(Roughly) Daily

Off the beaten track…

Your correspondent is back from a sojourn in the country third most visited by foreign tourists.  By contrast, inveterate traveler Gunnar Garfors—  he has visited 196 of the 198 countries (193 UN members, the Vatican, Kosovo, Palestine, Western Sahara, Taiwan); he set a world record by visiting 5 continents in 1 day on June 18, 2012 using only scheduled transport– has been rounding out his roster by focusing on less-beaten paths.  For instance…

Nauru: 200 tourists (2011)

Why so few?

Nauru is a tiny island nation in the Pacific. The smallest republic in the world covers only 21 square kilometers. There is almost nothing to see there as most of the island (there’s only one) is a large open phosphate mine. Only one airline serves the island. You also need a visa to be allowed in, and the country doesn’t have many embassies abroad.

Why you may still want to visit
The beaches surrounding the island are beautiful and “proper” Pacific style. The coral reefs surrounding Nauru makes it great for diving or fishing. There are however only 10,000 people in the country, huge unemployment and virtually no nightlife. There are two hotels, one “posh” on the beach and one “in town.”

What else
This is the only country in the world without a capital. Yaren is the biggest community, and therefore acts as the de facto capital. There’s even an internet cafe next to the police station, so you can update your statuses. The problem is that hardly anyone even heard about the place, so you are unlikely to get any praisal. Expect “Nauru? Is that upstate?” responses. Why not run around a country?

Check our Gunnar’s annotated list of “The Twenty-Five Least Visited Countries in the World,” and follow his travels here.

Readers might also appreciate the intrepid travels of Chris Guillebeau, “the travel hacker”– who’s also visited all 193 U.N. member nations…  in Guillebeau’s case, largely free


As we choose our Desert Island Discs, we might recall that it was on this date in 1859 that 23-year-old Samuel Langhorne Clemens got his steamboat pilot’s license after two years as an apprentice.  During his two years as a pilot (until the Civil War curtailed commercial steamboat traffic) Clemens got to know Captain Isaiah Sellers, by that time the most famous riverboat Captain working the Mississippi.  Sellers was the first person to use the pseudonym, “Mark Twain,” an appropriation of the boatman’s call noting that the river was only two fathoms deep, the minimum depth for safe navigation.  When commercial riverboats were suspended, Sellers retired, and Clemens headed west, where he “borrowed” the pen name “Mark Twain” for the works (starting with “Jim Smiley and His Jumping Frog,” AKA “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County.”) that made him famous.

Captain Seller’s tombstone, Twain, and a Riverboat


Written by (Roughly) Daily

April 9, 2013 at 1:01 am