Is it possible to visit all countries in the world?
I am a wanderer. A globe trotter. Your email to me will more often be greeted by an ‘out-of-office’ reply! I love travelling so much that my ultimate dream is to visit each and every country on this planet. My bags are all packed for the moon as well! Do you harbour the same dream as mine? Travelling the globe is easier said than done. But Is it possible to visit all countries in the world? People have done it in the past. Let’s begin with the basics.
There are 196 recognized countries in the world today. With Taiwan being a tricky one- although Taiwan operates as an independent country, many countries (including the U.S.) do not officially recognize it as one because the People's Republic of China considers Taiwan a breakaway province of China. Countries which wish to maintain diplomatic relations with China don’t consider Taiwan a separate nation. That can bring down the count to 195. However, Political Geography is a tough subject. There are at least three declared countries that aren't recognized by any UN members at all, but still operate independently from the countries that claim them. Considering such nations along with other De Facto Sovereign States, the total goes up to 207! But I am going to consider 196 as the final number.
All set to begin the journey? Assuming we want to spend atleast 7 days on an average in each country, that brings the total number of days to 1372. Plus if we consider a day’s travel time from one nation to another, that adds another 196 days bringing the total number of days to 1568! That’s just 4 years and a few months of our lives! Even if we decide to spend 10 days in each country, it will still be approximately 6 years. That seems reasonable enough and achievable as well. To round it off, 10 years are more than enough to travel to each and every country on the planet.
However, legally, it will be practically impossible to visit all the nations due to various reasons:
- Up until 2013, the Kingdom Of Saudi Arabia did not issue tourist visas. In December 2013, Saudi Arabia announced its intention to begin issuing tourist visas for the first time in its history. But visitors holding passports containing Israeli visa may be denied entry into the country.
- There are some gorgeous countries in the world that are still unexplored due to their strict visa policies. It could take months or even years to get visa to such countries. Kiribati for example has a list of 60 nations which it allows easy travelling to. If your country is not on the list of 60, acquiring a visa can be a patience testing process.
- There are some remote countries that are not easily and frequently accessible. For example, in the case of Kiribati again, it is served by international flights, but only twice a week. Same is the case with Nauru, only one airline connects it to the rest of the world. The magnificent Kingdom of Bhutan is accessible either via road through India or, like Nauru, only one airline called Druk Air connects it via air.
- At a given point in time, your nation might be at war with other countries and hence procuring entry into such countries will be difficult as well as dangerous. For example, a few years ago US citizens were discouraged to travel to Iraq.
- Some nations may be undergoing a civil war while some may not even have a proper government. Case point being Syria and Sudan. Travel to such nations is not advised unless you are a journalist or a volunteer.
- There are some nations, like Uzbekistan, where one needs to obtain a letter of invitation from a citizen to receive a visa. But you can make do by getting this invitation letter from a local tour operator or an established hotel.
- In some countries where the citizens are at war with their governments, the chances of a foreign national getting kidnapped are more. USA as well as many European nations warn their citizens against travelling to the countries of Nigeria, Cameroon, Afghanistan and Somalia.
- To enter countries like Turkmenistan and North Korea, one gets a tourist visa only after signing up for a guide.
- The country of Libya currently does not issue tourist visas. As of the year 2014, there were plans to reintroduce tourist visas. Visitors are refused entry into the country if they are holding travel documents containing a visa (valid or expired) for Israel.
- Some countries restrict the flow of tourism if an epidemic has broken out in neighbouring nations. If you have recently travelled to any country facing an epidemic, some countries may not grant you permission to visit. For example, after the recent Ebola virus epidemic in West Africa, visitors who had travelled to Liberia and Guinea were refused entry to Saudi Arabia and Australia.
- The country of Guinea-Bissau does not have a consulate or embassy in UK or USA. If one wants to travel to this West African gem, one needs to travel to Lisbon, Portugal or Ziguinchor, Senegal and then apply for a visa for Guinea-Bissau from the embassy or consulate over there.
These factors can play spoilsport in your travel plans. But there are some legends who have overcome these challenges and have achieved their dream of travelling to all the countries on the planet. Gunnar Garfors from Norway, Graham Hughes from UK, Kashi Samaddar from India and Chris Guillebeau from America are just few of the many people who can boast about having travelled to every country on the globe.
I am all set to take up my next journey now! Where are you heading off to?
Here are a few hobos’ stories which will leave you inspired:
Wondering how to fund all your travels? Here’s what you can do: 7 Ways You Can Earn While Travelling