The 21 Least Visited Countries in the World Gallery
May 2, 2018
Hidden gems around the globe
The 21 Least Visited Countries in the World
Travel can get quite expensive and quite tiresome, particularly when you’re visiting a top destination that everyone else is rushing to get to. That’s why so many globetrotters are drawn to destinations that are on the road less traveled. The food is just as delicious yet less expensive, the beaches are even more tranquil without the crowds, and it’s easier to get a better deal on your hotel room.
In order to figure out which destinations can really give you that off-the-beaten-path experience, we went really far off the beaten path. The United Nations World Tourism Organization releases a “Tourism Highlights” report every year, and going off the most recent data available from its 2017 report, we pulled together a list of the least visited countries in the world. It should be noted that the UNWTO did not have data for every country in the world, and the data that was available was according to 2016 statistics. Of the 21 destinations that made the list, 10 are Pacific islands, six are located in the Caribbean, and three are in Europe. Asia and Africa have one country each on the list. To discover what not many others have discovered so far, take a look at the 21 least visited countries in the world.
Grenada (135,000 visitors)
With just 135,000 visitors in 2016, Grenada’s underrated status as a Caribbean destination has served it well ecologically — its beautiful beaches and rainforests have stayed relatively untouched. We made it one of our top destinations this year, with over 30 cruise ships adding Grenada to their itineraries and Jet Blue adding a daily direct route to New York City’s John F. Kennedy Airport last year. Resorts and hotels are also popping up all over the island to accommodate this growing tourism, as visitors arrive to enjoy the Spice Isle’s chocolate, rum, and of course, spices.
Moldova (121,000 visitors)
Moldova is a small, landlocked nation in Eastern Europe famous for its wines, which are both top-quality and relatively inexpensive. Not many wine lovers seem to have discovered this gem, however, as only around 121,000 people visited the nation in 2016. Moldova is home to Milestii Mici, a wine producer that owns the record for the biggest wine collection in the world. Moldova also has beautiful rolling hills perfect for biking and taking photos, as well as several opportunities to explore caves and enjoy kayaking, horseback riding, and more.
Saint Kitts and Nevis (114,000 visitors)
The islands of Saint Kitts and Nevis make up a beautiful nation in the West Indies. Having changed hands from England to France multiple times, the tropical islands have quite a bit of influence from both colonial cultures. Only 114,000 people visited in 2016, which is surprising, considering how much there is to do there, such as snorkeling, golfing, rum tasting, and even diving for your own food.
New Caledonia (105,000 visitors)
Located about 750 miles off the eastern coast of Australia in the southwest Pacific Ocean, New Caledonia is a French territory with stunning landscapes perfect for camping and hiking, as well as plenty of opportunities for snorkeling, diving, and lying in the sun at its beaches. Just 105,000 people came to enjoy the island’s tropical climate and delicious traditional and French cuisine.
Vanuatu (95,000 visitors)
Approximately 1,090 miles east of northern Australia and 340 miles northeast of New Caledonia, Vanuatu is an island nation that has, in the past, been claimed by the Spanish, French, and English. The archipelago consists of 83 islands, and its tropical climate varies from hot and humid in the north to mild and dry in the south. A fantastic place to relax and enjoy local food and handcrafts, just 95,000 people visited the island in 2016 — and much to the disappointment of the Kastom people, Prince Philip wasn’t one of them.
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines (79,000 visitors)
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines — consisting of the volcanic island of Saint Vincent and an island chain known as the Grenadine Islands — is a Caribbean nation that is also a former colony of both France and England. While tourism has been growing at a moderate pace, the islands still only saw 79,000 visitors, perhaps due to the mountainous terrain which makes transportation a bit more difficult than it is on other Caribbean islands. Still, it’s worth a trip to enjoy amazingly beautiful trails, cays, ancient rock carvings, and even a volcano you can climb. Particularly worthy of note is Salt Whistle Bay, one of the best beaches in the world.
Anguilla (79,000 visitors)
Also located in the Caribbean and also having only approximately 79,000 visitors in 2016, Anguilla is a British territory perfect for a weekend rendezvous. The main island is made of limestone, resulting in some amazing limestone caves for you to explore, and it’s also home to some beautiful white sand beaches, many of which are turtle nesting grounds. Anguilla’s stunning coral reefs welcome some great snorkeling and scuba diving, but if you’re not a great swimmer, you also have the option of witnessing them from a glass-bottomed boat.
Dominica (78,000 visitors)
Yet another Caribbean nation that was once both a French and an English colony, Dominica is known for its stunning natural landscape which has stayed largely protected thanks to its extensive national park system. Just 78,000 visitors came in 2016, but that’s likely due to Dominica’s limited capacity rather than its lack of popularity; the area of the island is just 290 square miles, and some hotels are already fully booked for peak summer dates.
Timor-Leste (72,000 visitors)
Also known as East Timor, Timor-Leste is a Southeast Asian nation located on the eastern end of the Indonesian archipelago. Once a Portuguese colony and then occupied by Indonesia, its culture and cuisine is a mix of these influences as well as that of its indigenous Melanesian and Austronesian cultures. Just 72,000 people made a trip to Timor-Leste, which is a perfect destination for ecotourism; Nino Konis National Park is considered to have some of the last surviving tropical lowland rainforest zones and is incredibly diverse, with both rich coastal environments and multiple mountains that attract world-class trekking and bird-watching.
Liechtenstein (69,000 visitors)
Sandwiched between Austria to the east and north and Switzerland to the west and south, Liechtenstein is a central European microstate that had only 69,000 visitors — which is actually pretty impressive, considering its population in 2016 was just 37,666. Thanks to its location in the Alps, it’s a great place for winter sports, hiking, and mountain biking, as well as enjoying stunning views. It also has one of the healthiest cuisines in the world.
Tonga (61,000 visitors)
The Tongan archipelago is made up of 169 islands, of which just 36 of which are inhabited, with a total surface area of approximately 290 square miles. Located in the southern Pacific Ocean, the Polynesian nation is the quintessential island destination, although it had just 61,000 visitors. Beaches in Tonga are great place to lay in the sun, and diving, fishing, kayaking, kite surfing, and snorkeling are all popular activities for tourists. Tongan feasts — often organized by hotels and tour companies — are a bucket list experience with much drinking and traditional dancing.
San Marino (60,000 visitors)
Claiming to be the oldest sovereign state still in existence as well as the oldest constitutional republic, San Marino is a landlocked microstate within north-central Italy. Just over 24 square miles and with a population of just over 33,000, San Marino received approximately 60,000 visitors in 2016, with its biggest attractions being its medieval town hall, the Cathedral of San Marino, and the Three Towers of San Marino, depicted on the country’s flag and coat of arms.
Sierra Leone (54,000 visitors)
Tourism in the West African country of Sierra Leone has suffered as a result of the civil war that lasted from 1991 to 2002 as well as an Ebola outbreak that lasted from 2014 to 2016. Just 54,000 visitors came to visit the country, which has just one international airport. As a result, the country has a largely unrealized potential for tourism, with fantastic beaches and an interesting colonial heritage. A Muslim-majority nation with a significant Christian minority, it’s also considered to be one of the most religiously tolerant countries in the world. Locals are known to be very welcoming of foreigners, with most of them speaking English.
Micronesia (24,000 visitors)
Officially known as the Federated States of Micronesia, Micronesia has four states made up of about 607 islands located in the western Pacific Ocean, just north of the equator. Just 24,000 people visited the country, likely due to the heavy rainfall that occurs all year but particularly from June to December when typhoons pose a particular threat. Diving and swimming are popular endeavors here, and the traditional culture of the islands is also a big draw. From 1947 until 1994, its government was administered by the United States, which continues to be responsible for Micronesia’s defense; as a result, the local currency is the U.S. dollar and U.S. citizens may live and work freely there.
Solomon Islands (22,000 visitors)
Located in the South Pacific Ocean, the Solomon Islands saw only 22,000 visitors. Part of the Coral Triangle, it’s a prime destination for scuba diving, which has a significant part to play in the country’s tourism industry. A lack of infrastructure has held back growth in the industry, however, and caution is advised to tourists, particularly after dark.
American Samoa (20,000 visitors)
An unincorporated U.S. territory, American Samoa is another South Pacific destination, made up of five islands and two coral atolls. With an area of just under 77 square miles, it’s only slightly larger than Washington, D.C. Just 20,000 visitors came to American Samoa, which has wonderful beaches and beautiful coral reefs perfect for snorkeling, as well as a rainforest in the mountains near the capital of Pago Pago where you can go hiking.
Marshall Islands (10,000 visitors)
Situated halfway between Hawaii and Australia, the Marshall Islands is a Pacific island nation right near the equator, resulting in a hot and humid tropical climate. A mere 10,000 visitors made it to the country, which has suffered from flooding due to climate change as well as pollution. For a more tropical island experience, venture out to one of the outer islands.
Montserrat (9,000 visitors)
Montserrat is a British territory in the Caribbean, measuring approximately 10 miles in length and 7 miles in width and with just 25 miles of coastline. Because it looks like coastal Ireland and due to the fact that many Montserratians have Irish ancestry, it has been referred to as “The Emerald Isle of the Caribbean.” Montserrat was once a popular vacation spot before 1989 when Hurricane Hugo hit the island, damaging over 90 percent of its structures. In 1995, the island took another hit when the Soufrière Hills volcano erupted, burying its capital in ash and mud and forcing evacuations as well as airport and seaport closings. The island is still quite beautiful, however, and 9,000 visitors came in 2016 to enjoy its tropical forests and quiet, secluded beaches.
Niue (8,000 visitors)
Niue is one of the largest coral islands in the world, with a land area of about 101 square miles. Just 8,000 people visited the country in 2016, which is impressive considering its population that year was approximately 1,600. The South Pacific island nation, located 1,500 miles northeast of New Zealand, is surrounded by a coral reef and has limestone cliffs and caves along its coast. A tropical rainforest takes up approximately 20 percent of the land area and is full of gorgeous and diverse flora and fauna, and cycling, diving, fishing, golf, kayaking, and snorkeling are all popular tourist activities on the island.
Kiribati (5,000 visitors)
Another former British colony, Kiribati is a central Pacific island nation that saw just 5,000 visitors in 2016. As a result, its beaches are pretty untouched and stunning to see, perfect for boating and yachting. Some of the islands have prominent World War II sights, having been the site of some intense fighting, and guided tours are available to see and learn about the shipwrecks and the remains of tanks, planes, and amtracs. Phoenix Islands Protected Area, one of the largest marine protected areas in the world, is also located in Kiribati, where you can discover coral reefs and hundreds of species of fish.
Tuvalu (2,000 visitors)
Stefan Lins/Wikimedia Commons
Of all the countries that the United Nations World Tourism Organization was able to determine tourism statistics for, Tuvalu turned out to have the absolute least number of visitors – just 2,000. The fourth smallest country in the world, the Polynesian island nation is located in the South Pacific and has a total land area of just 10 square miles. Part of Queen Elizabeth II’s Commonwealth realm, Tuvalu doesn’t have much to do outside of beach activities such as scuba diving, snorkeling, swimming, and sunning. Traditional culture has been kept quite alive here, with traditional dances being performed on special occasions, particularly at town halls. Given the relative unpopularity of destinations like Tuvalu, travel should be pretty inexpensive, but it doesn’t hurt to learn which tips and tricks will land you particularly cheap flights no matter where you’re going.
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