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Put the size of countries in perspective by comparing them to US states

Filed in Ideas ,R
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This Mercator projection is famous for distorting land areas

Like Jake Hofman, we at Decision Science News love putting things in perspective. Watch this space for a paper we are writing on the topic. We recently thought:

  • Wouldn’t it be cool for US readers to see how big foreign countries are by comparing them to presumably familiar US states?
  • Wouldn’t it be cool for non-US readers to see how big US states are by comparing them to presumably familiar countries?
  • Wouldn’t it be fun to group countries by area?

To keep things simple, we only consider the area of each state, twice the area of each state, and the area of the entire USA as units. We only bother with twice states’ area thing for big countries (larger than 2,500,000 sq km). For compactness, we do not provide the reverse mapping from countries to US states. R code available upon request.

Here you are. A list of US states along with countries and dependencies that are roughly as large as them:
Smaller than Rhode Island (4,002 sq km):

Andorra, Antigua and Barbuda, Bahrain, Barbados, Bermuda, Comoros, Cook Islands, Dominica, Gaza Strip, Grenada, Guadeloupe, Guam, Guernsey, Holy See (Vatican City), Hong Kong, Kiribati, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Macau, Maldives, Malta, Marshall Islands, Martinique, Mauritius,  Micronesia (Federated States of), Monaco, Nauru, Palau, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, San Marino, Seychelles, Singapore, São Tomé and Príncipe, Tonga, Tuvalu


As big as Rhode Island (4,002 sq km):

Cape Verde, French Polynesia


As big as Delaware (5,061 sq km):

Brunei, Cyprus, Puerto Rico, Trinidad and Tobago, West Bank


As big as Connecticut (14,359 sq km):

Bahamas, East Timor, Falkland Islands, Fiji, Gambia (The), Jamaica, Kuwait, Lebanon, Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, Qatar, Swaziland, Vanuatu


As big as New Jersey (22,590 sq km):

Belize, Djibouti, El Salvador, Israel, Slovenia


As big as Vermont (24,903 sq km):

Republic of Macedonia


As big as Massachusetts (27,337 sq km):

Haiti, Rwanda


As big as Hawaii (28,314 sq km):

Albania, Armenia, Burundi, Equatorial Guinea, Solomon Islands


As big as Maryland (32,134 sq km):

Belgium, Bhutan, Denmark, Estonia, Guinea-Bissau, Lesotho, Moldova, Netherlands, Republic of China (Taiwan), Switzerland


As big as West Virginia (62,758 sq km):

Bosnia and Herzegovina, Costa Rica, Croatia, Dominican Republic, Georgia, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, Sierra Leone, Slovakia, Sri Lanka, Togo


As big as South Carolina (82,898 sq km):

Austria, Azerbaijan, Czech Republic, Panama, United Arab Emirates


As big as Maine (91,652 sq km):

French Guiana, Jordan, Portugal


As big as Indiana (94,327 sq km):

Hungary, South Korea


As big as Kentucky (104,664 sq km):

Iceland, Serbia and Montenegro


As big as Tennessee (109,158 sq km):



As big as Virginia (110,771 sq km):

Benin, Bulgaria, Cuba, Honduras, Liberia


As big as Pennsylvania (119,290 sq km):

Eritrea, Malawi, North Korea


As big as Mississippi (125,443 sq km):



As big as Louisiana (134,273 sq km):



As big as New York (141,090 sq km):

Nepal, Tajikistan


As big as Iowa (145,754 sq km):



As big as Wisconsin (169,652 sq km):

Suriname, Tunisia


As big as Missouri (180,545 sq km):



As big as Oklahoma (181,048 sq km):



As big as Washington (184,674 sq km):



As big as South Dakota (199,742 sq km):

Kyrgyzstan, Senegal


As big as Kansas (213,109 sq km):



As big as Idaho (216,456 sq km):



As big as Minnesota (225,181 sq km):

Laos, Romania, Uganda


As big as Michigan (250,737 sq km):

Ghana, Guinea, United Kingdom


As big as Colorado (269,618 sq km):

Burkina Faso, Gabon, New Zealand, Western Sahara


As big as Nevada (286,367 sq km):



As big as Arizona (295,274 sq km):

Italy, Philippines


As big as New Mexico (314,924 sq km):

Congo (Republic of the), Côte d’Ivoire, Finland, Malaysia, Norway, Oman, Poland, Vietnam


As big as Montana (380,847 sq km):

Germany, Japan, Zimbabwe


As big as California (423,999 sq km):

Cameroon, France, Iraq, Morocco, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Spain, Sweden, Thailand, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Yemen


As big as Texas (695,673 sq km):

Afghanistan, Bolivia, Botswana, Central African Republic, Chile, Colombia, Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Madagascar, Mauritania, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nigeria, Pakistan, Somalia, Tanzania, Turkey, Ukraine, Venezuela, Zambia


As big as Alaska (1,700,133 sq km):

Algeria, Angola, Chad, Congo (Democratic Republic of the), Greenland, Indonesia, Iran, Libya, Mali, Mexico, Mongolia, Niger, Peru, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Sudan


Twice as big as Alaska (3,400,266 sq km):

Argentina, India, Kazakhstan


As big as the United States (9,826,630 sq km):

Australia, Brazil, Canada, China


Twice as big as the United States (19,653,260 sq km):



Map credit:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_map_projections#mediaviewer/File:Miller_projection_SW.jpg

Country Areas: http://simple.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_area


  1. Tei Laine says:

    I am quite surprised that there are not so many states larger than Finland, since to me it has always seemed a small country. Will we next see similar comparison by population?

    February 23, 2015 @ 5:57 am

  2. dan says:

    Yes, we will do something with population next.

    February 26, 2015 @ 2:51 pm

  3. ian says:

    Hi, first of all, cool post, particularly for US citizens that want to “imagine” how big are some countries.

    but since some of them are “in between” categories, people should be adviced of this, for example: Colombia have 1,197,411km2, but in your list it appears AS BIG AS TEXAS (696000 km2) which is roughly half Colombia.

    Similar with Ethiopia, Venezuela, Niger or Bolivia…

    So, a different color in the names could be enough or just a warning…

    February 23, 2015 @ 3:03 pm

  4. dan says:

    Excellent point (though we see the area of Colombia as 1.142 million km sq). There are countries that get caught in the large gap between Texas and Alaska. We wanted to do 1:1 comparisons here, but will do a future post in which we do better.

    February 26, 2015 @ 2:50 pm

  5. rudra says:

    Bangladesh is smaller than Nepal,(nepal-147,181sq km and Bangladesh is 1,43,998) before posting in internet analysis about countries.

    December 19, 2015 @ 12:24 pm

  6. dan says:

    Bangladesh is 147,570 http://lmgtfy.com/?q=area+of+bangladesh+in+square+kilometers

    December 19, 2015 @ 1:30 pm

  7. dwrwe says:

    What about New Hampshire

    June 5, 2016 @ 6:08 pm

  8. Lilyane Tutt says:

    This is great information!

    June 9, 2016 @ 3:00 pm

  9. Alex says:

    Yes a comparison of population would be nice but even more interesting to me would be economic capacity. The US as a whole is the biggest economy in the world but when I see powerful economies like Japan, Isreal, and South Korea are the same size of a state that doesn’t have a fraction of the same economic impact it shows how productive and importat those countries are.

    December 31, 2017 @ 4:12 am

  10. Mary Bernard says:

    Thanks, so informative. Enjoyed so much!

    February 10, 2018 @ 2:04 pm

  11. Lucas Collins says:

    Why did you leave out some States? (13)

    April 14, 2018 @ 5:16 am

  12. dan says:

    That’s a good question! I can’t quite remember. Maybe we couldn’t find close matches for some states?

    April 14, 2018 @ 9:11 am

  13. karen says:

    do you have a size comparison of the 7 North Caucasus republics of southern Russia to a given state in the US?

    April 18, 2018 @ 10:30 am

  14. Fran Ward says:

    You left out North Carolina

    April 19, 2018 @ 9:51 pm

  15. Mary says:

    Thanks, I am hosting an exchange student from Hungary soon, and was looking for information to share about the size of my state (Wisconsin) compared to her country. I found it here.

    June 27, 2018 @ 12:43 am

  16. Chuck says:

    What most people don’t realize is how much room we have in the US compared to some countries, such as all of Europe. I am from Europe and I never cease to be amazed how crowded things are over there when I go visit.

    September 8, 2018 @ 3:55 pm

  17. Jack says:

    In case people are wondering how Michigan can be as big as the entire United Kingdom, realize that Michigan’s 250,000 sq. km is 41% water. The land area of Michigan is actually 146,000 sq. km. Counting only land, Michigan is about the size of Iowa, and the UK (which is only 1% water) is just a little smaller than Wyoming.

    October 3, 2018 @ 10:11 pm

  18. Anonymous says:

    There are many more states than that! I though there are 50 states instead of 37

    December 8, 2018 @ 4:28 pm

  19. Julia Brim says:

    In my opinion, it should show a map of other countries so we could see what the countries compare to what a made up country is.

    December 11, 2018 @ 7:18 pm

  20. Sequoia Rauch says:

    You didn’t single out England, at about 130K sq. km, which makes it in between the size of Mississippi and Louisiana, or Nicaragua and Greece. The UK, or Great Britain, includes Scotland and Wales. So England is much smaller than Michigan.


    December 14, 2018 @ 11:50 pm

  21. Jerry Rose says:

    Interesting, but my search was for countries compared to Ohio in size. Instead the search engine brought me here.

    January 11, 2019 @ 9:45 am

  22. anonymous says:

    Very surprised the U.K. compares to Michigan’s size.

    January 26, 2019 @ 12:08 pm

  23. Emily Richardson says:

    I teach English to adult students from many countries and have often used this site to compare the sizes of their countries of origin. I love the site and find it very useful.

    But imagine my surprise when, today, I searched for Rwanda and found it wasn’t included! My student and I guessed that it must be about the same size as Hawaii, because that’s where Burundi is listed, and Rwanda and Burundi are roughly equal in size. Please add Rwanda to your list when you get the chance!

    I’m also very interested in the proposed comparison of countries to U.S. states by population. Looking forward to seeing that list as well! Thanks for all you do.

    February 26, 2019 @ 2:45 pm

  24. dan says:

    Ok, we added it to Massachusetts. Thanks!

    February 26, 2019 @ 4:01 pm

  25. Pat says:

    Very useful for comparative analysis!

    March 7, 2019 @ 1:10 pm

  26. Adali says:

    I wonder wich state has the same size as SOMALIA

    August 29, 2019 @ 2:13 pm

  27. Michael N says:

    What a great resource–thank you! Just one correction/addition: the nation of Sudan split in 2011 into “Sudan” and “South Sudan”. Currently Sudan is indeed comparable to Alaska as stated, but South Sudan should be added as equivalent to Texas.

    Like other visitors here, I too am looking forward to a comparison by population.

    Thanks again for your effort on this!

    September 24, 2019 @ 9:20 pm

  28. James Jewell says:

    Very interesting!

    June 5, 2020 @ 2:46 pm

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