How Many of the World's Largest Countries Can You Name from an Outline?

By: Jacqueline Samaroo
Image: Wiki commons

About This Quiz

Are you ready for a big globetrotting adventure?

Fun fact: Did you know that there are almost 200 countries in the world? From lush tropical islands to frigid icy nations, countries all over the world have a wide range of differences; not only in climate but also in aspects like culture, economy and politics as well. However, shape and size are probably two of the most common ways that countries are defined and so, with this geography-focused quiz, we are going to be taking a look at 40 of the largest countries in the world!

Not only do these 40 countries cover most of the land area in the world, but many are also notable for having a large majority of the world's population within their borders as well. Also, since they are so large, a lot of the countries in this quiz have some very unique and distinct shapes. 

So, are you ready to really put your geographical knowledge to the test? Are you ready to explore all corners of the globe to see which countries are the largest? Then c'mon, let's go exploring from Argentina to Egypt (and everywhere in between) and see if you can identify these large countries from just their outlines!

Living up to its status as the 5th largest country worldwide, Brazil covers 50% of the South American continent! This Portuguese-speaking nation also borders every country in South America except Ecuador and Chile, and is the sixth most populous country in the world.

Apart from being the world’s 9th largest country, Kazakhstan is also the world’s largest landlocked country. This former Russian territory is a huge melting pot, home to around 120 different ethnic groups and nationalities. It is also home to the first and largest space launch facility: the Baikonur Cosmodrome where the very first artificial satellite and human spaceflight were launched.

Chad is the largest landlocked country in Africa, along with being the 21st largest country in the world. Though Arabic and French are the only 2 official languages, over 100 languages and dialects are spoken in Chad. In terms of geography, the Sahara Desert covers roughly a third of Chad’s area.

Did you know Santa Claus originated in Turkey? Unlike what eager little children may think, Saint Nicholas wasn’t born at the North Pole; he was from Patara (part of southern Turkey). He wasn’t the only saint from the 37th largest country; Saint Paul was born in Tarsus, also in Turkey’s south.

This African country is the 24th largest in the world and one of the hottest. The thermal equator runs through it, so rainfall is infrequent and droughts are commonplace. French is the only official language (attributed to the country having once been a French colony), although Bambara is spoken most frequently.

Despite its size (roughly twice the size of California), this Southern African country has the 2nd lowest population density worldwide. Because of this, Namibia has flourishing wildlife. For example, the country has the largest population of free-roaming cheetahs in the world!

Far different from the other countries on this list, Indonesia’s land mass of 1,904,569 km2 is shared among more than 13,000 islands! This transcontinental country is the 14th largest in the world (and would be the 7th largest if sea area was also considered.) Indonesia is also the world’s 4th most populous country and contains the world’s most populous island: Java.

With a shocking 2,000,000 lakes, Canada has more lakes than the rest of the world combined! Though it is widely recognized as the 2nd largest country after Russia, it would be the 4th largest if you didn’t include its lakes. The lakes, along with Canada’s rivers, take up almost 9% of the country’s overall area.

Greenland is famous for being contrary to its name – almost 80% of its land mass is covered in ice. It also draws interest for seeming as big as Africa on most maps when, in fact, it is actually only 1/14th of the continent’s size! Greenland is indeed large, however, being the world’s 12th largest country while also being the world’s least densely populated territory.

Home to the world’s driest place, the Atacama Desrt, Chile holds the 38th spot in the list of largest countries. Chile has one of the world’s longest coastlines, around 6,500km long, but is also one of the narrowest, being just over 200 km wide. Did you know that Chile is also home to several species of penguins?

Algeria is the 10th largest country in the world and the largest in Africa. Only 12% of country is inhabited and over 90% of the population lives along the Mediterranean coast. This African country is also home to the world’s largest sand dunes.

Nigeria may only be 32nd on the list of largest countries, but it is the 7th most populated country worldwide and the most populated in Africa! Nigeria’s movie industry, Nollywood, is the world’s 2nd largest producer of movies, behind India’s Bollywood and ahead of America’s Hollywood.

Holding the #26 spot on the list, Colombia is the 2nd most biodiverse country in the world (behind Brazil). It has the largest amount of species by area worldwide, as well as the most species of butterflies, orchids and amphibians. The number of bird species in Colombia is more than the combined total in North America and Europe!

Before South Sudan sought independence from Sudan, the latter was the largest country in Africa and is now the 3rd largest, along with being the 16th worldwide. Did you know that in one section of the northern Sudanese Desert there are more pyramids than in all of Egypt?

Mongolia is the world’s 18th largest country, but also happens to be the most sparsely populated of all fully sovereign countries. It is also the 2nd largest landlocked country after Kazakhstan. Mongolia is famous for its large nomadic population (roughly 30% of the total population) of which horse riding is an important aspect, with horses even outnumbering people in this country!

This landlocked South American country is the 5th largest country on the continent, and 27th largest in the world. It’s also home to the world’s largest natural “mirror”, Salar de Uyuni, a 10,582 km2 salt flat that becomes a huge reflective surface when a thin film of water covers the salt deposits.

Apart from being the fifth most populous country in the world, Pakistan is also the 33rd largest. In Pakistan, you can find the highest paved international road, the Karakoram Highway, which navigates through the Karakoram mountain range at heights of 15,465 feet. It connects the country to China, where it becomes China National Highway 314.

With over 1.4 billion people, this Asian country is the most populous country in the whole world. It is also the country with the most neighbors, sharing borders with 20 different sovereign states. Did you know paper originated in China in the 2nd century CE and that in Ancient China, soldiers even sometimes wore armor made of paper?

Myanmar is the last member on this list, standing as the world’s 40th largest country! With only a 20,000 km2 difference, it barely squeezes in past #41, Afghanistan. Formerly known as Burma, Myanmar is one of the only 3 countries who have not adopted the metric system, the others being the United States and Liberia.

Along with being the 7th largest country in Africa, Angola is the 23rd largest in the world, boasting an area of 1,246,701km2. The country got its name from “N’gola”, a Kimbundu word meaning “King”. The traditional music of Angola is semba which has heavily influenced the Brazilian samba.

Ethiopia is the 27th largest country in the world, as well as the 2nd most populous in Africa and the most populous landlocked country in the world. The Ethiopian calendar has 13 months. 12 of 30 days and 1 month with just 5 days (6 on leap years).

At the head of this list is Russia, the largest country in the whole world! It holds this title by a large margin (being over 7,000,000 km2 larger than Canada, the 2nd largest) and covers over 1/8th of the world’s populated land area. However, the majority of the Russian population lives in European Russia, which makes up less than 25% of Russia’s whole area.

This South American country is the 8th largest country in the world, and the largest Spanish-speaking nation. Argentina’s name is derived from “argentum”, the Latin word for silver. It is so named because when the Spaniards first arrived in the country they received gifts of silver objects from the indigenous people who inhabited the lands.

Mauritania holds the 29th spot on the list of largest countries, and roughly 90% of the nation is taken up by the Sahara Desert. Located in west-central region of the country is a large, eroded and elliptical dome known as the Richat Structure. Also called the Eye of the Sahara, it was once thought to have been caused by an asteroid, though now is thought to simply be a very symmetrical geologic dome.

This landlocked African nation is the world’s 22nd largest country, boasting an area of 1,267,000 km2. In Niger, you can find the Aïr and Ténéré National Nature Reserve, which is the 4th largest nature reserve worldwide. It was founded to protect rare species in the country and it is designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Saudi Arabia is the world’s 13th largest country, as well as the 5th largest in Asia and the 2nd largest in the Arab world (behind Algeria). It is also the largest country in the world without any rivers! Saudi Arabia is known as the “Land of the Two Holy Mosques” because it is home to the two holiest places in the Islamic religion, Al-Masjid al-Haram and Al-Masjid an-Nabawi.

Mexico is the 14th largest country in the world and the most populous Spanish-speaking nation as well. Did you know that the Caesar salad was invented in Mexico and that it was neither invented nor inspired by the Roman politician Julius Caesar? It was actually first made by an Italian-American restaurant owner in Mexico, Caesar Cardini.

South Africa is the 25th largest in this list and is known as the “Rainbow Nation” due to its multicultural make-up shown through language, religion, and ethnicity. For example, South Africa has eleven official languages including Afrikaans, English, Swazi and Zulu. It is quite fitting that the national motto is “Unity in Diversity.”

Just ahead of the last entry on this list, Myanmar, Zambia is the 39th largest country in the world. Located in Zambia are the Victoria Falls, the largest waterfall in the world by combined height and width (i.e., though it is neither the highest not widest waterfall, it is the world’s largest sheet of falling water). In the Tong language, the waterfall is called “Mosi-oa-Tunya” which means “The Smoke that Thunders.”

The U.S.A. holds the titles of both 3rd largest country by area and 3rd most populous country in the world. Can you believe that the current American flag was created by a high school student for a history project and received a B-? Student Robert Heft was unsatisfied and the teacher agreed to change his grade if it actually became the official flag; two years later Heft’s grade was changed to an A!

Not to be confused with the much smaller Republic of the Congo, the DRC is the world’s 11th largest country, and the 2nd largest in Africa, behind only Algeria. In the 19th and early 20th centuries, Congo’s currency was the Katanga Cross, which was made of copper, shaped liked an “X”, 20 cm wide and having a weight of about 1 kilogram. Just one of these could buy 10 kg of flour or 6 fowls.

Officially the State of Libya, this African country is the world’s 17th largest nation. Libya contains some of the world’s most exquisite Roman ruins including Leptis Magna, a very well preserved Roman city (one of the best in the Mediterranean) from the 10th century BC. It was excavated in the early 1900s and has been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Egypt ranks 30th on the list of largest nations and is of the most historically exciting countries. It is widely referred to as a “cradle of civilization” as it brought some of the earliest developments in architecture, writing and government. Did you know that the Giza Pyramids in Egypt are the oldest structure in the Ancient Seven Wonders of the World and the only one of the Wonders remaining?

Mozambique, located in Southeast Africa, is the 35th largest country in the world, having an area of 801,590 km2. Though Portuguese is the only official language, it is spoken as a second language by most the population who speak native African languages as their first. Mozambique is the only one-word country name that includes all 5 vowels (the word would also score 34 points in SCRABBLE, the most of any single-word country!)

The home of Bollywood, the world’s largest movie industry, is also the world’s 7th largest nation and 2nd most populous! India is the country with the 2nd most English-speakers as well, with 125 million people speaking it (though that figure is less than 10% of India’s staggering 1.3 billion people!) India also has the world’s highest population of cows, approximately 200 million.

Tanzania may only rank 31st on this list, but its geography is quite impressive. Here you can find Africa’s deepest lake (Lake Tanganyika) and highest mountain (Kilimanjaro)! Tanzania also has the world’s largest population density of animals and is home to more than 4 million wild animals with roughly 38% of the country taken up by conservation areas and national parks.

Peru is both the 20th largest nation in the world and the 3rd largest in South America. The famous Machu Picchu in southern Peru is considered by many as one of the new Seven Wonders of the World. Also in the south of Peru is the highest sand dune in the world, the Cerro Blanco in the Sechura Desert which measures 1,176 m from the base to the summit.

Also known as Persia, Iran holds the titles of both 18th largest country and 18th most populous country. It is also the 2nd largest country in the Middle East behind Saudi Arabia. In Persian (the official language), “Iran” means “Land of the Aryans”.

Australia is the only country that is also considered a continent. Surprisingly, given its rank of 7th and size of almost 8,000,000 km2, Australia is the only continent in the world without any active volcanoes! This country has the 2nd largest sheep population in the world; approximately 3 times as many sheep as people!

This South American country is the 33rd largest country in the world and is home to the world’s highest uninterrupted waterfall, Angel Falls, which stands at over 979 m! Did you know that Venezuelan contestants have won Miss Universe 7 times and Miss World 6 times; that combined total of 13 wins is the most of any country, so far!

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