These Are the Countries With the Shortest Men in the World

The men in the shortest nation are, on average, just shy of five foot three.
These Are the Countries With the Shortest Men in the World Newsweek

Short men really do get short shrift—scientific studies have continuously linked being tall with better education, higher wages and increased self-esteem.

Where you're born will greatly affect your height, but while men in some countries are sprouting upwards, some of their counterparts abroad remain stubbornly small.

The journal eLife has tracked the height of over 18.6 million participants from more than 200 countries since 1896. Their research reveals not only a disparity of height across the globe, but how height has changed over the decades.

Of the male participants, it was Iranians who grew the most over the last century. They saw an average height increase of 6 and a half inches, meaning they're no longer among the world's shortest.

In contrast, men in some sub-Saharan African nations, as well as in South Asia, often remained practically the same height. These regions have seen continual problems with health and nutrition, which can lead to stunted growth.

Men in the Netherlands are the tallest in the world, at around six foot tall. That's nine inches taller than the average male height in East Timor, the Southeast Asian nation that borders Indonesia.

At just shy of the five foot three mark, East Timorese men are the shortest in the world. And while they've grown from being just five feet tall in 1896, this progress has not been uniform.

East Timorese men actually reached a peak height of five foot and 3.3 inches during the 1960s. But average height began declining again during the 1970s, around the time the country was beset by civil war and a brutal Indonesian occupation.

And while this pattern is also evident for other troubled nations such as Yemen, it's clear that some people are simply genetically predispositioned towards remaining small. Molecular biologist Chao-Qiang Lai of the Jean Mayer U.S. Department of Agriculture Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University told Scientific American that between 60 and 80 percent of a person's height is down to genetic factors alone.

Using data from eLife, we've listed the 50 countries with the shortest men who were born in 1996, none of which reach an average height of five foot six.

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50. Ecuador Mean height: 167.1cm (5 feet and 5.8 inches) Rodrigo Buendia/AFP/Getty Images