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Largest Countries in the World by Area

map of Russia, which covers more than 17 million square kilometers

Map of Russia
Source: Mixstock via Bigstock

The top ten largest countries, in square kilometers.

1.Russia17,098,242
2.Canada9,984,670
3.United States9,826,675
4.China9,596,961
5.Brazil8,514,877
6.Australia7,741,220
7.India3,287,263
8.Argentina2,780,400
9.Kazakhstan2,724,900
10.Algeria2,381,741

Many people remember the episode of the West Wing where they discuss map projections. It is true that the commonly used Mercator projection gives a false impression of how big different countries are; to fit a 3D globe onto a flat plane, areas near the poles are stretched out and made bigger. That said, Russia, Canada, and the United States are all very big in reality. These three have held the top three spots, in that order, since the United States incorporated Alaska in the 1900s. 

In a surprising change from the norm, as national borders have been fairly fixed for the past decades, Russia has arguably gained area (if one includes Crimea in the count). Crimea would add another 27,000 square kilometers to Russia's already boggling size. 

NOTE: Country rankings aren't definitive; instead they provide an approximate comparison. Country data vary enormously depending on the sources, and there is an absence of reliable data on some countries.. Source: The World Factbook and the U.S. Census Bureau, International Database.
General World Statistics