Huffpost Travel

7 Countries You've Definitely Never Heard Of

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We know that a concrete slab in the middle of the ocean looks cool, but it's not a real country. There are, however, places almost as obscure that can legally consider themselves legitimate nations.

Check out these destinations (some vacation-worthy, some not so much) that you've definitely probably never heard of.

Nauru
Apparently only 200 tourists visited Nauru in 2011, even though its coral reefs are loaded with exotic snorkeling spots. Nauru established independence about 50 years ago and is the only country in the world without a capitol. The island, shaped vaguely like a potato, has space for only two hotels .

nauru

Kyrgyzstan
This Asian country is trapped between mountain ranges, so horseback riding is a big deal... and so are traditional horseback riding games. When you visit, how about a round of kyz kuumai? A man on horseback tries to steal a kiss from a woman on horseback, and if he fails the woman beats him with a whip.

kyz kuumai

Brunei
Nobody pays taxes in this little mosque-covered nation on the island of Borneo. Each year, the sultan orders a ship full of buffalo, goats and cattle for the religious festival of Qurban.

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Kiribati
If you clumped together all 33 of Kiribati’s teensy islands, they’d be about the size of New York City. But the teensy islands are so spread out in the Pacific Ocean that it takes six hours to fly from the first one to the last. The president claims Kiribati's main island is shrinking, so some citizens are trying to flee to New Zealand as refugees.

kiribati

Djibouti
This desert country joined the United Nations in 1970 after wriggling free of the French. Its major landmark is Lake Assal, the third-lowest point on Earth. The lake is hot and salty, temperatures around it are scorching, and fresh water is so scarce that people accept bottled water as payment.

lac assal

Malta
This little island off the coast of Sicily belonged to Phoenecians, Romans, Arabs and Napoleon before winning independence in the 1960s. It's known as the original homeland of both the dwarf hippo and the Maltese dog. Oh, and its temple complexes are also some of the oldest free-standing structures known to man.

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Mayotte
The people of this formerly French island are especially enthusiastic about their turtles. Apparently, thousands lay eggs upon the coastline each night. The nation’s website urges turtle hunters to avoid using flashlights, as the female turtle’s “body cavity will not widen” if you shine light on her.

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