
Rwanda is the smallest landlocked country in Africa. Despite its small size it has a population of over 11 million people. This makes it one of the most densely populated countries in Africa. In 1994 in just 100 days at least 800,000 Rwandans (20% of the population, and 70% of the Tutsi population) were killed. Roughly 2 million people (mostly Hutus) became refugees.
While Rwanda remains one of the poorest countries in Africa it has recovered somewhat from this black page in the world’s history. Tourism is the fastest growing sector in the country as it is seen as a safe country despite its history. The main tourist attraction is spotting mountain gorillas in the wild.
8) Djibouti (23,200 km2)
Djibouti is located in the Horn of Africa next to the Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea. Its neighbours are Eritrea, Ethiopia and Somalia. The 850,000 strong population is mostly Islamic and use two official languages: Arabic and French. Because of the very low rainfall agriculture only makes up 3% of the GDP in the country. Services dominate the economy making up nearly 80% of the total.
Despite the lack of natural resources and low rainfall the economy is growing rapidly at 5-6% per year. Still the country has a long way to go with an average income of just $3,351 in 2016 (in purchasing power).
7) Swaziland (17,364 km2)
Swaziland is located in Southern Africa next to the Indian Ocean. Its neighbours are Mozambique and South Africa. Swaziland is an absolute monarchy, with Ngwenyama (“King”) Mswati III as its ruler. Its 1,119,000 inhabitants enjoy a lower-middle income of nearly $10,000 per person (in purchasing power). The Swaziland economy is mostly based on manufacturing and services, with agriculture and mining only constituting 13% of the economy.
The country is one of the most affected in the HIV/AIDS epidemic with an estimated 25% of the adult population being infected. Fortunately the disease seems to be stabilizing, most likely because two thirds of the population is being treated with antiretroviral drugs.
6) Gambia (10,380 km2)
The Gambia is the smallest mainland country in Africa. It is surrounded on all sides by Senegal, apart from its Atlantic Ocean coast. Roughly one third of its population of 1,900,000 lives below the international poverty line. This makes it one of the poorest nations in Africa.
Its president of 23 years, Yahya Jammeh, was replaced in early 2017 by its third president in the country’s history: Adama Barrow. The 23 year rule made Jammeh one of the longest serving rulers in Africa. Initially Jammeh refused to accept the election results, but military intervention by the ECOWAS forced him into exile. One can hope that the new president will lead to a better future for all Gambians.
5) Cape Verde (4,033 km2)
Cape Verde is the largest of the African island nations. It has a population of 525,000 and gained independence from Portugal in 1975. Cape Verde has been a stable democracy since the 1990s and though lacking in natural resources it has a strong and growing economy. In 2007 the United Nations gave it the designation of Developing Nation, instead of Least Developed Nation.
Due to its stable government it has attracted a large amount of development aid and foreign investment. In 2011 roughly 30% of the energy use in the country was generated by wind farms, making it one of the top renewable energy countries in the world.
4) Comoros (2,235 km2)
The Comoros is an archipelago in the Indian Ocean between Mozambique and Madagascar. It’s estimated 800,000 inhabitants live in one of the poorest countries in Africa. With roughly half the population living under the poverty line of $1.25 per day. Its government is extremely unstable with over 20 (attempted) coups since 1975.
With a rapidly increasing population, large agricultural sector (80% of the workforce) and very limited area it is likely only a matter of time before things spiral out of control again.
3) Mauritius (2,040 km2)
Mauritius is another African island nation. It is located roughly 2000 km of the southeast coast of Africa (~1000km off the east coast of Madagascar). Though the country consists of several islands the majority of its 1,350,000 inhabitants live on the island of Mauritius itself. The purchasing power per person is one of the highest in Africa at $18,728.
The country has no natural resources to speak of, but has a well developed tourism industry. The stable government that is focused on economic growth has attracted large foreign investments.
Mauritius is one of the tiniest nations in Africa
2) São Tomé and Príncipe (964 km2)
As the name suggests the country has two parts: the island São Tomé and the smaller island Príncipe. Príncipe is roughly 140 km to the north-northeast of São Tomé and both islands are 225-250 km off the coast of West Africa (near Gabon). The island nation has a population of 190,000, the majority of whom live on São Tomé. São Tomé and Príncipe is the smallest Portuguese-speaking country in the world.
Currently the country is trying to develop its petroleum industry. In cooperation with Nigeria it sold exploration rights for $123 million (receiving 40% of the total and Nigeria the remaining 60%). Though little progress has been made since then.
1) Seychelles (451 km2) – The Smallest Country in Africa
The Republic of Seychelles is a country roughly 1500km off the coast of East Africa. It is the smallest African country. The country consists of an archipelago containing 115 islands. With only 92,000 inhabitants it is the smallest sovereign nation in Africa.
The Seychelles is the country with the highest GDP per capita in Africa. However there are still a lot of poor people because of the extremely high inequality. The country relies heavily on tourism (about 30% of the population works in the tourism industry).
Seychelles – smallest country in Africa