World’s least-visited countries revealed, from hidden Caribbean islands to little-known ancient realms

17:02 • 21.08.17



It's every traveller's dream - a corner of the planet still unburdened by tourists.

And apparently, such places do exist. According to the United Nations World Tourism Organisation's 2017 report, only 1,000 people ventured to the South Pacific paradise of Tuvalu last year, making it the least-visited country in the world.

 

MailOnline has presented the rest of the 15 nations that account for the lowest annual tourist numbers, with wanderlust-worthy destinations in Europe, Africa, Asia and beyond.

 

Tuvalu (1,000 visitors in 2016)


With its picture-perfect beaches and turquoise waters, it's surprising that the South Pacific paradise of Tuvalu is not popular with the masses.


The island enjoys little crime and a low terror threat and doesn't have armed forces. All political decisions are based on family and island loyalty as opposed to political parties.


The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge visited in 2015 as Queen Elizabeth II is Head of State, but only 1,000 people touched down here in 2016.


 With its flawless beaches and vivid turquoise waters, it is surprising indeed that the South Pacific paradise of Tuvalu is not popular with the masses

Kiribati 


Kiribati is the very definition of a place in the middle of nowhere, with the nearest civilisation five hours north in Hawaii. 


Straddling the equator in the Pacific Ocean, it was known as the Gilbert Islands while under British rule. However, Western influence is minimal on the islands outside the main one, Tarawa.  


Kiribati is the very definition of a place in the middle of nowhere, with the nearest civilisation five hours north in Hawaii. 


Straddling the equator in the Pacific Ocean, it was known as the Gilbert Islands while under British rule. However, Western influence is minimal on the islands outside the main one, Tarawa.  


For centuries, locals have lived on coconuts, bread, fruit and fish. Its 33 coral atolls, with their majestic turquoise lagoons, cover a massive 1.3million square miles of the Pacific. Once there, visitors can explore the islands on bike, boat or foot, and fish or dive in the area. It's paradise now - but there were some terrible battles here during World War II.

Kiribati is the very definition of a place in the middle of nowhere, with the nearest civilisation five hours north in Hawaii

Its 33 coral atolls, with their majestic turquoise lagoons, cover a massive 1.3million square miles of the Pacific. Once there, visitors can explore the islands on bike, boat or foot, and fish or dive in the area

Sao Tome & Principe (8,000) 


If you crave peace and a quiet, a trip to Africa's second-smallest country, Sao Tome & Principe, may just do the trick.

These two volcanic regions offer much in the way of humpback whale and dolphin-spotting opportunities, along with incredible diving spots.


The laid-back island also boasts emerald rainforests, architecture from the Portuguese colonial era and not a tacky beachside resort in sight.


If you truly crave some peace and a quiet, a trip to Africa's second-smallest country, Sao Tome & Principe, may just do the trick

Montserrat (9,000) 


Once a popular holiday spot, this Lesser Antilles island has never quite recovered from a series of horrific natural disasters. Hurricane Hugo in 1989 hit 90 per cent of the island's structures and in 1995 it was battered when the previously dormant Soufriere Hills volcano erupted.


These days, its volcano is now actually one of Montserrat's main attractions, along with its remarkable beaches.


Visitors can also take advantage of good snorkelling and diving in its azure waters.

Once a popular holiday spot, this Lesser Antilles island has never quite recovered from a series of horrific natural disasters


Comoros (24,000) 
 

This collection of islands in the Indian Ocean near Madagascar serve as the perfect antidote from everyday city life. 


The enchanting Comoros offers stunning volcanic scenery, forests teaming with lemurs and fruit bats and remote sleepy towns. 


There are even some of the best undiscovered reefs just waiting to be explored by divers. 

 

This collection of islands in the Indian Ocean near Madagascar serve as the perfect antidote from everyday city life

The enchanting Comoros offers stunning volcanic scenery, forests teaming with lemurs and fruit bats, and remote sleepy towns


Djibouti (51,000) 

Djibouti, on the horn of Africa, consists largely of dry shrublands that cover 9,000 square miles.


Interestingly, its women outnumber men significantly - with the fourth-highest ratio of females-to-males in the world. 


You can visit, but the The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advises against all travel to the border with Eritrea, and note that Djibouti currently remains one of the main routes for those fleeing conflict in Yemen. 
 

Djibouti, on the horn of Africa, consists largely of dry shrublands that cover 9,000 square miles. Interestingly, its women outnumber men significantly - with the fourth highest ratio of females-to-males in the world

You can visit, but the The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advise against all travel to the border with Eritrea, and note that Djibouti currently remains one of the main routes for those fleeing conflict in Yemen


San Marino (60,000) 


The second least-visited country in Europe, San Marino remains a fairly hidden secret.

 

The mountainous microstate, surrounded by northern Italy, offers several peaks from which to admire the pretty country from great heights.


History buffs will lap up its scenic city centre, which dates back to the 13th century and has a wealth of fortification towers, walls, gates and bastions.

The mountainous microstate of San Marino, surrounded by northern Italy, offers several peaks (left) from which to admire the pretty country from great heights

History buffs will lap up its scenic city centre, which dates back to the 13th century and has a wealth of fortification towers, walls, gates and bastions 

Timor-Leste (66,000) 


For those seeking adventures devoid of large organised groups, Asia's Timor-Leste most certainly delivers.


There are mountains to climb, jungle caves to enter and colourful misty mountain village markets with treasures to acquire at this hidden gem.



For those seeking adventures devoid of large organised groups, Asia's Timor-Leste most certainly delivers

There are mountains to climb, jungle caves to enter and colourful misty mountain village markets with treasures to acquire at this hidden gem

Liechtenstein (69,000)

 

The sixth smallest country in the world is also one of the most undiscovered - the second least visited in Europe - though it's hard to see why given its quaint appeal.

 

Nestled between Austria and Switzerland, Liechtenstein has much to recommend it, not least the 12th century fortress which acts as the official residence of the country's prince.   


An outdoor enthusiast's playground, it's the only country in the world to be totally in the Alps. A summer
haven for hiking and cycling and snow-covered skiing perfection in winter, for those who can afford it.

The sixth smallest country in the world is also one of the most undiscovered, though it's hard to see why given its quaint appeal


Sierra Leone (74,400) 

The 2014 Ebola epidemic is largely to blame for Sierra Leone's subsequent drop in tourism. As of March 2016, however, the World Health Organisation declared it Ebola-free.

And there is plenty to lure tourists back with, among them national parks, mangrove swamps, sandy beaches and the Loma Mountains in the north.

The 2014 Ebola epidemic is largely to blame for Sierra Leone's subsequent drop in tourism. Pictured is Freetown, a port city and the county's capital

Anguilla (79,000) 


While it's postcard-perfect, the British overseas territory of Anguilla, to the east of Puerto Rico, is not the cheapest destination. 


Lesser visited than celebrity hotspot St Bart's, the island is seeing an increasing number of glamorous new holiday homes pop up, so its popularity - and prices - are bound to grow.


The country boasts a down-to-earth charm for the rich subset who crave an off-the-radar break.  

While it's postcard-perfect, the British overseas territory of Anguilla, to the east of Puerto Rico, is not the cheapest destination

Lesser visited than celebrity hotspot St Bart's, the island is seeing an increasing number of glamorous new holiday homes pop up, so its popularity - and prices - are bound to grow


Moldova (121,000)


Moldova became independent from the Soviet Union in the early 1990s.


And, located between Romania and Ukraine, part of its charm is that it hasn't yet been over-developed. 


The destination offers unspoiled landscapes, a unique history, impressive monasteries and a thriving wine industry.

Unspoiled landscapes and wine are among Moldova's greatest attractions, but  less than 121,000 visitors took advantage in 2016

Located between Romania and Ukraine, part of its charm is that it hasn't yet been over-developed since becoming independent from the Soviet Union in the early 1990s

Bangladesh (125,000) 


Bangladesh is a rural wonderland which is heavily populated and bursting with waterways to explore.


The country is often besieged by floods and suffers from extreme poverty, but there is plenty to see, including the Ahsan Monzil in Dhaka, otherwise knowns as the Pink Palace.


Visitors are warned to avoid Chittagong Hill Tracts on the borders with Burma and India, however, and terrorist activity has increased here since 2015.

Bangladesh is a varied wonderland which is heavily populated but bursting with sights to explore, including this, the Ahsan Monzil in Dhaka, otherwise known as the Pink Palace

The country is often besieged by floods and suffers from extreme poverty nationwide, but its beauty can't be denied

Bhutan (155,000)

There is clearly something in the water in the Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan, as more than 90 per cent of its population say they are content, according to the Gross National Happiness Index.


Perhaps this has something to do with its gloriously scenic patchwork fields, traditional Buddhist culture and unspoilt hills.


Incredibly, fewer than ten pilots are reportedly registered to land at its airport, which along with strict restrictions on tourism and a less-than-simple visa process, accounts for the low visitor numbers. 

There is clearly something in the water in the Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan, as more than 90 per cent of its population say they are content, according to the Gross National Happiness Index

Incredibly, fewer than ten pilots are reportedly registered to land at its airport, which along with strict restrictions on tourism and a less-than-simple visa process, accounts for the low visitor numbers


French Guiana (199,000)

The untamed French Guiana is the least visited country in South America, despite boasting some of the world's most diverse plant and animal life. 


While there is much to attract tourists to the area, not least its miles of pristine jungle, the infrastructure is in need of some attention.


Pregnant women should heed FCO advice on the dangers posed by the Zika virus.

The untamed French Guiana is the least visited country in South America, despite boasting some of the world's most diverse plant and animal life

While there is much to attract tourists to the area, not least its miles of pristine jungle, the infrastructure is in need of some attention 





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