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Least visited destinations in the world

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stifos // Shutterstock

Least visited destinations in the world

Adventurous travelers are always looking for the next big place to visit, free from tour buses, hordes of guide-led groupies, and aggressive trinket-sellers. In order to discover these places, Stacker crunched the numbers from the United Nations World Tourism Organization’s (UNWTO) 2018 report, which included tourism data from 2017 for 154 countries and territories.

Tourism positively impacts jobs, economic growth, peace and security, environmental protection, and cultural preservation, according to UNWTO. The number of international tourist arrivals in 2017 increased 7% over 2016—the highest growth seen since 2010. While it may be no surprise France takes the #1 spot for the most popular countries for international tourists, followed by the U.S. and Spain, some globetrotters may prefer to travel the road less traveled. 

From Niue to Brunei, read on to learn more about the world’s least-visited places—and add a few dozen destinations to your own travel bucket list. 

You may also like: Most popular countries for tourists

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rambler.panoramio // Wikimedia Commons

#50. Northern Mariana Islands

- 2017 international arrivals: 660,000
- Change in arrivals from 2016: 10.9%

Part of the U.S. Commonwealth, this tiny string of sandy islands is located northeast of Guam. Its remote location contributes to the general lack of visitors, but those who are intrepid enough to visit will find 15 islands with alabaster sands, aquamarine waters, and activities ranging from windsurfing and cliff diving to historical exploration of World War II-era buildings.

 

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Josian // Flickr

#49. Guadeloupe

- 2017 international arrivals: 650,000
- Change in arrivals from 2016: 13.3%

Tourism to Guadeloupe is on the rise, thanks to an increase in low-cost air carriers flying to the country. This French-Caribbean archipelago has plenty of activities for the nature-lover, including hikes to waterfalls, volcanoes, and deserted black sand beaches.

 

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Rašo // Wikimedia Commons

#48. Republic of Macedonia

- 2017 international arrivals: 631,000
- Change in arrivals from 2016: 5.1%

You won’t find this young European country in many guidebooks, but that’s slowly changing. Part of the former Yugoslavia, Macedonia is quickly becoming an off-the-beaten-path destination that’s popular with tourists looking for unspoiled European villages, unique culinary traditions, and ancient culture.

 

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Hervé NICOLAS // Wikimedia Commons

#47. Martinique

- 2017 international arrivals: 536,000
- Change in arrivals from 2016: 6.6%

Like its neighbor to the north, Guadeloupe, Martinique has also seen a steady increase in tourism. Long popular with French vacationers, the tiny island has sandy beaches, rugged hiking trails, and is known for its many rum distilleries.

 

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NASA

#46. Reunion

- 2017 international arrivals: 508,000
- Change in arrivals from 2016: 7.5%

This tiny island off the coast of Madagascar has struggled to retain tourists for years, but has slowly begun to see increases. Those who visit will find a stunning mountainous landscape, punctuated with active volcanoes and lava cliffs.

 

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Dennis Jarvis // Flickr

#45. Palestine

- 2017 international arrivals: 503,000
- Change in arrivals from 2016: -7.4%

Long-running political unrest has caused tourism to Palestine and the West Bank to decline, despite tourism to neighboring Israel remaining strong. Still, many have flocked to Palestine to stay in the Walled-Off Hotel, a conceptual work created by international street artist, Banksy.

 

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Dennis Vermeirre // Wikimedia Commons

#44. Togo

- 2017 international arrivals: 496,000
- Change in arrivals from 2016: 23.8%

This tiny country in Africa is nestled between Ghana and Benin. While it’s unknown to many, those who enjoy going off the beaten track will discover a safe, diverse country with rolling hills, a rugged Atlantic coastline, and wild savannah grasslands. Hikers can explore the tiny nation on foot.

 

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#43. Mongolia

- 2017 international arrivals: 469,000
- Change in arrivals from 2016: 4.7%

Since the fall of communism, Mongolia has steadily worked to funnel more money into tourism, including the construction of a new international airport near Ulaanbaatar. The investment has worked, as more and more visitors come to the rugged country to take in the untouched landscapes and witness the long-running nomadic culture and lifestyle firsthand.

 

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Pixabay

#42. Belize

- 2017 international arrivals: 427,000
- Change in arrivals from 2016: 13%

Easy to get to from all parts of the U.S., Belize saw an impressive increase in tourism in 2017. Whether you’re interested in secluded, sandy beaches or trekking through a rainforest in search of a rare bird, Belize has it all. The country’s barrier reef system was designated a Unesco World Heritage Site in 1996, and is the second-largest reef system in the world.

 

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Salvatore // Flickr

#41. Cayman Islands

- 2017 international arrivals: 418,000
- Change in arrivals from 2016: 0%

A popular stopping point for U.S.-based cruise ships, the Cayman Islands consist of three islands—Grand Cayman, Cayman Brac, and Little Cayman—each with their own personality and flavor. You’ll find picturesque sandy shores and aquamarine waters on all three.

 

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Jonathan Palombo // Wikimedia Commons

#40. Turks and Caicos

- 2017 international arrivals: 416,000
- Change in arrivals from 2016: 17.5%

TripAdvisor named Turks and Caicos’ Grace Bay Beach as the world’s best in its 2018 Travelers’ Choice Awards. It’s easy to see why once you set your eyes upon the pristine, ultra-fine sand and clean, turquoise water. So why don’t more people visit? The islands are tiny and can be quite expensive.

 

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Jonathan Palombo // Wikimedia Commons

#39. St. Maarten

- 2017 international arrivals: 402,000
- Change in arrivals from 2016: 4.5%

A visit to this unique island will net you two trips in one, as you can explore both Saint-Martin, the island’s French side, and Sint Maarten, the island’s Dutch side. Unfortunately, the island suffered significant damage in 2017’s Hurricane Irma, but is slowly and surely on the way to recovery for the 2019 tourist season.

 

 

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dronepicr // Wikicommons

#38. Curaçao

- 2017 international arrivals: 399,000
- Change in arrivals from 2016: -5.6%

The charming island of Curaçao saw a decrease in tourism in 2017, largely attributed to problems with the country’s local airline InselAir. Once you’re on the island, you’ll find a largely untouched windward coastline and plenty of hidden beaches.

 

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Verino77 // Flickr

#37. Trinidad and Tobago

- 2017 international arrivals: 395,000
- Change in arrivals from 2016: -7%

This oil-rich twin-island nation has seen a marked decrease in tourists for several years, which is largely attributed to the island’s lack of investment. For those who make the trip, the island retains its many unique Creole traditions and cuisines, including a boisterous annual carnival held in Trinidad’s capital, Port of Spain.

 

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Pixabay

#36. Saint Lucia

- 2017 international arrivals: 386,000
- Change in arrivals from 2016: 0.9%

Postcard-perfect, this lush, tiny island is well-known for the dramatic pitons that rise from its center. The island’s two airports receive international flights from Canada, the U.S., and Europe, making it easily accessible for visitors.

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#35. Monaco

- 2017 international arrivals: 355,000
- Change in arrivals from 2016: 1.4%

This independent city-state is the world’s second-smallest country, but with its glitz and glamour, Monaco is anything but understated. You can visit Monaco for the world-famous Formula One Grand Prix, flashy casinos, and stunning beaches. It’s also considered a secretive tax-haven for the uber-rich.

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Pixabay

#34. Seychelles

- 2017 international arrivals: 350,000
- Change in arrivals from 2016: 9.8%

Tricky to get to from many parts of the world, Seychelles is an archipelago of 115 islands off the coast of Africa. The country is best known for its rich natural reserves, and is home to rare animals like the Aldabra tortoise as well as abundant coral reefs.

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kansasphoto // Flickr

#33. British Virgin Islands

- 2017 international arrivals: 335,000
- Change in arrivals from 2016: 3.8%

Hurricane Irma battered the British Virgin Islands last year, causing more than $3 billion in damage. This island experienced a sharp decrease in tourism revenue due to the storm, and is slowly but surely rebounding.

 

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#32. Suriname

- 2017 international arrivals: 278,000
- Change in arrivals from 2016: 12.8%

This tiny South American country is known for picture-perfect rainforests and exotic flora and fauna. More and more, tourists are discovering the incredible diversity, ranging from vast rainforests and jungle to wild, sandy swaths of savanna.

 

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JoshuaDavisPhotography // Flickr

#31. Bermuda

- 2017 international arrivals: 270,000
- Change in arrivals from 2016: 11.1%

This British island territory is easy to get to for most Americans, but still remains one of the world’s least-visited places. The island has a unique blend of British and American culture, punctuated by incredible natural beauty, such as the pink-sand beach of Horseshoe Bay.

 

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Lord Mountbatten // Wikimedia Commons

#30. Brunei

- 2017 international arrivals: 259,000
- Change in arrivals from 2016: 0.3%

This tiny sultanate is situated on the Indonesian island of Borneo and has many of the same natural attractions, such as rainforests and water villages, as its surrounding neighbors. Brunei is a dry country—meaning no alcohol is sold or served—with a quiet capital city, Bandar Seri Begawan.

 

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Bernard Gagnon // Wikimedia Commons

#29. Madagascar

- 2017 international arrivals: 255,000
- Change in arrivals from 2016: 20%

Madagascar has incredible wildlife and forests, yet remains largely undeveloped and thus, among the least-visited places in the world. That’s slowly changing, making now a prime time to see the country’s remarkable historic sites and biodiversity, such as the red-bellied lemur.

 

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Pixabay

#28. Bhutan

- 2017 international arrivals: 255,000
- Change in arrivals from 2016: 35.1%

A visit to Bhutan is only possible through a tour operator and $250 daily fee applies, which includes meals and lodging, so it’s no surprise that this tiny Asian country doesn’t attract hordes of visitors. Still, tourism is on the rise as more and more people discover its magic, which includes the Tiger’s Nest Monastery and the Gangtey Valley, one of the Himalayas’ most beautiful valleys.

 

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Ron Kroetz // Flickr

#27. Antigua and Barbuda

- 2017 international arrivals: 247,000
- Change in arrivals from 2016: 5.9%

Antigua and Barbuda claim to have the best beaches in the world, as both of these British Commonwealth islands are ringed with golden, sandy shores and cerulean waters. If you visit, you’ll also discover tasty food and plenty to do for active travelers—the island’s home to some of the best kite-surfing in the world.

 

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amanderson2 // Wikimedia Commons

#26. Guyana

- 2017 international arrivals: 247,000
- Change in arrivals from 2016: 13.8%

English-speaking Guyana is known for its impressive British colonial architecture, including the wooden St. George’s Anglican Cathedral. It’s also home to an ecologically diverse rainforest, making up nearly 80% of the country. Still, election-fueled political unrest has occurred periodically throughout the years, affecting tourism to South America’s only English-speaking country.

 

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Michelle Maria // Wikimedia Commons

#25. French Polynesia

- 2017 international arrivals: 199,000
- Change in arrivals from 2016: 4.7%

French Polynesia consists of more than 100 islands in the South Pacific, stretching across a vast expanse of more than 1,200 miles. Getting here can be tricky, but those who do will encounter turquoise inlets, white sands, and overwater bungalows galore.

 

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Ferdinand Reus // Wikimedia Commons

#24. Mali

- 2017 international arrivals: 193,000
- Change in arrivals from 2016: 8.8%

Mali is home to magnificent historical sites, including Timbuktu and three other Unesco World Heritage Sites, but tourism to the country has been affected by conflict in Northern Mali and ongoing terroristic threats. The majority of the country’s visitors are from France, according to Mali’s tourism office.

 

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Christina Spicuzza // Wikimedia Commons

#23. Cook Islands

- 2017 international arrivals: 161,000
- Change in arrivals from 2016: 17.1%

Cook Islands bills itself as similar to Hawaii—before all the tourists arrived. And it seems to be working, as the island saw a nearly 20% increase in tourism in 2017. Located in the same time zone as Hawaii, there are even direct flights available from Los Angeles to Rarotonga, the country’s largest island.

 

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Lee Coursey // Flickr

#22. Grenada

- 2017 international arrivals: 146,000
- Change in arrivals from 2016: -3.8%

Called the “Spice Island,” Grenada is known for its numerous nutmeg plantations. Unlike many of its Caribbean neighbors, Grenada is located 800 miles above the equator, situating it squarely outside of the hurricane belt, making it a popular and safe destination for fall travel.

 

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Pixabay

#21. Samoa

- 2017 international arrivals: 146,000
- Change in arrivals from 2016: 5.3%

Like its other Oceanic neighbors, sunny Samoa receives few visitors largely due to its remote location. Tourists who travel there will be surrounded by friendly locals during your visit to this South Pacific paradise.

 

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Hurghea Constantin // Shutterstock

#20. Moldova

- 2017 international arrivals: 145,000
- Change in arrivals from 2016: 28.6%

This former Soviet Republic is slowly charming the world—or at least the 145,000 intrepid travelers who visited in 2017. The capital, Chișinău, is home to Brutalist-style Soviet architecture, whereas more remote parts of the country, such as Nistreana, are home to hosts of vineyards producing top-quality red wines.

 

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Adam Jones, Ph.D. // Wikimedia Commons

#19. Burkina Faso

- 2017 international arrivals: 143,000
- Change in arrivals from 2016: -6.7%

With little tourism infrastructure, a visit to Burkina Faso can be tricky. This African nation is among the poorest in the world, as well as one of the least literate. Those who do visit will be delighted to uncover a rich music scene, including lively festivals, such as the Festival International de la Culture Hip Hop, held every October.

 

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Ethan Daniels // Shutterstock

#18. Palau

- 2017 international arrivals: 123,000
- Change in arrivals from 2016: -15.5%

Palau consists of more than 500 different islands scattered throughout the South Pacific. The real attraction here is what’s beneath the water. Palau is considered one of the world’s best dive sites, boasting shipwrecks galore and diverse marine life, all attracting daring divers from around the globe. Unfortunately, a Chinese ban on tourists caused a significant drop in visitors to the tiny nation.

 

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my LifeShow // Wikimedia Commons

#17. New Caledonia

- 2017 international arrivals: 121,000
- Change in arrivals from 2016: 1.5%

Like Palau, New Caledonia is another hot spot for divers. The main island is surrounded by Grand Terre, a massive barrier reef, and a 9,000-square-mile lagoon that is among the world’s largest, and is also registered as a Unesco World Heritage site.

 

 

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Nesnad // Wikimedia Commons

#16. St. Kitts and Nevis

- 2017 international arrivals: 114,000
- Change in arrivals from 2016: -0.9%

St. Kitts and Nevis were the first Caribbean islands to be colonized by the British, back in 1623. Today, the island’s many sugar plantations have been converted into charming, chic hotels and resorts. The islands include attractions like the 18-mile-long St. Kitts Scenic Railway and the Brimstone Hill Fortress National Park, where, on a clear day, you can see five neighboring Caribbean islands.

 

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Phillip Capper // Flickr

#15. Vanuatu

- 2017 international arrivals: 109,000
- Change in arrivals from 2016: 5.7%

This South Pacific archipelago is made up of 83 different islands, spanning more than 800 miles. Scuba diving is popular here, especially at the wreckage of the World War II-era troopship SS President Coolidge.

 

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JD Lasica // Flickr

#14. Dominica

- 2017 international arrivals: 79,000
- Change in arrivals from 2016: 5.2%

Situated between Guadeloupe and Martinique, Dominica saw an increase in visitors last year, despite significant damage from Hurricane Maria in August of 2017. Still, the island is thriving, with most hotels re-opened to visitors and 19 of the country’s 23 historic attractions receiving visitors once again.

 

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Pixabay

#13. Liechtenstein

- 2017 international arrivals: 79,000
- Change in arrivals from 2016: 21.9%

minuscule German principality, Liechtenstein has a charming blend of picturesque Alpine landscapes and incredible medieval ruins. Just 15 miles long, it’s easy to explore everything from Vaduz Castle to the Hilti Art Foundation Collection, a world-class private collection of art, in just a day.

 

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Zhukov Oleg // Shutterstock

#12. San Marino

- 2017 international arrivals: 78,000
- Change in arrivals from 2016: 10.2%

San Marino is one of the world’s oldest republics, with historic architecture dating back to the 11th century. Many of the country’s visitors are Italian, and plan day trips from the surrounding Romagna region.

 

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Pixabay

#11. St. Vincent and the Grenadines

- 2017 international arrivals: 76,000
- Change in arrivals from 2016: 4.5%

Tourism to the tiny island nation of St. Vincent and the Grenadines rose in 2017, largely fueled by cruise ships making stops to the islands. Whether you like lounging on the beach, sailing around reef-lined islands, or hiking to the top of a volcano, these islands have plenty to offer.

 

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Bro. Jeffrey Pioquinto, SJ // Flickr

#10. Timor-Leste

- 2017 international arrivals: 74,000
- Change in arrivals from 2016: 6.6%

There aren’t many flights into Dili, the capital of Timor-Leste. But, if you manage to make it onto one, you’ll uncover a wholly unique country where a typical day can be spent mountain biking, hiking, whale-watching, or simply relaxing on the beach.

 

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Stefan Krasowski // Flickr

#9. Anguilla

- 2017 international arrivals: 68,000
- Change in arrivals from 2016: 8.2%

Travel + Leisure has ranked Anguilla its #1 Caribbean island two years in a row, and it’s not hard to see why. While the island was affected by Hurricane Irma, Anguilla still boasts strong tourist numbers as visitors flock to the 33 white-sand beaches and historic landmarks like Big Spring Cave, known for prehistoric petroglyphs.

 

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dr.scott.mills // Wikimedia Commons

#8. Tonga

- 2017 international arrivals: 62,000
- Change in arrivals from 2016: 13.7%

Part of Old Polynesia, Tonga is growing in popularity as travelers uncover deserted white-sand beaches, coral reefs, and pristine rainforest. Many of the country’s 170 islands are uninhabited, with the majority of the population and tourist lodging residing on the main island of Tongatapu.

 

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Haryamouji // Wikimedia Commons

#7. Comoros

- 2017 international arrivals: 28,000
- Change in arrivals from 2016: 13.6%

Tourism to these scattered African islands is minimal, largely due to political instability—there have been more than 20 attempted coups in the past few decades. Despite this, the Comoros islands boast idyllic beaches and incredible landscapes, studded with volcanic peaks.

 

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Stefan Krasowski // Flickr

#6. Solomon Islands

- 2017 international arrivals: 26,000
- Change in arrivals from 2016: 0.3%

World War II buffs will delight in a visit to the Solomon Islands, which is home to many historic sites from the war. Guadalcanal, one of the archipelago’s largest islands, is home to a striking memorial and a vibrant market that showcases island produce and crafts.

 

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#5. American Samoa

- 2017 international arrivals: 20,000
- Change in arrivals from 2016: -1.4%

This beautiful pocket of Polynesia belongs to the United States, but isn’t a part of it. If you make the trek to American Samoa, you’ll discover natural harbors, lush irregular peaks, and beaches a-plenty. American Samoa is also home the National Park of American Samoa, filled with impressive hiking trails.

 

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tn_photography // Wikimedia Commons

#4. Niue

- 2017 international arrivals: 10,000
- Change in arrivals from 2016: 1.4%

One of the world’s smallest countries, Niue has a population of fewer than 2,000 people. Still, the island has plenty to offer visitors, including one of the largest raised coral atolls in the world and abundant fishing, diving, and snorkeling.

 

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David Stanley // Flickr

#3. Montserrat

- 2017 international arrivals: 8,000
- Change in arrivals from 2016: -1.1%

A mountainous island punctuated by an active volcano—it last erupted in the ‘90s—Montserrat is home to stunning swaths of black-sand beaches, as well as Plymouth, the unique remains of a town that was buried during the last volcanic eruption.

 

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#2. Marshall Islands

- 2017 international arrivals: 6,000
- Change in arrivals from 2016: 55.8%

The Marshall Islands are difficult to get to and some of the islands are considered “no-go” zones after being used for nuclear testing. Still, this sprawling band of islands saw a dramatic increase in tourists in 2017, as visitors discover world-class diving and fishing.

 

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Stefan Lins // Wikimedia Commons

#1. Tuvalu

- 2017 international arrivals: 2,000
- Change in arrivals from 2016: 5.2%

Boasting just 2,000 international arrivals in 2017, the tiny island of Tuvalu is officially the least-visited place in the world. Not surprisingly, there’s little infrastructure for tourists here, but if you’re looking for little more than relaxation in an idyllic setting, you’ll find it in Tuvalu.



 

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