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20 Little Known Countries That You Should Visit

20 Little Known Countries That You Should Visit

Many people have heard of countries like France, Spain and Italy, and many dream of going there or have already been. But if you’re looking to blaze your own trail and explore hidden gems, then these are the perfect countries to visit. Some of these countries are difficult to get into, but once you’re in, you will get a totally unique cultural and geographic experience.

1. Kyrgyzstan

    Located in Central Asia, this country sits between China and Kazakhstan and has a stunningly beautiful landscape with a rich nomadic tradition. One of the most beautiful places to visit in the country is Lake Sary-Chelek, which is wedged within a lush green valley. This small landlocked country has a long history of semi-autonomy. They eventually gained their independence in 1991 with the dissolution of the USSR. The best time to visit is between July and September to avoid freezing temperatures and the heaviest rain.

    2. Brunei

      On the island of Borneo sits a small country called Brunei. It is located on the north coast and surrounded by Malaysia. Brunei is ruled by King Hassanal Bolkiah, whose family has ruled the country for the past six centuries. Their cultural apex was between the 15th and 17th centuries when they controlled large coastal areas. Brunei is home to nine mountain peaks that range from 775 feet to 3,772 feet and many forest reserves for the hiker and adventurer. While you’re visiting, you can catch a baseball game at Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah Stadium or spend part of your day checking out the Malay Technology Museum. If you’d like to visit the country, the best times to go are between October and February, as the rest of the year is extremely hot and humid.

      3. Vanuatu

        Vanuatu can be found in the South Pacific Ocean. It was settled more than 3,500 years ago and was visited by the legendary explorer James Cook in 1774. If you decide to visit the island like Cook, you can explore beautiful beaches and waterfalls, snorkel or scuba dive shipwrecks, hike Mt. Yasur and eat at exotic and exciting restaurants. The best time to travel to the island is between May and October. There are many festivals and sporting contests going on between these months.

        4. Kiribati

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          Located in the Pacific Ocean, Kiribati has an impressive population of over 100,000 people. Kiribati is known for their many WWII Relics along with world class fishing and cultural experiences. The weather is naturally hot year-round. So be sure to bring sunscreen and drink lots of margaritas on the beach to cool yourself down.

          5. Tajikistan

            Tajikistan is a mountainous landlocked region in Central Asia. Surrounded by China, Afghanistan, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyztan, it is the perfect destination for trekkers and other adventurous travelers. You can explore Wakhan Valley, Penjikent and the Fan Mountains. For adventure seekers and nature lovers, the best time to go is during the early Spring and summer when the southern part of the country is in full bloom.

            6. Azerbaijan

              Resting between Eastern Europe and Western Asia, but belonging to neither, Azerbaijan is known as a Transcontinental Presidential Republic. The country is very rich in oil and has an imperial history dating back to 4,000 BC. Azerbaijan has many amazing historical sites you can visit, including Maiden’s Tower and Khan’s Palace. The best time to go is between April and June when the flowers are beginning to bloom.

              7. Mayotte

                This Island’ name isn’t even registered in the word processor dictionary it is so unknown. In 1843 France gained control of the Island. It remains under French rule to this day. Mayotte is known to be an expensive place to stay, but if money isn’t your concern, you can have an amazing trip snorkeling, sailing, diving and relaxing on white sand beaches. It’s best to visit between June and November.

                8. Nauru

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                  A nautical neighbor of the Island of Kiribati and once known as Pleasant Island, due to the amount of wealth the citizens had, the Island is now called Nauru. The tiny island has a lot to offer when it comes to sites and scenery. There are old phosphate deposits (which made the country rich) and Command Ridge, where Japanese soldiers kept watch during World War Two and, of course, beautiful beaches. The best time to go is after February and before November to avoid the heavy rain falls.

                  9. Burkina Faso

                    Burkina Faso is a landlocked country located in West Africa between six different countries and is known for the charming and easygoing personalities of the Burkinabe people. While Burkina Faso doesn’t have the traditional tourist atmosphere, if you decide to visit, the country and its people are more than invigorating for travelers interested in other cultures. The best times to go are between mid-October and December to avoid the wet season.

                    10. Ivory Coast

                      Another West African country, the Ivory Coast borders Burkina Faso. The coast was once an important trade route between 1,000 and 1,500 AD, when many kingdoms and cultures emerged. Much later, the Ivory Coast was a trade port used by European nations and was claimed by France in 1893. The native inhabitants eventually gained their independence in 1961. The Ivory Coast is home to dense rain forests and white beaches, which are sure to add fun and excitement to your visit. The best times to visit are between November and to early March.

                      11. Tuvalu

                        This Polynesian Island, formerly known as the Ellice Islands, is halfway between Australia and Hawaii and was once a British protectorate between 1892 and 1916. The land is just barely above the water level, making the current global warming crisis a very serious threat for the longevity of the island. The highest point is just 16 feet above water level. The best time to visit Tuvalu is between May and October to avoid the wettest season and to make the most out of the tropical climate.

                        12. Andorra

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                          Andorra is a landlocked micro-state nestled in the Pyrenees Mountains between France and Spain, providing excellent scenery and hiking opportunities. Andorra, like most European countries, was once ruled by Kings and other ruling families in a feudalistic society and is home to many ancient sites like the Casa de la Val, a manor and tower defense constructed in 1580. Andorra is also known for its excellent culinary culture, restaurants and drinks. It’s best to visit between April and October.

                          13. Liechtenstein

                            Liechtenstein is also a landlocked country located in Central Europe between Austria and Switzerland. If the name isn’t indication enough, their primary language is German. Once a member of the German Confederation, it left to become independent in 1866, shortly after it abolished its army in 1968 and has remained neutral since then. What’s truly amazing is that the micro-state is only 62 square miles or 160 square kilometers! If you want to go snowboarding and skiing in the winter, Liechtenstein is world renown for its slopes, or you can enjoy hiking and mountain biking in the summer.

                            14. Palau

                              Located in the Western Pacific Ocean, the island country is spattered with beautiful smaller islands. Many countries have claimed Palau as their own, including Spain, Germany and Japan. Palau is considered one of the top diving and snorkeling destinations in the world with a number of coral reefs, ship wrecks from the many wars that were fought off its coast, hidden caves and tunnels, dozens of vertical drop offs and an amazing diversity of water life. The best time to explore what Palau has to offer is February and March.

                              15. South Ossetia

                                Found in the South Caucasus, this Russian speaking micro-state is so unknown that even Google doesn’t have many entries for it. Of all the countries in this list, South Ossetia may prove to be the hardest one to travel to, as it is a contested Autonomous Oblast of Georgia. It offers the political explorer much in the way of  interesting stories and intrigue.

                                16. Futuna

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                                  The tiny island of Futuna has 5,000 residents and spans just 50 square miles or 80 square kilometers. The country is in the middle of Polynesia and is paired with an equally unknown country called Wallis. The culture of Futuna hasn’t changed much over the years as the modern world has seemingly forgotten to corrupt it. If you want to take a step back in time, the best times to go are between April and October, but expect to see a good amount of rain no matter when you go.

                                  17. Nagorno Karabakh

                                    Another landlocked region in the South Caucasus,  Nagorno Karabakh is surrounded by Azerbaijan, Armenia and Iran. The region is very mountainous and is covered in beautiful forests. There are many museums you can visit that detail the history of the country, which include a war with Armenian. Nagorno Karabakh is perfect for the history traveler.

                                    18. Federated States of Micronesia

                                      The Federated States of Micronesia consist of the four states Yap, Chuuk, Pohnpei and Kosrae in the Western Pacific Ocean. Each state has it’s own culture and identity to explore and the surrounding waters are rich in coral life. Each island has a different climate, Yap, for instance, is very dry, while Pohnpei is one of the rainiest places on earth. Having a long history of switching allegiances between many countries, Micronesia is now under the trust of the United States.

                                      19. Falklands

                                        A British territory and a favorite of many travelers, the Falklands are an archipelago in the Southern Atlantic Ocean on the Patagonian Shelf. The Falklands are home to penguins, seals, albatrosses and other interesting antarctic creatures. There are plenty of activities to keep you busy from museums to war memorials. Pack warm clothing as the weather year-round rarely gets above 75 degrees Fahrenheit or 24 degrees Celsius.

                                        20. Ascension

                                          An isolated volcanic island in the South Atlantic Ocean, Ascension is truly unique and one of a kind. Getting to the island may prove extremely difficult as there are not many amenities or travelers who venture there. This is a perfect spot to blaze your own trail The island has 880 permanent residents living in their capital of Georgetown. The island is near the more well-known St. Helena Island.

                                          Featured photo credit: Jeff Laitila via flickr.com

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                                          Last Updated on January 17, 2019

                                          8 Simple Mindfulness Exercises to Bring Peace and Happiness to Your Life

                                          8 Simple Mindfulness Exercises to Bring Peace and Happiness to Your Life

                                          In life, we all need to be conscientious of what we are doing. You don’t need to live a life of stress if you don’t want to. You can achieve peace and happiness in life by carefully building mindfulness exercises into your life’s routine.

                                          Exercising mindfulness isn’t rocket science and as importantly, you can do it. It will, however, take a few tries to get into the groove of things but once you get it, it is like riding a bike, you will never lose it.

                                          Trust me. It’s in your best interest to learn and put these mindfulness exercises into practice. In this article, I will share with you 8 mindfulness exercises that will help you to boost your energy, vitality and live a more peaceful and happier life.

                                          Why Is It Hard to Live A Peaceful And Happy Life?

                                          Our Habitat Has Become Too Technological

                                          The world has accepted the idea that technology is often the cure for all evil. We have accepted, as a society, that everything technological will make us live a better life without fully investigating the many side effects that modernity brings.

                                          There are a number of technological side effects that have a tremendous impact on your life that the media rarely tells you about.[1] Some of them include self-harm, economic inequality, having less sex, and even suicide. The global community is becoming less happy because of technology.

                                          How can anybody live a peaceful and happy life when they are depressed? Technology advancements, ladies and gents, is a major reason for why we are living a poor life because it has infiltrated our lives too much.

                                          According to my research, Americans spend an average of 8 hours a day looking at the computer screen — The average screen time spent on smartphones alone is about 20 hours per week. That’s a lot! No wonder why living a happy and peaceful life is so difficult these days.

                                          Too Many People Don’t Want to Unplug

                                          Americans check their phones an average of 80 times during vacation.[2] Some admit to checking their smartphones 300 times every single day. In countries like Brazil, India and China, the situation is no different.

                                          The reality is that people are constantly plugged into technological devices and this behavior is literally making people all over the globe fight an inner war with themselves, which consequently makes them very sad. As we know, war is the enemy of peace which won’t make anybody happy.

                                          Listen carefully:

                                          We have a global anxiety epidemic because people don’t want to unplug from their smartphones and most people aren’t doing anything to fix it. It is a sad state of affairs but very real. This obsession with technology is turning us into perishable robots who live terrible lives.

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                                          The era of anxiety is here to stay. There is little doubt about it. We can, however, fight back with the best remedy of all — We call it mindfulness!

                                          Thank God there is an antidote to this whole technological madness. Without further ado, let’s go straight to the mindful exercises.

                                          8 Mindfulness Exercises to Start Practicing

                                          There are tons of mindfulness exercises available for you to engage with out there.[3] In the paragraphs below, I will include the best ones I’ve personally tried or have seen my close friends and family members try.

                                          Are you ready for it? Let’s go!

                                          1. Pray Daily

                                          You should pray on a daily basis. Why is that you may ask — Well, because science has told us to do so.

                                          When people pray, they feel peaceful, almost eliminating anxiety. Worries become secondary, and often gives people energy and hope to cope with the difficulties of life.

                                          Prayer can make you more confident and focused. Prayer also helps you with self-control, helps to control pain, and can protect you against illnesses and disorders like cancer and high blood pressure. At least, this is what researchers from Harvard Medical School have said.[4]

                                          Pray. You won’t regret it.[5]

                                          2. Pay Attention to Your Inner Thoughts

                                          A lot of people allow themselves to be influenced by their negative thoughts. Be different and resist believing in them. It is a bad habit that can lead to unhappiness.

                                          By the way, if you do feel this way, chances are high that somebody other than you put these thoughts into your head.

                                          Here is my secret to combat this cancer — look at things objectively. I bet that if you look at things as they are, you will realize that most if not all of your negative thoughts are only inside of your head.

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                                          If you pay close attention, you will quickly realize that these voices aren’t worth your time. Believe me — Ignoring them and looking at things with objectivity is often the best course of action.

                                          This article can guide you to beat negative thoughts:

                                          How to Stop Automatic Negative Thoughts When You’re Overwhelmed

                                          3. Smile Often

                                          Smiling will slow down your heart. It will also relax your body because when you smile, your body releases endorphins which in itself has a number of positive benefits for you as a person.

                                          Smile often! You may want to smile early in the morning, during the day, and late in the evening. It is amazing what happens to you when you decide to smile instead of being grumpy.

                                          Surrender your problems to a nice smile. You will notice two things. First, most people just don’t which makes them live a miserable life. Second, if you decide to smile often, you will eventually smile unconsciously which is the ideal.

                                          The moment that you smile unconsciously, you then know that you are truly happy.

                                          4. Organize Your Working Desk

                                          A messy desk will make you less productive and can agitate and overstimulate you. You don’t want that.

                                          When you clear your desk, you engage in deep inner-thinking and your systematic decision making ends up becoming therapeutic.

                                          Most people realize that they are most creative when their creative space is clean and organized. The former often makes people more aware of what they are doing which lends to less stress and more productivity.

                                          Organizing your desk will also make you more energetic and focused because order often decreases chaos which is a condition that often slows down daily progress.

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                                          5. Celebrate Your Friend’s Victories

                                          I love this mindful exercise. One of the best ways to live a happy and peaceful life is to celebrate the victories of others. When you do that, you automatically make your friends in a better mood which makes you in a better mood, as well.

                                          Happiness is contagious! We might as well celebrate others as much as we can. If you find out that your peer has won an award, celebrate with him! If your friend is the recipient of a local charity award, celebrate with her!

                                          What is also awesome is that when you celebrate with others, they often celebrate with you in return. This, ladies and gentleman, will make you feel fantastic. You can’t go wrong with this one, period.

                                          6. Listen to Your Spouse/Partner

                                          God put someone in your life for a reason. You might as well listen to him or her.

                                          I listen to my wife everyday. In fact, I often ask the following question to her, “Amanda, what are your thoughts about…” or “What am I missing about…” It is shocking what I hear back from her. Without her having much context and perspective, by the art of observation in my own nonverbal behavior and the behavior of others, she accurately gives me incredible insights which helps me out with living my life to the fullest.

                                          I’m a firm believer that spouses are supposed to engage in interpersonal communication every day. I most definitely do and will continue doing it. You should do the same.

                                          7. Give Yourself a Break from Technology

                                          You can’t be in total equilibrium if your computerized devices control your life. You must get away from technology on a daily basis.[6]

                                          How do you do that? This is my formula:

                                          First, take this smartphone control test. It is only ten questions but this test will place you somewhere in the human robot cycle continuum.

                                          If your score is between 25-30, take a break from the computer (or smartphone, pad, laptop/desktop) every twenty minutes and stop being on a computerized device after 8:00pm.

                                          If you score between 30-35, still take a break every 20 minutes but stop being on these devices at 5:00pm.

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                                          If you score more than 35, you need to take action immediately.

                                          Limit computer use as much as possible throughout the day. Give yourself as many breaks from the computer as possible. Are you ready for the challenge?

                                          8. Go Exercise

                                          Go exercise at least three times a week. I don’t care if you need to workout early in the morning, late in the evening, on the weekends or during work days. Working out is absolutely imperative for you to live happy and peaceful life.

                                          The stresses of the modern world are too much for you to neglect this important mindfulness exercise. When you go to the gym, you burn calories, focus on activities one step at a time, your mind relaxes, anxiety decreases, you sweat and often think about topics unrelated to your work place among many other benefits.

                                          You must exercise at least three hours each week for optimum results. Why? Just take a look at all the benefits of regular exercising:

                                          12 Benefits of Regular Exercise You Should Know

                                          The Bottom Line

                                          It’s in your best interest to learn and put these mindfulness exercises into practice. Now that our habitat has become too technological and many people just don’t want to unplug, engaging in daily prayer, celebrate your friends’ victories, and listening to your spouse are among the best ways to be mindful about what you are doing and how you are living.

                                          It is possible to live a happy and peaceful life. It only depends on you.

                                          Go exercise! Take a break from technology and invest in you! Life is too short for distractions.

                                          More Resources About Mindfulness

                                          Featured photo credit: Lesly Juarez via unsplash.com

                                          Reference

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