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Andorra is a tiny (468 sq. km) independent principality situated between France and Spain in the Pyrenees mountains. It’s known for its ski resorts, and a tax-haven status that encourages duty-free shopping. Capital Andorra la Vella has fashion boutiques and jewelers on Meritxell Avenue, and several shopping centers. Old quarter Barri Antic houses the Romanesque Santa Coloma church, with its circular bell tower.
Antigua och Barbuda
Antigua and Barbuda is a country encompassing its 2 namesake islands and several smaller islands. Positioned where the Atlantic and Caribbean meet, it's known for reef-lined beaches, rainforests and resorts. Antigua's English Harbour is a yachting hub and the site of historic Nelson's Dockyard, now part of a national park. In the capital, St. John's, the national museum displays indigenous and colonial artifacts.
Belize is a nation on the eastern coast of Central America, with Caribbean Sea shorelines to the east and dense jungle to the west. It's known for its beaches, eco-lodges, scuba diving and sportfishing. Offshore, the massive Belize Barrier Reef, dotted with hundreds of cayes, hosts rich marine life. Belize’s jungle areas are rich with Mayan ruins.
Brunei is a tiny nation on the island of Borneo, in 2 distinct sections surrounded by Malaysia and the South China Sea. It's known for its beaches and biodiverse rainforest, much of it protected within reserves. The Ulu Temburong National Park, accessed by longboat, affords canopy walks, glimpses of traditional longhouse culture and endemic fauna and flora, such as the proboscis monkey.
The Comoros is a volcanic archipelago off Africa’s east coast, in the warm Indian Ocean waters of the Mozambique Channel. The nation state’s largest island, Grande Comore (Ngazidja) is ringed by beaches and old lava from active Mt. Karthala volcano. Clustered around the port in the capital, Moroni, carved doors and the white colonnaded Ancienne Mosquée du Vendredi recall the islands’ Arab heritage.
East Timor, or Timor-Leste, a Southeast Asian nation occupying half the island of Timor, is ringed by coral reefs teeming with marine life. Landmarks in the capital, Dili, speak to the country's struggles for independence from Portugal and then Indonesia. The iconic 27m-tall Cristo Rei de Dili statue sits on a hilltop high over the city, with sweeping views of the surrounding bay.
Grenada is a Caribbean country comprising a main island, also called Grenada, and 6 smaller surrounding islands. Dubbed the “Spice Isle,” the hilly main island is home to numerous nutmeg plantations. It’s also site of the capital, St. George’s, whose colourful homes, Georgian buildings and early-18th-century Fort George overlook narrow Carenage Harbour. To the south is Grand Anse Beach, with resorts and bars.
Kiribati, an island republic in the Central Pacific, comprises 33 coral atolls stretching along the equator. With lagoons and white-sand beaches, many of its islands are uninhabited, offering a remote setting for fishing, diving and bird-watching. The crowded capital, South Tarawa, made up of small islets, retains remnants of WWII battles fought on its shores, and is known for folk dancing and handicrafts.
Lesotho, a high-altitude, landlocked kingdom encircled by South Africa, is crisscrossed by a network of rivers and mountain ranges including the 3,500m-high peaks of Thabana Ntlenyana. On the Thaba Bosiu plateau, near Lesotho's capital, Maseru, are ruins dating from the 19th-century reign of King Moshoeshoe. Thaba Bosiu overlooks iconic Mt. Qiloane, an enduring symbol of the nation’s Basotho people.
Liechtenstein is a German-speaking, 25km-long principality between Austria and Switzerland. It’s known for its medieval castles, alpine chalets and villages linked by a network of trails. The capital, Vaduz, a cultural and economic center, is home to the Kunstmuseum, a sleek museum displaying modern and contemporary art. The Postal Museum displays a selection of Liechtenstein’s postage stamps, which are popular with collectors.
The Marshall Islands are a sprawling chain of volcanic islands and coral atolls in the central Pacific Ocean, between Hawaii and the Philippines. In the northwest, Bikini Atoll’s largely undisturbed waters, used as a ship graveyard after World War II, are now a popular wreck dive site. Near Majuro Atoll, which holds the islands' capital and largest settlement, the coral reef at Kalalin Pass teems with marine life.
Micronesia is a subregion of Oceania, comprising thousands of small islands in the western Pacific Ocean. It has a shared cultural history with two other island regions, Polynesia to the east and Melanesia to the south.
Nauru is a tiny island country in Micronesia, northeast of Australia. It features a coral reef and white-sand beaches fringed with palms, including Anibare Bay on the east coast. Inland, tropical vegetation surrounds Buada Lagoon. The rocky outcrop of Command Ridge, the island's highest point, has a rusty Japanese outpost from WWII. The underground freshwater lake of Moqua Well lies amid the limestone Moqua Caves.
Palau is an archipelago of more than 500 islands, part of the Micronesia region in the western Pacific Ocean, well known for its scuba-diving and snorkeling sites. Northerly island Koror is home to the former capital, the majority of the population and the islands’ main commercial center. Neighboring Babeldaob has the modern capital, Ngerulmud, mountains and sandy beaches on its east coast.
Saint Kitts & Nevis
Saint Kitts and Nevis is a dual-island nation situated between the Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea. It's known for cloud-shrouded mountains and beaches. Many of its former sugar plantations are now inns or atmospheric ruins. The larger of the 2 islands, Saint Kitts, is dominated by the dormant Mount Liamuiga volcano, home to a crater lake, green vervet monkeys and rainforest crisscrossed with hiking trails.
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
St. Vincent and the Grenadines is a southern Caribbean nation comprising a main island, St. Vincent, and a chain of smaller ones. With yacht-filled harbors, chic private isles and volcanic landscapes, it’s known for its major sailing destinations such as reef-lined Bequia island off Admiralty Bay, bordered by white-sand beaches like Princess Margaret. The main island is home to the capital, Kingstown.
The Solomon Islands, a nation of hundreds of islands in the South Pacific, is known for its scuba diving and WWII-era relics. Among its acclaimed diving destinations are enormous Marovo Lagoon and Iron Bottom Sound, which is littered with dozens of sunken warships. Guadalcanal, a province and one of the archipelago’s largest islands, honors fallen Allied soldiers at its U.S. War Memorial.
Samoa is an independent nation comprising the westernmost group of the Samoan Islands, in Polynesia. Many of its islands have reef-bordered beaches and rugged, rainforested interiors with gorges and waterfalls. The islands include Upolu, home to most of Samoa's population, and Savai'i, one of the largest islands in the South Pacific. The others range from islets with small villages to uninhabited wildlife sanctuaries.
São Tomé and Príncipe
São Tomé and Príncipe, an African island country near the equator, is part of a volcano chain featuring striking rock and coral formations, rainforests and beaches. The larger island, São Tomé, is popular for snorkeling in Lagoa Azul lagoon. Ôbo Natural Park, a biodiverse jungle preserve, covers much of São Tomé and is distinguished by Pico Cão Grande, a skyscraperlike volcanic rock.
South Sudan, officially the Republic of South Sudan, is a landlocked country in northeastern Africa that gained its independence from Sudan in 2011. Its current capital is Juba, which is also its largest city.
Tonga is a Polynesian kingdom of more than 170 islands, many uninhabited, most lined in white beaches and coral reefs and covered with tropical rainforest. The main island, Tongatapu, is protected by lagoons and limestone cliffs. It’s home to the laid-back, rural capital of Nuku'alofa, as well as beach resorts, plantations and the Ha'amonga trilithon, a Stonehenge-like coral gate from the 1200s.
Tuvalu, in the South Pacific, is an independent island nation within the British Commonwealth. Its 9 islands comprise small, sparsely populated atolls and reef islands with palm-fringed beaches and WWII sites. Off Funafuti atoll, the capital, the Funafuti Conservation Area offers calm waters for diving and snorkeling among sea turtles and tropical fish. The marine area includes several uninhabited islets sheltering sea birds.
Vanuatu is a South Pacific Ocean nation made up of roughly 80 islands that stretch 1,300 kilometers. The islands offer scuba diving at coral reefs, underwater caverns and wrecks such as the WWII-era troopship SS President Coolidge. Hiking trails ascend active volcanoes such as Mt. Yasur. Other popular activities include rainforest ecotours, kayaking and deep-sea fishing, plus relaxing at resorts and spas.
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