A world of extremes

COUNTRIES BIG AND SMALL

There are 194 countries in the world. Or rather: 194 states. They range from tiny island nations like Nauru to countries the size of a continent like India. In terms of area, Russia is the largest country in the world, measuring 17.1 million square kilometres. The smallest is the Vatican City at just 0.44 square kilometres.

 

HIGH AND LOW

The lowest-lying nation is the Maldives, sitting on average just 1.8 metres above sea level. The highest nation on earth is Bhutan, which lies 3,280 metres above sea level on average. Nearby Nepal comes in second place (3,265 metres).

 

RECORD TEMPERATURES

Mongolia holds the record for the world’s coldest capital city. The average annual temperature in Ulaanbaatar is a chilly -1.3°C. By contrast, the capital city with the highest average annual temperature is Bangkok at 28°C.

 

DO YOU SPEAK PAPUAN?

Papua New Guinea is the most linguistically diverse country in the world. The island nation boasts 847 different languages. The official language is English, although this is spoken by just 1 to 2% of the country’s 8.1 million inhabitants.

WELL-TO-DO

Qatar is the richest nation on Earth, thanks mainly to its reserves of oil and natural gas. According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the country has a gross domestic product of 129,360 dollars per capita, when adjusted for purchasing power.

 

THE KEY TO HAPPINESS – HEAD NORTH

If you’re looking for the happiest nation on earth, go to Finland. The World Happiness Report measures nations’ happiness according to various factors like freedom, autonomy, income and life expectancy. This year’s report placed Finland at the top, followed by Scandinavian neighbours Norway and Denmark.

 

SMALL NATION, BIG PEOPLE

The smallest republic in the world is also the heaviest. 61% of inhabitants on the Micronesian island of Nauru have a body mass index of 30, which is considered obese. The equivalent figure for Germany is 22.3%.