Out of the roughly 196 to 249 countries in the world (depending how you count them) there are five countries that have no airport.
Why don’t some countries have an airport?
There are multiple factors that affect whether or not a country has an airport.
The first limiting factor is geography. All of the countries on this list are quite small geographically. Airports require long landing strips that are flat. If the country is in a mountainous area, there may not be an area that is long enough that can be leveled to accommodate airplane takeoffs and landings.
Other countries on this list are located in densely populated areas and there simply isn’t the physical space available to build an airport.
The second limiting factor is economics. It’s incredibly expensive to build even a regional airport. The countries on this list have small populations and cannot justify the millions of dollars it would costs to build an airport.
Another costs is the cost of security and safety for these airports. Maintaining an airport is expensive.
Existing nearby airports
In cases where countries don’t have their own airports, they often rely on airports in neighboring countries for international travel and transport. Alternatively, they may use other means of transport, such as boats or trains, for international connections.
Which countries have no airport?
All five of these countries without an airport are located within Europe. Listed in alphabetical order, these countries are Andorra, Liechtenstein, Monaco, San Marino, and Vatican City.
Landlocked between Spain and France, Andorra is the largest country on the list that lacks an airport. Andorra is about 468 square kilometers (181 square miles) in size and has a population of 85,000 as of 2012.
The closest major airports are Barcelona–El Prat in Spain and Toulouse in France. The airports in Toulouse and Barcelona are both a three hours’ drive from Andorra.
The closest public airport is Perpignan – Rivesaltes Airport, which is 160 km (99 mi) away which offers flights within France and to Great Britain. Andorra does have three heliports in La Massana, Arinsal, and Escaldes-Engordany.
Liechtenstein is a landlocked country found between Switzerland and Austria. Its geographic area is 160 square kilometres (62 square miles), and it has an estimated population of 35,000.
The closest major airport to Lichtenstein is the Zürich Airport in Switzerland which is 130 kilometers (80 miles) away. The nearest public airport is St. Gallen Airport, also in Switzerland, which is 50 kilometers (30 miles) away.
Liechtenstein does have one heliport located in Balzers.
Monaco is a city-state situated in the French Riviera. It is bordered on three sides by France and along one side by the Mediterranean sea.
Monaco is the second-smallest country in the world with a geographic area of just 2.02 kilometers (0.78 square miles), and a population of 36,371.
The closest airport to Monaco is the Côte d’Azur Airport in Nice, France. Monaco has one heliport located in the district of Fontvieille.
San Marino is a landlocked micro state surrounded on all sides by Italy. San Marino is about 61 square kilometers (24 square miles) in area and has an estimated population of over 30,000.
The closest airport is the Federico Fellini International Airport in Rimini, Italy.
San Marino does have one private airstrip in Torraccia and an international heliport located in Borgo Maggiore.
The smallest country in the world is Vatican City, a city-state with a geographic area of just 44 hectares (110 acres), and a population of around 840 people.
Entirely surrounded by the capital city of Rome, Italy, Vatican City has no airports or highways.
Vatican City has one heliport used by the Pope and visiting heads of state.
This article was originally written on February 15, 2014 and has since been updated.