From North to South and East to West, the world’s Largest countries provide a beautiful snapshot of the variety of geography, climate and wildlife on the planet. Collectively, the world’s largest countries contain rainforest and tundra, mountains and valleys, coastline and desert. As we explore the largest nations, we visit five different continents, with world’s most spectacular geography, and every type of climate that can be imagined.
Excitingly, it’s always changing, too: history has taught that geopolitical boundaries shift dramatically as centuries pass. In the next decades, who’s to say which countries will become the world’s largest?
Algeria, with 2.38 million Square Kilometers, is the tenth-largest country in the world by area and the only African country in the top 10. Situated in Northern Africa, Algeria has a Mediterranean coastline of 998 km long. About 90 percent of the country is desert, and much of its desert regions are highly elevated. The Atlas Mountain range runs along the country’s northern border, while the interior, much of which is above sea level of hundreds of meters, contains the Algerian portion of the Sahara Desert. The massive Algerian Sahara extends all the way to the south of the country which is bordered with Niger and Mali.
Kazakhstan’s with area of 2.72 million Square kilometers stretch over vast plains and highlands. A cool and dry, but not quite desert-like, climate prevails for most of the year. Kazakhstanis experience a great range of temperatures throughout the year, though it doesn’t get as cold in Kazakhstan as it does in parts of its northern neighbor, Russia. Formerly part of the USSR, the largest nation in the world for most of the 20th century, Kazakhstan’s current main claim to fame is its status as the largest landlocked country in the world—and the only landlocked country in the top 10.
Argentina, the world’s 32nd most populous country, is the world’s eighth largest, and the largest Spanish-speaking nation in the world by area. Its 2.78 million square kilometers includes some of the most varied geography and climate in the world. Swampy, tropical conditions in the very north give way to freezing glacial regions in the south. Patagoniais one of the most spectacular and dangerous places on the planet, stretches from the southern Andes in the West to the Atlantic Ocean in the East. The southern tip of Argentina, known as Cape Horn, is one of the stormiest locations on the globe.
India is the second largest nation in terms of population, and seventh largest in terms of area. Its boundaries have changed quite a few times over the past century, and even still, India claims that the northern region of Kashmir (an area disputed with Pakistan) belongs under Indian control completely. As it stands, without Kashmir, India’s territory stretches for 3.29 million square kilometers. China, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal each share a border with India, and its geography ranges from the majestic Himalayan Mountains to the tropical shores of the southern peninsula.
An approximately 4.4 million square kilometer difference between Australia and India represents the second-largest size difference between countries ranked consecutively in the top 10. Australia, at around 7.69 million square kilometers, is over twice the size of India. It’s the largest country in Oceania by far. The vast majority of its population lives in coastal cities like Sydney in the East and Perth in the West, and with good reason: the Australian Outback is one of the world’s driest and hottest regions. Along with extreme climate and geography, Australia is known for its spectacular and often deadly wildlife.
The largest country in South America at over 8.51 million square kilometers, Brazil claims to be home of much of the world’s largest rainforest, the Amazon. The Amazon is so dense and vast that explorers and scientists have found human civilizations within—small tribes—that had never made contact with the outside world. Even still, some researchers believe there may be more undiscovered tribes living there unfound still. Brazil also has a lengthy Atlantic coastline on the eastern side, which stretches approximately 8,000 km. Most of its major cities, including Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo, are built along this coastline.
4. People’s Republic of China
China, the United States of America, and Canada each occupy about seven percent of the globe’s surface. Out of these three, China is the smallest that barely claims an approximately 9.6 million square kilometers of land area. It shares borders with 14 different countries, including Afghanistan to the East, Russia to the North, and Vietnam to the South. Its climate and its people vary dramatically. In the north, temperatures drop to subarctic levels, in the centre of the China is the Gobi Desert, the world’s 4th largest desert, and in the South temperatures reach tropical levels regularly. With over 1.35 billion citizens, China is home to 56 recognized ethnic groups, has the world’s 18th largest Muslim population, the 19th largest Christian population, and with 1.9 doctors per 1000 people, China has more doctors than the entire population of Qatar.
3. United States of America
The United States, is little bigger than China but slightly smaller than Canada, occupies 9.63 million square kilometers. Bordered by Mexico to the South, and Canadato the North, the United States is home to a diverse array of geography and wildlife. Two North-South features split the nation into three distinct pieces. West of the Rocky Mountains, the Pacific states are known for year around temperate weather and long expanses of beach along the California coast. The Great Plains present between the Rockies and the Mississippi River, stretching from Canada to Mexico, gives the United States one of the world's most fertile growing areas. Lastly, the USA is considered as the economic and industrial hub of the world.
Canada’s 9.984 million square kilometers makes it the largest country in the western hemisphere, and its 202,080 kilometer long coastline means that it has a longer shoreline than any other nation. With a population density of 4 people per square kilometer, means that each of Canada's 35 million people could have 61 acres for themselves. Positioned between the Arctic and the United States, Canada’s massive frozen tundra extends into the Arctic Circle. Split similar to the USA; in the western half of the country, the Rocky Mountains run north to south, and plains provide huge grain and canola growing areas. Eastern Canada is the traditional heart of the nation, with Toronto, Montreal, and the national capital of Ottawa, all located in the East.
Russia’s 17.1 million square kilometers claim easily makes it the world’s largest country by area. It’s interesting to know that, if Russia were to lop off 7 million square kilometers of its territories, it would still be the largest country of the globe and the lopped-off section would rank seventh overall. Like China, Russia borders 14 different countries. Unlike China, none of Russia is tropical, though humid summers prevail in much of southern Russia. Massive oil reserves exist underneath Russia’s frozen forests and tundra; however, due to the expense and difficulty of extracting it, much of Russia’s oil wealth remains untapped.