With nearly 200 countries in the world, you must be a huge geographic freak to get to know each one. But every country has a story, and some who have never heard of it before have an incredibly rich history full of extremist leaders who have tirelessly fought for independence.
Here, you will find 10 countries with very little global recognition – some from the beautiful underground paradise, some disturbed by fragile economies, some at very real risk of literally drowning in the ocean and being lost forever.
But they all raise their knowledge, and all citizens have their own unique set of customs and practices that have come to define who they are.
List of countries you didn’t know existed
1. Saint Kitts and Nevis
A country comprising two islands, this state was made up of three islands, but Anguilla was allowed independence in 1971. The youngest of Nevis, which is 36 square miles, made separation attempts as well but was unsuccessful. Saint Kitts and Nevis, which has an area of 101 square miles, is ranked eighth among the smallest countries in the world, and the smallest country in the Americas and the Western Hemisphere. Caribbean haven, the country is marked by historic ruins of sugar plantations, green monkeys, and stunning walks.
A former colony of the German Empire, Nauru is a small potato-shaped island in the South Pacific. Just over 10,000 people live on an island of 8.1 square miles. By region, it is the third smallest state in the world, next to Monaco and the Vatican City.
Although it was once called “Pleasant Island”, the current situation in the country may not do justice. In the early 1970s, it had the highest per capita income in any sovereign country in the world, due in large part to the phosphate mining industry.
But once the phosphate reserves were depleted, the money dried up and left the environment almost completely destroyed. The country is now a shadow of its former self and has become a known center for tax evasion and illegal money laundering.
3. The Republic of Nagorno-Karabakh
Although recognized internationally as part of Azerbaijan, Nagorno-Karabakh is a de facto independent state with its government, constitution, and army. Part of the reason why the country is not recognized by the rest of the world may be related to geography. It is a small, landlocked area completely located within the borders of Azerbaijan.
The only other country that approaches the border with Armenia is Armenia that it connects to via one lane of the occupied Azerbaijani lands. Armenia and Azerbaijan are unlikely to reach an agreement on the status of Nagorno-Karabakh.
An enormous amount of violence and ethnic cleansing occurred on both sides during the post-Soviet period, and the fighting still kills many people there every year.
The Seychelles is located off the east coast of Africa in the Indian Ocean and northern Madagascar, and it is an island that includes 115 islands. Despite this large number, the country’s total area is only 176 square miles, and about 90 percent of its population of about 95,000 people lives on the largest island, Mahe.
But adventure on remote islands can bring visitors close to endemic species, marine reserves, fertile grounds for giant turtles and the UNESCO World Heritage Site Vallée de Mai, a palm forest that has not changed significantly since prehistoric times.
Oh, and pristine tropical beaches aren’t bad either. See more wonderful beaches with the clearest water in the world.
With a population of less than 11,000 people and a total area of 10 square miles, Tuvalu is the fourth smallest country in the world. The Polynesian nation is made up of three real atolls and six real atolls located halfway between Australia and Hawaii.
Government revenue largely comes from sales of fishing licenses, as well as the highly lucrative web domain rental, which incidentally is .tv. By selling this domain to companies around the world that see .tv as an opportunity to promote TV service, Tuvalu has intelligently managed to profit despite the underdeveloped economy.
Alarmingly, due to climate change, rising sea levels may cause these islands to sink in the coming years. Despite the government’s attempts to draw attention to this issue, the voice of Tuvalu is virtually unheard of in the global community.
Kiribati is a group of 33 small islands in the central Pacific. Although their total area is approximately the size of New York City, the islands are so widespread that the journey takes six hours to travel from the first island to the last.
It is the only country in the world to have land in the four hemispheres (North, South, East, and West) and many islands are located just an inch above sea level. This is why many homes in Kiribati are built on stilts in shallow reefs. However, like Tuvalu, the country’s president emphasized that some islands are shrinking. This has prompted some citizens to seek asylum in New Zealand.
Djibouti is located in the Horn of Africa and is characterized by large areas of virgin desert heights, a country in the southeast which declared independence from France in 1977. The nation is bordered on all sides by clearly troubled countries.
With the Eritrean dictatorship from the north, the stricken Somalia from the south, the impoverishment of Ethiopia to the southwest, and the war-torn Yemen in the northeast, it is remarkable that the country has managed to maintain any kind of stability at all.
Djibouti also features a lake of honey – it is the third lowest point on earth where its surroundings are extremely hot and salty, and fresh water is so scarce that people often accept bottled water as a form of currency.
Located directly west of Fiji, Vanuatu is an island archipelago famous for its beautiful natural scenery, active volcanoes and the uncommon Melanesian culture. The nation consists of 13 larger islands and 70 smaller islands. Being of volcanic origin, most of the islands are mountainous and covered by lush rainforests.
Ninety percent of Vanuatu residents own home fish farms, and 80 percent of them live in isolated rural villages where they grow most of their food and supplies. Although the local economy is still mostly revolving around fishing and agriculture, tourism is rapidly turning into another emerging industry and has made liberal tax laws Vanuatu a popular financial center abroad.
Scuba diving has grown to become the most popular tourist attraction as the warm coastal waters are full of intricate tunnels and coral reefs that provide a visual feast full of life.
Although Tokelau is a Non-Self-Governing Territory in New Zealand, in 2007, a UN-sponsored referendum was held on self-determinism, as residents of the three islands that make up the Territory voted on the issue of independence. With only a mere 16 votes in vote, it was decided that the province would remain part of New Zealand.
The island chain has the smallest economy of any country in the world, making it almost completely dependent on New Zealand’s benefits. However, villages still have the right to enact laws of their own that regulate their daily lives and New Zealand law applies only if it is extended by a specified age.
Fortunately, serious crimes are rare in Tokelau – which is very good given that there are no prisons there. Young perpetrators are usually fined and charged for work.
Regarding the characteristics that define the country, Abkhazia has its own borders, distinct ethnic populations, working government, the army, the National Bank, and its own passports. However, to more than 90% of the world, it is still seen as the province of Georgia – the country that it fought for independence from in a bloody war during the early 1990s. Historically, Abkhazia has been a fairly independent country for more than 1,000 years.
Between the ninth century and 1008 AD, it functioned as a sovereign kingdom before its incorporation as part of Georgia and later Russia. When the Soviet Union collapsed, the citizens of Abkhazia announced a return to their borders in the Middle Ages, a movement that sparked a fierce war with Georgia that resulted in widespread ethnic cleansing on both sides.
To avoid fighting, most Georgians fled Abkhazia, while most Abkhazians fled Georgia. Abkhazia declared itself an independent state in 1999 and continues to support this claim today.