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Man and Woman in Bolivia. Photo: World Atlas

Due to a number of factors such as malnutrition and genetics, the people living in the world have varying heights and weights. In terms of heights, there are extremely tall individuals and there are also extremely short ones. With KnowInsider, let's explore the top 9 countries with the shortest average heights in the world.


Number one in the list that has the shortest average height of its population is Bolivia. This country is also the number one in the entire South American regions. There is no question about it since Bolivia is amongst those poorest nations that can be found in South America. This is why malnutrition cases are rampant in the country. The average height of its people is 4 feet and 11.5 inches.


Indonesia's population includes some of Asia's shortest people, which stands at an average height of 4 feet, 11.75 inches when including both genders. This trend has become generational, as many children in Indonesia continue to be malnourished. Stunting is seen in many developing countries and reflected in the "normal" heights of their respective people, but research shows that children's growth is largely linked to good nutrition. Educational achievement and career success also depend on good food, and that, in turn, leads to a country's economic growth. The UNICEF is currently supporting a food program in Indonesia that would address the issue.

Sri Lanka

The same with the Philippines, Sri Lanka has 5 feet and 1.5 inches as the average height of its people, which is too short for normal people. Aside from malnutrition, it was found out through several scientific studies that this short average height is also caused by childhood diseases, cultural factors, and environmental factors.


The Philippines has severe malnutrition problems that has affected its general population's adult height, which is currently averaging only 5 feet, 1.5 inches when including both genders. The Department of Education recently released figures that show 1.8 million Filipino children are malnourished, and this could lead to abnormalities such as stunting and school drop-outs. Studies show that the problem is especially prevalent in the event early age pregnancies, where the mother is not fully physically equipped for childbirth and childcare. The result is that the likelihood of this situation being repeated in the next generation is high. Although feeding programs have been launched, funds are not adequate enough.


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Peru girls. Photo: Giving Way

Among the entire regions of South America, Peru is ranked on the 2nd place that has shortest average height among its people. Such country has great numbers of malnourished children, and most of these children came from the remote places in the country. Cultural issues, diseases, and famine are some of the reasons of such severe malnutrition. The shortest average height in the country is 5 feet and 2 inches.


In India, there are several reasons why big percentage on its population is having shorter average height. Some of these reasons have something to do with cultural and environmental aspects in the country. In a particular study conducted by the National Family Health, it was found out that 47.9 percent of the Indian children nowadays is having a slower growth in terms of height due to malnutrition. The shortest average height among the Indian people is 5 feet and 2.25 inches.


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Vietnamese students. Photo: VnExpress International

Vietnam has for several decades now been struggling to improve its population's average height of 5 feet, 2.5 inches when including both genders. Although the country has been making progress in that regard, malnutrition is still rampant. Demography is one of the factors that makes the problem difficult to eradicate ther, especially in isolated mountain communities. ChildFund in Vietnam has made small, yet significant, strides in helping by providing milk to these communities' children. Internal strife has certainly taken a toll on its population's health as well.


Aside from the genetic reason, Malaysia also has a very short average height among its people due to higher cases of malnutrition. Several studies conducted by the experts revealed that 12.5 percent of the children in Malaysia is underweight. Moreover, there are around 400,000 children who have slower growth in terms of height, which is 5 feet and 2.75 inches.


In the past years, Iraq is amongst those thriving countries in the world. Even so, as time went by, it sadly become one of those nations that belong in the “Third World Country”. This is the reason why malnutrition cases among Iraqi children are extremely higher nowadays. At present, there are around 400,000 children in the country who are malnourished. Hence, it is no longer surprising why its shortest average height is 5 feet and 3.25 inches.

The shortest average height, by our definition, means the average adult height of a country's populace including both genders, and taken from large scale studies and surveys representative of national populations as a whole. In these countries listed, it is common to see an adult height that is shorter than the standard adult heights relative to global norms.

Short stature has not been given a precise standard but, in developed countries, a man shorter than 5 feet, 4 inches and a woman shorter than 4 feet, 11 inches, are considered "short". However, in some European countries, where being tall is the norm, men shorter than 5 feet, 7 inches, and women shorter than 5 feet, 2 inches, are considered to be short in height.

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