Each of us talk about the best and most popular places to travel. Rarely do we mention the least popular places, and certainly not the ones any of us have visited. Sometimes, we embark to a least visited place out of curiosity. Other times, we go because we are forced to go, through work, family obligations, or boredom. What are some of those places? Even the United Nations World Tour Organization has little information about these countries. Contrast that to France, the most visited country in the world, with 80 million foreign visits per year!
Can you believe that 500 visitors made their way to Somalia last year? I did get relatively close, to neighboring Ethiopia. Why would anyone go? The word is that the Somalis have the best and cheapest electronics on the face of the earth. But at what price, and I do not mean dollars, I mean personal safety. Best of all, you can buy “passport” at the Bakaara market. How many of you can name the capital?*
Have you ever heard of Nauru? It is the least visited place in the world, and also the smallest republic. It is a tiny Pacific island nation with 8.1 square miles, and a population under 10,000. They received only 200 visitors last year. Why? There is huge unemployment, and zero night life. There is almost nothing there but a large open-pit phosphate mine. My guess is that phosphate enemas would be quite reasonably priced there, and the nation does not suffer from constipation!
If you are wondering if I have been to any of the 25 least visited countries, I have not, not that I know of. And I do not plan to visit any of those, unless I won a “free” trip there. Of these 25, the only ones that I would consider are: Bhutan, Micronesia, and Djibouti, only because it sounds so different, and its spelling is interesting.
At number three is Tuvalu, perhaps visited by the TV shows Survivor or Bizarre Foods, with 1200 tourists. There is no regular air service, as you must reach this island by boat from Fiji or Kiribati. But with global warming and a rising sea, Tuvalu may be the first country to disappear! After it disappears, you will need a submarine to each it. Their government is looking to purchase some land elsewhere to move their people. Rather sad if you ask me.
Kiribati is number four with only 4700 tourists and 33 atolls, some of which are 6 hours apart by jet air. But cumulatively, Kiribati is only 811 square kilometers, slightly bigger than New York City at 786 square kilometers. But if you like beaches and water sports, this is your place. I doubt you can find a souvenir refrigerator magnet there for my collection here.
Perhaps some World War 2 survivors would find something interesting in the Marshall Islands. It had a whopping 5000 tourists, served only by United Air Lines and opportunistically priced airfares. The diving is said to be the best in the world here, but accommodations are not cheap. On the plus side, there is no crime here.
If you are worried that the place you once treasured is on this list, here are a few more: Turkmenistan (7), Afghanistan (10), Libya (15), North Korea (16) or ask Dennis Rodman, our new ambassador to North Korea, Bhutan (17), Tonga (19) as I once played a tennis match against a Tongan in Maui, Djibouti (21), Liechtenstein (22), and Chad (24) but not sure if it is Mitchell or the hangers that cost Al Gore the Presidential election in Florida. Give me a holler if any of you have been to the bottom 25.
So, what sits at the top of the most visited list? I mentioned France, but who really cares, except for the Champagne region, and the French Open Tennis Championships. But the good old U.S. of A is second, followed by China, Spain, Italy, and Turkey. My suggestion is to visit some of the countries “in between” these two lists. Some of my favorites are: Japan (of course), Vietnam, Cambodia, Cape Town (South Africa), New Zealand, Amazonia, Argentina, Malaysia (particularly Penang), and Thailand.
Happy and safe travels to you!