WA-List » Small, but Large Enough to Raise Its Own Flag

Small, but Large Enough to Raise Its Own Flag

Published by Steve Campion. Category: Geography & Geology

No offense, but I need to establish that San Juan County is very small. Washington’s most diminutive county is only about 175 square miles, scattered among several dozen islands. It’s less than one-thirtieth the size of Okanogan — Washington’s largest county — and barely three times larger than the city of Seattle. It’s quite small. Agreed?

And yet, as small as our state’s smallest county is, it’s still larger than fourteen countries. Yes, I said countries! These are not simply uninhabited atolls or minor possessions of other countries, but true independent states and official members* of the United Nations.

Today’s list is merely a curiosity. It probably reveals more about these fourteen nations than it does about San Juan County. Still, it might add an interesting perspective if you consider it while riding the ferry between islands, biking Friday Harbor, driving Orcas, or kayaking around the whole thing.


  1. The Holy See / Vatican City (0.17 square miles)
  2. Monaco (0.75 square miles)
  3. Nauru (8.11 square miles)
  4. Tuvalu (10.04 square miles)
  5. San Marino (23.63 square miles)
  6. Liechtenstein (61.78 square miles)
  7. Marshall Islands (70 square miles)
  8. Saint Kitts and Nevis (100.77 square miles)
  9. Maldives (115.83 square miles)
  10. Malta (122.01 square miles)
  11. Grenada (132.82 square miles)
  12. Saint Vincent and the Grenadines (150 square miles)
  13. Barbados (166 square miles)
  14. Antigua and Barbuda (171 square miles)

*Thirteen of these countries are members of the UN, and one, the Holy See, attends the UN as the only official permanent observer.

SOURCES: Figures for land area vary from source to source. For this list, I used www.infoplease.com for every country’s land area except the Marshall Islands which was clearly off by a factor of 50. Instead, I chose the most common number given for the Marshall Islands from several other sources. The Seychelles, which Infoplease marked at 176 square miles, just missed being on this list. Had I used other sources, that island nation could have slipped in even with (175) or smaller (174) than San Juan. Then again, San Juan’s area varies with the tides, too.


2 Responses to “Small, but Large Enough to Raise Its Own Flag”

  1. Mara Funk Says:

    Apropos to nothing, Guemes Island sometimes is included in the San Juan Island Archipelago, but is in Skagit County. USGS does not define it as part of the San Juans, but in my family, we always describe its location as part of the San Juans.

  2. listguy Says:

    Akkk! You’re right! Cypress Island is in Skagit, too. Since I was writing specifically about the county and not the island chain, I should have trimmed the graphic more. Plucking out Lummi Island (Whatcom County) was not enough. Thanks for the catch, Mara.