There are a large number of states and territories which can be categorized as 'small'. Many of the difficulties of most small states and territories are directly related to underdevelopment in general; lack of resources, inadequate cadres, illiteracy, etc. In addition, many handicaps of the small territories originate specifically in aspects of their 'mini' condition: physical isolation, small area and population, etc. For instance, physical isolation and difficulty of communication will normally result in psychological isolation and a lack of knowledge or understanding of the outside world. A population may be so small that it becomes extremely difficult or exorbitantly expensive to establish institutions which would be indispensable in moulding a group into a viable nation. It may be impossible to organize a higher education system if there is not a minimum supply of students, or to set up a diplomatic service if enough people cannot be spared to fill the necessary posts.
An additional difficulty is that such states and territories present a wide variety in status from the point of view of international law. Such entities, when independent, have difficulty in establishing the necessary administrative structures to conduct foreign relations through multilateral diplomacy, particularly through international organizations. Defence and national security give rise to special problems because of the lack of resources. Such territories are often reluctant to encourage the withdrawal of foreign power military bases on which they may depend for security and foreign exchange.
The structural flaw written into the Charter of the United Nations reinforces the cult of the sovereign state and the democratic fallacy of "one state, one vote", whereas democracy can only be based on popular vote. This fallacy encouraged the proliferation of many non-viable states eager for the prestige and perks of UN membership. Membership has risen from 51 states in 1945 to 184 in 1993, with the prospect that if Africa should fragment along ethnic lines the number might rise to 450.