Shortest People In The World
These amazing folks are the smallest people in the world!Society
The best things come in small packages. And while we fellas may be guilty of adding a few extra inches to our dating profiles, the truth is, size really doesn’t matter, and these little people are here to prove it. From small superhumans to petit protagonists, let's check out some of the smallest people in the world!
What Is Dwarfism?
So, before we kick things off, we need to understand what the medical term ‘dwarfism’ refers to. First and foremost, a dwarf is medically defined as a person who grows to 4 foot 10 or less.
However, it’s not that simple. In fact, there are more than 300 conditions that can cause dwarfism. However, there is one condition that accounts for about 70% of all cases: ‘achondroplasia’, a condition that results in the person having a disproportionate head, arms, and legs.
It's difficult to say what specifically causes dwarfism, but the majority of medical specialists agree the conditions are related to genetic disorders, passed down from parent to child.
Another important thing to mention is how exactly to refer to someone with dwarfism. While dwarf is a medical term, it can often be seen as offensive. Instead, many prefer terms such as ‘little people’ or ‘person of short stature’. So, now that we’ve covered a few bases, let’s meet some of the smallest people in the world!
He Pingping – 29.1 inches
Even at just 29.1 inches tall, He Pingping is actually the biggest little person in this article. But don’t let that fool you, as he’s technically only the height of an average 1-year-old. Which, up until 2010, earned him the Guinness World Record for being the world’s shortest man!
For Mr Pingping, life began in Mongolia in 1988. It was immediately clear to his parents that he had some form of dwarfism, so much so, his father claims that when he was born, he was so small he could fit into the palm of his hand.
Later down the line, Pingping’s condition would be defined as ‘Osteogenesis Imperfecta’, a rare disease that affects the body’s connective tissues and causes brittle bones. There are variants of this disease, not all of which cause dwarfism. However, type 3 does, and those it affects rarely sprout beyond 4 feet.
But, in spite of this, Mr Pingping never let it hold him back. From documentaries and public appearances, to his crowning moment in 2008 when Guinness World Records anointed him the world’s smallest man!
But, if you needed any more proof, just check out the moment where he met the world’s tallest man, Sultan Kösen! With hands measuring in at 11.2 inches, the length between this guy’s wrist and middle finger was more than a third of He Pingping’s full height!
However, just as life was treating Pingping well, things took a turn for the worse. As 2010 rolled around, Pingping was admitted to hospital after falling ill from chest pains. Due to low lung capacity which comes from having smaller ribcages, people with Osteogenesis Imperfecta type 3 often endure respiratory problems which, at times, can be fatal.
Plus, He Pingping was a regular chain-smoker, adding to the prognosis. In March 2010, He Pingping sadly passed away at just 21-years-old, but luckily his legacy lives on!
Dor Bahadur Khapangi – 28.8 inches
Even at 28.8 inches tall, almost half an inch shorter than He Pingping, 17-year-old Dor Bahadur Khapangi still isn’t the smallest person in this article. But nevertheless, he is small enough to have bagged himself one of those all-important Guinness World Records.
As of the time of this article, he is officially the world’s shortest male teenager, that is, at least for the next 3 years.
Born in the Sindhuli district of Nepal in 2004, Dor initially seemed like any ordinary child. And with dwarfism not being prevalent among his siblings, there was never any suspicion of the condition existing in his genes.
In fact, the suspicions only began around his 7th birthday, when it became apparent that he wasn’t sprouting quite like his pals. Dor’s parents sought medical attention, but due to financial difficulty, they still, to this day, haven’t been able to get a proper diagnosis for him.
This may come as a shock, but I’m not a doctor. However, from my research, it seems to me that it could be possible that Dor has a type of dwarfism known as Proportionate Short Stature.
This is a condition that causes the person’s body to grow incredibly slowly, albeit proportionately. Not only that, but this condition can typically go unnoticed until later in childhood or even puberty.
Elif Kocaman – 28.5 inches
Measuring a miniature 28.5 inches tall, it’s no surprise that at one time Turkish born Elif Kocaman actually reigned as the world’s shortest woman! When she came into this world in 1988, Elif weighed a tiny three pounds and 10 ounces, almost half that of an average new-born, at 7 pounds and 6 ounces.
However, her mother claims she was an otherwise ‘normal’ baby. That was, until around age one when she showed a lack of growth. They say that by age 4 she’d completely stopped growing. And by age 10, they’d accepted Elif probably wouldn’t grow any further.
The family searched for an answer for Elif’s extremely short stature, however doctors were unable to determine the problem. Unfortunately, in 2021 at age just 33, Elif unexpectedly passed away after falling ill, having never been given a diagnosis.
Whatever the case, all that matters is that Elif lived a fulfilling life. In fact, when crowned by Guinness World Records in 2010, she had this to say: ‘I always hoped one day the world would recognize me. I am famous because of my size, so it makes me feel like I am much taller’. For all her size, those are some big words!
Edward Nino Hernandez – 27.6 inches
Stacking up at just 27.6 inches tall, it probably comes as no surprise that Edward Nino Hernandez has had his 5 minutes in the Guinness World Records hall of fame. Swiping the title from He Pingping, he was officially declared the world’s shortest man back in 2010.
Born in 1986, Edward, like many other little people, didn’t immediately show any signs of dwarfism. His parents claim he was developing normally, until around age 4 when they began to notice his short stature. Naturally, they sought medical attention, but wouldn’t receive a proper diagnosis for another 20 years!
After 2 decades, they finally had an answer: hypothyroidism; essentially an underactive thyroid. This is when the thyroid gland fails to secrete enough thyroxine, which is a hormone responsible for digestion, brain development and physical growth too. But in spite of all this, Edward maintains a positive outlook on life. He says he uses his ‘smile to conquer the world’ and that ‘size and height doesn’t matter’, as he can ‘achieve anything’! Up until 2011, Edward reigned as the world’s shortest man.
Bridgette Jordan – 27.1 inches
Next up we have a show-off here, Bridgette Jordan doesn’t have just one world record, but two! Besides being known as the world’s shortest woman in 2011, she and her younger brother, Brad, also held a joint world record for being the world’s shortest siblings!
Born with the same condition, the brother sister duo, from Illinois, suffered from what is known as Microcephalic Osteodysplastic Primordial Dwarfism Type 2 (MOPD). With Bridgette being only 27 inches and Brad a respective 38, the pair had a combined height of about 5-foot 4, which is roughly the height of the average American woman!
What makes MOPD so rare and differentiates it from other types of dwarfism is that it causes brain and skeletal abnormalities. Due to this, the adult sized brain of those with MOPD is comparable to a 3-month-old, though intellectual development is usually normal.
Other characteristics can be high-pitched voices, caused by a narrowing of the voice box, prominent noses, and even blood vessel abnormalities, which can increase the risk of suffering from a stroke.
Sadly, in 2017, Brad passed away at just 25 years old, and then only 2 years later, Bridgette would follow, at the tender age of 30. However, throughout her life, Bridgette maintained a positive attitude; she said, ‘it’s great to be small. I believe that everyone should be confident in themselves.’ What an icon!
Charlotte Garside – 26.7 inches
At just 5-years-old, Charlotte Garside from the UK was already making huge headlines after becoming locally known as the world’s smallest girl, what with her once 26.7-inch stature. Born in 2007, Charlotte has what’s known as primordial dwarfism, meaning she showed signs of dwarfism right from the very first fetal stages of her life.
As she came into the world, she weighed an unbelievable 2 pounds and measured a miniature 9.8 inches! To put into perspective just how rare this condition is though, less than 200 people are believed to live with Primordial Dwarfism in the entire world. And the variety Charlotte has is so uncommon, doctors didn’t even have a name for it when she was born!
Yet, even with this super-rare, un-nameable condition, Charlotte leads as happy and healthy a life as possible. Which amazingly, her doctors never expected, considering they predicted she’d never make it past the age of one! And she continues to defy them, as in 2022 she celebrated her 15th birthday and has sprouted to a staggering 4 feet tall.
Lucia Zarate – 26.7 inches
For this next little lady, we’re gonna have to take a journey back in time, all the way back to 1864, to explore the exceptional story of Miss Lucia Zarate! Born in Veracruz, Mexico, it’s not clear whether Lucia’s condition was fully understood at the time.
However, it’s said that she had the same condition as Bridgette Jordan and her brother, MOPD. Which, if you recall, causes brain and skeletal abnormalities. While modern scientific endeavors have established that MOPD sufferers grow at a very slow rate, an 1894 article in Strand Magazine claimed that Lucia had reached her full adult height by just age one.
And while I’d like to say Lucia had a happy ending, from the age of 12 she would spend the rest of her life in a traveling circus, exploited for her disability. Cruel stage names like ‘the Marvelous Mexican Midget’ would come to define her, as she paraded from one show to the next.
She even featured in the famous circus of PT Barnum, and became the highest paid little person of all time, earning some $20 an hour, that’s roughly $452 in today’s money! Ultimately, this would be her demise when her circus train got stranded in the cold, snowy Rocky mountains in 1890.
At just 26 years old and 26 inches tall, Lucia would contract a fatal case of pneumonia and perish. However, during her short life she traveled the world, brought joy to many, and made money. That’s a life well lived by most standards!
Lin Yu-Chih – 26.5 inches
Most of the guys in this article at some point or another have had a Guinness World Record. And Lin Yu-chih is no exception! Only, what sets him apart is that he is currently the world’s shortest mobile man!
Like some of the other people I’ve already covered, Lin has Osteogenesis Imperfecta, which as we know, is a disease that causes brittle bones and eventual dwarfism. Yet, that doesn’t hold back Lin, who’s worked tirelessly to establish his own charity for those like him: The Osteogenesis Imperfecta Association.
Yet even being the do-gooder he is, Lin’s had his fair share of scandals. In 2005, the then 33-year-old dabbled in the world of internet video chatrooms. He and a woman struck up an intimate relationship, and the lovebirds would “perform” for one another. That was, until the girl’s alleged boyfriend caught their little rendezvous and threatened to tarnish Lin’s squeaky-clean image with some not-so-squeaky-clean images!
The guy held a ransom of 150,000-Taiwanese-dollars, at which point Lin realized that a criminal scam gang was probably behind the entire thing. He bravely went public with the ordeal, all to help save other people from getting caught in similar traps! How incredibly selfless is that?
Khagendra Thapa Magar – 26.3 inches
As we’ve already discussed, back in 2010 Edward Nino Hernandez was the Guinness World Record holder for shortest man, that was, until 2011, when Khagendra Thapa Magar swiped the accolade from him! However, it would be short-lived, as that same year an even shorter man hit the scene and swiped the title from him, but more on that later!
Born in the Baglung District of Nepal, Khagendra weighed an extraordinary 21 ounces when born which, for context, is roughly the weight of a medium cheddar cheese block. Khagendra was affected by primordial dwarfism, which interestingly, is typically caused by a mutant gene inherited from both parents, aka, an autosomal recessive condition.
For Khagendra, fame found him at just age 14, when a traveling salesman discovered him and took him to fairs, where he’d apparently charge children to have their photos taken with him. After gaining traction, smalltown Khagendra hit the bigtime, as he would go on European and US tours.
But sadly, Khagendra’s glory days were to be short lived as by age 27, back in 2020, heart problems, asthma, and pneumonia had claimed his life. It’s sad, but often common in sufferers of primordial dwarfism, who often have a life expectancy of less than 30 years.
Madge Bester – 25.5 inches
With no more than 25.5 inches to her name, South African woman, Madge Bester, was at one time the world’s shortest woman. Also a sufferer of Osteogenesis Imperfecta, it was a condition Madge had inherited from her mother.
However, her mom grew to an average height of 5 feet 8. Osteogenesis doesn’t always result in dwarfism, but certain genetic mutations can be passed down to babies of parents that carry the genes. Similar to Lin Yu-chih, Madge used her disability to spread awareness and became an activist for disability rights.
In fact, in 1998, she and Lin actually joined forces; the pair organized a conference and discussed the challenges and inequity that disabled people face. Sadly, in 2018 at age 54, Madge passed away. Still, having dedicated much of her life to activism, her legacy lives on and will inspire many people for generations to come!
Jyoti Amge – 24.7 inches
We’re in top 5 territory now, and coming in at number 5 is none other than Jyoti Amge, a 28-year-old Indian woman who proudly stands 24.7 inches tall. Which officially makes her the shortest living woman, according to the Guinness World Records!
Born in 1993, Jyoti is another person with primordial dwarfism, which we’ve covered extensively already! But even with a limited life expectancy of 30, the 28-year-old is living life beyond all expectations and has achieved more than many able-bodied people ever will.
Boasting 1 million Instagram followers, she has quite the impressive resume. From being crowned a world record holder in 2011, to plenty of acting gigs, including a feature in American Horror Story, and multiple documentaries about her life.
Better yet, Jyoti even has a wax figure displayed in Celebrity Wax Museum in Lonavala! But if you were in any doubt about her miniature size, just check her out next to the world’s tallest man, Sultan Kösen, who stands at 8ft 2 inches!
Pauline Musters – 24 inches
Once again, we’re gonna have to hop in the time machine and take a trip back to the 1800s, to pay miss Pauline Musters a visit, a Dutch woman who stood a remarkable 24 inches tall!
Much like Lucia Zarate, Pauline’s condition was exploited due to social norms at the time. The petite Pauline would be carted around Western Europe and the US during 1895, at the age of just 19.
It was then that she would be branded with derogatory names like ‘the Midget Mite’ and ‘Lady Dot’. Still, if anything, she came to learn impressive skills, such as dancing and acrobatics.
However, while touring that same year in 1895, she would contract pneumonia, which can be fatal to anyone with a reduced lung capacity. Sadly, Pauline didn’t make it, but amazing photos taken of her at the time still live on in the history books!
Junrey Balawing – 23.5 inches
Claiming the Guinness World Record back in 2015, the then 22-year-old Junrey Balawing was officially the world’s smallest man! Not to be confused with Lin Yu-chih, who is the world’s smallest mobile man, as Junrey was unable to stand or walk without being assisted. Either way, at just 23.5 inches, this guy is all but a little bit taller than a chicken!
Born into a poor Philippine family in 1993, Junrey’s dwarfism didn’t present itself immediately. It was at around the age of one when his parents began to notice that he seemed to have stopped growing.
However, with the family not able to cover medical bills, Junrey went without a diagnosis until the age of 12, by which point he only stood at 23 inches tall, was unable to stand or walk without assistance, and suffered from a speech defect.
In the end, the doctors believed that Junrey’s dwarfism was a result of a malfunctioning pituitary gland, which is essentially the gland responsible for growth hormones. Unfortunately, in 2020, Junrey passed away.
Gul Mohammed – 22.4 inches
Coming in at 2nd place, we have another former world record holder, Mr Gul Mohammed! But just how short is 22.4 inches? Well, imagine about 4 and a half cans of coke stacked on top of one another!
Born in 1957 in India’s capital, New Delhi, Gul Mohammed is the 2nd smallest person in recorded history. There’s little information about his early life and upbringing, however it’s said that he sadly spent his adult life on the streets.
In attempts to make money, he tried to run a roadside candy and biscuit stall, but it was often looted due to his size. He would apparently try to make ends meet with help from friends and voluntary organizations.
However, with a long-term struggle with asthma and bronchitis, plus an unhealthy smoking habit, a fatal heart attack unfortunately claimed Gul’s life in 1997 at the age of just 40. While his life may have been short, at least there were parts of it that were definitely sweet.
So before we investigate the shortest person in the world, let’s take a look at a few honorable mentions!
First up, we have some of the world’s smallest babies! Born in Singapore, 2020, Kwek Yu Xuan weighed a meager 7.4 ounces, roughly the weight of a single apple! Now, Kwek wasn’t a full-term pregnancy. In fact, she was born at 25 weeks, almost half the full gestation period!
Due to this, Kwek had a string of ailments which she needed to be kept in hospital for. But unlike everyone else in this article, she isn’t affected by dwarfism. So, all being well, she should grow into an average sized adult!
Another miniature baby was Emilia Grabarczyk, who was also born at just 25 weeks and weighed in at a featherlight 8 ounces! The German born girl was initially assumed to have no chance of survival. However, against all odds, she is now said to be thriving and healthy!
Next up we have some of the world’s smallest families! In America, we have the Johnston family, every single one of which has a type of dwarfism.
Husband and wife, Trent and Amber, have achondroplasia dwarfism, which if you recall, is the most common type of dwarfism. Trent and Amber have two biological children, Jonah and Elizabeth, who also have the same condition.
Better yet, the couple have also adopted three other children, Anna, Alex, and Emma, who, again, have the same condition, making the Johnston’s the largest little family in the world! With there being seven of them, they even poke fun and call themselves the 7 dwarfs!
Elsewhere, there’s the Barros family, or better known as the world’s shortest married couple, according to the Guinness World Records!
Paulo, who is 35.5 inches, first met 35.1-inch-tall Katyucia back in 2006, when the pair were on an online dating site. After years of romancing, the pair tied the knot in 2016, which inadvertently made them the world’s shortest married couple, with a combined height of around 5 feet 8!
And finally, at the heart of every family is mom and this is the world’s smallest mom. Stacey Herald from Kentucky, measures just 28 inches tall and has had not one, not 2, but 3 children!
Like many people we’ve covered in this article, Stacey was born with Osteogenesis Imperfecta. And even against the advice of her doctors, who warned that having children may crush her lungs and heart, Stacey had 3 children! Unfortunately, she passed away in 2018 at the age of 44.
Chandra Bahadur Dangi – 21.5 inches
Born in Nepal way back in 1939, Chandra was born with primordial dwarfism, which, as we know, is a condition that rarely sees sufferers live past age 30. So, with that in mind, it’s amazing that Chandra lived to the grand old age of 75! Not least considering the average life expectancy in Nepal is just over 70 years!
According to Guinness World Records, before becoming known as the world’s shortest man, Chandra had never left his hometown of Rhimkholi in Nepal. He would instead make a living by weaving traditional Nepalese garments.
It wasn’t until one day a forest contractor was chopping timber in the village and was stunned by Chandra’s size. He spread the word to the media and before long Chandra was being declared the world’s shortest man in 2012!
And with this newfound recognition came a wealth of opportunities for Chandra. Not only was he showered with gifts and adoration, but invitations overseas meant that Chandra could travel the whole world and meet a variety of new people, one of those people being once again, Sultan Kösen, the world’s tallest man!
Sadly, in 2015, at the respectable age of 75, Chandra passed away. But with a reputation of being the world’s shortest man ever recorded, he certainly leaves a tall legacy behind!