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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 18, 2020

                                          7 Simple Rules to Live by to Get in Shape in Two Weeks

                                          7 Simple Rules to Live by to Get in Shape in Two Weeks

                                          Learning how to get in shape and set goals is important if you’re looking to live a healthier lifestyle and get closer to your goal weight. While this does require changes to your daily routine, you’ll find that you are able to look and feel better in only two weeks.

                                          Over the years, I’ve learned a lot about what it takes to get in shape. Although anyone can cover the basics (eat right and exercise), there are some things that I could only learn through trial and error. Let’s cover some of the most important points for how to get in shape in two weeks.

                                          1. Exercise Daily

                                          It is far easier to make exercise a habit if it is a daily one. If you aren’t exercising at all, I recommend starting by exercising a half hour every day. When you only exercise a couple times per week, it is much easier to turn one day off into three days off, a week off, or a month off.

                                          If you are already used to exercising, switching to three or four times a week to fit your schedule may be preferable, but it is a lot harder to maintain a workout program you don’t do every day.

                                          Be careful to not repeat the same exercise routine each day. If you do an intense ab workout one day, try switching it up to general cardio the next. You can also squeeze in a day of light walking to break up the intensity.

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                                          If you’re a morning person, check out these morning exercises that will start your day off right.

                                          2. Duration Doesn’t Substitute for Intensity

                                          Once you get into the habit of regular exercise, where do you go if you still aren’t reaching your goals? Most people will solve the problem by exercising for longer periods of time, turning forty-minute workouts into two hour stretches. Not only does this drain your time, but it doesn’t work particularly well.

                                          One study shows that “exercising for a whole hour instead of a half does not provide any additional loss in either body weight or fat”[1].

                                          This is great news for both your schedule and your levels of motivation. You’ll likely find it much easier to exercise for 30 minutes a day instead of an hour. In those 30 minutes, do your best to up the intensity to your appropriate edge to get the most out of the time.

                                          3. Acknowledge Your Limits

                                          Many people get frustrated when they plateau in their weight loss or muscle gaining goals as they’re learning how to get in shape. Everyone has an equilibrium and genetic set point where their body wants to remain. This doesn’t mean that you can’t achieve your fitness goals, but don’t be too hard on yourself if you are struggling to lose weight or put on muscle.

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                                          Acknowledging a set point doesn’t mean giving up, but it does mean realizing the obstacles you face.

                                          Expect to hit a plateau in your own fitness results[2]. When you expect a plateau, you can manage around it so you can continue your progress at a more realistic rate. When expectations meet reality, you can avoid dietary crashes.

                                          4. Eat Healthy, Not Just Food That Looks Healthy

                                          Know what you eat. Don’t fuss over minutia like whether you’re getting enough Omega 3’s or tryptophan, but be aware of the big things. Look at the foods you eat regularly and figure out whether they are healthy or not. Don’t get fooled by the deceptively healthy snacks just pretending to be good for you.

                                          The basic nutritional advice includes:

                                          • Eat unprocessed foods
                                          • Eat more veggies
                                          • Use meat as a side dish, not a main course
                                          • Eat whole grains, not refined grains[3]

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                                          Eat whole grains when you want to learn how to get in shape.

                                            5. Watch Out for Travel

                                            Don’t let a four-day holiday interfere with your attempts when you’re learning how to get in shape. I don’t mean that you need to follow your diet and exercise plan without any excursion, but when you are in the first few weeks, still forming habits, be careful that a week long break doesn’t terminate your progress.

                                            This is also true of schedule changes that leave you suddenly busy or make it difficult to exercise. Have a backup plan so you can be consistent, at least for the first month when you are forming habits.

                                            If travel is on your schedule and can’t be avoided, make an exercise plan before you go[4], and make sure to pack exercise clothes and an exercise mat as motivation to keep you on track.

                                            6. Start Slow

                                            Ever start an exercise plan by running ten miles and then puking your guts out? Maybe you aren’t that extreme, but burnout is common early on when learning how to get in shape. You have a lifetime to be healthy, so don’t try to go from couch potato to athletic superstar in a week.

                                            If you are starting a running regime, for example, run less than you can to start. Starting strength training? Work with less weight than you could theoretically lift. Increasing intensity and pushing yourself can come later when your body becomes comfortable with regular exercise.

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                                            7. Be Careful When Choosing a Workout Partner

                                            Should you have a workout partner? That depends. Workout partners can help you stay motivated and make exercising more fun. But they can also stop you from reaching your goals.

                                            My suggestion would be to have a workout partner, but when you start to plateau (either in physical ability, weight loss/gain, or overall health) and you haven’t reached your goals, consider mixing things up a bit.

                                            If you plateau, you may need to make changes to continue improving. In this case it’s important to talk to your workout partner about the changes you want to make, and if they don’t seem motivated to continue, offer a thirty day break where you both try different activities.

                                            I notice that guys working out together tend to match strength after a brief adjustment phase. Even if both are trying to improve, something seems to stall improvement once they reach a certain point. I found that I was able to lift as much as 30-50% more after taking a short break from my regular workout partner.

                                            Final Thoughts

                                            Learning how to get in shape in as little as two weeks sounds daunting, but if you’re motivated and have the time and energy to devote to it, it’s certainly possible.

                                            Find an exercise routine that works for you, eat healthy, drink lots of water, and watch as the transformation begins.

                                            More Tips on Getting in Shape

                                            Featured photo credit: Alexander Redl via unsplash.com

                                            Reference

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