“Here’s a little agit for the never believer, yeah yeah yeah yeah” – Michael Stipe.
**EDIT** Since I wrote this, I have added a few more real (but debated) countries to my list including
- The Sovereign Military Order of Malta.
- The Kingdom of Romkerhall.
- Western Sahara.
- Northern Cyprus.
- Valašské Meziříčí in The Kingdom of Wallachia.
On my travels around the world where I have so far swallowed 1.5 centuries worth of “countries” (186 on my own count, a bit less on those who go by global brown rearexit worshipping institutions such as FIFA, UN and TCC) into my backpack, I found a passion for touring unrecognised countries, micronations, disputed territories, off the wall cultures, villages your Granny never told you about, blocked exclusion zones, virtual nations and simply what I class as “wacaday republics”. The truth is, the word country has no definite definition…unless you succumb to the horrors of global capitalist bull excrement where a few countries think they rule supreme. They don’t. Nobody does. Humans are equal and will forever be. Countries do the same. Nobody owns it.
“Sink is full of fishes, he got wacaday republics on the brain” – Noel Gallagher.
Because of this – I use my own criteria – if it feels and looks like it should be a country, then it is a country, in my eyes. All of those listed here can adhere to some kind of rules or cultures which make it a country. For selfish reasons, I have NOT included England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales, United Kingdom, Ireland/Republic of Ireland or Great Britain on this list as to me, they are not debated – there are clearly five countries in the British Isles. The same goes for Israel and Palestine – there is no debate for me – both are clear legitimate countries.
“By one criterion, England itself is a country that doesn’t exist” – Nick Middleton.
What is a Country? How Many Countries Are There?
Again this is a huge debate amongst fellow tourists, so here are some lists that people often “go by”.
- 193 – The United Nations has 193 member states, 3 observer states and a country with no land.
- 197 – My travel Buddy Ramblin Randy is aiming for the magic of 197!
- 198 – My Norwegian friend Gunnar Garfors claims there are 198.
- 211 – FIFA claims there are 211 countries, all of whom have a registered national football team.
- 225 – The British Foreign and Commonwealth office states that there are 225 countries and territories.
- 325 – The Traveller’s Century Club states that there are 325 sovereign nations, territories, enclaves, and islands.
- 875 – The Most Traveled Persons website states that there are 875 unique parts of the world.
- 1,281 – The Best Traveled states that there are 1281 unique places in the world.
- 193 – Global Gaz claims there are 193 countries that he personally wants to visit.
- 627 – Northern Irishman in Poland, Jonny Blair, claims there are an endless list of countries and even this blog or your Mum’s shop can be a country if “it wants to be”. Jonny compiled a list of 625 real countries here.
The truth is nobody has the “correct answer”, especially not the wannabe Guru Gods and self-professed mental health solving doctors, but I am sure that a lot of the forty countries below (all of which I have officially backpacked in) are not recognised by most reading…for what reason…
“God only knows” – Noel Gallagher.
So here are 40 places I have backpacked in that I personally deem as countries, you don’t have to agree, but this is my blog remember and I can write what I want and feel.
2.Nagorno Karabakh (Artsakh)
7.Basque Country (Euskadi)
9.The People’s Republic of Podjistan
10.The Republic of Uzupis
16.Gorno Badakhshan (The Pamirs)
17.The Republic of Frestonia
19.The Kingdom of Lovely
20.The Lagoan Isles
21.The Faroe Islands
24.The Principality of Monaco
25.The Vatican City State
27.Don’t Stop Living (DSL Republic)
34.Chernobyl Exclusion Zone (CEZ)
38.Donkey Kong Country
41.The Sovereign Military Order of Malta
42.The Kingdom of Romkerhall
In 2010, I first stepped foot on Antarctic land, with a textbook arrival at the remote island of Barrientos just off the coast of the Antarctic Peninsula. As well as stunning scenery and lots of sights, there are no human murders in Antarctica. Despite the fact that it is a continent of its own and is huge, Antarctica is oddly not normally classed as a country, certainly not even yet recognised by FIFA or the United Nations. However, it should be. It doesn’t even have its own national football team…weather could be a problem. “Indoorit, guys”.
When I Visited – November 2010.
Cool Fact – This is the only country on this list that is also officially its own continent.
Key Sights – South Pole, Port Lockroy, Polish Arctowski Base, Deception Island, Neko Harbour, Whaler’s Bay
My Best Article on It – On the piss in Antarctica – Best Bars
My Craziest Article on It – Getting my Willy Out in Antarctica
All my Articles on It – http://dontstopliving.net/category/antarctica/
Currency – US Dollars, Euros, Polish Zlotys, British Pounds, Argentine Pesos (depends on the base you visit).
Population – Between 3,000 and 5,000 Temporary Residents.
Capital – (Generally Recognised as) McMurdo Base.
Where to Sleep – Most sleep anchored off shore on a boat, but you can camp it or stay at a base.
Random Fact – I met my “ex-wife to be” while backpacking there (we were together five years and split in 2015).
Borders – Borders no other countries or continents, only border is with “International Waters”.
Visa – Not needed but insurance and a tour booking is normally essential.
Flag – The UK has its own Antarctica flag, but this is the one I personally recognise:
When people mention the Caucasus to you, you might think they are referring to a country hat-trick of Georgia, Azerbaijan and Armenia, but realistically it’s a quartet here, plus a double brace. There are six real countries to explore (Armenia, Abkhazia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Nagorno Karabakh, South Ossetia – some also argue Naxivan could be included as it is geographically separate from the rest of Azerbaijan).
So I made sure my Caucasus adventure of 2013 was unbereft of at least four of them. For this reason, having already explored and been bored by Yerevan, we headed across the border, through Azerbaijan land, and into the Republic of Nagorno Karabakh.
When I Visited – October to November 2013
Key Sights – Askeran Fortress, Gandsazar Monastery, Central Stepanakert, Adgam, Eclectic Hotel
My Best Article on It – Backpacking the Sights of Stepanakert
My Craziest Article on It – Backpacking the Sights of Vank
All my Articles on It – http://dontstopliving.net/category/central-asia-middle-east/nagorno-karabakh/
Population – 146,573
Currency – Armenian Dram
Capital – Stepanakert
Language – Armenian
Interesting Fact – The Nagorno Karabakh international football team lost 3-2 to the Isle of Man in 2014
Where to Sleep – Eclectic Hotel, Vank
Borders – Borders only Azerbaijan in theory, through you get here from Armenia so you could argue it also borders Armenia.
Visa – You need a visa. Get it in Armenia or at the Ministery of Foreign Affairs in Stepanakert.
I was the first ever backpacker, and therefore tourist and travel writer, to explore tiny Austenasia in 2015. On a wacaday Saturday in March 2015 just a few days shy of St. Patrick’s Day, I arrived across the land border between England and Austenasia having boarded a hat-trick of buses in South East London, Surrey and Carshalton. I was given a full tour of Wrythe, the capital and the Protected Nation of Orly by Jonathan Austen, the Emperor. At the time I also appeared on the front page of the national newspaper, Austenasian Times.
When I Visited – March 2015
Key Sights – Parliament Hall (Wrythe), the Protected State of Orly, the Welcome Sign near England Border, National Flag.
My Best Article on It – Top 8 Sights in Wrythe, Capital of Austenasia
My Craziest Article on It – Featured on Ikimasho following my Visit
All my Articles on It –http://dontstopliving.net/category/europe/austenasia/
Population – 82
Currency – British Pound
Capital – Wrythe
Crazy Fact – Austenasia’s national dish is a pitta bread with cheese and red sauce, as per the country’s flag
Where to Sleep – Across the Border in England at the Mad Hatter by the Thames, London
Borders – Wrythe borders England but as the country has a few villages, there are also borders with USA and Scotland.
Visa – You need permission to visit. Email the Emperor and pray he lets you in.
When I first explored South America in 2010 – 2011 I made an error by skipping two of the continent’s most outrageous countries – Guyana and French Guyana. I side stepped the brace and flew into Suriname instead. Suriname though is clearly a country, while French Guyana is still debated.
They do have a capital, a flag and borders with passport offices, but in an odd situation, once you cross from Brazil into French Guyana, you are officially in EUROPE, yet still in South America. How is this even possible? The reason is, that realistically the official name of French Guyana is France and the capital city is Paris. Flying from Cayenne to Paris is officially classed as a Domestic Flight! But for me, this is a separate country which you knew. I got a passport stamp, spent a week here and we hired a car from east to west.
“If you believe they put a man on the moon. Man on the moon.” – Michael Stipe.
When I Visited – June 2014
Key Sights – South American Space Centre, the Prison in St. Laurent du Moroni, Turtles in Cayenne, Church in Sinnamary, Sunset in Kourou.
My Best Article on It – Backpacking in Iracoubo
My Craziest Article on It – My Journey From Brazil to French Guyana
All my Articles on It – http://dontstopliving.net/category/south-america/french-guyana/
Population – 250,109.
Currency – The Euro (formerly the French Franc).
Capital – Cayenne.
Language – French, with some Portuguese and Dutch too.
Interesting Fact – The UN recognises this as a European country despite the fact it is in South America!
Where to Sleep – Oyasamaid, Cayenne.
Borders – Brazil, Suriname.
Visa – You can get in via a Schengen Visa (which is ironic given that Schengen actually means Europe). EU passport holders can also enter visa free.
Put simply, Transnistria is a whackpacker’s paradise. There is something really sad about my trip there, that will haunt me everything I think of it and it is linked to my depression sadly.
“Martinis, girls and guns; it’s a murder on your love affair” – Sheryl Crowbar.
I had heard about this place years ago when I was looking at the break up of the USSR, but in my naive youth, I never dreamed the country would still remain intact, never mind I could visit it. Never mind backpack it, never mind write about it, never mind be featured on one of my favourite travel websites Wanderlust post my visit.
Not only that, but I got to stay with a local lad, Ilya in the Balka area of Tiraspol, the country’s capital. This is probably one of the countries on this list to stake the biggest claim that it should be in the FIFA or UN lists.
Russians might love it.
Ukraine don’t want it.
Moldova pretend to care but don’t do anything about the border.
To all intents and purposes, this is a harder border crossing than 95% of countries that are universally recognised. Get on a Marshrutky in Chisinau, Moldova and in you go…into the magical land of Transnistria, officially the Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic, and also called Transdniester, Trans-Dniestr, Transdniestria, or Pridnestrovie…
When I Visited – November 2014
Key Sights – Distillery in Bendery, Lenin Statue, Downtown Tiraspol
My Best Article on It – Top 12 Sights in Tiraspol
My Craziest Article on It – My Homestay in Balka, Tiraspol
All my Articles on It – http://dontstopliving.net/category/central-asia-middle-east/transnistria/
Population – 475,665.
Currency – Transnistrian Ruble.
Capital – Tiraspol.
Language – Russian, Moldovan, Ukranian.
Crazy Fact – Transnistria is only recognized as a country by Russia.
Borders – Ukraine and Moldova.
Visa – You can enter for 24 hours if you are already legally in either Ukraine or Moldova. For extended stays you will need to register with the government in Tiraspol after crossing the border.
Arrival in Gdynia in July 2016 meant a first official visit to Kashubian claimed land, while politically still in Poland spending Polish zlotys! However, you will notice that Kashubians have their own culture, their own food, their own language and they love to claim Gdansk as their country’s capital. Plus the food ain’t half bad!
“Go and tell it to the man who cannot shine” – Liam Gallagher.
This is as real a country that it suggests. Over 500,000 people and within a nationalist country in Europe, I could fall in love with quirky Kashubia and I could live there. There’s something magic in the air…
As well as trying Kashubian food and seeing the culture, try and make your way to Kashubian Square in central Gdynia – I saw this as the capital square for the country with its flags and monument.
When I Visited – 2016, 2017
Key Sights – Gdynia, their capital city Gduńsk, Murals of Zaspa, Kartuzy, the Cat Cafe in Gdynia, beaches.
My Best Article on It – The Wedding to Pomlewo
My Craziest Article on It – Perhaps my food tour to Gdynia or my bar tour in Gduńsk.
All my Articles on It – https://www.northernirishmaninpoland.com/category/kashubia/
Population – 570,000
Currency – Polish zloty
Capital – Our Capital City Gduńsk (in Polish, Gdansk)
Language – Kashubian
Where to Sleep – Green House Hostel, Gdynia
Interesting Fact – During the war the Kashubs lived under the German terror. Many were treated as Germans and forcibly enlisted into the Hitlerian army as cannon fodders. Thousands of inhabitants of this land were killed in public executions, in combat or in German Death Camps. Amongst them were Kashubian activists, e.g. Rev. Leon Heyke, bishop Konstantyn Dominik, the Mayor of Wejherowo Teodor Bolduan, or teacher Stefan Lewiński. In Cassubia throughout the war an underground organization „Gryf Pomorski” (Pomeranian Griffon) performed its anti-German actions.
Borders – It borders Poland and the Baltic Sea. Arguably it also borders Krolestwo Dreamlandu.
Visa – You’ll need to be legally allowed in Poland.
7.The Basque Country (Euskadi)
I remember backpacking in New Zealand and China many moons ago and I met with some guys and girls from Bilbao and San Sebastian. As they chatted in a reluctant Spanish to some Sevilla dorm buddies, they declared “We are not Spanish, We are Basque”. And they were right. The Basque country is drop dead gorgeous! I went Basquepacking in 2015, dropping by their masterpiece – Donostia – San Sebastien.
People do ask me about sex and about girls on my travels and the gentleman in me doesn’t want to tell everything, this is my secret from the world. The girls know, I know, you don’t. But as you have clicked on this article, these are the top seven countries that I’d rank high on girl stakes for 4 things – health, happiness, attractiveness, not caring that I love football and beer.
1.Taiwan. 2.Moldova. 3.Poland. 4.Basque Country. 5.Ukraine. 6.Mexico. 7.Hong Kong. Goodnight Sharapova…
There is an irony in this post which others will know, but Basque is beautiful, just trust me.
They have their own language, flag, history and even more wacaday is the fact that Real Soceidad and especially Atletico Club Bilbao play ONLY players from the Basque Region. We all dream of a team of Paul Leemans…
When I Visited – April 2015 (by default)
Key Sights – Donostia, Pamplona (bull fighting), Bilbao Old Town at Night.
My Best Article on It – Top 10 Sights in Donostia
All my Articles on It – http://dontstopliving.net/category/europe/basque-country/
Population – 2,164,311.
Currency – Spanish Pesetas, now the dreaded “Euroz”
Capital – Vitoria Gasteiz
Interesting Fact – The Basque Country has the highest number of blood and organ donors per capita in the world. Also, the highest income per capita in Spain.
Where to Stay – Hostel Akellare, Bilbao
Borders – Spain, Catalonia, France, Andorra, Bay of Biscay.
Visa – You just need to get into Spain!
Adammia is an empire which borders England and is in a secret location in Yorkshire. I was able to visit as the country’s first tourist and travel writer back in 2015. As far as I know, NOBODY ELSE has backpacked it as a tourist.
What was more was that Emperor Adam prepared the flag on the balcony for me, included tea and biscuits on arrival, a train station pick up and two more crazy activities, as mentioned below this photo…
So on my trip there, I was able to taste a brand new, homemade Adammian wine. After consuming said product and buying stamps in the country, I headed to the country’s Jagstonian Plains region for a live rocket launch. I was knighted and became a “Sir”, you can call me Sir Jonny Blair in Adammia. Moments like this remain unforgettable on my “151 not out” country journey. The country’s flag gleaming in the greytown cloud…
When I Visited – November 2015
Key Sights – Jagstonian Plains, National Flag, Wine Tour, Capital City Insight.
My Best Article on It – Best 15 Sights in the Capital City
My Craziest Article on It – 5 Wacky Sights in Adammia
All my Articles on Adammia – http://dontstopliving.net/category/europe/adammia/
Population – 30, plus 83 honourary citizens (22 citizens are territorial residents)
Currency – British Pound Sterling
Interesting Fact – The Blue and Green flag is based on Japan’s flag with more natural colours (grass and the sky).
Capital – Tytannia Province (which itself has its own capital – Adamsville within The Imperial City.
Borders – England, in the county of Yorkshire. It’s a secret location, but a train from Yorkshire followed by bus/taxi/lift can get you there!
Visa – You need permission to visit. Email the Emperor and pray he lets you in.
9.The People’s Republic of Podjistan
Podjistan at first was a hurdle for me. The reason is, I am a Northern Irish nationalist and I see our land, our six counties, plus the island states like Rathlin and Copeland as one big happy family. I hate disruption, I didn’t like the violence, I hated the terrorist attacks and I prayed for a 6 county peace. I see Derry/Londonderry as both names, same as Ards/Newtownards. But when I found out that in the middle of County Down there was a breakaway Province, I was angered more than intrigued. Initially…but I succumbed…
“Well, whatever, nevermind. Hello, hello, hello” – Kurtholomew Kobianski.
However, Simon Stewart, the leader of Podjistan emailed me back quickly, invited me to the province and not only did he invite me to a full personal guided tour of the country but he used to work with my sister!! On arrival I was given “a wee shat battle”, the country’s flag (fleg) and we talked about “Kyle Lafferty hat-tricks” (as rare on a Northern Irish football report as a George Best World Cup appearance).
The country has some very quirky facts –
1. Buckfast AKA “Lurgan Champagne” is illegal, banned and will be confiscated at the border.
2. Subbuteo is the national sport!
When I Visited – September 2015
Key Sights – Four Gables, National Football Stadium, Howler’s Wall, Cabinet of Curiosity, A FULL Tour of the People’s Palace (Country Capital)
My Best Article on It – All You Need to Know About Podjistan
My Craziest Article on It – Top 6 Sights in Four Gables! (A Village Outside the Capital)
All my Articles on It – http://dontstopliving.net/category/europe/podjistan/
Population – The population of Podjistan reached a peak with 7 and currently all Podjistanis live abroad. There are currently zero residents in the People’s Republic of Podjistan as the country is currently receiving maintenance work.
Currency – Geordie Best Fiver, Northern Irish Pound
Capital – The People’s Palace
Where to Sleep – Either 1.The People’s Palace or 2.across the border in Northern Ireland at Belfast’s famous Europa Hotel.
Interesting Fact – Lurgan Champagne, (i.e. Buckfast) is illegal in Podjistan and is strictly confiscated at the border.
Borders – You can only cross into landlocked Podjistan from Northern Ireland.
Visa – You will need your passport to get stamped in on arrival into Podjistan but they don’t actually check or issue visas, the reason being they see that you have come into their country through Northern Ireland, so must have had a tough time getting here. In other words, keep er lit and ye’ll get in.
10.The Republic of Užupis
One of the most artistic countries on this list, Užupis is a quirky neighbourhood turned republic in the city of Vilnius. Lithuanians live here of course, but when you consider the fact they have their own border, flag, currency, national day, constitution and passport stamp, this is very much a country in its own right.
“This is my world and I am world leader; pretend” – Michael Stipe.
I even toured the local museum, pottery factory, bookshop and bars. At no point could I realistically assume I was in Lithuania. When I went to post a postcard, spend some Uzas (national currency) and get my passport stamped, it was clear I was in another world. Another country. The Republic of Uzupis. Plus they have their National Day on April 1st. It’s no April’s full jokathon!
When I Visited – January 2015
Key Sights – Uzupis Gatve/Uzupis Street, Uzupis Constitution Wall, Uzupis Angel, Keistoteka Bookshop, Spunka Bar, the Border to Lithuania
My Best Article on It – Top 12 Sights Your Ma Never Heard of
My Craziest Article on It – The Full Constitution of Uzupis
All my Articles on It – Uzupis Archives
Population – 7,000
Currency – The Uza (= 1 Euro)
Capital – Angel of Užupis
Interesting Fact – Their National Day is April 1st every year, also the only day the local currency is actually used.
Borders – Lithuania (within the city of Vilnius)
Visa – Get into Lithuania and you’ll be fine. It’s in the EU now so easy enough. Ryanair whackfly to Vilnius.
If you have ever been to Barcelona – you will learn one thing VERY quickly – Barcelona is NOT in Spain and they do NOT speak Spanish here. The country is Catalonia, the language is Catalan and the culture is a world away from aristocratic Madrid. My cousin Paul lives in Barcelona with his family and I have visited him twice.
Spain is one of the biggest “mythical countries” of the modern era. When smuggling Gibraltar and Galicia into its borders and equation, and considering it whackpacks its way into African Morocco, don’t spoil Diego Maradona’s Catalonian party…Mark and I declared a republic too…
When I Visited – September 2014, April 2015
Key Sights – Nou Camp, Las Ramblas, Anything un-Spanish
My Best Article on It – Touring Gracia, a village inside Barcelona
My Craziest Article on It – Neighbourhood Tour in Gracias
All my Articles on It – Jonnego Blairowski whackpacks Catalonia
Population – 7,522,596
Currency – Pesetas formerly (these days the dreaded Euro)
Capital – Barcelona
Language – Catalan
Where to Sleep – Hostal Barcelona comes heartfully recommended
Interesting Fact – Maradona and Gary Lineker scored 20 World Cup goals between them and also both played for FC Barcelona.
Borders – Andorra, Spain, France (and debatebly the Basque Country)
Visa – You just need to get into Spain to be allowed in. Passports are not checked leaving France or Andorra
Gibraltar could indeed be a red herring (deliberate use of colour red) on this list, as they are recognised by FIFA and UEFA as a nation. But some people still simply call it the UK, which to me seems outrageously far-fetched given that it borders Spain, has its own currency, culture and is miles from the United Kingdom! They even invited a Northern Irish Ulsterman Irishman Brit United Kingdomist European Globalist Worldman into the stadium for a selfathon.
The country holds a place in my footballian heart as AFC Bournemouth famously beat Reading 1-0 away on my last night in this country as I tuned in from a pub, on route to flying back to Dorset to see the Cherries gain promotion to the top flight live from a downtown bar. Plus, I backpacked the capital of a country that claims not to have a capital. Cannonballic…
“Faster than yer cannonball, where were you while we were getting high…” – Liam G.
When I Visited – April 2015
Key Sights – Gibraltar Town, the Monkeys, EU to UK border, Top of the Rock sights, Europa Point,
My Best Article on It – Best Sights in the capital of a country that pretends to never have a capital.
My Craziest Article on It – My Walking Border Crossing or on the rip in Gibby!
All my Articles on It – http://dontstopliving.net/category/europe/gibraltar/.
Population – 32,217.
Currency – British Pound (Gibraltar has its own notes and coins however).
Capital – Gibraltar Town.
Where till Slape – Cannon Hotel, Gibby T
Interesting Fact – The country’s part-time football team Lincoln Red Imps beat Celtic in the 2016 European Cup/Champions League! http://www.bbc.com/sport/football/36761213
Borders – Spain (crossing from Spain into Gibby, crossing to Spain from Gibby)
Visa – British passport is just the ticket, failing that any kind of EU/Schengen entry should suffice. Boat it from Africa if you fear a rejection.
Ladonia is a peculiar nation built on rocks on the coast of Sweden. When I first heard about it, I was actually a mere few hundred kilometres from the border as I stayed with Zofia and Daniel in the town of Angelholm. On my second trip to Angelholm though, we made it to Ladonia, thanks to Daniel who drove to to the Sweden side of the border…
We walked through the odd wooden trail ourselves, unexcremented by (at the time known serial liar who ruined my life) my nasty travel friends who wanted to ruin my dreams and my story. I still made it to Ladonia and we had time for a beer and a sandwich in the country’s capital city, Nimis…
When I Visited – September 2015
Key Sights – Nimis is unforgettable, nearby Angelholm (across the Swedish border is worth a shout), the sea.
My Best Article on It – Backpacking Ladonia
My Craziest Article on It – Crossing from Sweden to Ladonia
All my Articles on It – Backpacking Ladonia
Population – 17, 000 claim membership. At any given time, the area normally has at least one citizen. Official population is unknown.
Currency – Örtug.
Capital – Nimis.
Interesting Fact – Ladonia is a country, proclaimed in 1996 as the result of a years-long court battle between artist Lars Vilks and local authorities over two sculptures. The claimed territory is part of the natural reserve of Kullaberg in southern Sweden.
Official Website – https://www.ladonia.org/
Borders – Sweden.
Visa – Sneak in, get one or tweet the Queen!
When I see a country that features the shape of its geographical land mass in its “national flag”, I am often sceptical. This is perhaps why I never whackpacked Cyprus (as there are two countries on an island, where a flag claims territory unbelonging to itself) and when I finally backpacked Kosovo, I prayed they had a new flag. They didn’t, yet.
Some of their best footballers even played for Switzerland, Bosnia and Serbia as Kosovo tried to find its home in the world. However, I recognise it as a country now. Passport stamps, hostels, Billdog Clinton statues and a museum that shows you what really happened in this bulldog world…
“I don’t see happy homes, but the Belfast wall” – Richey James.
When I Visited – December 2015.
Key Sights – Best Bars in Kosovo, War Museum, National Football Stadium, Bill Clinton Statue, Bill Clinton Boulevard, Newborn Monument, Mother Theresa Statue, Central Mosque, Central Cathedral.
My Best Article on It – Best Sights in Pristina.
My Craziest Article on It – On the rip in Kosovo.
All my Articles on It – Jonny Blair in Kosovo.
Population – 1,859,203.
Currency – Euro.
Capital – Pristina / Bill Clinton.
Borders – Serbia, Montenegro, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. How to get from FYRM to Kosovo.
Where to Sleep – Buffalo Backpackers.
Interesting Fact – Bill Clinton is a hero here. He has his own statue and boulevard and will never have to pay for a drink again in Kosovo.
Visa – Be careful. I got my passport stamped (Irish EU passport) but it will deny you any access to Serbia in future and may also affect your future travels. Get dual nationality like myself, or go in and out without a stamp…
Is Karakalpakstan the country that truly inspired this article and my constant references to “wacaday republics”????? The answer from my heart is probably “YES!!” This was the twentieth crazy “separatist” place I visited and all sorts of odd things were in the air. When I woke up that day, I thought their national flag was a homage to UTV 1980s superstar Timmy Mallett, so I dubbed the country “Mallet’s Mallet”, a “Wacaday Republic”.
It felt like exactly that as even the government building was bereft of energy, tourism or even Supergran…in life to date, I was also 10 metres from the Turkmenistan border, even my Wacaday phones changed its allegiance to Turkmen at that point.
I toured the best museum in the former Soviet Union, saw some good art, and in the end I smuggled a bullet into this country on the night that UEFA told me I could finally (aged 35 at the time) go to France in June 2016 to support my country, Northern Ireland, at a national football tournament. Totally Wacaday!
“Shot through the heart and you’re to blame. Darling you give love a bad name” – Bon Jovi.
When I Visited – February 2016.
Key Sights – Nukus Market, Mango stalls at border, phone era change to Turkmenistan (10 metres from the border), Savitsky Museum, the statue of local poet Berdaq, a national hero in Karakalpakstan.
My Best Article on It – Top EIGHT Sights in Karakalpakstan.
My Craziest Article on It – My Wacaday Journey There!!!!
All my Articles on It – Wacaday Republic
Population – 1.712 million.
Currency – Uzbekistani Som.
Capital – Nukus.
Where to Stay – Jipek Joli Hotel, Nukus, Uzbekistan.
Interesting Fact – Karakalpakstan is mostly desert and covers an area of 164,900 km.
Borders – Turkmenistan, Caspian Sea, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan
Visa – Ouch, it is tough. You need permission from Uzbekistan (and must have an Uzbek visa) and you also need to register every night in a Hotel.
16.Gorno Badakhshan/The Pamirs
As far as I am concerned, if you need a separate visa or entry permit to a part of the world, then it has to be a country right? Gorno Badakhshan (The Pamirs) is realistically part of Tajikistan, but yet you cannot visit it on a Tajikistan visa! You will need a separate visa or permit to backpack this joint. Where do you get that visa? At the Tajikistan Embassy of course! This was one adventure I won’t forget and the night I almost died off the edge of a cliff on my rocky supernova towards Afghanistan.
But once I arrived in Gorno Badakhshan (with an Afghanistan visa), life felt very very safe and happy again, despite my recent split with Panny. I had things to write about and lots of sights to backpack. I was actually happy. I ate and drank with my local family for 3 days at the Pamir Lodge.
When I Visited – January 2016
Key Sights – Border to Afghanistan, Arrival in Gorno Badakhshan, National Stadium, Pamirs, Staying off Social Media.
My Best Article on It – Top Sights in Khorog.
My Craziest Article on It – The Night I Almost Died Crossing the Border.
All my Articles on It – http://dontstopliving.net/category/central-asia-middle-east/gorno-badakhshan/
Population – 206,000
Currency – Somoni
Capital – Khorog
Best Website on Gorno Badakhshan – Touring the Pamirs
Interesting Fact – Gorno-Badakhshan makes up nearly 45 percent of Tajikistan’s territory but only 3 percent of the country’s population lives there.
Where to Stay – Pamir Lodge
Borders – China, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan. It’s a tough nut to crackerjack.
Visa – Easy – follow my visa guide here!
17.The Republic of Frestonia
Just before I whackpacked my 100th FIFA country, I wanted to do a hat-trick of real countries, so I picked Austenasia, Vatican City and Frestonia and I used them as decoys whilst remaining at 99 on the Fakeaday Country List – or the FIFA list. However, once I had crossed into Frestonia, from England I never saw this as a fake country! It borders England and is housed within the city of London, get off the tube and whackpack it, near Latimer Road and Freston Road…
In the 1970s this was of course a breakaway part of London, with squatters living here, so drugs related activites, hippy markets and even raunchy businesses like cleopatraescorts.co.uk/ were being set up in Frestonia. In an era of the Sex Pistols, post Beatles mayhem and 70s haircuts, Frestonia was declared a free republic with a border set up. Stamps were issued, passport stamps formed and a new republic now bordered England. The Clash even recorded one of their albums here. The Queen couldn’t make head nor tail of it. These days, Frestonia doesn’t actually exist although I backpacked it with Abbi Morrison from Life in a Rucksack in 2015 to see the remains of what it was and what this could have been.
When I Visited – March 2015
Key Sights – The Old Border between Frestonia and England, Freston Road, Freston Studios where the Clash recorded an album, Latimer Road tube station.
My Best Article on It – I only wrote one article on Frestonia click here
Best Website – Frestonia Official Website
Population – Around 200
Currency – British Pounds
Capital – Freston Road
Where to Sleep – Tony Sleep! Tony Slept
Interesting Fact – When the state celebrated its fifth anniversary in 1982, the population numbered 97 people occupying 23 houses. The same year, The Clash recorded their album Combat Rock in Ear Studios (also known as The People’s Hall) in Frestonia. The Clash and Motörhead practised in the rehearsal studios there.
Borders – England
Visa – Even if you made it into England, you would still have to cross the stringent land border into Frestonia
Flag – Unsure what the flag was but from the official website, this a passport stamp:
Despite having visited Denmark in 2006, it wasn’t until 2015 that I finally crossed the border within Copenhagen into the quirkaday Freetown of Christiania. This country is so so different to Denmark and the rest of Copenhagen. It is a quirky, artistic country where cars are illegal.
There are no buildings higher than three stories, there are no commercials or adverts and certainly no DickMonalds or RatsBux in sight. Soft drugs are also legal here on the country’s capital, Pusher Street where photography is also illegal. I loved the place, enjoying the local beer, souvenirs and museums.
“Warm sun feed me up cos I’m leery, loaded up” – Bush.
When I Visited – 2015 (January, August)
Key Sights – Pusher Street, Nemoland, Entrance Back into EU, Rundvisergruppen Museum, Tibet Museum, Bevar Christiania Souvenir Shop
My Best Article on It – Top 10 Sights in Christiania
My Craziest Article on It – My Introduction to Christiania
All my Articles on It – http://dontstopliving.net/category/europe/christiania/
Population – 900 (varies all the time)
Interesting Fact – Christiania is NOT in the EU, and when you leave there is a sign saying “You are now entering the EU”, as Denmark is in the EU.
Where to Sleep – I suggest staying across the border in Copenhagen, but if you find some locals to let you kip, then do it!
Best Website – http://www.christiania.org/
Currency – The LON (Danish Kroners generally accepted)
Capital – Pusher Street
Borders – Denmark (within Copenhagen)
Visa – Just get into Denmark and you’ll be able to cross in. Christiania has no motorised vehicles, so no airport or visas issued.
19.The Kingdom of Lovely
Danny Wallace’s dream and the country that was basically a TV programme that became a reality. From a council house in Bow, East London, English comedian Danny Wallace invented his own country. The one problem was – he didn’t have a name for it. After some deliberation he called it Lovely, and as he was King – The Kingdom of Lovely.
With the famous Millwall Neil, I toured the Kingdom of Lovely in 2016, visiting all the key sights from the TV Show. We started early morning with a fry up in west London, near Twickenham on route to the famous Eel Pie Island. In the TV show, not only is this the place that Danny Wallace tried to invade and call his own, but in the 60s and 70s, David Bowie, the Rolling Stones etc. played here. It’s actually a cool island to tour!
Other key sights we toured were the pub in Westminster, opposite Westminster Abbey – St. Stephen’s Tavern pub in Westminster. We also toured the Winston Churchill Statue (again – from the TV show and a historic icon in British history). Other important sights on the tour included Leicester Square (where the Kingdom of Lovely was announced), 10 Downing Street (where the Kingdom of Lovely seceded from the UK/England by way of a note left at Tony Blair’s flat), Bow High Street, a pub in Bow and the alleged location in Bow where the flat was…
When I Visited – April 2016
Key Sights – Churchill Statue (Westminster), Eel Pie Island, Bridge from Eel Pie Island to England, Bow area, 10 Downing Street, the Flat in Bow, St. Stephen’s Tavern (Westminster)
My Best Article on It – Top 13 Sights in Lovely
My Craziest Article on It – My Introduction to Lovely
All my Articles on It – http://dontstopliving.net/category/europe/lovely/
Best Website: Lovely
Head of State: King Danny I (Danny Wallace)
Head of Security: John Bond
Interesting Fact – How To Start Your Own Country was a six-part BBC Television documentary comedy series aired between August and September 2005. The show was presented by British writer/comedian Danny Wallace and followed his quest to start his own country in his flat in Bow, London. The micronation he created was eventually named “Lovely”. The series was released on DVD in the UK on 18 June 2007, having been postponed from October 2005.
Currency: The IOU (Interdependent Occupational Units)
Peak Population: 58,165
Bordering Nations: England (United Kingdom)
Capital – Bow
Visa – Get a UK visa or else become friends will Danny Wallace and he will let you in
Seriously mate – do the Lagoan Isles border the UK? Well, kind of – they are three islands in a pond in Portsmouth, England so they don’t actually “touch” English/British land! They were claimed in 2005 by school teacher Louis Robert Harold Stephens (“Grand Duke Louis”, born 1985) as a class project, and claims as its territory Baffins Pond, near Portsmouth, along with the three tiny islands on the pond.
They are in the middle of a housing estate in Portsmouth and at first, this is probably one of the most baffling countries I toured.
When I Visited – October 2015 (the morning that Northern Ireland beat Greece and qualified for Euro 2016)
Key Sights – Baffins Pond, Wildlife, Milton War Cemetery, Weeping Willow Trees, Fratton Park, Pompey Spinnaker Tower
My Best Article on It – Top 8 Sights in Lagoan Isles
My Craziest Article on It – Crazy Lagoan Isles
All my Articles on It – http://dontstopliving.net/category/europe/lagoan-isles/
Population Unknown, but the number of citizens is 30
Currency – Lagoan Edney Dollars
Where to Sleep – Over the border in Portsmouth should suffice but you can survive a few days in Lagoan Isles without food if you bring some fresh water and bread.
Best Website – http://lagoan-isles.moonfruit.com/# or Lagoan Isles
Capital – Beeney St. Georges
Interesting Fact – This is one of the rare countries on this list to be “too small” for a FIFA football pitch. If they had a team, they would probably end up playing their matches at Portsmouth FC’s Fratton Park.
Borders – Only Baffins pond, but realistically – England
Visa – Trust me, getting a boat to take you there will be harder!
Back in 1991 as a young boy, on my first ever trip abroad without my parents, I found myself in Deinstuif in the Netherlands with my school. I was only 11 years old but that night, for the first time in life, Northern Ireland were playing a country called “The Faroe Islands”. I had never heard of them. Fast forward 24 years and I was backpacking through 8 out of the 13 islands, writing about it…
When I Visited – September 2015
Key Sights – Wow. So many. Torshavn, Sørvágsvatn/Vatnið/Leitisvatn lake, Sorvagur, Bour and Gasadalur Hike, Saksun on Streymoy Island, Gjogv on Eysturoy Island,
My Best Article on It – Exploring Kirkjubor on Streymoy Island
My Craziest Article on It – The Hike from Bour to Gasadalur
All my Articles on It – Backpacking Faroe Islands
Population – 49,117
Currency – Faroese Kroner (level with Danish Kroner)
Where to Stay – The Best Hotel in the Country – the 4Star Hotel Føroyar, Torshavn
Best Website – http://wikitravel.org/en/Faroe_Islands
Interesting Fact – Faroe Islands pulled one of the biggest upsets in footballing history when they beat Austria 1–0 in their first ever competitive international on 12 September 1990. The game, a Euro 92 qualifier, was played in Landskrona, Sweden, because there were no grass pitches on the Islands. Torkil Nielsen, a salesman for his local builders company scored the winner!!
Capital – Torshavn
Borders – It only borders International Waters. It has no other countries within it. Scotland is the closest actual country and Denmark (via its Kingdom/Monarchy) lays claim to the Faroese land.
Visa – You get a passport stamp on request on arrival or at the police station. Visas are not needed unless you are not allowed into Denmark. In which case, get a Danish visa and all is good.
Many people still confuse Hong Kong as being part of China, but it is NOT!! They have their own currency, borders, visa regulations and international football team. I spent the best part of 4 years living and breathing in Hong Kong so I know a lot about it! I have written a lot about Hong Kong before, so just two photos this time.
When I Visited – May 2011 (and lived there on and off until August 2015)
Key Sights – The Peak, Lan Kwai Fong, Tai O, Sai Kung, Tsim Sha Tsui, Disneyland, Ocean Park, Wong Tai Sin Temple
My Best Article on It – Top 5 Sights in Hong Kong
My Craziest Article on It – Live Radio in Hong Kong, Studying Cantonese in the Kong, A day in Mong Kok
All my Articles on It – http://dontstopliving.net/category/asia/hong-kong/
Population – 7.5 million
Currency – Hong Kong Dollar
Capital – Was Victoria, now doesn’t really have one though for me it will always be Kowloon City
Interesting Fact – In 1989, Hong Kong beat China 2-1 in a World Cup qualifier. That’s 7 million Hong Kongese beating 1.3 billion Chinese, when in fact all 11 Hong Kong players could legitimately also have played for China! More recently, the nations played twice again in World Cup Qualifiers, both matches finished 0-0.
Borders – China by land and boat option to Macau
Visa – Unlike China, most EU countries don’t need a visa for Hong Kong. Brits can stay for 6 months visa free! You can also easily get a Working Holiday Visa and Working Visa.
I’m putting Macau just after Hong Kong on this list as they are both similar. Again, many people still confuse Macau (or Macao) as being part of China, but it is NOT!! They have their own currency, borders, visa regulations and international football team. The country is most famous for its Casinos, the skyline is hugely impressive. Macau was owned by Portugal until a 1998 agreement gave the country “back to China”, though the situation with it remains separate from mainland Chinese law.
When I Visited – 2012, 2013
Key Sights – Casino Lisboa, Macau Fortress, Coloanne
My Best Article on It – Top 5 Sights in Macau
All my Articles on It – http://dontstopliving.net/category/asia/macau/
Population – 650,000
Currency – Macau Dollar
Capital – Taipa
Borders – China by land, boats go to Hong Kong
Visa – Unlike China, most EU countries don’t need a visa for Macau. Brits and Irish can stay for 3 months visa free!
Monaco has to be one of the strangest entries on this list. The reason is they have a football stadium that can fit almost half the country in it!! Yet despite the success of Monaco AS, they still don’t even have their own National Football Team. Monaco are a rare country to have won a football league in a bordering country, but never won their own!
But weirdly, the UN recognises Monaco as more of a country than England, Northern Ireland and even Transnistria!!! Despite the fact there is no border check, no currency change, no language alteration or even a national football team. The mind boggled and this is probably my personal “most dubious country” on this list but I had to include it, as I got a passport stamp, so somehow it did feel different to me…
I got my passport stamped in Monaco on arrival at the train station in Monte Carlo and I had the same smile as my stamper. If she hadn’t been working, this lady’s destiny would have changed…
With my Dad and brother, I backpacked the main sights of the country.
When I Visited – June 2016
Key Sights – Passport Office, Monte Carlo Casino, Monaco Grand Prix Circuit,
My Best Article on It – Top 5 Sights in Monte Carlo
All my Articles on It – http://dontstopliving.net/category/europe/monaco/
Population – 38,400
Currency – Euro (formerly French Franc)
Capital – Monte Carlo
Crazy Facts – 1. Three of James Bond Films have been shot here in Monte-Carlo Casino. 2. Monaco almost has a zero unemployment rate.
Borders – France, the Mediterranean Sea
Where to Sleep – Across the border in Nice or in Monaco’s ONLY hostel, Dream Hostel
Visa – Get into France and you’ll be OK. Know the Prince and you’ll probably get a helicopter entry.
25.The Vatican City State
When I first started travelling the world, I never really thought about what counts as a country and what doesn’t, but as the days went by, I soon realised that the country I am from (NORTHERN IRELAND) is unrecognised by most people. Some people even said to me “are you Irish?” or “are you English?” and the truth is I am neither – I am Northern Irish. So when I finally made it to the Vatican City State in March 2015, for sure I now classed it as a country.
I crossed the border, toured about 5 museums, posted a letter, and visited the Sistine Chapel as well as the largest Church in the world, St.Peter’s Basilica.
When I Visited – March 2015 (on route to my 100th FIFA country)
Key Sights – St. Peter’s Square, Vatican City Post Office, The Pope, Sistine Chapel, St. Peter’s Basilica,
My Best Article on It – Complete Vatican City tour with Walks of Italy
My Craziest Article on It – Top 5 Sights in this mini country
All my Articles on It – Backpacking in the Vatican City State
Population – 832
Currency – Vatican City Euro
Capital – Holy See, The Pope, The Vatican
Where to Sleep – Across the Border in Rome, Italy at Hotel Papa Germano
Interesting Fact – For a period of around 60 years during the 1800s and 1900s, Popes refused to leave the Vatican City State. St.Peter’s Basilica, Vatican City, at 15160 square meters is the largest church in the world.
Best Website – Official Vatican City Website
Borders – You cross in from Italy, which surrounds it!
Visa – Get into Italy. To see the museums, you will need to pay entry/get VIP entry.
I got talking to some deep sea diving experts recently and we debated on who owns the great barrier reef, the waters by Honduras and all the coral off the coast of the Phillipines. I was surprised to learn that once you venture “x” amount of miles out to coast, you are no longer in the country you left, you are officially in International Waters! For this reason, we have no option but to conclude that the country we are in at that point is known as International Waters, as we cannot simply be in “no country”! On my travels I realised I have backpacked and swam in International waters many times!
The Titanic is probably the main sight here, as well as lots of fish. The Antarctica trip was the most memorable but also my time working on ferries and my deep sea diving.
When I Visited – Many times, when offshore, most notably on my Antarctica trip in 2010
Key Sights – The Titanic, Water, Fish, Whales, Dolphins, Boats, Sharks, Coral
My Best Article on It – Getting My Padi Licence in Honduras
My Craziest Article on It – Titanic Museum in Belfast
Best Website on it – International Waters
Population – Millions of fish
Currency – There are no underwater shops or banks, so let’s say no currency
Capital – Bottom of the Atlantic Ocean
Borders – On this list of 40, International Waters borders the most countries, over 100! Some of which are Northern Ireland, Hong Kong, Australia, Antarctica, Poland, Senegal, Falkland Islands…
Visa – This is probably the easiest country to ever backpack since there is no land, no visa, no government. All you need is a boat!
27.Don’t Stop Living
Perhaps a surprise entry on the list is my former travel blog website itself. In case you don’t know, in April 2016, I proclaimed Don’t Stop Living as a separate country! Each visit to this website is classed as a visit to a separate country and it was officially the world’s first ever “travel blog country”. This article introduces the country of Don’t Stop Living!
“Jurassic Park” – Alan Partridge.
When I Visited – Almost Daily from August 26th 2007 (birth of the site) to December 31st 2016 (death of the site)
Key Sights – I Have 3,000 travel articles on there. All are worth a look
Latest Article on It – http://dontstopliving.net/limited-edition-dont-stop-living-returns-one-month-august-2017/
Population – 1 (it’s just me – a one man travel blog country republic kingdom!)
Currency – The country Don’t Stop Living has no currency of its own.
Interesting Fact – The country Don’t Stop Living was formed in August 2007, but it didn’t declare independence and separate country freedom until 18th April 2016.
Capital – Jonny Blair
Borders – The country Don’t Stop Living has no land, however when opened in a web browser, the countries that border it are an endless list of websites!
Visa – The country Don’t Stop Living has no visa requirements however the internet is needed in order to access it.
- The country Don’t Stop Living has no national flag, but it does have an official logo, in fact there are two officially recognised logos:
“I’m backpacking through Kurdistan” yells the Northern Irish tourist! But which country is it in? Officially it is in Iraq, Turkey, Iran and Syria. Yes the region/country of Kurdistan spans all these places and I managed to visit the Iraq, Iran and Turkish parts. However, I concentrated my time in Iraqi Kurdistan and loved it, enjoying New Year’s Eve here in 2013.
I toured about 6 different towns, cities or villages including the notorious Amna Suraka in Sulaymaniyeh, a building known as Red Security where Saddam Hussein tortured and killed thousands of people.
When I Visited – December 2013 – January 2014
Key Sights – the mountains of Amadiya, the village of Sulav, Erbil
My Best Article on It – Backpacking Iraq, Saddam Hussein’s House of Horrors – Amna Suraka,
My Craziest Article on It – Visiting a Toy Shop in Robia
All my Articles on It – http://dontstopliving.net/category/central-asia-middle-east/iraq/
Where to Stay – I loved the Parlaman Hotel in Duhok
Population – 8.35 million
Currency – Iraqi Dinars (in Iraqi Kurdistan)
Capital – Erbil/Arbil/Irbil/Hawler
Borders – Iran, Iraq, Turkey, Syria, Lebanon
Visa – You can get an Iraqi Kurdistan visa at Erbil airport!
A tour of Israel and Palestine in 2013 led me to the dreamy countryside village of Isfiya. Once I had stepped into the border here, I was introduced to my guide and given an in depth tour of a culture of people known as Druze people. I wrote all about it on my blog. It is a group of people who are mostly living in the official countries of Syria, Israel, Palestine and Lebanon. They are a secret religion and have their own flag, rituals, culture, villages and lifestyle.
When I Visited – September 2013
Key Sights – Views of countrside, Inside Druze Family Homes, Meeting a Druze Person, Druze Flag
My Only Article on It – http://dontstopliving.net/a-secret-religion-exploring-isfiya-druze-village-israel/
Population – 1 million Druze people in the world (most are in Syria, Lebanon and Israel)
Currency – Whatever currency the country the Druze village is bordering uses
Capital – Isfiya (on my visit to Israel)
Borders – Israel, Syria, Palestine, Lebanon
Visa – You just need to be legally allowed in the official country where those Druze people are based
As part of this wacaday list, I felt like including some of the tribes and cultures I have experienced on my travels – tribes and cultures which felt like a separate country to me. One such was the Maasai Tribe in Tanzania.
I toured their village of Rabatt in Tanzania and what is interesting is they are nomadic people so the village moves each year. When you go back to the place where I once backpacked Rabatt, the village will no longer be there!
When I Visited – August 2013
Key Sights – Maasai dance, Maasai dwellings
My Tour Article on It – http://dontstopliving.net/inside-rabatt-visiting-a-maasai-village-in-tanzania/
My Dancing Article on It – Dinner and Dancing with Maasai Tribe
Population – 1.5 million living in what is officially Kenya or Tanzania
|Tanzania||800,000 [approximate] (2011|
Currency – Shillings (Tanzanian or Kenyan)
Capital – Rabbatt
Borders – Kenya, Tanzania
Interesting Fact – Traditionally, the Maasai diet consisted of raw meat, raw milk, and raw blood from cattle.
Visa – You just need to get into Tanzania or Kenya
Russia isn’t in Europe surely? Yes, yes it is, thanks to Kaliningrad, a mini enclave and debated region that borders Lithuania and Poland. This is an epic place to visit, a tough visa to secure (third time of asking) and a country that will host the 2018 FIFA World Cup. Three of the matches will be held here in Kaliningrad City!
While based here in Poland, I decided to visit it from Gdansk in 2016.
When I Visited – August 2016
Key Sights – Upside down house, parliament, everything on this Top 25 Sights Kaliningrad list.
My Best Article on It – Getting a 72 hour Kaliningrad Visa in Poland
All my Articles on It – http://dontstopliving.net/category/central-asia-middle-east/kaliningrad/
Population – Approx 450,000
Currency – Russian Roubles
Random Fact – One of the famous people from Königsberg (old name for Kaliningrad) was the philosopher Immanuel Kant.
Capital – Kaliningrad City
Where to Sleep – for luxury the Ibis Hotel is brilliant, to backpack it go to the Crazy Dog Hostel
Borders – I went from Gdansk in Poland, you can also go from Lithuania
Visa – Difficult to secure, as in post above, the border from Poland is also quite strict
I limited this list to just 40, though in theory I could have staked a claim that the four out of five “Channel Islands” I visited could all be separate countries. Instead, I’m featuring just two of them – Sark and Herm. I will leave Guernsey and Jersey for another day. This was Europe’s last feudal state and one of my backpacking highlights from Europe. I loved it. Public transport is forbidden, as are cars. The only ways to get around are by foot, bicycle and tractor, it has its own national football team, the world’s smallest prison and a decent pub.
While it has a helipad instead of an airport, the only real way to get here as a tourist is to take the ferry from St. Peter Port, Guernsey!
When I Visited – September 2009
Key Sights – Big Sark, Little Sark, National Football Stadium, Church, Prison, the Little Shop
My Best Article on It – Top 15 Things to do on Sark
All my Articles on It – http://dontstopliving.net/category/europe/channel-islands/sark/
Population – 60
Currency – Channel Islands Pound
Interesting Fact – Sark is one of the few remaining places in the world where cars are banned from roads and only tractors and horse-drawn vehicles are allowed. In 2011, Sark was designated as a Dark Sky Community and the first Dark Sky Island in the world.
Crazy Football Fact – Sark’s international football team have the worst record of all time, the team lost all four matches in their only ever tournament (the Island games) by at least 15 goals, having the record of 0 goals for and 55 goals against from just three matches. Sark made games history by becoming the first team ever to fail to score a goal.
Capital – Debated between The Seigneurie and The Avenue
Languages – English, French and Sercquiais
Borders – only on water, but nearest FIFA countries are France and England. Nearest islands are Jersey, Herm and Guernsey
Visa – It’s tax free and a feudal state so realistically you can get here without a visa. However, as you are coming in from Guernsey, you’ll need to be allowed into Guernsey.
Sark and Herm go hand in hand – there are both minute Channel Islands that felt like their own world when I toured. Miles from crime, miles from civilisation, two of the most peaceful places I have ever been. Herm is even smaller than Sark, but is ruled more closely than Sark, as Guernsey put a foothold on it and allow cars there. A mere 50 people live here and the only way to get here is via the Herm Trident boat from St. Peter Port in Guernsey.
When I Visited – September 2009
Key Sights – Herm Harbour, Manor Village, St. Tugual’s Chapel, Shell Beach, Herm Prison
My Best Article on It – Top Things to do on Herm
All my Articles on It – http://dontstopliving.net/category/europe/channel-islands/herm/
Population – 600
Currency – Channel Islands Pound
Interesting Fact – The country’s only hotel, the White House is old school – The White House has no clocks, televisions, internet or phones, which is described as “part of its charm”.
Capital – The Manor
Languages – English, French.
Borders – only on water, but nearest FIFA countries are France and England. Nearest islands are Jersey, Sark and Guernsey, you cross on the famous Herm trident.
Visa – It’s tax free so realistically you can get here without a visa. However, as you are coming in from Guernsey, you’ll need to be allowed into Guernsey.
34.Chernobyl Exclusion Zone
This is a zone that not only requires a permit to visit but in actual fact it spans three countries. Most people are unaware that the CEZ actually delves in Russia and Belarus as well as the Ukraine. The zone requires a permit for tourists, the region still has areas of high radioactivity following the il fated Chernobyl disaster of April 1986.
However the actual culprit, Reactor Number 4 is inside the boundaries of the Ukrainian CEZ and most tours run from Kiev. Chernobyl town itself is worth seeing and the ghost town of Pripyat is spooky.
When I Visited – December 2015
Key Sights – Reactor Number 4, Pripyat, Kopachi, Chernobyl Town, Duga Radar, Lenin Boulevard.
My Best Article on It – Backpacking in Pripyat
My Craziest Article on It – Up close to the culprit – Reactor Number 4
All my Articles on It – http://dontstopliving.net/category/central-asia-middle-east/chernobyl-exclusion-zone/
Population -Rumoured to be 690 including scientists. The Exclusion Zone is an “Area of Absolute (Mandatory) Resettlement”. A few hundred people have been permitted to remain. Employees of state agencies are resident in the Zone on a temporary basis.
Currency – Ukrainian Hvarna, Russian Roubles, Belarussian Roubles
Capital – Chernobyl Town, Pripyat
Borders – Ukraine, Belarus, Russia
Visa – You need to get a tour company to take you, so you need a permit, read my guide here
Hold on, a tropical paradise where India is clean? Yes! The Andaman Islands, and you even need a separate flight and passport stamp to backpack it. And even better, the capital city is Port Blair! So I get to be a celebrity for a few days as I tour MY TOWN!
I stayed in an incredible all inclusive 5 star resort, had my own beach. It was 3 days of pure bliss.
When I Visited – March 2016
Key Sights – Aberdeen Market, Cellular Prison, Corbyn’s Cove, Beaches, Downtown Port Blair
My Best Article on It – Best sights in Port Blair, A night in MY TOWN
My Craziest Article on It – My Spontaneous CHENNAI BLAIR/JONNY BLAIR trip
All my Articles on It – http://dontstopliving.net/category/asia/india/andaman-islands/port-blair/
Population – 343,000
Where to sleep – at the amazing Sarovar Hotel
Currency – Indian Rupee
Languages – Telugu, Nicobarese, Bengali, Tamil, Malyalam, Hindi, English and local dialects
Capital – Port Blair
Random Fact – During WW2, Andaman and Nicobar islands were the only part of India to come under Japanese occupation.
Borders – International Waters only
Visa – Firstly you’ll need to get an Indian Visa. Then secondly, you will need the separate Port Blair/Andaman Islands permit – read my guide to get it on arrival at Port Blair.
Macedonia is an odd one here, as it’s a region that is often confused as a country. Most of Macedonia is housed in modern day Greece and therefore Greeks have suggested that the country known as Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, should actually be entitled Northern Macedonia. But it also overlaps into Bulgaria and a few other states, however, The Kingdom of Macedonia in 336 BC (orange) looked like this:
The weird thing is I only visited the FYR part of Macedonia. I didn’t enjoy Ohrid (I called it Horrid Ohrid) but Skopje was amazing!
When I Visited – November 2014
Key Sights – Lake Ohrid, Skopje Castle, Border with Kosovo, Border with the rest of Macedonia
My Best Article on It – Backpacking in Skopje
My Craziest Article on It – Best Bars in Skopje
All my Articles on It – http://dontstopliving.net/category/europe/macedonia/
Population – Very hard to say as you have to add all the small regions together. Probably about 6 million (Greek Macedonia and FYR Macedonia have over 2 million each)
Currency – Euros, Albanian Lek, Bulgarian Lev, Macedonian Denar, Serbian Denar, Bosnian Mark
Capitals – Skopje (Rep. Macedonia), Thessaloniki (Greek Macedonia), Blagoevgrad (Pirin Macedonia)
Interesting Fact – Macedonia is the only country on this list which actually includes 6 FIFA recognised countries!!
Borders – Albania, Serbia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Greece, Kosovo, Bulgaria, Montenegro and in great irony, Macedonia actually borders Macedonia!!
Where to sleep – City Hostel, Skopje or Ohrid Mimi Apartments
Visa – EU citizens can enter. You need to be legally allowed into Greece or the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. You can cross in from Sofia, Bulgaria and leave into Pristina, Kosovo.
Flag – Macedonia doesn’t really have a flag as nobody can agree on it, therefore these two can be used for different parts of it –
37.Krolestwo Dreamlandu (Kingdom of Dreamland)
Having been based in Poland since July 2016, it was only a matter of time before some Polish based Micronations made this list. I was so grateful for my tour of Krolestwo Dreamlandu, formed in Gdynia in 1998. I met up with the vice King of Dreamland’s Scholandia Province for a full guided tour of the virtual country. Mateusz Kulewicz hails from Tczew. After touring Gdansk’s Dolne Miasto, watching live football in a Speedway stadium, we viewed an arts festival, a stationary tram and had some beers while I learned the history of Krolestwo Dreamlandu.
When I Visited – May 2017
Key Sights – The country has three provinces and one crown dependency, all of which have their own laws and websites, so you can spend a long time online here.
My Best Article on It – My Crazy Trip to Dreamlandu
My Craziest Article on It – Watching Football in a Speedway Stadium – Dreamlandu
All my Articles on It – https://www.northernirishmaninpoland.com/category/polish-micronations/krolestwo-dreamlandu/
Population – 25
Currency – Dream
Capital – Dreamopolis (though government and king reside in Ekorre)
Interesting Fact – My first beer in Dreamland was Donald T (Tusk or Trump – you decide)
Official Website – http://dreamland.net.pl/index.php
Borders – physical border with Sarmacja, maritime with Solardia. Elderland also borders Trizondal, Rotria, Austro-Hungary, Ciprofloksja, and Mikrosławia (maritime). However, as the country was formed in Gdynia and has members in Scotland, therefore officially and virtually, Poland and Scotland also share a border with Dreamland.
Visa – no visa needed, for citizenship and residence permit one needs to apply through the website.
38.Donkey Kong Country
Donkey Kong Country is probably the first country I ever visited that isn’t officially recognised. As a teenager, I owned a Super Nintendo and by purchasing the Donkey Kong Country game, I was able to access the country from the comfort of my bedroom.
When I Visited – 1994 to 1995 (later I visited Donkey Country 2 and 3, both in 1995 – 1996)
Key Sights – Mine Carts, Bananas, Trees, Snakes, Wildlife, lots of barrels
My Only Article on It – Backpacking in Donkey Kong Country, A Guide.
Population – No humans, the country is made up mostly of rhinos, bees and chimpanzees.
Currency – Bananas (100 bananas gives you an extra life).
Capital – Jungle Hijinx (the first level is your entrance into the country, and therefore feels like the capital)
Borders – Generally the country is bordered by a Television Screen, however it has also been seen to border laptops, tablets, smart phones and PCs in recent times. There is rivalry between Donkey Kong Country and Sonic the Hedgehog, though a debate over land or borders is unclear.
Interesting Fact – Donkey Kong Country was very successful upon release in November 1994, receiving critical acclaim and high praise in retrospective reviews, with an 89 percent approval rating at the review aggregator GameRankings. The game would go on to eventually sell a total of 9 million copies.
Best Website on it – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Donkey_Kong_Country
Visa – Not needed but entry is easier if you own a 1994 era Super Nintendo.
Flag – A flag doesn’t seem to exist but a person who visited Donkey Kong Country constructed this one with some Chinese references:
The fantasy Kingdom of Narnia was the brainchild of author C.S.Lewis who hails from East Belfast in Northern Ireland. Though Narnia is a fantasy world, it has many an online presence and can physically be “backpacked” by visiting its Official Wardrobe entrance in Belfast, Northern Ireland. This is the second such country on this list which is landlocked inside Northern Ireland, though in C.S.Lewis’s day, the country was much more vast, and looked like this…
Belfast City Council commissioned six new pieces of public art, including Aslan the Lion and the White Witch so it’s more than just backpacking through a wardrobe reading a book about a fantasy world.
When I Visited – Many Times, First as a child in 1986 reading The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Officially I have also been to East Belfast (where C.S. Lewis’s wardrobe is) every year of my life except 2010 and 2013.
Key Sights – C.S. Lewis’s Wardrobe
My Best Article on It – Not yet written about Narnia, but I have some articles on backpacking in Belfast.
My Craziest Article on It – Titanic Museum Belfast
All my Articles on Belfast – http://dontstopliving.net/category/europe/northern-ireland/belfast/
Official Website on it – http://www.narnia.com/
Population – At least 7 (including a lion called Aslan and a witch)
Where to Sleep – Across the Border in Belfast City at what was once Europe’s Most Bombed Hotel.
Currency – The Lion was the major unit of Narnian currency. It was subdivided into Trees. It is unknown how many Trees made up one Lion. However, they were common currency in the markets of Beaversdam and Beruna.
Capital – Cair Paravel.
Random Fact – George Best, Van Morrison and CS Lewis all grew up within a few miles of each other, yet at times, all three claimed different nationalities (Irish, Northern Irish, Narnian).
Borders – Northern Ireland, within the city of Belfast. Though Belfast City Council not only respects the existence of Narnia, but they helped fund the country!
Visa – You’ll need to know how to open a wardrobe and be legally allowed in Belfast, Northern Ireland (a Schengen Visa doesn’t include the British Isles countries, so you will need a U.K. visa or an Irish visa)
I mentioned Leblandia before on a blog post having come across it by chance on a Facebook thread. I emailed the King and have been trying to get into the country as a tourist to write a review. They have their own banknote and to date it is the only country on this list that I have yet to properly backpack but plans are in place so I’ve cheated by including it.
When I Will Visit – TBC
My Only Article on It – Dziwaczne Odkrycia: The Polish Micronation, the Empire of Leblandia
That is quit a hefty post and 40 really cool places I backpacked, many of which other tourists don’t recognise. I hope there will be more to come.
Those that missed out:
Those that I plan to visit someday:
Those that I don’t debate whether they are a country or not:
Republic of Ireland
Republic of China (Taiwan)
People’s Republic of China (China)
Food for thought, safe travels!