Title: Small European Countries 211

Key Words: Europe, duchy, principality, city-state, republic, relative location

National Standard: 3 (Spatial organization of people and places)

State Standard: 11 (Physical and human geographic features that define places and regions)

Teaching Level: Middle School

Introduction: Size of a country is often equated with its strength. This lesson examines how seven countries of Europe prosper in today's world despite the fact they are very small in size. This lesson can be added to any unit of instruction on Europe.

Objective: Students will analyze the advantages and disadvantages of being a very small European country in today's world.

Materials: Atlases. Handout: "Small Countries of Europe."

Procedure: Help students create a mental image of how small these seven European countries actually are. Give each student the handout, "Small Countries of Europe." Direct them to the chart on the top of the page. This gives the size in square miles of New Hampshire along with the size of each very small European country.

Now that they know how small the countries are, conduct the map activity. This activity lets students use their skill of locating places using latitude and longitude coordinates. Ask them to use the atlas of Europe to locate each country.

Tell students to pair up and complete the chart activity on the handout. Give them five to ten minutes to jot down notes about the advantages and disadvantages of being a very small country. Discuss the ideas they came up with. Some advantages could be: There's a better chance of getting to know everyone if your country is only 0.17 square miles in size. Communication could be easier. You can get to know your whole community better and faster. Some disadvantages could be: You are more vulnerable to attack. You do not have a lot of natural resources. You might feel compelled to leave your country to live somewhere else because of overcrowding.

Discuss this point if it did not come up in the discussion of advantages and disadvantages: being small allows them to organize and carry out their government functions in less time than a large country.

While on the topic of government, introduce the following terms that describe the governments of the countries: duchy, principality, city-state, republic. Ask students to define each term and match it to one or more of the countries.

Duchy- a territory ruled by a duke or duchess (Luxembourg)

Principality- a territory ruled by a prince or princess (Monaco, Liechtenstein)

City-State- an independent country made up of a city and sometimes the surrounding area (Vatican City)

Republic- a nation in which the citizens have the power to govern themselves and give the power to elected officials who in turn represent them in government (San Marino, Malta)

Draw conclusions. Some examples are: Size can be an advantage or a disadvantage. Relative location is important. Cooperation with neighboring countries is a key element to survival.

Evaluation/Assessment: Each student list the top three advantages and the top three disadvantages of being a very small country, and explain the reasons for the rating.

Extension/Enrichment: Do a further investigation of any one of the very small European countries to prepare a one minute oral presentation with a visual aide on one of the following aspects of the country: natural resources, economic activity, history, cultural events, capital city, or physical geography.

Reflection: How successful was this lesson? Did all students benefit? Were there any surprises? What might you do differently another time? Please note any changes that will make this lesson more effective and useful in the future and pass them along to the NHGA. We appreciate your comments.
Thank you,
The authors


Make a mental image of these small countries of Europe by comparing them to New Hampshire's size: 8933 square miles in land area.

Andorra 175 square miles
Liechtenstein 62 square miles
Luxembourg 998 square miles
Malta 122 square miles
Monaco 0.6 square miles
San Marino 24 square miles
Vatican City 0.17 square miles

Map Activity
Locate each country using the coordinates given (approximate).

36N 14E________________ 44N 13E______________________

43N 3E_________________ 49N 6E_______________________

44N 7E_________________ 43N 13E______________________

47N 9E_________________

Chart Activity
Work with a partner to get ideas about the advantages and disadvantages of being a very small country. Record your ideas on the chart below..

Vocabulary Development
Define each term.

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