Smallest ecological footprint (per capita, country)
East Timor, Eritrea
Not Applicable ()

The ecological footprint is a method promoted by the Global Footprint Network (GFN) to measure human demand on natural capital - i.e., the area of biologically productive land (measured in global hectares) and water needed to make what we consume and absorb the wastes generated. It involves the impact of our lifestyles and can be calculated at an individual, city or countrywide scale. Not surprisingly, countries that are home to the largest number of people have the largest overall footprints, but that does not always follow through to the per-capita rates. According to the most recent data published by the GFN, the countries with the smallest ecological footprint per person are East Timor (aka Timor Leste) in south-east Asia and Eritrea in East Africa, each with 0.5 global hectares per citizen.

At the other end of the scale, the largest ecological footprint per capita is 14.4 global hectares per citizen in Qatar.

A global hectare is a unit that encompasses the average productivity of all the biologically productive land and sea area in the world in a given year. Biologically productive areas include cropland, forest and fishing grounds, and do not include deserts, glaciers and the open ocean.

In terms of overall national ecological footprint, the most populous country not surprisingly ranks top in the most recent GFN dataset (from 2016): China has an estimated footprint of 5,195,885,897.3 global hectares. While the smallest ecological footprint for a sovereign country is that of China's neighbour North Korea, with 62,644.7 global hectares in total. North Korea is only surpassed by the British Overseas Territory of Montserrat in the Caribbean, with its footprint of 23,148.9 global hectares.