The tallest and shortest nations in the world
Updated 02:47, 07-Nov-2020
Alec Fenn


A new study published by The Lancet medical journal has revealed the tallest and shortest peoples and the places that continue to grow in height. 

An exhaustive research project has compared the height of men and women across 200 countries and territories across the world.

The study pooled 2,181 population-based measurement surveys and studies, with anthropometric measurements on 50 million people aged 5–19 years and 15 million people aged 20–30 years.



The results revealed that the world's tallest men and women were largely found in northwestern and Central European countries, while the shortest lived across south and South East Asia, Latin America and East Africa.

The Netherlands is renowned for its tall population and unsurprisingly the nation has the tallest average height on Earth. The average 19-year-old man stands at 183 cm, while women of the same age are typically 172 cm.

Estonia (180cm), Bosnia and Herzegovina (179 cm) and Montenegro (172 cm) were the next tallest nations for men, along with Denmark (165 cm), Iceland (163cm) and Montenegro (161 cm) for women.



The study also revealed that the places with the shortest average height for men were Laos (159 cm), Timor-Leste (160 cm), Papua New Guinea (161 cm) and the Solomon Islands (162 cm).

Meanwhile, the equivalent figures for women were Bangladesh (150 cm), Timor-Leste (150 cm), Guatemala (150.9) and Nepal (151 cm).

Some nations are continuing to grow in height. China has boasted the largest height gain for boys and third largest for girls in recent decades, while South Korea has the third largest growth rate for boys and second largest for girls in the same period.


The study concluded that social, nutritional, and environmental factors at home, school and within the community were all crucial to the healthy growth and development of children through to adolescence.

It also urged nations to invest in the nutrition of school children and adolescents to ensure a healthy transition to adulthood.

Video editing: James Sandifer | Video producer: Alec Fenn