10 Least Visited Countries in the World

10 least visited countries in the world

A look at the world’s least visited countries

Now that we’ve seen some of the most visited countries in the world, it’s time to share a bit of the limelight on the least visited countries around the world. Every year, the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) collects the number of international tourism arrivals each country receives. I’ve gathered their 2017 statistics and compiled a list of the least visited countries based on tourist arrivals. If you’re a regular reader, you’ll know that I love going to remote, far flung areas that few people venture to. Hopefully this list will give you some ideas on where to go next year!

Here’s a look at the 10 least visited countries in the world:

BONUS: Turkmenistan: 8,697 visitors

Darvaza gas crater in Turkmenistan- top 10 least visited countries

Having been closed off to the outside world for decades, Turkmenistan is the least explored and yet one of the most intriguing of the “Stan” countries in Central Asia. The land is over 80% desert, and the traditional Turkmen (a citizen of Turkmenistan) life is nomadic, and that of a shepherd, though some have settled in the historic cities. Popular activities have been influenced by this lifestyle, including horse trekking with Akhal Teke horses, camel trekking in the desert, and wandering through the nature reserve. Some of the most interesting sights in the country are the Darvaza gas craters and the capital city Ashgabat

Saparmyrat Niyazov ruled the little-known nation until 2006, and spent the time covering the country with golden statues of himself, which are still littered throughout the country, along with grand monuments to the deceased ruler. His iron-fisted rule has an impact even a decade later, and politics is still a topic that should be avoided in discussion with local Turkmens.

10. Sao Tome & Principe: 8,000 visitors

least visited countries[Credit: David Stanley]

Sao Tome and Principe is Africa’s least visited country. This small island nation off the Atlantic coast of Central Africa, located in the Gulf of Guinea, straddles the Equator and lies 225k west of Gabon. Discovered and claimed by Portugal in the late 15th century, the islands’ sugar-based economy gave way to coffee and cocoa in the 19th century — all grown with plantation slave labor, a form of which lingered into the 20th century. Although independence was achieved in 1975, democratic reforms were not instituted until the late 1980s, and the first free elections were held in 1991.

The town of Sao Tome has attractive Portuguese architecture, but most people come here for world-class scuba diving, fishing and whale watching between the months of July and October. Another main attraction is Obo National Park, where you can go bird-watching, climb 2,024-meter Pico de Sao Tome, trek to a secluded waterfall, or try to spot as many of the island’s 109 species of orchids as you can.

9. Niue: 8,000 visitors

Niue - top 10 least visited countries[Credit: vuorikari]

The tiny, very rocky island nation is situated in the middle of the South Pacific. At only 260 square kilometers big and with around 1,000 inhabitants, Niue may be one of the biggest coral atoll islands, but it is also one of the smallest countries in the world.

Surrounded by protective reefs, and presided over by a sunny tropical island, Niue has one very unique trait in addition to its small size and beautiful beaches – high levels of natural radioactivity in the soil! Don’t worry, no negative effects have been reported. Niue may be the most perfect island for travel geeks, ever since it became the first nation in 2003 to provide free wifi across its entirety.

8. Libya: 6,250 visitors

Libya - top 10 least visited countries[Credit: David Stanley]

Though the 17th largest nation in the world, Libya has had more than its fair share of problems. Civil war has plagued the nation, and clashes are frequent throughout the country, with attacks by armed groups occurring almost anywhere and affecting even hotels hosting tourists. Recently, Daesh has arrived as well.

The climate of Libya can be as forbidding as the violent threats, with 90% of the land covered by extremely dry desert. It is only the norther regions, on the Mediterranean sea, that enjoy a milder climate. For those tourists that dare to brave the environmental and political conditions, they will be rewarded with amazing historic heritage. Leptis Magna, east of Tripoli, was a major city of the Roman Empire, and to this day holds some of the most outstanding and preserved Roman Ruins. Similarly, Cyrene was founded by the Greeks in 630 BC, and is still an archeological site near the Libyan city of Shahhat.

7. Marshall Islands: 6,000 visitors

  Marshall Islands - top 10 least visited countries   [Credit: Christopher Michel]

With over 1000 individual islands and islets, Marshall Islands truly lives up to its name. The country is full of expert fishermen and navigators, and much of the peoples’ livelihood depends on the sea. Doing much to protect the ocean, the Marshall Islands have even established the world’s largest shark sanctuary.   The country is especially friendly to Americans, who don’t even need to worry about exchanging money, as the US dollar as the national currency.

Unfortunately, the close relationship with the United States was not always positive for the Marshall Islands. It was the site of the largest US nuclear weapons test in history, with fallout continuing to impact the nation. Radioactivity isn’t the nation’s only worry, however, as it is considered the most endangered country in the world due to flooding from climate change. If the ice caps continue to melt and the sea continues to rise, the Marshall Islands may disappear in our lifetime.

6. Equatorial Guinea: 5,700 visitors

Equatorial Guinea - top 10 least visited countries[Credit: John and Melanie]

Divided into a mainland and five volcanic islands (the most popular being Bioko Island), the African nation of Equatorial Guinea is known for its beautiful and numerous white sand beaches. Natural wonders are the biggest draw to the nation, with outstanding volcanic views, seaside sand stretches, and unspoilt jungle.

Animal-lovers are in luck, as the rain forest of Equatorial Guinea is home to numerous endangered primates, and the beaches host nesting sea turtles.

5. South Sudan: 5,500 visitors

South Sudan - top 10 least visited countries [Credit: Amy the Nurse]

South Sudan, recently split from Sudan, is one of the newest countries in the world and still rife with civil wars. Because of a diverse population (including Muslims, Christians, and Animists) and an equally diverse geography, South Sudan has been afflicted by raging civil wars for more than 40 years. Even with tumultuous politics and dangerous atmosphere, Sudanese hospitality remains second to none, and those who venture into this war torn country often report it as their favorite. With a rich and ancient cultural history, South Sudan has a delicious cuisine (including Turkish, Egyptian, and Ethiopian influences) and many interesting sites.

4. Kiribati: 4,000 visitors

Kiribati - top 10 least visited countries[Credit: Nick Hobgood]

An extremely geographically isolated nation, Kiribati’s land mass is 800 square kilometers, but the islands are dispersed over 3.5 million square kilometers. The nation is extremely untouched, thanks to how secluded and inaccessible the islands. To get there, you can fly from Nauru or Marshall Islands, on flighs that depart once every two weeks, or from Fiji which has two weekly departures to South Tawara, the capital of Kiribati.

Described as a “uncommodified” culture, the locals are extremely friendly and welcoming, and offer interesting cultural practices for tourists to observe and participate in. One of the most iconic aspects of the culture is the Kiribati dance, characterized by small movements, and especially by sharp birdlike movements of the head. The Kiribati flag even features a Frigate bird, in reference to the birdlike dancing.

3. Tuvalu: 2,000 visitors

Tuvalu - top 10 least visited countries [Credit: Stephen Lins]

An extremely remote country, Tuvalu reported 1,000 tourist in this year’s report from UNWTO. As one of the smallest and also the most remote countries in the world, it is extremely inaccessible, but also far off the trodden path. To get there, you’ll have to catch a propeller plane from Fiji Airways that flies there twice a week. There is also an occasional cargo ship (that doubles as a passenger ship) between Fiji and Tuvalu.

Featuring a vast diversity of marine life, Tuvalu is the ultimate diving and snorkeling vacation. There are 9 different coral atolls, numerous coral reefs, lagoons, and small islands to spend days or even weeks exploring. Once a tourist is ready for dry land, they can enjoy a distinct, friendly, and protected Polynesian culture with unique arts, crafts, music, dance, and stories.

2. Somalia: 400 visitors

Somalia - top 10 least visited countries [Credit: United Nations Photo]

Numerous travel warnings are in effect for Somalia due to the armed conflicts between the government and violent factions (including Al Shabab, linked to al-Qaeda). But before the civil wars began in the early 1990s, Somalia was extremely welcoming to tourists. The country is especially notable for its waterfalls, mountain ranges, and national parks. The wild areas are home to a vast number of interesting wildlife. This includes lions, cheetahs, spotted hyenas, leopards, onyx, and ostrich. Additionally, the country has the longest coastline of any on the African continent, and possesses innumerable beaches. The Somali beach near Mogadishu is especially beautiful.

1. Nauru: 160 visitors

Living on a Blue Planet | Nauru - top 10 least visited countries [Credit: Hadi Zaher]

Plunked in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, this tiny island nation covers less than 21 square kilometers and is home to less than 10,000 inhabitants. Only one airline serves the country (with an old Boeing 737) and tourist infrastructure like hotels and restaurants are pathetically minimal. Freight deliveries are rare, and employment is even scarcer. Health care is basic at best.

In spite of the present economic gloom, the island still offers glimpses of its former glory, with turbulent surfs surrounding the coastline and sea birds swooping over the green inland cliffs. For WWII buffs there are remnants of the Japanese occupation scattered around the island. The enormous skeletal remains of mining infrastructure are truly remarkable.

*Source: UNWTO

Safety Measures to Take When Visiting the Least Visited Countries:

If you’re planning to travel to any of these destinations, there are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Before traveling to remote places, consult your country’s foreign office for advice on conditions at your destination. If travelling in areas where there is political instability or disorder notify your embassy when you go.
  • Always get travel insurance before you go. Check with your provider that the place you’re visiting is covered in your plan. Certain companies like Allianz Insurance have assistance teams that coordinate medical care and transportation.
  • Be aware that remote travel involves a degree of risk over and above that of a normal trip. In the event of serious illness it could be hours or days before you can be evacuated.
  • Find out what vaccination may be required. The CDC provides a country-by-country interactive map of health conditions, including current outbreaks of disease.
  • Before you go, find out what kind of telecommunications device will work in your destination.  Will a cell phone work and how will you get online access?
  • Follow the news to keep yourself updated of the political situation from time to time. Check the latest blogs, websites, and forums to find out if it’s safe to visit.
  • Keep your family informed of where you’ll be visiting and your hotel info. Leave instructions on who to contact if they don’t hear from you after a certain period of time.
  • Keep your plans flexible and be opened to last minute changes.



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