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What countries have the most different species?

01/04/2008 13:58:54
Rana Compotrix, newly discovered in Laos. © Nikolai Orlov
Biodiversity is the buzz word, so we thought we would look into which countries had the most of it. And which had the least. Fortunately, others have done all the hard work, so by consulting the good people of the World Resources Institute, we can tell you which country has the most species of birds, or mammals, or reptiles, or amphibians, or all four added together.

The UK doesn't quite make it into the top 10, or the top 50 for that matter, coming in at 89th, whilst the US gets in at 13th. The countries with the least biodiversity are either small European states (Monaco, San Marino, Andorra), or small Pacific Islands (Niue, Cook Islands, Kiribati, Tonga, American Samoa.), so if you want to try to see every species from one country, head to one of these. And as the recent discovery of six new species of frog in Laos shows, some countries will move up the table as more research is carried out. In fact the recent expedition to the Foja Mountains of Indonesia discovered TWENTY new species of frog and a new bird for good measure, in just 2 weeks!
Cuvierina Columnella  © R Hopcroft CoML.

In reality, whilst most bird and mammal species are know to science, it is estimated that the numbers used to calculate these tables probably only represent 2% of the actual total species! And we haven't included plants, algae, small organisms of even fish. The deep sea has yet to be properly explored, but recently a three week expedition studying plankton at depths of up to (down to?) 5 Kms discovered dozens of new organisms.

Top 10 most biodiverse countries.

  • 1 Brazil (no surprise there)
  • 2 Colombia
  • 3 Indonesia
  • 4 Peru
  • 5 Mexico
  • 6 Ecuador
  • 7 China
  • 8 India
  • 9 Venezuela
  • 10 Australia



Top 10 countries with most bird species.

  • 1 Colombia
  • 2 Peru
  • 3 Brazil
  • 4 Indonesia
  • 5 Ecuador
  • 6 Bolivia
  • 7 Venezuela
  • 8 China
  • 9 India
  • 10 Congo, Democratic Republic


Top 10 countries with most mammals.

  • 1 Indonesia
  • 2 Brazil
  • 3 Mexico
  • 4 China
  • 5 United States
  • 6 Colombia
  • 7 Peru
  • 8 Congo, Democratic Republic
  • 9 India
  • 10 Kenya


It is very noticeable that those countries with tropical forests dominate the listings, particularly South American countries. And it is there that there is probably the most work to do on classifying the probable millions of unrecognised species.

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Posted by: jasmin12 | 25 Jan 2016 10:15:29

Do not understand, Brazil has the greatest number of birds, not Colombia

It is said that Colombia has the greatest number of bird species, but I think it is a lie. I searched it right now in Google. Brazil has 1901 species of birds, while Colombia has 1871 species. Just in 2013, Brazil has discovered 15 new birds species. I think this rank is not updated.

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Posted by: nawalinka | 21 Dec 2015 15:11:31

Every one has different species . clear ya?
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Posted by: nawalinka | 21 Dec 2015 15:10:32

Much of Colombia's forest habitats have been undisturbed for many millions of years. This has given wildlife a chance to evolve into many different species.

Posted by: Mike | 05 Nov 2015 23:27:00

Colombia is difnetly the most diveresed country in terms of different species.

Posted by: Mike Johsnon | 23 Oct 2015 01:37:41

Happened with South Africa?

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Posted by: jasonjhuff | 02 Sep 2015 09:41:18


To Mr.GERRY, No Doubt to INDONESIA... One of the Largest Country in Asia with full of Endemic Flora & Fauna, Large Coral Area, Rich of Birds Species and Contains 17.504 Islands. I Think The Authors Is True and he know the actual facts and these ranks are FAIR.

Posted by: Aulsid Wijaya | 30 Jul 2015 16:50:29

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I think this list is not credible.why the Philippines is not included? The Philippines should be on the top of this list.the Philippines is tag as the center of Marine biodiversity in the world,in ocean alone the Philippines have more diff fish than and corrals than Indonesia. how come the Philippines not included? maybe this author make second research for this.for me this is not accurate list.

Posted by: GERRY | 08 Aug 2013 09:41:10

Ecuador: most biodiverse per are

Yes, it is not surprising Brazil is the most biodiverse country in the world, after all, it's pretty big. And actually, Ecuador is the most biodiverse country per area in the world and by far more than Colombia.

Posted by: jane | 03 Jun 2012 04:51:50

Biodiversity in Europe

Can anyone post or send me these top 10's for European countries? I'm very curious which country will win. (Rather by square kilometer) otherwise small countries have a disadvantage.

Posted by: E. Vink | 14 Nov 2011 10:23:21

Colombia nr 1 most biodeverse country in the world per squar meter!

Brazil is beautiful! But did you know? Colombia is nr. 1 most biodeverse country in the world per squar meter in therms of terrestial ecosystems, not Brazil..

Colombia also ranks first in amphibia and birds and nr. 5 in richest natural resources on earth, and the air quality is among the best in the world!

I have vicit many countries. But the biodeversity, different climates and nature in Colombia seems to be the best and unique!! It is worth to visit its nature! But the risk is that you want to stay.

Bye bye

Posted by: marcela | 05 Sep 2011 11:46:36


when i was there not so long ago,theres way to many feral cats and dogs,hunting clubs,etc, the divercity in the phil has been decimated,for all kinds of reasons,even the luzon peacock butterfly very scarce do to over collection,as it seems so easy to catch has no protection or breeding program.

Posted by: david | 06 Jul 2011 01:36:57


I think South Africa and Phillipine will be in the 10 or 11th. Colombia and Peru have so much high biodiversity even it is a small country because they are along the Andes in the tropical part. This create a high latitudinal diversity allow many different habitats and species to evolve. Indonesia is in the middle of Asia and Australia and along the Wallacea line, where the mixture of species from both continents evolve together in the tropics, therefore a high biodiversity. China is a large land with a high diversed climatic zone, from the cold plateau Tibet, hot dry Inner Mongolia, to the wet subtropic Hainan islands etc. that's why high biodiversity. While Philippine and S. Africa is only in one climatic zone

Posted by: Felix | 04 Apr 2011 12:57:06

Chart Omissions

I'm quite surprised that both South Africa and the Philippines are not represented as richly biodiverse. The report appears to be thorough so it's possible that these two countries are widely held as supremely biodiverse.

Regardless, it is great to see new species being discovered. On a personal note, as an avid birder, I'm excited to return to South America, where six of the top ten countries in avian biodiversity are represented.


Posted by: James Dumars | 07 Mar 2011 17:43:55

This is not accurate...How come Philippines is not here?

The Philippines is one of the 17-megadiverse countries in the world. About 70 percent of the world’s total diversity in flora and fauna are in this countries. There are over 52,000 species in the Philippines alone with 13,500 species of plants comprising 5 percent of the world’s total flora and about 68 percent of the country’s species ranking in the top ten in the world. The Philippines may even be considered as the most megadiverse country in terms of land density and density in flora and fauna. Unfortunately, the species in the Philippines are considered among the most threatened in the world. Together with Madagascar, the Philippines is considered as the hottest of hotspots or the most severely threatened of the megadiverse countries. The destruction of the freshwater and marine ecosystems and the original forests, resulted to an unparalleled biodiversity crisis.

Posted by: rebecca nick | 12 Oct 2010 21:46:14

What happened with South Africa?

South Africa and it's diverse wildlife didn't make it? Something wrong here....There are more Plants on table mountain that in the whole of the UK! Anyone interested, I will take a few with me next year and show you the amazing diversity, from Cape Town , to the Nothern Zululand areas, to the Kruger and beyond!

Posted by: marc mcdonald | 08 Oct 2010 11:05:25

to gary bridger

Borneo is not even a country dude!! it is an is divided into 3 countries, which is Indonesia, Malaysia, and Brunei. Indonesia occupies 73% Malaysia occupies 26% Brunei occupies 1%

Posted by: | 25 Aug 2010 18:16:41


So Borneo is not on that list . No shock to me. Because to much Building and deforestation. they have killed it!

Posted by: Gary Bridger | 19 May 2010 02:51:45

Amazon is in dangerous

If my government( of Brazil) continues to ignore that WE HAVE TO PRESERVE OUR FORESTS, in a few years we will not have all this biodiversity.
But if Brazilians vote on Marina Silva to President this year, Brazil will be in a few years CARBONO FREE.

Posted by: Matheus Braz | 06 Feb 2010 16:59:50

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