The Five Largest Countries in the World

September 26, 2018

World map large countries
The five largest countries

Looking at a list of the world’s largest countries, it’s not surprising that the top five are very well known. When you’re that big, you tend to get noticed!

The smallest in the group is over 3 million square miles, and the largest is more than double that!

Here are the top 5 countries based on total area:

  • Russia—6,601,668 sq mi
  • Canada—3,855,100 sq mi
  • United States—3,805,943 sq mi
  • China—3,705,407 sq mi
  • Brazil—3,287,957 sq mi

With a massive disparity in climate and terrain, these five countries contain some of the earth’s most fascinating geographical features.

Abundant with similarities and contrasts, this small group of giant nations is a broad and interesting subject to examine. In this article, you’ll get a brief overview of each country’s climate and topography, followed by a data snapshot that highlights three interesting demographic factors: population density, percentage of the world’s population, and the percentage of the earths land mass that each of these massive countries accounts for.


Russia total area is 6,601,668 sq mi. Its border is 12,577 miles long and touches 14 other countries.

Most of Russia’s climate is characterized by long, frigid winters and short summers. In 1974, the Siberian town of Oymyakon recorded the lowest temperature ever for an inhabited region—a chilly -96 ° F. The tundra receives from 8 to 12 months of snow or rain.

A broad plain in the east turns into low foothills, and then into the Ural Mountains as you move west. Coniferous forests and tundra make up most of Siberia. The southern border features uplands and mountains.

  • Population Density (people per sq mi)—22
  • Percent of World Population—1.92
  • Percent of Earths Land Mass—11.0



With a total area of 3,855,100 sq mi, Canada is a huge, cold country sandwiched in between the Arctic and the United States. Northern Canada has subarctic or arctic climates, but the more densely populated south regions have a more varied and temperate climate.

The Canadian Shield covers half the country. It’s an ice-covered region of rocky terrain that contains the bulk of the country’s vast natural resources. To the east of the Shield are low mountain ranges and plains, with a maritime region that features a rocky coast, Newfoundland and Prince Edward Island.

The south and southeast feature the Great Lake and St. Lawrence seaway, and the west contains the great central Canadian plains.

  • Population Density (people per sq mi)—3
  • Percent of World Population—0.48
  • Percent of Earths Land Mass—6.1

United States of America

If you go by land mass (3,805,943 sq mi) or by population, the United States ranks third largest in the world.

The climate varies widely across the continental USA, with Alaska and Hawaii adding even more variety. Generally, summer sees heat and humidity dominate the plains and southern states, while the southwest is arid.

Winters tend to be mild in the south but can be very cold in the north and northeast states, the plains states, and in mountains out west.

Topographically, the United States of America is quite diverse. Starting in the east, a broad, flat coastal plain yields to the Appalachian Mountains. The Great Plains comprise a large part of the central region as you move west toward the Rocky Mountains.

Reaching the west coast, you’ll find a densely forested Pacific Northwest region and a series of low mountain ranges.

  • Population Density (people per sq mi)—84
  • Percent of World Population—4.29
  • Percent of Earth’s Land Mass—6.1



China has a total area of 3,705,407 square miles, making it the fourth largest country.

A nation of climate contrasts, the northern region sees temperatures in the subarctic range, the middle contains the Gobi, the 4th largest desert in the world, and the southern part of the country is predominantly tropical.

Lowlands in the east make up about 20% of China’s land. The other 80% consists of mountains and plateaus in the west. Just west of the plateaus in central China and the Mongolian Plateau, the northern high plateaus of Tibet give way to giant mountain ranges.

China’s largest river, the Yangtze, measures 3,434 miles and is responsible for draining most of central China.

  • Population Density (people per sq mi)—375
  • Percent of World Population—18.2
  • Percent of Earth’s Land Mass—6.3



With a total area of 3,287,957 sq. Miles, Brazil is South America’s largest country. Its border spans almost 10,500 miles.

Unless you’re in the mountains or extreme southern region, Brazil is relatively mild in all seasons, with temperatures hardly ever falling below 68°F. The entire northern region is a huge basin of the Amazon River and its tributaries. The Amazon River measures 4,000 miles and is the world's second-longest river.

The Amazon jungle, the world's largest tropical rain forest, is so large that it contains primitive civilizations that have had virtually no contact with the modern world.

  • Population Density (people per sq mi)—22
  • Percent of World Population—2.74
  • Percent of Earth’s Land Mass—5.6