The United States is the third-largest country in the world by total area, and many of its individual states are known for their vast size. For instance, there are only 15 sovereign nations boasting a larger area than Alaska. Even Rhode Island — the smallest U.S. state — is larger than a number of independent nations. However, it can be challenging to compare the sizes of states to countries just by looking at a map. To put things in perspective, we’ve ranked the 10 largest states and the countries to which they’re most similar in size.
10. Wyoming – United Kingdom
Wyoming, America’s tenth-largest state, encompasses 97,813 square miles of total area. On the other side of the pond, the United Kingdom is closest in size to the Equality State — it’s just a few thousand square miles smaller, coming in at 93,630 square miles. Wyoming is also the least populated U.S. state, and is home to a mere 583,000 people. The United Kingdom, on the other hand, has an estimated population of 67.9 million people spread throughout England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland. The largest city in Wyoming is the capital, Cheyenne, with approximately 65,000 residents. London — the capital of the United Kingdom — is by far the country’s most populous city with 7.6 million residents.
9. Oregon – Ecuador
The ninth-largest state is Oregon, totalling 98,379 square miles of area in the Pacific Northwest. At 99,112 square miles, the Central American country of Ecuador is closest in size to Oregon. There are approximately 4.2 million residents living within Oregon’s borders, a number that pales in comparison to Ecuador’s total population of around 18.2 million. Oregon’s largest city is Portland, with 619,000 residents, just ahead of its capital and second-largest city, Salem (182,000). Ecuador’s capital city of Quito is its second-most populous city with 1.4 million people — Guayaquil is slightly larger with a population approaching 2 million residents.
8. Colorado – New Zealand
Colorado, the eighth-largest state in the country, covers 104,094 square miles. That makes it slightly larger than the Oceanic nation of New Zealand, which totals 102,587 square miles of area. Colorado and New Zealand are similar not only in size but also population. There are an estimated 5.9 million Colorado residents, compared to 5.1 million people living in New Zealand. Colorado’s capital, Denver, is the state’s most populous city, with nearly 700,000 residents. Auckland is the most populated city in New Zealand with 418,000 residents, just ahead of the capital city of Wellington (382,000).
7. Nevada – Burkina Faso
The state with the seventh-largest breadth is Nevada, spread over 110,572 square miles. That’s just a few thousand square miles larger than the West African nation of Burkina Faso, which covers 104,524 square miles of area. Nevada is home to 3.2 million residents, many fewer than Burkina Faso’s 22.8 million citizens. Carson City serves as the capital of Nevada and is home to nearly 60,000 people, though Las Vegas is the state’s largest city with over 650,000 residents. The largest city in Burkina Faso is also its capital, Ouagadougou, with 1.1 million people living there.
6. Arizona – The Philippines
Arizona is the sixth-largest state in the nation, covering 113,990 square miles. The archipelagic Asian nation of the Philippines is closest in size to Arizona at 114,145 square miles. There’s a significant gap in terms of population between the state and country, however — there are 7.5 million Arizona residents compared to a whopping 115 million Philippine citizens. Arizona’s capital, Phoenix, is not only the most populous city in the state (with 1.7 million residents) but also the most populous capital city in the country. In the Philippines, 2.8 million residents live in Quezon City, the country’s largest city — considerably more than the 1.6 million residents of Manila, the capital.
5. New Mexico – Poland
Arizona’s neighbor, New Mexico, is the fifth-largest state, spanning 121,590 square miles of the southwestern U.S. The “Land of Enchantment” is most similar in size to Poland, which has 120,423 square miles of territory. There are 2.1 million people living in New Mexico, significantly fewer than the 37.5 million people who reside in Poland. New Mexico’s capital city is Santa Fe, though the city has a smaller population than the larger cities of Albuquerque, Las Cruces, and Rio Rancho. Poland’s capital, Warsaw, is also its most populous city, and is home to an estimated 1.7 million residents.
4. Montana – Japan
Montana is the fourth-biggest state in the Union, covering an area of 147,040 square miles. This closely aligns with the archipelagic nation of Japan, which covers 145,936 square miles. In terms of population, Montana ranks among the nation’s 10 least populated states, with approximately 1.1 million residents. Its population is significantly smaller than the 124.2 million people who call Japan home, which makes Japan the 11th-most populous country in the world. Montana’s most populous city is Billings (118,000 residents), though its capital city is Helena (population: 35,000). Tokyo, the capital of Japan, is the world’s most populous city — with over 37 million living in its metro area.
3. California – Paraguay
California, America’s third-largest state, boasts a total area of 163,696 square miles — slightly larger than the South American nation of Paraguay, which covers 157,048 square miles. California also has far more residents than Paraguay: There are around 38.9 million Californians compared to just 7.6 million Paraguayans. California’s most populous cities are Los Angeles (3.8 million people) and San Diego (1.4 million), and its capital of Sacramento is home to around 528,000 people. Paraguay’s capital and largest city is Asunción, home to an estimated 525,000 inhabitants (2.2 million in the entire metro region).
2. Texas – Myanmar
At 268,596 square miles, Texas is the second-largest of the 50 U.S. states. In terms of foreign countries, this compares most closely to Myanmar, a nation in Southeast Asia with an area of 261,219 square miles. While Texas is also the second-most populous state — with just over 30 million residents — the total population of Myanmar is around 56 million individuals, ranking it among the world’s 30 most populous countries. Texas has three cities (Houston, San Antonio, and Dallas) with populations that exceed 1 million residents, though its capital city of Austin is home to 974,000 people. Myanmar’s capital city is Nay Pyi Taw, which is the third-most populous city in the country (925,000 residents) behind Yangon and Mandalay.
1. Alaska – Libya
Alaska is by far the largest U.S. state, with a total area of 665,384 square miles that’s more than double the size of Texas. Alaska is closest in size to Libya, a North African country with a total area of 647,184 square miles. Libya, however, boasts a significantly larger population than Alaska — it is home to an estimated 7.6 million residents. Alaska’s population is roughly one-tenth of that, at around 733,000 people. Alaska’s largest city is Anchorage (with just under 300,000 residents), and its capital city, Juneau, has a population of 32,000. Tripoli is both Libya’s most populous city as well as its capital, with over 1.1 million residents.