Exploring Top 12 Countries With The Shortest Average Heights

Human height is a complex trait influenced by a combination of genetics, nutrition, and socio-economic conditions. While much attention is often given to the tallest populations globally, understanding the countries with the shortest average heights is equally fascinating. This exploration reveals a tapestry of factors, including health, nutrition, genetics, and environmental conditions, that contribute to the average stature of populations.

1. Indonesia

Indonesia has the shortest average height globally, with the population standing at an average of 5 feet, 2.2 inches. Malnutrition among children is a significant issue in Indonesia, impacting generational height trends. The typical Indonesian diet, rich in staples like rice and wheat, doesn’t sufficiently compensate for nutritional needs, affecting overall growth.

2. Bolivia

In Bolivia, the average height is 5 feet, 2.9 inches. The country faces severe challenges with chronic malnutrition, particularly among children, which contributes to below-average heights. Genetic and hormonal factors also play a role, with a noticeable impact on Bolivian girls. Nearly 42% of babies in La Paz show short height at birth, indicating the prevalence of growth issues from early life.

3. The Philippines

With an average height of 5 feet, 3.7 inches, the Philippines struggles with severe malnutrition problems, affecting adult height. About 28.8% of Filipino children under five years of age suffer from malnourishment, leading to stunting and academic struggles. The issue is particularly acute in early-age pregnancies, where the mother may not be physically equipped for childcare.

4. Vietnam

Vietnam’s population averages a height of 5 feet, 3.82 inches. Despite recent progress, malnutrition remains rampant, especially in secluded mountain communities. Efforts are being made to address these issues, but internal strife and geographic isolation pose significant challenges.

5. Iraq

In Iraq, the average height is about 5 feet, 3.25 inches. The nation’s struggle with malnutrition, particularly among children, is a significant factor contributing to this statistic. Approximately 400,000 Iraqi children are malnourished, a consequence of the country’s political and economic challenges.

6. Madagascar

Madagascar, an island nation off South Africa’s coast, faces food insecurity due to various factors like droughts and a dengue fever epidemic. These challenges have contributed to hunger among children and adults, impacting their nutritional status and, consequently, their height.

7. Guatemala

In Guatemala, where about 55% of the population is indigenous, the average height is around 4 feet 10 inches for women. The country has one of the highest rates of malnutrition in Latin America, with half the population suffering from stunted growth due to poor nutrition and political instability.

8. Nepal

Nepal, home to the world’s shortest teenager, Dor Bahadur Khapangi, highlights the prevalence of short stature in the country. Factors contributing to this include genetic disposition and environmental conditions. Despite some individuals being extremely short, the broader population’s average height is influenced by a combination of these factors.

9. Yemen

In Yemen, a country ravaged by civil war and famine, the average height is notably below the global average. The ongoing conflict has led to severe famine and housing displacement, impacting the population’s health and growth.

10. Bangladesh

Despite economic growth, Bangladesh faces a contradiction where increased life expectancy coexists with stunted growth among children. The economic progress has not translated into improved food security or nutrition for the poor, influencing the average height of the population.

11. Marshall Islands

The average height in the Marshall Islands is around 5 feet 4 inches for men and 4 feet 11 inches for women. Factors like high unemployment and drought have impacted the nation’s average height, as these conditions affect the population’s overall health and nutrition.

12. Cambodia

In Cambodia, a young population and recovery from historical tragedies like genocide have shaped the country’s average height. Political instability influences factors like hunger and housing, which, combined with genetics, affect the population’s stature.


The countries with the shortest average heights are influenced by a complex interplay of genetics, nutrition, socio-economic factors, and historical contexts. These nations often face challenges like malnutrition, poverty, political instability, and lack of access to healthcare, directly impacting their populations’ growth and development.

Addressing these issues requires a multifaceted approach, focusing on improving nutrition, healthcare access, and overall living conditions. The stature of a population is not just a matter of genetics but a reflection of its broader health and well-being.