Think fast — what’s the biggest country in the world? If you guessed Russia, you’re right! Russia has the most landmass and is not only the largest country in the world but the largest country in Asia and Europe because it straddles both continents.
But that was an easy geography question. While Russia covers a hefty chunk of the globe, there are other countries that take up a significant portion, too — including some that are much bigger than you would have originally guessed, like the ones we've outlined below.
When we picture large South American countries, we tend to focus on Brazil. And that’s for good reason as Brazil is the largest country in South America and the fifth-largest country in the world by landmass. But it’s not the largest Spanish-speaking country in the world. That distinction belongs to Argentina with just over 1 million square miles of land. Formally known as the Argentine Republic, it is the second-largest country in South America and the eighth largest in the world. In addition to Spanish, other popular languages include German, English, Italian, and French.
In the west, the Andes mountains form a natural border with Chile while the north is bounded by Bolivia, Paraguay, Brazil, and Uruguay. Argentina has a large coastline on the east with direct access to the Atlantic Ocean. Because of the diverse climates across the country, the nation is also home to a wide array of species including tropical birds like toucans and flamingos.
Algeria is the largest country in Africa, but that’s not its only distinction. It also has the largest Arabic- and Berber-speaking population on the continent. Compared to all the countries in the world, Algeria ranks at number 10 by size with just under one million square miles of land.
Although the country is large, only 12% of the land is inhabited because much of the country is covered by the Sahara Desert. This means that roughly 90% of the nation’s population is located along the northern coastal region. The People’s Democratic Republic of Algeria is probably best known for the warm hospitality from its people and being home to some of the best dates in the world. In addition to Arabic and Berber, many people also speak French.
Almost everyone knows that the Republic of India is also a high-population country. Coming in a very close second to China, the nation boasts a dizzying 1.3 billion people. But there’s more to India than a massive population. It is the largest country in South Asia, the third-largest country in Asia, and the seventh-largest in the world by landmass — 1.2 million square miles. However, you might be surprised to find that the second largest population of English speakers is also located in India.
Roughly 125 million Indians speak English in the world’s largest democracy thanks to their history under British rule. English is one of the two official languages in India. The other is Hindi. However, in total, there are 22 major languages spoken in the nation.
Honorable Mention: Antarctica
We know: Officially, Antarctica isn’t a country. However, if we focus solely on the landmass, it is the second-largest landmass in the world, right between Russia and Canada. Although the continent is primarily covered in ice and snow, it’s one of the driest places on Earth. However, all that ice and snow also means that Antarctica represents roughly 70% of the Earth’s freshwater and 90% of the fresh ice supply.
Thanks to the Antarctic Treaty of 1959 countries are no longer allowed to lay claim to territories on the continent. Prior to the treaty, seven nations demanded territorial rights to various regions. But you might not know that many nations have research stations on the remote continent. Thirty countries maintain outposts on the harsh land with many of them being active year-round.