American reporters and editors love to claim foreign nations are “tiny,” no matter how large they are. Take this cover story headline in Boston Globe Magazine, Mar. 19, 2017, for example: “Portugal takes off — Why this tiny country is the place to visit in 2017.” Well, how tiny is Portugal? Compared to other European nations, it is in the middle, in between Hungary and Austria, and as large as Denmark, Switzerland, Belgium and the Netherlands, combined. Compared with an area the Globe should know, “tiny Portugal” is about as large as Maine (who ever called Maine “tiny”?) and as large as the rest of combined New England: Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont, Connecticut and Rhode Island.
Of course, Portugal is “tiny” compared with Alaska, Texas and California, but it’s the same size as “tiny” Indiana, and as large as or larger than a dozen other states, of which only poor, little old Rhode Island gets the “tiny” adjective.