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The 25 Least Visited Countries in the World



Posted on 08-04-2013.

By Gunnar Garfors

Are you up for going on that unique trip that almost no one has done before you? The problem might just be finding the right destination. The least visited country in the world may not be the one you would think.

I am currently conducting research through visits to all 198 countries of the world. The reason? To figure out where I eventually want to go on proper holiday. I have been to 190 countries so far (update: 197, per April 1) and I often wondered which countries are the very least visited ones. Remoteness, visa regulations, governments, available travel information and how many visitors I see on my travels give me a certain idea, but what do the statistics say? If they even exist. And where can I find such official statistics?

UNWTO, World Tourism Organization has a pretty good overview. Some countries, especially some of which are likely to receive very few visitors per year, are still left out, which means that the information must be found elsewhere. I have found info on the remaining ones from various sources, such as newspaper articles or independent travel reports. Do also note that such statistics will never be entirely accurate. Some countries only measure tourists arriving by air, others only track boat arrivals, yet others base their info on information from hotels. And some people on business still say that they are in a country as a tourist to avoid extra bureaucracy. 

The 25 least visited countries of the world follow below. The most visited of those has 73,000 foreign tourists in a year, the least visited less than 200. That is way behind number one, France, with 79.5 million annual foreign visitors:

25. Dominica: 73,000 tourists (2011, UNWTO)

This gentleman sells coconuts next to the airport. 

Why so few?

The island nation is rather small without too many tourist facilities. The only commercial airport cannot handle big aircraft, so the nation is served by propellor planes only.

Why you may still want to visit

The jungle provides refuge for a great number of birds and animals. And the rural feel of the island nation makes it feel anything but touristy, exactly what you may be looking for.

What else

Do not confuse Dominica with Dominican Republic. Both countries are in the Carribean, but they are very different. Buy coconuts from salesmen by the road and eliminate your thirst. Just know how to haggle or you will be ripped off.

24. Chad: 71,000 tourists (2010, UNWTO)

Why so few?

There's political instability and unrest in this landlocked and dry country. Rebels make large parts of the country less than safe.

Why you may still want to visit

You find the biggest rocks in the world in Chad, although you should hire armed guards in 4WD vehicles to go there due to robbers that sometimes go violent. It's amazing for climbing! The capital N'Djamena is a big market town with some impressive governmental buildings.

What else

Mastercard is not accepted in Chad, so bring cash or a Visa card.

23. Central African Republic: 54,000 tourists (2010, UNWTO)

Why so few?

The landlocked country isn't really famous for much. It is one of the poorest in Africa.

Why you may still want to visit

Do go by boat on one of the many rivers in the countries. And relax in semi-modern Bangui where you'll find French cuisine and a bakery.

What else

Do not take photos of locals unless they give you permission to do so. Or risk facing a threatening mob.

22. Liechtenstein: 53,000 tourists (2011, UNWTO)

Why so few?

There's no airport in the landlocked neighbour of Switzerland and Austria. There's a heliport though, so if you are among those with a bank account here you may still come and leave airborne. Most visitors are presumably on business thanks to the secretive bank system and the low corporate taxes.

Why you may still want to visit

Amazing mountains that are great for skiing and hiking. Do not miss Balzers Castle if you're into stacked rocks.

What else

Don't stay too long here, or you may go bored. The country is tiny.

21. Djibouti: 53,000 tourists (2008, UN)

Why so few?

A dry and dirty place. There's rubbish all over the small desert country that is no one's typical destination.

Why you may still want to visit

The scuba diving is amazing, although not very affordable. There are plenty of French soldiers around if that may appeal to you. That also means a lively nightlife scene every weekend. The lowest point in Africa is also in the country. Lake Assal is 157 meters below sea level.

What else

There are some mean looking helicopters on the airport which doubles as a military airfield. You may be able to witness some action there.

20. Sierra Leone: 52,000 tourists (2011, UN)

Taxi, Sierra Leone style.

Why so few?

Have you heard anything good about this country recently?

Why you may still want to visit

You will discover some of the most amazing beaches in Africa and great hospitality. You can find pretty much anything at the markets in Freetown.

What else

Getting to and from the airport is a pain. You will have to go by one of three boat options taking 30-60 minutes to Freetown or splash out on a chartered helicopter that may or may not be operational. One of the options involve travelling 12 kilometers by taxi to the car ferry port. I went for a two wheeled version.

19. Tonga 45,000 tourists (2011, UNWTO)

Blowholes on the south coast of Tonga.

Why so few?

It is located in the middle of the Pacific.

Why you may still want to visit

The main island is a coral surrounded by coral reefs. The diving and snorkeling is great! And there's even a choice of airline to get here, which is unusal for island states in Oceania. Air New Zealand, Virgin Australia and Air Pacific can all take you here, making access relatively easy.

What else

It's one of the last absolute monarchies in the world. And the Tongan feasts are famous. Indulge!

18. East Timor: 40,000 tourists (2010, UN)

Why so few?

The UN is still very much present here, and UN aircraft largely outnumber commercial ones. The country may still not feel safe for a lot of people.

Why you may still want to visit

Fantastic scenery which is great for hiking and treking. And do not forget the scuba diving gear at home. The conditions are world class. You will also find old Portugese buildings scattered around the country and going to small villages as a foreign tourist will guaranteed make people turn heads and most likely produce smiles.

What else

Getting a visa is easy for most nationals. You get it in exchange for 30USD upon arrival at the airport in Dili.

17. Bhutan: 37,000 tourists (2011, UNWTO)

Tiger's Nest. Just do it.

Why so few?

You have to go through a process to get a visa and travel permits to the country. And you will be required to have a guide with you while exploring the country.

Why you may still want to visit

The mountains are stunning, so are the hiking possibilities. It is also very much a Buddhist country, something that is easily recognized by temples and monsatries, many of which are worth the visit on their own. And do not forget Tiger's Nest. The monastry build on a small ledge of a mountain. It will take you an hour or two to hike up there, but it is so worth it.

What else

You will see penises painted on many buildings around the country. They are signs of good luck, but will make some westerners go totally shy and awkward. And do watch the archery competitions. The locals know how to handle their bows.

16. North Korea: 35,000 tourists (2011, Koryo Group)

Anti American propaganda everywhere. 

Why so few?

Do I really need to answer this?

Why you may still want to visit

A visit to North Korea will make you redefine your definition of a country. The Truman Show, country scale, someone said. It is one of the safest countries to visit as a tourist. Crime is virually non-existent. Just ignore that everyone will think you are mad for going. It's so worth a visit.

What else

You will always be minded by two minders. Their job is to mind you and each other. Sometimes they will still need to use the facilities, so if you are lucky you may get to exchange some extra information. Do note that you will be on the receiving side of a lot of brainwashing, or should I say propaganda.

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