These Photos Will Change The Way You Look At Some Of The World's Most Dangerous Countries

07/11/2014 08:54 am ET | Updated Jul 11, 2014

Reports about conflict zones around the world often depict desolate wastelands of war, civil unrest and human suffering. But some of the world's most dangerous countries are also some of the most pristine. Leave your assumptions aside and take a glimpse into many of the places you frequently hear about but rarely see.

AFGHANISTAN

President Barack Obama recently announced that he plans to withdraw all U.S. troops from Afghanistan by the end of 2016. But 13 years of U.S. military engagement there has largely altered how Americans view the country. Often forgotten are the Hindu Kush Mountains, the Himalayas and the bountiful bodies of water in the spring.

kabul river Afghan fisherman starts the day on the Kabul River in Laghman Province. (AFP/Getty)

bandeamir Band-e Amir, Afghanistan's first national park, high in the Hindu Kush Mountains (Richard Dunwoody/Getty)

UKRAINE

Ukraine's geography offers a wide range of climate and terrain, stretching from the Carpathian mountains to the Crimean Sea. The country has primarily been known in recent months for its descent into unrest and uncertainty after protesters demanded the resignation of President Viktor Yanukovych in November of last year.

aipetri mountain A seascape panorama of the Crimean Peninsula (Getty)

ukraine fields A field of canola flowers, which are used for canola oil production in Ukraine's countryside (Getty)

ISRAEL & PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES

Following the recent kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teenagers and the killing of a Palestinian teen, tensions in the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict have once again risen to a boiling point. Israel launched an offensive on the Gaza Strip this week, sparking the largest conflict between the country and the militant group Hamas since a battle in November of last year.

israel natural beauty Sunrise over Masada in the Judaean Desert (Getty)

israel jump youth Afternoon dive in the Jaffa Port near Tel Aviv (Oded Balilty/AP)

IRAQ

Iraq shares the Tigris and Euphrates rivers with Syria and Turkey, mountain ranges with Turkey and Iran, and deserts with Syria, Jordan and Saudi Arabia. The country also has a 36-mile stretch of coastline along the Persian gulf.

beautiful nature iraq Dukan Lake, the largest lake in Iraqi Kurdistan (Mark Chivers/Getty)

iraq nature Delal Bridge in Kurdistan (Tony Wheeler/Getty)

IRAN

When you think of Iran, you probably don't think of big cats -- but this country in western Asia is home to the endangered Asiatic cheetah.

iran cheetah The endangered Asiatic Cheetah (Getty)

iran landscape Darbandikhan Lake sits on the border between Iran and Iraq. (Michael Runkel/Getty)

EGYPT

Before the Egyptian revolution began in 2011, launching the country into chaos and prompting a series of changes in leadership, Egypt was perhaps best known for its pyramids and rich history. But the country was rarely recognized for its natural beauty, ranging from deserts to biodiverse seascapes with giant turtles, dolphins, sharks and manta rays.

egypt dahab sinai Green waters of the Red Sea situated on the Sinai Peninsula (Santiago Urquijo/Getty)

egypt salt Chalk rock formations in Egypt's Western Desert (Eric Teissedre/Getty)

SYRIA

In the midst of a civil war now in its fourth year, it's easy to forget Syria's historic significance. It has been seen as a valuable stronghold throughout history because of its location along essential trade and military routes, and has changed hands among various rulers, including the Sumerians, the Persians, the Greeks, the Romans and the Muslim Arabs.

syria nature The Apamea ruins were built in Syria's Orontes Valley under the direction of Alexander the Great. (Getty)

syria nature The Euphrates River (Phillip C Griffin/Getty)

NIGERIA

Nigeria has recently received a flood of international attention due to the horrifying kidnapping of more than 260 girls by the Islamist militants of Boko Haram.

nigeria beach White sand beaches in Lagos, Nigeria's most populous city (Getty)

nigeria nature The blooming Poinciana tree in Kaduna State (Irene Becker/Getty)

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO

Due in large part to greed over control of the region's lucrative natural resources, the modern history of the DRC has been marred by political unrest, guerilla violence and attacks against civilians.

drc nature photography African Cape Buffalo migrate seasonally to find fresh grazing territory. (David Santiago Garcia/Getty)

congo lake Shores of Lake Tanganyika, which straddles the border between Tanzania and the DRC (Guenter Guni/Getty)

YEMEN

In recent years, Yemen has become a strategic stronghold in the war on terror, with multiple terrorist organizations creating outposts in the country.

socotra island yemen Dragon trees on the Yemeni island of Socotra, off the Arabian Peninsula (Davor Lovincic/Getty)

yemen landscape Peninsula At Socotra Island (Getty)

CORRECTION: A previous caption in this article stated that the white desert in Egypt featured salt flats, but they are chalk rock formations.

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