17 Megadiverse Countries in the World

The megadiverse countries are a group of nations that contains more than 70% of the earth’s bio-diversity, identified in 1998 by Conservation International (CI), to promote the awareness for biodiversity conservation among the world nations.

According to CI., there are 17 of those nations, which are mostly located in the tropical or subtropical region. In the following list, we present you the 17 Megadiverse Countries in the World that are unique in their own way.

17. Madagascar

Madagascar

Previously known as Malagasy Republic, the island nation of Madagascar is home to countless species of flora and fauna about 90% of which are endemic or native and not found anywhere else on the Earth.

There are over 14 thousand plant species, of which most of them are not visible anywhere around the globe. Lemurs has been characterized as “Madagascar’s flagship mammal species”, as there are 103 species of lemurs inhabit the islands.

16. India

India

India is the third largest country in Asia (after Russia and China) and is home to 6% of all known flower and amphibian species, 7.9% of reptilian, more than 8% of mammalian and 12% of all piscine (fish) species on Earth.

About 12.6% of mammal species found in India are endemic (native) which include Beddome’s toad and Nilgiri leaf monkey. The number of endemic species of reptiles and amphibians is much higher, 46% and 56% respectively.

According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), India host about 170 critically endangered animal species including the Bengal Tiger, snow leopard, and Asiatic Lion. Certain bird species like the Indian vulture and great Indian bustard are currently on the verge of being extinct.

15. Peru

PeruImage credit: Wikimedia

Peru is located in western South America and shares its border with Ecuador, Colombia, Bolivia, Brazil, and Chile. The presence of the Andes mountains, which runs parallel to the Pacific Ocean from north to south, has divided the country into three different geographical units.

First, the coast, covering a narrow plain adjacent to the Pacific. Second, the Sierra or highland region consisting mainly the Andes, and third covers a plain terrain engulfed with Amazon rainforest in the east.

The occurrence of El Nino (after every four years or so) intensifies the surrounding climate. Due to the very nature of the rainforest and the Andes, Peru has a high biodiversity of more than 21,000 species of plants and birds, out of which almost 6,000 are endemic.

14. Ecuador

ecuador

According to the Conservation International, Ecuador is the biggest nation in terms of the most biodiversity per square kilometer than any other nation. The Galapagos Island, famous as the birthplace of Darwin’s theory of evolution, has a vast number of endemic species.

In total, it has 1,600 bird species, 16,000 species of plants and 6,000 species of butterfly. Ecuador is also recognized as the first to enforce a constitution to recognize the rights of nature.

13. Venezuela

VenezuelaImage credit: Wikimedia

Officially known as the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, or just Venezuela is considered as a state with extremely high biodiversity. The forest ranges, from the Andes Mountain in the west to the Amazon rainforest in the south, covers the whole nation.

It hosts a total of more than 1,400 bird species out of which 48 are endemic. According to the report, 3,900 species of fungi are recorded from Venezuela and over 25,000 species of Orchids were found here.

About 38% of all 21,000 plant species are unique to the country. Moreover, after the discovery of huge oil deposits in the early 20th century, the country was declared the world largest oil reserves.

12. Mexico

mexico

Mexico is home to 12% of the world’s biodiversity with 200,000 different species. The Tropic of Cancer divides the country into two different climatic zones: land north of 23.5-degree experience temperate climatic conditions, while tropical condition prevails over southern Mexico.

It ranks first in biodiversity in reptiles (with 707 species), second in mammals (with 438 species), fourth in amphibian (with 290 species) and fourth in flowers (with 26,000 species). There are 34 biosphere reserves, 67 national parks, and 17 sanctuaries. However, in 2002 Mexico ranked second in the list of countries with the fastest rate of deforestation, after Brazil.

11. China

ChinaImage credit: Wikimedia

China is one of the megadiverse country lying between two major ecozones; the Palearctic and Indomalaya. It has over 34,000 species of plants and animals, making it the third most biodiverse country in the world.

China is home to 551 species of mammals, 1,221 species of birds and 424 species of reptiles. China has 146,000 types of flora and over 10,000 species of fungi. The country signed the Rio Convention on 11 July 1992 and became a party to the convention the following year.

10. Indonesia

IndonesiaImage credit: Wikimedia

Indonesia is basically an island in Southeast Asia or a group of islands, as many as fourteen thousand of them. It is one of the megadiverse countries which is ranked second in terms of total endemic species.

After Brazil, it’s Indonesia that contains the highest level of biodiversity in the form of 1,531 species of birds, 515 species of mammals etc. But due to Indonesia’s recent population growth, 15 of those species are identified as critically endangered, including Bali Starling, Javan Rhinoceros, and Sumatran Orangutan.

9. Australia

AustraliaImage credit: Wikimedia

Despite semi-arid and desert climate in most of Australia, it includes a diverse range of flora and fauna from alpine to tropical rainforest. Because of the continent’s isolated location, most of its species are unique.

Australia has the greatest number of reptiles of any country, with 755 species. Among the flora, many evergreen species, especially eucalyptus are dominant. In the animal kingdom, Kangaroo, Koala, and wombat are Australian specialty.

8. The Democratic Republic of Congo

Democratic Republic of the CongoImage credit: whc.unesco.org

The Democratic Republic of Congo is a country in central Africa. Don’t confuse it with a neighboring country, the Republic of Congo, it is rather bigger in size. Earlier known as Zaire, the rainforest of DRC contains a large bit of bio-diversity, including chimpanzee and the bonobo, African forest elephant, white rhino, and many more.

7. Malaysia

MalaysiaImage credit: Wikimedia

Malaysia is a federal constitutional monarchical country located in Southeast Asia. It is one of 17 megadiverse countries on earth, with large numbers of endemic species.

Malaysia signed the Rio Convention on Biological Diversity on 12 June 1993, and became a party on 24 June 1994. It contains around 20% of the world’s animal species.

High levels of flora and fauna are discovered in the diverse forests of Borneo’s mountains. There are about 210 mammal species in the country. A high number of endemic bird species are also found in Malaysian Borneo.

Around 250 reptile species, 150 species of snakes, and 80 species of lizards have been recorded in this country. Moreover, there are about 150 species of frogs and thousands of insect species. The unique biodiversity of Malaysia attracts millions of tourists from all over the world.

6. Papua New Guinea

Papua New Guinea

The Independent States of Papua New Guinea or simply Papua New Guinea is a relatively small nation located in the southwestern region of the Pacific Ocean right above Australia. It’s part of a broader geographic region called Oceania.

Papua New Guinea has bio-geographical similarities with Australia, New Zealand and much of the eastern Indonesia which is collectively known as Australasia ecozone. Many species of animals and birds which are found in Australia are genetically linked with their counterparts in New Guinea.

The country accommodates about 5% of the world’s biodiversity spread over less than 1% of the Earth’ land.

5. Philippines

Philippines

The Philippine rainforest is home to a diverse range of plants, animals and sea creatures. About 100 mammal and 170 bird species found in the country are endemic and are not seen anywhere on the Earth. The Philippines has one of the highest numbers of endemic species with about sixteen new mammal species discovered in just over ten years.

Few endemic bird species including Philippine eagle (national bird) and Blue-winged racket-tail are on the verge of extinction due to deforestation and rapid habit loss. The endemic Philippine freshwater crocodile is among the most critically endangered crocodile species in the world.

4. South Africa

south africa

South Africa is the southernmost and the ninth largest country in the African continent. It hosts one of the six known floral kingdoms of the world and more than 22,000 different vascular plants which makes up about 9% of the known plant species on Earth.

A large number of mammals, including African leopards, blue wildebeest, hyenas, hippos, South African giraffes, and cheetahs can be found in the bushveld, a sub-tropical woodland, region of the country. Many critically endangered species like the riverine rabbit is endemic to South Africa.

In 2006, the total number of fungal species found in South Africa was estimated to be around 200,000 which in 1945 was just over 4900 species.

3. United States

USA

The U.S. is also one of the megadiverse countries. The United States alone is home to 428 mammal species, 784 bird species, 311 reptile species, and 295 amphibian species. Till date, there are 91,000 insect species which are registered.

The bald eagle is both national bird and national animal of the United States. There are a total of 58 national parks and hundreds of other federal parks and forests.

Read: 12 Best Tourist Places to Visit in the USA

2. Colombia

Colombia

Colombia has around 45,000 plant species and 20% of the total global species. It also has 1,900 species of birds, 2,000 species of fish and around 7,000 species of beetles. It is ranked second in the number of amphibian species and is the third most diverse country in reptiles. There are approximately 300,000 species of invertebrates in the country.

1. Brazil

Brazil

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Brazil is the largest country in Latin America and South America and the fifth largest country in the world. Due to this vastness, there are different types of ecosystems, which prevail all over the country. These are, namely, Amazon rainforest, Atlantic rainforest, and Savanna, commonly known as Cerrado.

Amazon is considered to be the world’s largest rainforest with biggest biological diversity. Some scientists estimate that the total number of plants and animal species in Brazil could reach more than four million.

Brazil is home to many mammals, including pumas, jaguars, and bush dogs. The red-bellied piranha is a unique resident of Brazil’s Amazon basin, which includes many other extremely diverse fish species.

Written by
Varun Kumar

Varun Kumar is a professional science and technology journalist and a big fan of AI, machines, and space exploration. He received a Master's degree in computer science from Indraprastha University. To find out about his latest projects, feel free to directly email him at [email protected] 

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7 comments
  • Wow I did not know Philippines is both a hot spot for land mega diversity and marine mega diversity (since its the center of marine biodiversity as well). Philippines needs to be protected for Earth’s sake. Roman Catholic should be expelled in that country; together with too much capitalism !

  • I’ve heard that Nicaragua, with volcano’s, rain-forests, rivers, solar, two oceans, etc. was 2nd only to Brazil for best overall. I can not believe it isn’t on the list, but Venezuela is, right next door but doesn’t have CLOSE to what Nicaragua has from “others” that have introduced me to Nicaragua, especially it’s diverse alternative ENERGY production of Solar, Geothermal, Wind, etc. Where is Nicaragua on the list anywhere?