Visualizing Countries In The World By Share Of Earth’s Surface

Earth’s surface consists of over 510 million square kilometers of area. However, only around 29% of this consists of land. A whopping 71% of the earth’s surface is fully covered by water in the form of vast oceans, rivers, lakes, etc. In order to rank the countries of the world by their share of Earth’s surface, the visualization data used today are mainly derived from the United Nations Statistics Division (UNSD).

The three largest countries on earth are Russia, Canada, and China, and they occupy 3.35%, 1.96%, and 1.88% of the earth’s surface area respectively. 7.2% of the earth’s surface area is occupied by these three countries together.

Countries by earth's surface
Source – visualcapitalist.com

The second-largest amount of land is occupied by Antarctica, which is 2,75%. The rest of the countries that occupy more than 1% of the earth include the United States of America, Brazil, and Australia. The percentages occupied by these countries are 1.87%, 1.67%, and 1.51% respectively. The other half of Earth’s land surface is occupied by the remaining 195 countries, when combined. The tiniest nations on earth are Vatican City and Monaco. When combined, they only amount to 2.51 km². The rest of the Earth’s surface is comprised of 27% territorial waters and 43% international waters.

Countries by earth's surface
Source – visualcapitalist.com

Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction

The nations on Earth adhered to the freedom-of-the-seas doctrine in the past. This principle limited the jurisdiction over the oceans to a narrow area along a nation’s coastline. None of the nations owned the remaining seas. People from all countries were allowed to travel on these seas. However, during the 20th century, competition for offshore resources greatly increased. Also, pollution of oceans became a major issue. As a result, there were many attempts to extend national claims to oceans.

The Law of the Sea Convention was adopted by the United Nations in 1982. The international law over the extra-territorial waters was extended by this adoption. Freedom-of-navigation rights were established by this convention. Also, territorial sea boundaries 12 miles (19 km) offshore with exclusive economic zones up to 200 miles (322 km) offshore were set by this convention. This resulted in an extension of a country’s influence over maritime resources.

Does The Size Of Countries Matter?

The size of a country is the collective outcome of politics, economics, history, and geography. However, the borders of a country may change with time. In 1946, there were just 76 independent nations in the world. However, in the present, there are 195 independent nations.

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