Top 20 Countries with the Biggest Forests in the World: A Brief Overview

Since the last ice age, the Earth’s forest cover has decreased by 20 million km2, or 2 billion hectares. Half of the loss has happened since 1900, owing to increased agriculture and industrialization.

Forests now encompass around 30% of the Earth’s surface area, or 40 million km2, which is dispersed unevenly over the planet.

We provide the top 20 countries with the greatest woods, measured in square kilometers. This graphic and article use data from the World Bank for 2021, last updated in October 2023.

Predictably, the world’s largest country also possesses the most forest land. Russia has over 8 million km2 of forest, accounting for nearly 50% of the total area. This is more than the total land area of every other country in the world, with the exception of China, the United States, Canada, Brazil, and Australia.

It also means that Russia accounts for one-fifth of the global wooded area.

To withstand the harsher, drier climates of Russia, the majority of the country’s woods are boreal, consisting of deciduous and coniferous tree species such as larch, pine, spruce, and oak.

Brazil has almost 5 million km2 of forest cover, accounting for around 12% of the world’s forests, with roughly two-thirds of the Amazon rainforest located within its boundaries. For comparison, Brazil’s wooded area is over twice the size of Saudi Arabia, the world’s 12th largest country.

The Amazon also makes a substantial contribution to Peru’s forest cover (ranked 10th), as do Colombia (13th), Bolivia (14th), and Venezuela (15th).

Canada and the United States have similar forest cover (3 million km2), with woods spreading beyond their shared border.

China has the fifth largest forest area, with little over 2 million km2.

The top five countries share more than half of the world’s woods.

When the top ten countries, including Australia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Indonesia, India, and Peru, are included, the figure rises to little more than two-thirds of the global forest cover. Expanding the ranks to the top 20 will result in 80% of the Earth’s total forest cover.

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