When you're one of the shortest people to ever exist, navigating a world designed for average-sized humans can be tough. But as the saying goes, the best things come in small packages.
Today we’re celebrating our shortest record holders, both past and present.
"The Guinness World Records titles for the world’s shortest people are among the most visual, and therefore the most iconic, of all the records that we monitor." - Craig Glenday, Editor-in-Chief at Guinness World Records
Join us on a globe-trotting journey spanning three centuries as we trace the history of the world's shortest people…
1810 - Calvin Phillips
In 1810, Calvin Phillips (USA, b. 1791) measured 67 cm (26.5 in) and weighed 5.4 kg (12 lb) with his clothes on. This made him the shortest male ever recorded.
Calvin was born in Bridgewater, Massachusetts, weighing just 907 g (2 lb). He stopped growing at the age of five.
Shortly after his death in April 1812, aged 21, he was measured at 69.9 cm (27.5 in). Calvin's record wasn't broken until 1990, almost 180 years later.
In the the very first edition of the Guinness World Records book in 1955, an unnamed man was recorded as measuring 40.6 cm (16 in) at age 37. He was originally recorded by Georges Buffon’s Histoire Naturelle, an encyclopaedia written between 1749-1804. This would make him the shortest male ever, however, the unnamed man’s height has never been confirmed with independent evidence.
1881 - Lucía Zárate
Lucía Zárate (Mexico, b. 1863), was a sideshow entertainer and formerly the shortest female ever. Despite her billed height of 20 inches being an exaggeration, her true height of 67 cm (26.5 in) still qualified her for the title.
She was the first person to have been identified with Majewski osteodysplastic primordial dwarfism type II.
Lucía still holds the record title for the lightest person in history, weighing just 2.13 kg (4.7 lb) at the age of 17.
She sadly died of hypothermia in 1890, after her circus train became stranded in the snowy Sierra Nevada mountains.
1895 – Pauline Musters
Pauline Musters (Netherlands, b. 1876), better known as Princess Pauline, is the shortest female ever. She was measured in 1895 and found to be 59 cm (23.2 in).
She measured 30 cm (12 in) at birth and at nine years old she was just 55 cm (21.5 in), weighing 1.5 kg (3 lb 5 oz).
Pauline was a natural performer. At first audiences simply marvelled at her size, but Princess Pauline came to be well known for her acrobatics and dancing.
She toured many countries in Europe before travelling to New York City to perform in front of huge audiences.
In 1895, at the age of 19, Pauline passed away due to pneumonia. She measured 61 cm (24 in) due to some elongation after death.
1955 - Edith Barlow
The shortest female living in 1955 was Edith Barlow (UK, b. 1929). At 21 years old she claimed to stand only 55.8 cm (22 in) tall, however her true height of 78.7 cm (31 in) was confirmed post-mortem.
Nicknamed "Little Edie", she worked as part of a travelling fair and was known to have smoked 40 cigarettes per day.
Edith died from pneumonia after taking ill at the Newcastle Town Moor Fair in June 1957.
Walter Boehning (Germany, b. 1907) was also featured in the 1955 edition of the Guinness World Records book. He claimed to be 52 cm (20.5 in), however, his height was never officially confirmed. He was removed from the book in 1964 due to a lack of supporting evidence for his claimed stature.
1973 - Mihaly Meszaros
Mihaly Meszaros (Hungary b. 1939) was a circus entertainer and stuntman billed as “The Smallest Man on Earth”. He stood 83 cm (33 in) tall, making him the shortest man living at the time.
Part of his circus act involved training and performing with white poodles. Mihaly was also a television actor, notably appearing alongside Michael Jackson in a Pepsi™ advert.
Mihaly passed away in Los Angeles in 2016, aged 76.
Manoel Souza (b. 1942) of Marenno, Brazil was reported to be 76.2 cm (31 in) in 1973, however his height was never officially confirmed.
1977 - Süleyman Eris
The circus acrobat Suleyman Eris (Turkey, b. 1955) gained the title of shortest man living when he was medically measured on 3 Mar 1977. He stood 76.5 cm (30.1 in) and weighed 11.4 kg (25 lb). He and his brother (83.5 cm) and sister (96.5 cm) had primordial dwarfism.
In 1974, a man named Nruturam (India, b. 1929) was reported to be 71 cm (28 in), however his height was never officially confirmed.
1984 - Antonio Ferreira
Antonio Ferreira (Portugal, b. 1943) took the title of shortest man living in 1984, when he was measured at 75 cm (29.5 in).
He was from the town of Arcozelo, Portugal and performed as a professional drummer in a pop group.
Antonio sadly passed away in 1989 at the age of 44.
In July 1982, a height of 71 cm (28 in) was reported for a chicken farmer named Ghucam Ahmed Dar living near Srinagar in Kashmir, India. However, his height was never officially confirmed.
1987 - Nelson de la Rosa
Nelson de la Rosa (Dominican Republic, b. 1968) was recognised as the shortest man living after measuring 3 cm (1.2 in) shorter than Antonio Ferreira.
In 1987 he was measured by the Head of the Dominican Republic Medical Association at 72 cm (28.3 in) in height and 6.81 kg (15 lb) in weight. His stature was caused by Seckel's syndrome.
Nelson gained popularity after appearing in films in the Dominican Republic. He enjoyed international appeal, eventually landing a role in a Hollywood film, The Island of Dr Moreau, alongside Marlon Brando.
Nelson passed away aged 38 on October 22, 2006 in Rhode Island, USA.
1990 - Gul Mohammed
Gul Mohammed (India, b. 1957) took Nelson's record title in addition to the title of shortest male ever in 1990, when he was examined at Ram Manohar Hospital, New Delhi and found to measure a height of 57 cm (22.5 in).
He held the title of shortest man living until 1997, when he sadly passed away at age 39 after a long struggle with asthma and bronchitis.
Younis Edwan (Jordan, b. 1971) was believed to be 65 cm (25.6 in). This would have made him the shortest man living after Gul Mohammed’s death, although Younis’ height was never officially confirmed.
1991 - Madge Bester
Madge Bester (South Africa, b. 1963) was confirmed in 1991 as the shortest female living. Measuring 65 cm (25.6 in), she was confined to a wheelchair as a result of the skeletal disorder osteogenesis imperfecta; a condition characterized by extremely fragile bones.
Her mother Winnie also had osteogenesis imperfecta and measured only 70 cm (27.6 in).
"Forget your disabilities and use your abilities." - Madge Bester
Madge was a campaigner for disability rights and spoke on the issue at press conferences and events.
Madge passed away on March 20, 2018, in Bloemfontein, South Africa, aged 55.
2008 - He Pingping
He Pingping (China, b. 1988) claimed the vacant title of shortest man living in 2008.
Pingping was born with a form of primordial dwarfism and at age 19 he measured just 74.6 cm (29.4 in). However, his personality was larger than life.
He earned international fame and made many public appearances, including meeting the then record holder for longest legs (female) Svetlana Pankratova (Russia) in London.
"He was very excitable, he loved running around - he’d be a bit mischievous," revealed Guinness World Records’ Editor-in-chief, Craig Glenday.
"He also hated being picked up and he would kick quite viciously if you did pick him up without asking."
Pingping sadly passed away in 2010 at the age of 21. He remains one of our most iconic record holders of all time, both in China and around the world.
2009 - Lin Yih-Chih
In 2009, the shortest man living and shortest female living record titles were split into mobile and non-mobile categories.
Lin Yih-Chih (Taiwan, b. 1972) became the shortest man living (non-mobile) in 2009, measuring 67.5 cm (26.5 in).
He is a wheelchair user due to his condition, osteogenesis imperfecta.
Lin resides in Taipei, Taiwan, where he works as an author and social activist.
2010 - Edward Niño Hernandez
Over 4 cm shorter than He Pingping, Edward Niño Hernandez (Colombia b, 1986) claimed the title of shortest man living at the age of 24 in April 2010. He measured 70.2 cm (27.6 in).
"I don’t want people to see me the way it is. I don’t want people to call me ‘dwarf’. I can achieve anything I want, size and height don’t matter," - Edward Niño Hernandez
Edward wants people to know there is more to him than meets the eye. He loves dancing to reggaetón music and enjoying life.
"I use my smile to conquer the world! I always share my big smile with everyone; that’s my charm."
2010 - Elif Kocaman
Elif Kocaman (Turkey, b. 1989) claimed the title of shortest female living (mobile), which had remained vacant after the record category split in 2009.
She was measured at 72.6 cm (28.5 in) on 5 July 2010, in Osmaniye, Turkey. Becoming a record holder had always been one of Elif’s dreams.
2011 - Bridgette Jordan
In July 2011, Bridgette Marie Jordan (USA, b. 1989) was measured at 69 cm (27.2 in) tall, making her the new shortest female living (mobile) at the time.
She was 31.75 cm (12.5 in) tall at birth and weighed just 800 g (1 lb 12 oz).
Bridgette’s brother, Brad, was 98 cm (38.6 in) tall. The siblings’ small size was caused by the condition Majewski osteodysplastic primordial dwarfism type II.
Being the world’s shortest woman didn’t stop Bridgette from living life to it’s fullest though - she was a cheerleader at college and enjoyed dancing too.
Bridgette sadly passed away on June 12, 2019, aged 30.
2011 - Jyoti Amge
Bridgette only held the title for a few months, because in December 2011, Jyoti Amge (India, b. 1993) turned 18 years old, meaning she was eligible to become the shortest female living (mobile).
She already held the title for the shortest teenager living (female), and on her 18th birthday she was was measured at 62.8 cm (24.7 in), making her the new shortest woman in the world.
She may be small, but you can’t miss her – she draws a crowd wherever she goes!
"When people see me and recognise me, they all want to take a photograph with me. Everybody stops me wherever I’m walking. That makes me feel really good." - Jyoti Amge
Jyoti also holds the record title for the shortest actress. She appeared as the regular character Ma Petite in the fourth season of the hit US TV show American Horror Story.
2011 - Junrey Balawing
Junrey Balawing (Philippines) was verified as being the shortest man living (non-mobile) in June 2011. He measured 59.9 cm (23.5 in) tall and weighed just 5 kg (11 lb).
Junrey was the size of a 1-litre soda bottle when he was born. It was only when he was a toddler that his mother started to worry as all his friends outgrew him.
His small size was caused by a condition known as osteogenesis imperfecta which rendered him unable to stand or move without assistance. He was given medication to strengthen his bones upon the doctor’s orders, but it was of no help.
Junrey sadly passed away on July 28, 2020, aged 27.
2012 - Chandra Bahadur Dangi
Chandra Dangi (Nepal, b. 1939) was 72 years old when his height was officially measured by Guinness World Records at 54.6cm (21.5 in).
This made him the new shortest man living (mobile) as well as the shortest male ever recorded.
"In Chandra Dangi’s case, it’s very difficult for him to stand up properly straight because he has this very pronounced bowing in his legs. Because that is his maximum standing height, that is the height we take to determine the Guinness World Records title." - Craig Glenday
Chandra lived with his family in a remote village in Nepal, over 500 kilometres southwest of the capital Kathmandu.
His village was so isolated that he only gained media attention in his old age when he was discovered by a forest contractor who was cutting timber in the area.
After facing many obstacles in his life, Chandra's newfound fame enabled him to fulfil his dream of travelling the world. In 2015, Mr Dangi passed away whilst visiting American Samoa at 75 years of age.
2016 - Khagendra Thapar Magar
Khagendra Thapa Magar (Nepal, b. 1992) held the title of shortest teenager living (male), measuring 67 cm (26.4 in) on 25 February 2010.
In 2016, after Chandri Dangri’s passing, Khagendra became the new shortest man living (mobile), aged 24.
Early in Khagendra’s life, his parents realised that he was a lot smaller than other children his age. When his younger brother outgrew him, it became clear that Khagendra would not grow much taller.
"He was so tiny when he was born that he could fit in the palm of your hand, and it was very hard to bathe him because he was so small." - Roop Bahadur, Khagendra’s father
In addition to being part of a dance troupe, Khagendra enjoyed playing the guitar and cruising with his brother on their motorbike.
Khagendra sadly passed away in January 2020.
The record for the shortest man living (mobile) reverted back to Edward Hernandez, who had grown slightly since he last held the title in 2010, now measuring 72.1 cm (28.4 in) in height.