Chaitanya's Random Pages

March 31, 2012

Distribution of the Area of Countries

Filed under: geography — ckrao @ 4:12 am

I was looking at this list of countries by area and noticed something unusual – not that many have area between 1,000 and 10,000 square kilometres. The following table confirms this.

Area \left(\times 10^3 \text{km}^2\right) # “countries” excluded (if area > 1000 sq km)
< .25 7
.25-.5 10
.5-1 8
1-2 1 Guadeloupe, Faroe Islands, Martinique,
Hong Kong
2-4 3 South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands,
4-8 3 French Southern and Antarctic Lands, Palestinian territories,
French Polynesia
8-16 10 Falkland Islands, Puerto Rico
16-32 18 New Caledonia
32-64 14 Svalbard
64-128 26 French Guiana
128-256 20
256-512 26 Western Sahara
512-1024 22
1024-2048 16
2048-4096 6 Greenland
4096-8192 1
8192-16384 4
16384+ 1

(Here I have assumed 196 countries: the 193 member states of the UN plus Taiwan, Kosovo and Vatican City. The seven smallest countries are Marshall Islands, Liechtenstein, San Marino, Tuvalu, Nauru, Monaco and Vatican City.)

I would have expected to see reasonably constant numbers except for the tail ends, as they are for other ranges of area. In fact there are just 8 countries between 1,000 and 10,000 square kilometres but 20 between 100 and 1,000 and 57 between 10,000 and 100,000! The 8 special countries in decreasing order of area are:

Cyprus, Brunei, Trinidad and Tobago, Cape Verde, Samoa, Luxembourg, Mauritius, Comoros

Six out of these are islands, so perhaps this anomaly indicates that for this area range, it is on the small side for a continental region or that there are not many groups of islands with total area in this range that are willing to form a unified nation.


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