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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 September 10, 2019

                                          7 Morning Rituals to Empower Your Day And Change Your Life

                                          7 Morning Rituals to Empower Your Day And Change Your Life

                                          Most of your reality is not a given. It is shaped by your expectations, beliefs and thoughts you have formed about it. A big chunk of these beliefs and expectations are encoded into habits you integrate in your daily life.

                                          Yes, some of these habits are formed unconsciously and can be counter-productive or limiting but conversely, you can consciously form positive habits that will transform and empower your life significantly.

                                          This is a powerful point of departure that more and more people are becoming aware of. The most common trait of highly successful people is the recognition of the power they have in co-creating their reality through changing the way they think, believe or expect their reality to be.

                                          One of the most effective ways of changing our belief patterns is through practising and maintaining daily rituals. Ancient traditions had clearly understood the power of rituals in reinforcing habits and changing the way we see and create our reality a long, long time ago.

                                          Once again, if you look into the life history of any highly successful individual, you will find some form of ritual in their daily routine. Some of these rituals may seem banal or eccentric but don’t be deceived by appearances. Rituals are one of the most effective self-empowering tools freely available at the practitioner’s disposal – that is, you!

                                          Below are some the easiest yet life-changing morning rituals you can do every day. Of course, you can have your own afternoon or bed-time rituals but morning rituals are extremely effective in empowering your day since they help you charge yourself before it all starts.

                                          1. Gratitude

                                          Feeling gratitude and appreciation for those little signs and moments of joy happening in your life is probably one of the most overlooked or underestimated rituals. It is a perfect morning ritual to start your day on a very positive key.

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                                          The real power of gratitude is that it makes you pick out and focus on what is working in your life – what is in tune with your being as a whole. It is selectively positive. It reinforces happiness and positivity by shedding light on those awesome things, small or big, that grace your everyday living.

                                          Quite often, we just pick out the pain points, the problems, the bottle necks, whatever it is that is not working in our life and causing friction, anxiety and unhappiness. This is like constantly rewriting the script of your life with a negative or tragic overtone. Your subconscious mind follows faithfully that script you write whether it is a negative or positive one.

                                          So feeling gratitude is undoubtedly an immensely empowering ritual. Start your day by being thankful for those positive things that happened the previous day or throughout the week. It could be something really petty and small. It doesn’t matter. You might be grateful for an unexpected visit from an old friend, a beautiful encounter with a kind stranger, a new opportunity or whatever it is that shines your way. Do it every morning and see what happens during the day.

                                          Gratitude-Quotes

                                            2. Writing Down Your Most Important Tasks

                                            This is a very practical ritual. Start your day by identifying and writing down from one to three of the most important tasks you need to complete during that day. These tasks are ones which support important long term goals that are aligned to your purpose, passion or general direction in life.

                                            For example, if writing a book or building an online community are important long term goals which are aligned to your personal growth, then an important task for the day might be finishing off a particular page or two of the book or coming up with fresh content ideas for the online community.

                                            What is important with this ritual is that you identify these tasks and complete them as early in the day as possible. Of course, you will have other tasks apart from the ones you will write down but, these are tasks which can be tackled later or batched up and carried out in one go.

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                                            Writing down your most important tasks in the morning helps you focus your day and life according to what is essential. It helps you prioritize and manage your time better. As a result, you simplify your life by applying your focus and energy on what really counts for your overall life progress.

                                            3. Affirm Your Goals in Writing or Drawing

                                            This is similar to the previous idea but different in its application and purpose. Writing down your most important tasks of the day is a way to have a concrete structure of action to follow. Affirming your goals, on the other hand, is a very powerful way of crystallizing your vision and goals in life into your everyday mental space.

                                            Writing down or doodling your goals on a piece of paper helps you externalize those goals by giving them form. In return, they are reflected back in your subconscious mind and thus, reinforcing them and integrating them more wholly.

                                            An example of this would be writing down “I am achieving greater success in my career” or “I am becoming healthier and stronger through my exercise.” Notice the present tense being used as a way to tell yourself you are in the process already. Remember the life script we subconsciously follow? You are basically modifying the script to be applied now in the present.

                                            Drawing or doodling can be equally, or even more, effective  (if you are more of a visual person) as it summarizes a graphical representation of your goals. For example, if your goal is to build a new house or live in another country, you can draw the house or draw things that symbolise the country you want to live in.

                                            write down goals

                                              4. Practice Qi Gong Exercises

                                              According to Chinese philosophy, Qi (pronounced ‘Chee’) means the life force or energy inherent in all things;[1] and Qi Gong is the practice to cultivate and circulate that energy in your body. This may sound esoteric or complicated but actually, Qi Gong is really a set of simple exercises aimed at increasing your health and vitality.

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                                              There are numerous forms and practices available for free through the online media. As a morning ritual, I recommend following these simple exercises by Qi Gong master Lee Holden:

                                              5. Drink Hot Water with Lemon

                                              Simply add a slice of lemon in a glass of hot water and drink one every morning. This is a very simple ritual I follow faithfully every morning.

                                              Apart from being a good source of vitamin C and a great way of flushing out toxins in the morning, it balances and maintains the PH levels in the body, reduces pain and inflammation in joints and knees and helps nourishing brain and nerve cells. Here are some more benefits of drinking hot water with lemon.

                                              6. Rise Earlier

                                              The practical advantages of waking up early are obvious.

                                              For example, you gain more time for doing exercise such as walking, cycling or Qi Gong as suggested above. You gain more time to be with yourself to reflect, meditate or, more importantly, carry out the other morning rituals.

                                              So rising early can be seen as a foundation for all the other morning rituals. Many, like myself, find that they are more productive in the early hours of the day.

                                              Also, various studies have shown that there are many other benefits from waking up an hour or two earlier in the morning. Sleeping early and waking up early helps the body attune with the earth’s circadian rhythms thus, promoting more restorative sleep. Other curious results from such studies show, for instance, that early risers tend to be more optimistic and can anticipate and solve problems more efficiently than the norm.[2]

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                                              7. Listen to Uplifting Music

                                              Uplifting music can have a direct impact on our mood, especially in the morning. It charges us emotionally and tunes us into a more positive outlook of the day ahead.

                                              Most people wake up to music or listen to music as they commute to work. Very often, however, they tune in to a radio or randomly pick a playlist from their device. Being more selective and conscious of the music you listen to in the morning can have a great impact on your day and life in general.

                                              It’s funny how we try to choose music according to our mood. For example if you are feeling down or disappointed by something, you are more prone to listen to music that reflects that mood – for instance blues, sad songs or downtempo music. This has the effect of reinforcing that mood. What you need to do is the exact opposite and retune your mood by listening to music that beats to a different tune than that mood.

                                              Try to listen to more uplifting music in the morning even if, or especially if, your mood does not dictate so.

                                              More About Energetic Habits & Rituals

                                              Featured photo credit: Carli Jeen via unsplash.com

                                              Reference

                                              [1] Live Science: What Is Qi Gong
                                              [2] Harvard Business Review: Defend Your Research: The Early Bird Really Does Get the Worm

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