There's always lists on the most popular countries. But in my travels, I've found going against the grain has been super rewarding - places like Chernobyl, in Ukraine, or the desert of Uzbekistan or the mountains of Tajikistan have been some of my travelling highlights.

Then reading a mostly fluff piece on the least visited places in the world made me wonder - and I'll need statistics to back this up please, which country has the fewest TOURISTS (that's people from other countries coming to this country for tourism) every year?

Three caveats:

  • Antarctica is not a country (for the purpose of this)
  • All the soldiers entering Iraq / Afghanistan do not count as tourists
  • since countries come and go, ideally this would simply be the most recent statistics we can find, which is likely to be '2011' statistics.
  • Whose definition of "country" should we use? Least visited in 2011? Least visited of all time? Something in between? Some parts of Russia that want to be countries you need some serious male dangly bits to visit, such as Chechnya. Commented Nov 22, 2011 at 12:14
  • I retagged your question again so let me know what you think. I think "alternative" is covered by "adventure", especially when combined with "extreme tourism" and double especially when combined with "remote locations". This is also a workable question for the kinda vague "countries" tag but the "tourism" tag was way off the vague-o-meter (-: Commented Nov 22, 2011 at 12:16
  • Over which period? Id suggest Libya this year could have a low number but in previous years might have been in the middle of the pack.
    – Stuart
    Commented Nov 22, 2011 at 14:12
  • I'm not sure this is a good question, because it calls for the creation of a list. A better question might be, which countries have "conditions," (fighting, terrorism, high likelihood of disease), that would deter tourists.
    – Tom Au
    Commented Nov 22, 2011 at 18:43
  • A friend of mine who had come home from working in Libya due to current events has now gone back there. I don't know if everybody else is doing the same so quickly. Commented Nov 22, 2011 at 19:02

8 Answers 8


Probably Somalia. In 2010, there was a Canadian man who disembarked from his plane in Mogadishu claiming to be a tourist, and the officials were in such disbelief that Somalia had a tourist that they detained him and it made the news.

An immigration official is quoted as saying that the Canadian was “the first person to come to Mogadishu only for tourism".

About a decade ago, the Economist interviewed the minister of tourism of Somalia who said “I'm sure tourists would leave Somalia alive and I'm hopeful they wouldn't be kidnapped. At least, we would try to make sure they were not kidnapped, although it can happen.” Hardly a ringing advertisement for their tourism industry!

Unfortunately, I don't know if Mogadishu has had a tourist since the Canadian two years ago, nor do I have statistics for cities in Somalia outside of Mogadishu.

Chris Guillebeau did travel to Somaliland (which is the "safe" part of Somalia) for tourism in Dec 2011 and wrote an interesting blog post on his experience - didn't sound like many other tourists were going there from that.

  • 5
    You'd have to discount both Somaliland and Puntland, which are/have been semi-popular short trip destinations among ex-pats in the area. That quote from the minister of tourism is amazing, I want to turn it into a tourism poster Commented Oct 30, 2015 at 20:16

Gunnar Garfors has been researching this question on his blog.

He's found that the UNWTO, World Tourism Organization has a good overview of them.

Essentially, as of 2019 (right before COVID), at the tail end of the tourism list are:

Country Visitors (thousands)
NIUE 11.6
SABA 28.6

Additionally the following countries have no data and presumably don't get much tourism either:





  5. NAURU



Oddly, I tried to go to Nauru in 2006, but couldn't find flights that worked, so went to Tonga instead :/

  • 3
    It's fairly obvious that small countries are visited by less tourists, but a more fair statistics is tourists per capita. For example, as per the data provided, North Korea is visited by 35000 tourists on a basis of 24 million population, while Solomon Islands boasts 23000 for its 520 thousand inhabitants. Commented Jan 23, 2013 at 7:54
  • 5
    @mindcorrosive - not always. New Zealand is smaller than Somalia, for example, but gets a lot more tourists. And the intent in mind for asking it was that for 'bragging rights' you need to have been to a place hardly anyone goes to, so per capita, while relevant for comparing tourist rates, doesn't beat hard numbers in this case :)
    – Mark Mayo
    Commented Jan 23, 2013 at 17:15
  • 1
    Does Somalia in this count include Somaliland and Puntland, do you know? Also, I met some yachties in Tonga who had been to Nauru. Apparently if I remember right you get treated like a local celebrity, which changes from charming and wonderful to claustrophobic and unbearable in about 4 days Commented Oct 30, 2015 at 20:32
  • @mindcorrosive here you go!
    – JonathanReez
    Commented Nov 25, 2022 at 16:00

North Korea. Very few people go there. There's only one offical tour company.

  • 17
    But I bet they get orders of magnitude more tourists than Somalia gets. I know definitely one person and I think two who have been to North Korea. I don't know anyone who's ventured to Somalia... Commented Aug 14, 2012 at 13:34
  • 8
    North Korea isn't France or Thailand, and visits had tapered off in the last couple of years, but it does receive thousands of tourists each year. A large proportion are Chinese, especially to Baekdusan on the border; there is even weekly passenger train service from the PRC to Pyongyang. And until the Cheonan incident there were South Korean bus tours to Kaesong and Geumgangsan.
    – choster
    Commented Aug 14, 2012 at 15:05
  • 1
    turn out you are quite wrong, though not totally. classetouriste.be/travel-to-north-korea
    – kmonsoor
    Commented Sep 6, 2013 at 6:28
  • 2
    NK gets quite a few tourists. When i went there the flight was full of tourists (only about 8 actual north Koreans on the full flight). While there is only 1 Tour company in North Korea it's role is as a liaison with foreign tour companies running trips. You wouldn't book a visit directly with the KITC (Korea International Travel Company).
    – zeocrash
    Commented Dec 22, 2014 at 21:24
  • 1
    There are at least two English-language tour companies who go to North Korea - Koryo Tours and Young Pioneers. Koryo have been going for ages, Young Pioneers have been going there for a few years at least. The creepy/spectacular Mass Games could almost have been described as a popular attraction. Commented Oct 30, 2015 at 20:31

There is a somewhat relevant list for that.

I only found this PDF linked on from wikipedia with solid numbers, but they never show the raw data; a Top50 by arrivals or by tourist spending is all they offer.

Another source for this data seems to be http://www.ipkinternational.com/ - but you have to purchase the records. Wolfram alpha has no data for this query.


My understanding is that Saudi Arabia does not permit tourists, period.

Thus, depending on how you count those making a religious pilgrimage (I forget what it's called) to Mecca the count might be zero, putting them at the bottom of the list.

  • Interesting. Chris Guillebeau is visiting every country in the world - has Norway remaining, and he appears to have Saudi Arabia on the list.
    – Mark Mayo
    Commented Jan 23, 2013 at 2:05
  • 4
    Saudi Arabia does not issue tourist visas, but citizens of the Gulf Cooperation Council do not need visas to travel there and can thus visit for any reason, including tourism. Commented Jan 23, 2013 at 9:50
  • 1
    @MarkMayo: Not issuing tourist visas doesn't mean they don't issue business visas. It is possible to get in and I've even met someone who has been there. The question is specifically about tourists, though. Commented Jan 24, 2013 at 2:29
  • 1
    @MarkMayo I think in another question it was mentioned the block on tourist visa is relatively recent. He could have visited there before they stopped issuing them?
    – jwenting
    Commented Jan 24, 2013 at 10:12
  • 4
    Note that things have changed recently and Saudi Arabia now allows tourists.
    – jcaron
    Commented Nov 25, 2022 at 8:20

From a UK perspective the Foreign Travel Advice provided by the British Government have published the numbers of British Citizens to various countries per annum in 2014. Wikipedia

According to this list Kiribati is the least visited country by British citizens in 2014 with just 78 recorded visitors. However the citation on Wikipedia only references the gov.uk website and not an actual published document and it does not differentiate the difference between tourist and business visitor.


In 2010 40,873 tourists visited Bhutan.


  • I suspected Central African Republic might have been lower, but the world bank reports they had 52000 in 2009.
    – Stuart
    Commented Oct 26, 2012 at 16:10

Someone requested a per-capita statistic, so I've used UNWTO data combined with UN's latest population estimates to arrive at the top-10 least visited nations:

# Country Visitors/thousand residents Peak visitors/year (thousands)
1 Somalia 0.06 1
2 Afghanistan 0.49 20
3 South Sudan 0.92 10
4 Bangladesh 2.73 467
5 D.R. Congo 3.58 354
6 North Korea 3.84 100
7 Liberia 4.53 24
8 Pakistan 4.92 1161
9 Equatorial Guinea 5.99 10
10 Mauritania 6.33 30

We can also derive the top-10 most visited nations on a per-capita basis:

# Country Visitors/thousand residents Peak visitors/year (thousands)
1 San Marino 67933 2038
2 Saint Kitts And Nevis 25560 1278
3 Aruba 17736 1951
4 Bahamas 17683 7250
5 Antigua and Barbuda 11822 1064
6 Brunei Darussalam 10047 4521
7 Monaco 9075 363
8 Dominica 8686 608
9 Cook Islands 8600 172
10 Bahrain 8194 12045

Interestingly on a per-capita basis little Nauru actually has as many tourists as the UK (at least pre-COVID).

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