10 countries you’ve probably never heard about, what makes them special

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There are almost 200 countries in the world. But we tend to focus only on the popular ones in the news. For people interested in seeing the world in a more complete sense, starting with unpopular countries may open your eyes to fresh realities. Here are some of them and what makes them special.

  1. Eritrea

One interesting fact about this African country of 3.2 million people is that it has no official language: it’s a multilingual state and its constitution says all Eritrean tongues are equal. However, Tigrinya is Eritrea’s de facto language with over 2.5 million speakers as of 2006. Other Eritrean national languages include Tig, Nara, Saho, Kunama, Bilen, Beja, Afar, and Arabic. English together with Tigrinya are the work languages, and the government does not recognize Italian, Eritrea’s colonial tongue.

  1. Azerbaijan

Called the Land of Fire, Azerbaijan, marked by many fire-related oddities, has a population of 10.2 million people. It has the burning mountain of Yanar Dag or the Fire Temple of Ateshgah, natural fire and light phenomenon which attracted fire-worshipping Zoroastrians into the country and possibly gave it the name in the first place. Fire is used as the country’s main appeal on the international stage and was the motto for Eurovision 2014 which was hosted in its capital Baku.

  1. Bhutan

Bhutan started practising democracy because its king abdicated his throne for popular freedom. Driven by selflessness, Bhutan’s Jigme Singye Wangchuck said his country might not always have a good and honest king, so he favoured democracy and elections were held with the establishment of a constitution in 2005. Bhutan, a small country of 763,000 people, now runs a constitutional monarchy.

  1. Honduras

A country of 9.7million people, Honduras is known for its no-smoking zones. It was the first country to ban smoking inside one’s own home. Smokers must always stand about two meters (six feet) away from non-smokers.

  1. Liechtenstein

At less than 40,000 people, this European country is considered one of the smallest in the world. In fact, the biggest city houses just 6,000 citizens. One interesting thing about Liechtenstein is that the country has zero national debt—a debt ratio of 0.5%—and national and municipal budgets run an overall surplus according to its public policy and constitutional law.

  1. San Marino

About 3,000 people populate Europe’s San Marino, a country which, for centuries, has never refused asylum to the persecuted. Most notably, Italian statesman Giuseppe Garibaldi sought safety within the fortress walls of San Marino in 1849, when he found himself surrounded by three enemy armies. San Marino remained neutral during World War II but gave shelter and asylum to 100,000 evacuees from the surrounding areas of Italy facing bombardments.

  1. Tuvalu

Tuvalu does not take credit cards. This is not something that applies to just a fraction of the country, no. There literally is no part of the country where you can make a transaction using a credit card. This is understandable though because the country has very few places you can spend your money. So, every transaction is done in cash. As of 2020, their population was just 11,600.

  1. Vanuatu

This is considered the world’s most dangerous country when it comes to natural disasters. The 2015 World Risk Report, compiled by the United Nations University for Environment and Human Security (UNU-EHS), assigned a risk percentage to a total of 173 countries, based on the chances of experiencing earthquakes, storms, floods, droughts, and sea level rises. Vanuatu was number one, with 36.43%, ahead of Tonga, The Philippines, Guatemala, and Bangladesh.

  1. Nicaragua

This is one country where streets have no names yet people living there navigate easily. They have quite an effective system of reference points—a tree, a traffic light, a monument, among others—to describe locations from which they count how many blocks it takes to reach the next marker.

  1. Palau

Palau’s 18,000 people love sharks. While the whole world sees the sea animal as villains, Palauans were the first people to protect them. The world’s first shark sanctuary was set up in the country in 2009, and all commercial shark fishing activities were banned. There are over 130 different species of shark in Palau, and diving with them is an increasingly popular attraction.

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