6 Small Kingdoms of the World: The 20th century witnessed the decline of numerous monarchies, replaced by republican forms of government across the globe. However, there are still several countries and smaller political entities that maintain monarchies. Here are six of the world’s smallest kingdoms. Some are ruled by hereditary monarchs, while others have leaders chosen by the people.
Wallis and Futuna-Small Kingdoms of the World
The Polynesian islands of Wallis and Futuna, with a combined land area of only 54 square miles (140 square km), are a French overseas collectivity governed by a chief administrator appointed by France. However, they also consist of three traditional kingdoms still ruled by paramount chiefs chosen by their people.
The most recent king of Wallis, Kapeliele Faupala, was crowned in July 2008 but was removed from the throne by traditional leaders in September 2014. He belonged to the Takumasiva dynasty, which has ruled Wallis since 1767, with a brief interruption by the Kulitea dynasty from 1818 to 1820. Futuna has two chieftaincies: Sigave, currently led by King Polikalepo Kolivai, and Tu’a, which was without a ruler for four years until Petelo Sea ascended the throne on January 17, 2014.
Bhutan-Small Kingdoms of the World
Until the late 20th century, the isolated Buddhist kingdom of Bhutan, covering an area of 14,824 square miles (38,394 square km) in the Himalayas, was an absolute monarchy. The king ruled autocratically, and the country had no law codes or courts. However, in the late 1990s, King Jigme Singye Wangchuk relinquished his absolute power and encouraged democratic reforms. In 1999, Bhutan’s government allowed television broadcasting and Internet use for the first time.
Small Kingdoms of the World-Tonga
The kingdom of Tonga, comprising 170 islands in the southwestern Pacific Ocean, has a total land area of just 289 square miles (748 square km). It has been a constitutional monarchy since 1875. One of its most notable monarchs was Queen Salote Tupou III, who reigned from 1918 until her death in 1965.
Queen Salote was beloved not only by Tongans but also by the people of Great Britain. She gained international attention during the 1953 coronation festivities in London for Queen Elizabeth II. Queen Salote stood out for her warm and dignified demeanor, refusing to raise the top of her carriage as she rode through the rainy streets of London during the Coronation Day procession. She smiled and waved to the crowds while wiping rain from her face.
Brunei Darussalam-Small Kingdoms of the World
The wealthy, oil-rich Islamic sultanate of Brunei Darussalam, located on the island of Borneo in Southeast Asia, has its sultan serving as both the head of state and the head of government. The Islamic sultanate covers a total area of 2,226 square miles (5,765 square km) and was declared in 1984, having been a British protectorate for nearly a century before that.
Starting in 1990, the sultan encouraged the population to adhere more strictly to traditional Islamic principles. In 2014, Brunei attracted international attention for implementing the strict penal code of Syariah (Shari’ah) law for criminal cases.
Lesotho-Small Kingdoms of the World
Lesotho is a mountainous kingdom surrounded entirely by the Republic of South Africa, which has an area of 471,359 square miles (1,220,813 square km). Lesotho covers an area of 11,720 square miles (30,355 square km) and has been a constitutional monarchy since its independence from Britain in 1966.
The country owes its existence to the Gun War (1880-81), a South African conflict in which the Sotho people of Basutoland successfully fought for their independence after the kingdom was annexed by the colonial powers of the Cape Colony. As a result of the war, Basutoland became a British responsibility in 1884 instead of being incorporated into the Union of South Africa in 1910.
Eswatini-6 Small Kingdoms of the World
King Mswati III, the current ruler of Eswatini, is one of approximately 60 sons of King Sobhuza II and one of his 70 wives. Eswatini, located in southern Africa, covers an area of 6,704 square miles (17,364 square km). By his 40th birthday, King Mswati had more than a dozen wives of his own.
The opulent lifestyles of the Swazi royal family stand in stark contrast to the high prevalence of HIV/AIDS, as well as hunger and poverty, among the general population. Cattle play a significant role in Swazi culture, providing not only labor and milk but also serving as a form of wealth and being given as bride-price. Thetraditional center of Swazi life is the royal village at Ludzidzini, where the king maintains a sacred cattle kraal.
These small kingdoms offer unique glimpses into rich cultural traditions, royal heritage, and the preservation of traditional values in a rapidly changing world. Each kingdom has its own distinct characteristics, making them fascinating destinations for those interested in history, culture, and unique travel experiences.