A lot of you out there love to travel to unusual tourist spots, judging by the number of people reading, tweeting and commenting on The 25 Least Visited Countries in the World I recently published.
Quite a few comments indicate that some of the countries on that list may be too hard or expensive to get to or too dangerous to go anywhere near.
That calls for another bucket list proposal on the 25 countries where ‘no one’ lives and why you should still visit. Maldives narrowly misses the list, being number 26 with eight thousand people ‘too many’ to join it.
Why so few? Would you want to live on an island with fierce and flaming volcanoes, yet so cold it's called Iceland? The country was also discovered by Norwegian vikings and was the last European country to be settled.
Why you may still want to visit The lava based scenery rising from the storms of the Atlantic is fantastic! So is the food. Just leave your whale meat boycotting plans at home. Whale meat is the healthiest meat on the planet and tastes fantastic when prepared as it is supposed to in one of Reykjavik's gourmet restaurants. You may also try puffin or walrus.
Tourists annually, in percentage of population 1,418,000 tourists, 443% of the population!
As if the US would have 1,390,639,197 tourists per year. That reads 1 billion, 390 millions 639 thousand and 197 and could have helped settle the US debt, although every tourist would still have to cover 11,826 USD to eliminate it. Some smaller countries have even higher percentages, but they have very small populations (less than 100,000 citizens) and are not surrounded by an ocean. I therefore still consider Iceland's tourist numbers more impressive.
What else What is the worst liqueur you can think of? Make it twice as bad, and you have Brennivín, the national Icelandic liquor that is also known as Black Death. Why it was ever invented? To make hákarl, cured and fermented (more commonly referred to as rotten or putrefied) shark edible. You will drown and mask the shark taste with a shot or five with Brennivín in order to regain consciousness. Do also note that the country has so few people that everyone is listed by their first name in the telephone directory.
Why so few? Belize has the lowest population density in Central America. Having so few neighbours doesn't attract many new ones, except for John McAfee. Of course it doesn't help when the few neighbours there disappear in mysterious ways, either. Why you may still want to visit The Great Blue Hole is one of the world's top diving spots. It is a so-called submarine sinkhole where you can dive with sharks. It's over 300 meters wide and 124 meters deep. Go there early to avoid the worst tourist crowds, though.
Tourists annually, in percentage of population 250,000 tourists, 80% of the population.
What else Do avoid San Pedro unless your ideal holiday involves queues, mass tourism, overpaying for bar food of questionable quality and generally being ripped off.
Why so few? One third of the population emigrated to Britain and the US the four decades following WWII. A strict family planning program that resulted in a crude birth rate of 17 per 1,000 inhabitants the first half of the eighties didn't make things much better.
Why you may still want to visit The tap water in Barbados is fantastic, do drink a lot of it when there! And if you are British and a little hesitant to leave your united kingdom, rest assured, driving is on the left.
Tourists annually, in percentage of population 568,000 tourists, 207% of the population. What else There are a lot of old British pensioners here. They are great fun until they suddenly fall asleep around 21:00. Barbados is being nicknamed The Little Britain of the Caribbean. 'Computer says no!'
Why so few? Some tribes there used to eat each other. The last recorded act of cannibalism (and related killing) happened as late as in 1969, according to anthropologists. This has been proven to be a bad way of keeping up your population. Why you may still want to visit They have now stopped eating visitors.
Tourists annually, in percentage of population 94,000 tourists, 36% of the population.
What else Port Vila, the capital, is the base for most tourists. It boasts a number of restaurants, cafés, resorts and a souvenir market. It's not the place to hang out for long if you're an individual traveller, although it ought to beat provoking a cannibal to take up his old habit.
Why so few? Most Samoans actually live elsewhere. They may have tired from frequent changes. As late as in 2009 the country decided to switch from driving on the right to the left side of the road, in order to promote closer ties with their main trading partners Australia and New Zealand. There still aren't any car ferries between the countries, though. And in 2011 they switched sides of the International Date Line, moving from the east side to the west side of it. That meant they went from being one of the last countries going to bed each day, instead having to adapt to waking up before anyone else. I would have moved too.
Why you may still want to visit Samoans love song, music and dance and there will be plenty of opportunities to witness musical events. Do not miss the national parks, waterfalls or beaches. A traditional Samoan tattoo, on the other side, is very painful. If pain is not on your bucket list, save that for later.
Tourists annually, in percentage of population 127,000 tourists, 68% of the population. What else Beware of the frequent earthquakes and typhoons. Robert Louis Stevenson lived through some of them when he lived there for four years in the 1890s. His nickname was allegedly 'Tusitala' which of course means teller of tales.
Why so few? This island nation in Gulf of Guinea in the Atlantic, is very far from anywhere else. It is also the smallest African country, out of 55. It is a poor country that depended on cocoa, a resource that has suffered due to droughts and less than perfect management. Why you may still want to visit The fantastic scenery, the isolated and usually empty beaches and the offshore corals that invite for superb diving. And do not forget Mouth of Hell (Boca do Inferno), a geyser like phenomenon which occurs when seawater enters an underwater cave and then shoots up like fireworks. Claudio Corallo Chocolate factory is also worth a peek, you may be given a tour upon request. Claudio or one of his sons will show you the real chocolate deal. You will never again eat those sugar bars commonly referred to as chocolate and that are too often found in convenience stores around the world.
Tourists annually, in percentage of population 8,000 tourists, 4.3% of the population.
What else It is the only country in the world where you pay by Dobra. Do remember getting your visa in advance, or you will kindly (at first) be asked to return by the same flight or vessel you arrived by.
Why so few? They may not be many, but they are well educated. The country boasts the highest ratio of Nobel lauretes in relation to the total population of any country in the world. Sir Arthur Lewis and Derek Walcott won the Nobel Prizes in Economics and Literature, respectively. Both gentlemen were born on January 23 in 1915 and 1930, respectively. Expect a lot of love-making nine months ahead as the locals may try to copy the feat.
Why you may still want to visit Where else can you find a drive-in volcano?
Tourists annually, in percentage of population 290,000 tourists, 174% of the population.
What else One of the country's two airports has the best preboarding activity in the world. The airport of Castries, the capital, is so close to the beach that you can check-in, swim and then board your plane
Why so few? The former part of Britain gained independence in 1979 and is now one of the world's poorest and least developed countries. Their top export articles are fish and dried coconut meat (copra). Why you may still want to visit The cuisine is legendary. Seafood goes without saying. But do not miss out on palu sami and pandanus either. The 33 atolls offer divine diving and other sea related activities, but you may want to bring your own gear.
Tourists annually, in percentage of population 4,700 tourists, 4.5% of the population.
What else Kiribati may actually move soon. Why? If the sea levels rise, there will be very little left of Kiribati in only a few decades. The government has however taken some measures to ensure continued existence. It purchased the 22 square kilometer big Natoavatu Estate on Fiji's second biggest island in 2012 as a backup plan. Going from 811 square kilometers to 2.7% of that may not sound too attractive, but it beats the alternative.
Why so few? Tonga is considered the 165th safest investment destination in the world, according to the Euromoney Country Risk ratings of 2011. That has presumably contributed to the departure of half of the Tongans who now live in Australia, New Zealand or the US. The remaining citizens are heavily dependent on remittances from those that left. Why you may still want to visit Tonga is lobster heaven, and you do not want to miss out on a traditional Tongan feast. And, as is the case for most Pacific islands, do not rule out diving, boating or fishing. Kite surfing also comes recommended.
Tourists annually, in percentage of population 45,000 tourists, 43% of the population.
What else Watch out for sharp corals on the beaches. Tonga has direct flights from Australia, New Zealand and Fiji. The relative high number of visitors ensures a good range of accommodation, from basic budget beds to luxury resorts.
Why so few? The country only measures 344 square kilometers. If you are not into growing spice or welcoming cruise ship tourists, your work possibilities are limited. Why you may still want to visit Even those entering from cruise ships, tourism's parallel to the industrialized revolution (effective but disinfected for charm), go there for a reason. The island nation has a pleasant climate thanks to a cooling wind often passing through. Grenada proudly boasts a thriving spice market and surprisingly good restaurants. Not to forget the beaches, the scenery or the night clubs that are located 10 kilometers outside St. John's, the capital.
Tourists annually, in percentage of population 112,000 tourists, 108% of the population.
What else The horseshoe shaped harbour of St. John's is very picturesque and offers cafes, bars and souvenir shops. It is on the other side of the hill from the cruise ship port, so go through the little tunnel or climb up and down the steep but charming streets. The latter is recommended, the view is ace.
Why so few? It's called Micronesia. Micro means small, everything comes in small numbers. The islands are geographical isolated and come with a poorly developed infrastructure. The economy is based on fishing, farming and some tourism. Why you may still want to visit Micronesia will blow your mind away when it comes to diving and surfing. There is a surfcamp in Pohnpei. Don't expect a crowd.
Tourists annually, in percentage of population 26,000 tourists, 25% of the population.
What else On Yap, one of the islands, you can see Rai stones, or 'stone money.' These large disks are usually made by calcite, are up to 4 meters diameter and comes with a hole in the middle. There are 6,500 of them, they still come with a value and they are owned by private individuals. Change must be carried in very large pockets.
Why so few? The country has a primarily banana based economy. It's not a republic though, so save your jokes. Tourism is not increasing rapidly, rather the contrary, so the natural beauty found outside the capital can still be enjoyed in relative peace. Why you may still want to visit The clear water, the views and the odd tourists that do not come by cruise ship. Travel independently, preferably by your own boat to experience total relaxation.
Tourists annually, in percentage of population 74,000 tourists, 73% of the population.
What else The airport is only a couple of kilometers from downtown Kingstown, the capital. There you will find quite a few shops and restaurants. Don't expect a thriving nightlife.
Why so few? This country is many people's definition of honeymoon hell. If you can avoid those couples, you probably will.
Why you may still want to visit Newlyweds without much imagination might as well jump on the bandwagon.
Tourists annually, in percentage of population 194,000 tourists, 213% of the population.
What else The further away from the main island you go, the less honeymooners you are likely to run into. When entering, you are likely to be asked for your exact holiday address, so be sure to have booked in advance. You may otherwise find yourself calling hotels with custom officers eavesdropping or risk being sent home.
Why so few? St. John's, the capital, is zimmer frame heaven. A way too big cruise ship terminal, souvenir shop Mecca and a casino virtually on the quay contributes to this. Would you wanna live here?
Why you may still want to visit You'll fit straight in if you have a zimmer frame. If not, do avoid the capital. Outside it you can still find your own little piece of paradise.
Tourists annually, in percentage of population 241,000 tourists, 279% of the population.
What else Barbuda, the smaller of the islands, is much less touristy. Go there for spotless beaches and a frigate bird colony. V. C. Bird International (ANU), the international airport in Antigua, is a convenient hub for short flights to neighbouring islands.
Why so few? Most people prefer to live in neighbouring Spain or France. Why you may still want to visit It's duty free heaven, don't come with a full suitcase. The country includes beautiful mountains that offer splendid possibilities for skiing, hiking and trekking. After all, the little country is in the Pyrenees.
Tourists annually, in percentage of population 1,948,000 tourists, 2494% of the population!
What else Don't order seafood in the restaurants. And be aware of limited rum supplies in the bars.
Why so few? Dominica has among the lowest per capita gross domestic product (GDP) of the Eastern Caribbean states. You can legally get a second passport from Dominica, but it will set you back over 100,000 USD, so demand is somewhat limited and doesn't contribute much towards an increased population. Why you may still want to visit 'The Nature Island of the Caribbean' deserves it's nickname. The magnificent and very varied flora and fauna is much appreciated by the Dominans who protect it all by an extensive natural park system.
Tourists annually, in percentage of population 73,000 tourists, 102% of the population.
What else Dominica's original name is Wai'tukubuli which means 'tall is her body.' 60% of the needed electricity can be classified as green, as it comes from hydropower. Dominica got it's name from Christopher Columbus. He spotted it on a Sunday (which is dominica in Latin).
Why so few? The US performed 67 tests of nuclear bombs here between 1946 and 1958. That includes the biggest nuclear test ever performed, codenamed Castle Bravo, a dry fuel thermonuclear hydrogen bomb. The Atomic Energy Commission regarded Marshall Islands 'by far the most contaminated place in the world' in 1956.
Why you may still want to visit Divers unite. There are over 1,000 different kinds of fish and 250 types of coral around the islands.
Tourists annually, in percentage of population 5,000 tourists, 9% of the population.
What else You will find a great variety on the menu thanks to an abundant selection of fish and fruits. Marshall Islands used to be called the world's 'fishiest place.' Please ignore any double meanings.
Why so few? The 261 square kilometers make this the smallest country in Americas. It is also the smallest when it comes to population. The economy relies heavily on tourism and agriculture. Why you may still want to visit Dive, eat and drink. The selection of restaurants is surprisingly big, given the size of the country. Resorts are scattered around the country. St. Kitts is the biggest island, and it receives most of the tourists, Nevis is however also worth visiting for a more relaxing atmosphere.
Tourists annually, in percentage of population 98,000 tourists, 189% of the population.
What else University of Medicine and Health Services on St. Kitts claims to offer US standard educations. It's location certainly attracts students that might otherwise be too tired of school to continue their education. Then again, frequent beach parties can easily contribute to a graduation that is still quite far away.
Why so few? A constitutional monarch is Head of State, and the country is very conservative. Women gained the right to vote on July 1, 1984, as the last country in Europe. Narrowly so, though. Only 51.3% of the voting men were in favour of such revolutionary measures. The country has the second lowest unemployment rate in the world (only Monaco's is lower), and is probably eager to keep it that way. Why you may still want to visit The country is full of mountains, divided only by the Rhine Valley. Liechtenstein is one of only two double-landlocked countries in the world, meaning you have to travel through at least two countries to get to the sea. The other one is Uzbekistan.
Tourists annually, in percentage of population 53,000 tourists, 145% of the population.
What else Liechtenstein actually has more registered companies than citizens and has traditionally had somewhat relaxed banking systems. No wonder it has a reputation as a haven for money laundering gangs from Russia, Italy and Colombia.
Why so few? It's the most densely populated country in the world. Most people aren't interested in squeezing in. And they probably cannot afford to. The country is bloody expensive and is home to more snobbish people than many 'normal' people can take.
Why you may still want to visit The strangest Formula 1 race in the world is held here every year. There is no room for a track, so the cars race through town instead. The harbour is usually full of very expensive yachts, and the owners will in most cases show off a few brand new cars as well. Add the wealthy population of Monaco's extensive and expensive car park, and you will see more cool cars here than at an average car show in Detroit.
Tourists annually, in percentage of population 295,000 tourists, 811% of the population!
What else Don't forget the gambling. It is never far to cheaper accommodation in France or Italy should you lose your money to better or smarter gamblers than yourself. There are actually budget restaurants and semi-inexpensive hotels in Monaco too. Less fortunate people seem to have a tendency to wanna watch the rich and famous.
Why so few? It is one of the wealthiest countries in the world. They may want to remain well placed on that list, so why invite additional citizens? Why you may still want to visit San Marino is the oldest republic in the world. Walking around the small streets is nice, and the three towers on top of the mountain is a must-see. The view over Italy is great from up there. In the souvenir shop in the country you may even get an official stamp in your passport. Against a fee, of course.
Tourists annually, in percentage of population 156,000 tourists, 481% of the population!
What else The owner of the night club will personally drive you home if you fail to leave voluntarily at closing time. Ask nicely, and he might even give you a T-shirt.
Why so few? There isn't all that much to do in Palau when you tire of beaches, fishing and sea related activities. The biggest employer is the government, and the country relies on financial aid from the US. Why you may still want to visit The unique rock islands can be seen throughout Palau and will stand out in your photo collection. Diving is fantastic. The island nation is fairly well connected through flights to Tokyo, Seoul, Taipei, Guam, Yap, Manila and Hong Kong.
Tourists annually, in percentage of population 109,000 tourists, 525% of the population!
What else Their presidential election is at the same day as the American one. So feel free to confuse people through jokes about the presidential candidates the Tuesday following the first Monday in November in election years. In 2012 they weren't called Obama and Romney, but Toribiong and Remengensau. The latter won by 58% of the votes.
Why so few? The Pacific island nation is only 26 square kilometers in size and it isn't going to increase anytime soon. Tuvalu will be the first country to disappear should the ocean level rise. Why you may still want to visit You can relatively easy reach the highest summit there. The geographical top point of the country reaches 4.6 meters above sea level. Note to American readers: 4.6 meters equals 15.1 feet.
Tourists annually, in percentage of population 1,100 tourists, 9.7% of the population.
What else Male homosexuality is illegal in Tuvalu, so be aware if travelling as a male couple.
Why so few? Over 90% of the population has no work. There used to be one big employer, Nauru Phosphate Corporation. The open phosphate mine which covers most of the 21 kilometer square kilometer big island is however running out of phosphate, and most workers have been laid off. The two hotels, the internet cafe or the handful of restaurants and shops are not set to hire loads of people anytime soon. The only employer of any size left is the government, but everyone can't be bureaucrats. Luckily, I'd say. Can you imagine the result? Why you may still want to visit Less tourists visit Nauru than Somalia, Afghanistan and Liechtenstein. Being the least visited country in the world appeals to many. The people are very friendly and the island is surrounded by your typical Pacific beach.
Tourists annually, in percentage of population 200 tourists, 2% of the population. What else It is the smallest republic in the world. The only airport there doubles as a road which is part of the 19 kilometers stretch going around the island. Do look out for frigate birds, on the beaches around Nauru. They are caught by fishermen and kept inside big net cages as a status symbol. Catching them is an ancient tradition. They are then tamed through irresistible fresh tuna. The tamed birds are later used to lure more birds to the captors.
Why so few? 0.44 square kilometers can only accommodate a few. And don't expect the Pope and his people to stay in bunk beds to fit in twice as many. Keep in mind that no one in this country share double beds either as marriage is looked upon as slightly overrated and unnecessary. Why you may still want to visit There are no bars there, no nightclubs and hardly any women. You mean that doesn't appeal to you? There's always neighbouring Rome (totally surrounding The Vatican) where there are plenty of playful neighborhoods.
Tourists annually, in percentage of population 5,000,000 tourists, 663,910% of the population!
The extreme lly low number of inhabitants and the immense popularity of the Vatican Museum makes this a truly unique case and I won't even bother to make the comparison with other countries. See Iceland country number 25, for a more normal, yet still relatively extreme case.
What else 793 inhabitants matches that of the Canadian village Doaktown in New Brunswick. Ever heard of it? Well, you are excused. The Pope doesn't live nor post Twitter messages in Latin from his IPad there either.
Some of you may wonder why I haven't included Jan Mayen, Niue or Pitcairn. The latter is one of the most isolated settlement in the world in the world with some 50 souls, but it is a British oversea territory. 1,414 people live on Niue which belongs to New Zealand whereas 18 people, primarily scientists, are based on Norwegian Jan Mayen near Greenland.
The list is based on 198 countries. 193 UN members, UN observers the Vatican and Palestine plus Kosovo, Western Sahara and Taiwan that are all acknowledged by a fair number of countries.
The other end of the list
Most people will know that China is number one, followed by India. But which other countries are among the top 10 most populated?
1. China, 1,354,040,000 people.
2. India, 1,210,193,422 people.
3. United States, 315,229,000 people.
4. Indonesia, 237,424,363 people.
5. Brazil, 193,946,886 people.
6. Pakistan, 182,082,000 people.
7. Nigeria, 166,629,000 people.
8. Bangladesh, 152,518,015 people.
9. Russia, 143,369,806 people.
10. Japan, 127,460,000 people.
I will also mention Mexico which is number 11 with 112,336,538. It is the last country to have more than 100 million inhabitants. The Philippines is number 12, but lacks almost 8 million people to join the 100 million club.
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.