18 Countries You Probably Haven’t Heard of But Should Visit ASAP

Some countries are more famous tourist destinations than others. France, Thailand, and Spain see millions of visitors a year, but smaller nations like Tuvalu and Palau are less well-known. These 18 countries are relatively unknown to most people but should be visited for their stunning scenery and unique cultures.


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Tuvalu is a small island nation in Polynesia with three islands, six atolls, and around 12,000 inhabitants. Timeless Tuvalu boasts that the “marine environment consisting of a vast expanse of ocean interspersed with atolls, magnificent lagoons, coral reefs, and small islands all provide a unique South Seas ambiance.” Tuvalu is one of the least visited countries in the world and is extremely vulnerable to rising sea levels, so tourists should engage in sustainable travel practices.


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Bhutan is a Himalayan nation filled with ancient monasteries and a unique approach to development. Bhutan Travel notes that the Kingdom is “more than 70% forested, and the first carbon-negative country in the world.” Tourists can engage in the country’s sustainable tourism initiatives to help protect its cultural and natural heritage.


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Eswatini is a landlocked country that borders South Africa with a diverse climate and topography despite its small size. Visitors can explore the Hlane Royal National Park, home to lions, elephants, and rhinos, and hike through the stunning landscapes of the Malolotja Nature Reserve and the Lebombo Mountains.


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This Melanesian archipelago country is made up of over 80 islands, each offering unique landscapes. According to Lonely Planet, “Vanuatu is a Pacific island adventure far beyond any notions of cruise-ship ports and flashy resorts.” Visitors can tour around the country’s active volcano, see the famous SS President Coolidge wreck, and explore coral reefs.


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This diverse country is the smallest in South America, with Dutch as the official language and eight Indigenous languages. Tourists often overlook Suriname, but visitors keen to explore South America can stroll through its capital, Paramaribo, a UNESCO World Heritage site known for its Dutch colonial buildings, and venture into the dense Amazon rainforest that covers much of the country.


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This landlocked mountain kingdom sits high in the Maloti Mountains and is completely surrounded by South Africa. Visitors to this underrated country can engage in activities like horseback riding, hiking, and skiing in the Maloti Mountains and learn about Basotho culture.

São Tomé and Príncipe

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São Tomé and Príncipe, the ‘African Galapagos,’ is an island country off Africa’s west coast. Despite its lush rainforests, beaches, and coffee and cocoa plantations, this country is rarely visited. Much Better Adventures notes, “It’s one of the least-visited countries in the world,” despite being safe with regular flights.


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This Micronesian island country has a population of just 11,000 and is one of the least visited countries on the planet. Nauru is known for its rich phosphate deposits and mining operations, and Anibare Bay Beach is famous for its soft coral sands and excellent fishing spots.


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The first new sovereign state of the 21st century, Timor-Leste is opening up to tourism. The country is famous for its pristine beaches with clear waters, ideal for snorkeling and diving to explore coral reefs. Visitors to landmarks, including the Resistance Museum, can explore its recent history of resistance and independence.


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Palau is a Micronesian island country comprising 340 connecting islands, with Koror being the most prominent. Lonely Planet notes that “only 90,000 tourists visited the country in 2019” and that it’s the “kind of country to live out your scuba diving dreams or Robinson Crusoe fantasies on uninhabited tropical beaches.” Tourists can dive or snorkel in the Jellyfish Lake, home to millions of harmless jellyfish.


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Visit World claims, “If there was a medal for Africa’s least known country, Djibouti would probably win it.” The country boasts otherworldly landscapes like Lake Assal, the lowest point in Africa, and the Ardoukôba Volcano. Tourists can experience the blend of Somali, Afar, French, and Arabic influences in the local culture and cuisine.


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Tonga is made up of 171 Polynesian islands, of which 45 are inhabited. Tourists visiting the island country can experience the majestic humpback whales up close during their migration season and explore the islands’ diverse landscapes, ranging from volcanic to coral atoll formations.

Solomon Islands

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The Solomon Islands sees just 20,000 visitors annually. Tourists can dive into the historical shipwrecks and aircraft from WWII scattered around the over 900 islands and visit traditional villages to learn about the Melanesian way of life and customs.


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This Micronesian island country has a population of 120,000, receives only 6,000 visitors a year, and has a strong community culture. Kiribati Tourism boasts that “in the east Kiribati offers world class fishing” and that the country “will challenge your view of how life should be and show you a less complicated way of living where family and community come first.”

Cabo Verde

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This West African archipelago has ten islands offering different experiences, from volcanic landscapes to vibrant cultural scenes. Tourists can enjoy the lively music scene of Cabo Verde, known for Morna and Funaná, reflecting the country’s Creole culture.


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This southeastern African country is made up of three islands that are virtually unknown to tourists. Responsible Travel notes, “Just a few thousand people a year make it here, which of course is its unique appeal.” The islands offer an interesting blend of Arab, African, and French influences in the local culture and cuisine, and Mount Karthala is one of the largest active volcanoes with breathtaking views.


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Liechtenstein is a landlocked microstate that offers breathtaking mountain views and outdoor activities. Visitors can explore Vaduz Castle, the official residence of the Prince of Liechtenstein, along with local art galleries.

San Marino

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This microstate is surrounded by Italy and sees 2 million tourists annually. The Three Towers of San Marino, located atop Monte Titano, offer tourists stunning views. On September 3, visitors can enjoy the Feast of Saint Marinus procession through the city.

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