We all know about the countries that get the most tourists: Italy and France and the U.S. and all that. France had 79.5 million visitors a year, which is tops on the planet. But what about the places that see the least number of visitors?
I ran across a great list the other day, from the United Nations World Tourism Organization and blogger Gunnar Garfors. These are all countries that contrast - just a bit - to France’s numbers, with visitations ranging from 73,000 down to a mere 200. Most are in the poorest parts of Africa or scattered across the Pacific Ocean.
Here’s the list.
25. Dominica , 73,000. Pretty Caribbean country but small.
24. Chad , 71,000. Not so many tourists given political unrest in this part of Africa.
23. Central African Republic , 54,000. One of the poorest countries in Africa, but apparently there are nice river trips you can take.
22. Liechtenstein , 53,000. Sandwiched between Switzerland and Austria, it’s a country I actually drove through once. Pretty spot. I think I stopped. For a minute. I don’t remember.
21. Djibouti , 53,000. Said to have great diving. And a great, great name.
20. Sierra Leone , 52,000. Great beaches, Garfors said.
19. Tonga , 45,000. One of those tiny Pacific countries, with fab coral reefs but few tourists.
18. East Timor , 40,000. Political issies keep folks from visiting what’s said to be a pretty country connected to Indonesia.
17. Bhutan , 37,000. I keep reading this spot in the Himalayas is the happiest country on earth. Maybe because they don’t get many annoying tourists.
16. North Korea , 35,000. Safe to visit. Unless you run into Dennis Rodman.
15. Libya , 34,000. Do I really need to write anything for this entry? I didn’t think so.
14. Guinea-Bissau , 30,000. Another poor Afircan country.
13. Mauritania , 29,000. Not much to see in this part of west Africa. Nice camels, though.
12. Federated States of Micronesia , 26,000. Hard to get to, but beautiful.
11. Solomon Islands , 23,000. More beautiful South Pacific scenery but not a lot of flights in. Country includes Guadalcanal, sight of one of the worst battles of World War II.
10. Afghanistan , 17,500. I’m shocked that many people go, to be honest. Looks beautiful in photos but way too many other things going on.
9. Comoros , 15,000. Garfors says great seafood in this island spot north of Madagascar, and mosquitoes not as bad as folks think. Still, I’ll take a pass.
8. Sao Tome and Principe , 8,000. This island spot is said off the coast of west Africa is said to be the smallest nation on (or near) the continent.
7. Turkmenistan , 7,000. I can’t think of anything to say about this central Asian country. Not quite as crazy as North Korea, says Garfors.
6. Equatorial Guinea , 6,000. I think there are too many countries in the world with Guinea in the name.
5. Marshall Islands , 5,000. Fab diving but even I, a map freak, couldn’t find them on the globe without some help.
4. Kiribati , 4,700. Wikitravel says this nation of Pacific atolls is friendly but that “South Tarawa is one of the most densely populated, severely poverty-stricken places in the world.”
3. Tuvalu , 1,200. Rising tides could make this Pacific nation disappear. So boogie on down to Tuvalu while you still can. Said to be the third least populous nation on earth, smaller only than Nauru and Vatican City.
2. Somalia , 500. See entry for Libya.
1. Nauru , 200. Not far from Kiribati (hey, a new tourism slogan!). The smallest nation on earth, just 21 square kilometers and just under 10,000 residents. If it was downtown Toronto it would, of course, have 1.6 million inhabitants in 86 storey condos with shards of broken glass littering the sidewalk. A troubled economy and a fair bit of poverty, apparently. Garfors calls it the only country in the world without a capital but I don’t know if that’s true. Lots of phosphate mining and some beautiful water.