Nick Zaccardi, NBC Olympics maven, posited that if Fiji gets 50+ athletes qualified for the 2016 Olympics, that it might be the most ever for a nation with less than 1,000,000 population. I tweeted recently that it would be and that no such current nation had had more than 40 competitors at a single Olympics. Unfortunately, I did not go back far enough checking those stats, and it has happened before.
Luxembourg is the only nation with < 106 population (as of 2015) that has had 40 or more competitors at a single Olympics, and they have done it several times, with a high of 52 in 1960. They also had 47 in 1928, 45 in 1948, and 44 three times – 1936, 1948, and 1952.
The first such nation to compete at the Olympics was again Luxembourg, in 1900, although this was not known for over 80 years. Michel Théato, winner of the 1900 marathon, was always considered French until French athletics historian Alain Bouillé discovered in the early 1980s that he was actually a Luxembourgeois national. In 1908 and 1912 Iceland competed, although it was a Danish territory in both those years. From 1920-28 Luxembourg and Monaco competed, along with Malta in 1928. It was not until 1936 that six such small nations competed – Bermuda, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Malta, and Monaco. In 2012, fully 43 such small nations competed at London.
Through 2012, such small nations have competed 398 times at the Summer Olympics – we did not check Winter Olympics for this stat. This has been done in all by 43 nations, although Guyana (British Guiana), Belize (British Honduras), and Samoa (Western Samoa), competed under two different names in various years.
The following list is inclusive of all nations who have competed at the Olympics, with 10 or more competitors, both men and women, at a single Summer Olympics, and currently have a population under a million. I did not try to go back and check populations at the time of their Olympic participation – sorry, but that would be a huge effort. This also eliminates a few small nations that no longer exist as nations, notably Netherlands Antilles and Newfoundland, both of which have competed at the Olympics, but never with very many athletes.
U.S. Virgin Islands,ISV,1984,29
U.S. Virgin Islands,ISV,1992,25
U.S. Virgin Islands,ISV,1988,22
U.S. Virgin Islands,ISV,1976,21
U.S. Virgin Islands,ISV,1972,16
Antigua and Barbuda,ANT,1988,15
Antigua and Barbuda,ANT,1984,14
Antigua and Barbuda,ANT,1992,13
Antigua and Barbuda,ANT,1996,13
U.S. Virgin Islands,ISV,1996,12
Antigua and Barbuda,ANT,1976,10
St. Kitts & Nevis,SKN,1996,10