Sure, countries like France, India and the increasingly popular Belize enjoy immediate name recognition as well as a vast amount of visitors every year. However, there are a few countries in this interconnected world that are not household names and are definitely worth exploring. Here are five countries we bet you've never heard of.
This incredible Polynesian kingdom is located in Oceania and is made up of 177 idyllic islands. Tonga relies heavily on tourism, though you won't find big resorts or luxury hotels. Here, all tourism projects are held to certain environmental standards, so visitors will be able to appreciate the tranquility of the place.
Perhaps the reason you haven’t heard of Eswatini is because it was known as Swaziland until 2018, when the king decided to change the name of the country. This small state is located between South Africa and Mozambique and continues to be governed by an absolute monarchy.
Like other destinations in Africa, Eswatini has several wildlife reserves and safaris where you can see hippos, antelopes and lions. However, prices here are considerably lower than in other countries. Perhaps it’s the fact that most people have never heard of this country and have yet to explore what it has to offer.
Eswatini also has impressive mountainous landscapes, waterfalls, whitewater rivers for rafting, great hikes in the savannah, among other attractions that outdoor lovers will enjoy.
This group of three islands is a secret paradise. Found near the southeast coast of mainland Africa, you can spend a day climbing an active volcano, laying in white sand beaches and going on nature walks in the Comoros Islands.
Comoros is also known for its biodiversity, and it’s easy to spot migrating humpback whales near the shore. The reefs are pristine thanks to a lack of human contact.
And lastly, these islands will definitely leave a lasting impact since they’re known not only for their beauty but for their very enticing smell. Many connoisseurs know Comoros as the “Perfume Isles,” because the flowers permeate the breeze and make the islands smell lovely.
Located in the Pacific Ocean, Kiribati has only been independent for half a century. The volcanic island of Banaba and about thirty coral reefs make up this country of just over 500 square miles and 100,000 inhabitants.
Kiribati may not be big but it’s just the right size to enjoy natural and peaceful vacations. If you do wander over, make sure to try the many coconut dishes. This tropical fruit is found in Kiribati’s rice, seafood and beverages.
São Tomé and Príncipe
Nestled between palm trees, baobabs and other immense trees tickling the sky, the adventurer can find São Tomé and Príncipe. Stranded in the Gulf of Guinea, this crystalline island was a part of Portugal until 1975.
There aren’t many places in the world which have escaped the focus of mass tourism. São Tomé and Principe is one of those last spots that has managed to maintain its essence without getting lost in urbanization. Those who have invested in tourist infrastructure, especially in accommodation, have bet on sustainable development. That’s why eco-friendly lodges are the most popular way to go for visitors here.