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Props to you if you've heard of any of these places, but if you haven't you're not alone and you'll definitely want to consider checking them out if you're traveling abroad this year!

1. Djibouti

It's pronounced "ji-BOOTY."

Located in the Horn of Africa, the French and Arabic speaking Djibouti has extensive desert space, volcanos, and some of the saltiest water in the world in Lake Assal, one of the country's biggest landmarks.

The country only became a member of the United Nations in 1970, and perhaps that partly explains why it's known by so few people.

Interesting fact: fresh water is such a rare commodity here that some people will actually accept bottled water for payment in lieu of money.

If you're planning a trip, you'll likely want to stay in the capital, Djibouti City, a uniquely constructed city built on coral reefs.

Decan is a nearby wildlife reserve that gives visitors a unique opportunity to see lots of endangered species, and when you get back into town, stop at the upscale gourmet restaurant called Cafe de la Gare for some phenomenal French-themed food in an elegant setting.

Djibouti beach
Djibouti. Pixabay / MJO

2. Nauru

How well known is Nauru, an island country in Micronesia? Well, the stats show that there were only 200 tourists "in the know" enough to visit in 2011.

It's such a shock because one simple Google search will show you hundreds of beautiful images showcasing the country and its bountiful coral reefs. Of course, that makes it an excellent destination for avid snorkelers, as there are plenty of dynamic diving spots worth checking out.

The country established its independence roughly 50 years ago, and it still has no capital city, making it the only country in the world without one.

A relatively small island, there's only room for two hotels, so book ahead and know that you'll have limited selection! But you also won't have to fight the crowds.

Nauru

3. Malta

Malta, an island off the coast of Sicily, has a rich history of constant conflict and warring over its ownership. It belonged to the Phoenicians, Arabs, Romans, and Napoleon at one point in time and it only earned its independence in the 1960s.

With ancient forts, churches, and communities, there's lots of touring to be done, although the entire island can be traversed in a matter of hours. Oh, and fear not: after all that sightseeing, you can relax on one of many gorgeous beaches.

This island serves as a port-of-call on some Mediterranean cruises, but it's so beautiful that a whole trip could be built around it.

You might not have heard of Malta, but you're likely familiar with the Maltese dog which came from it. That means you can blame the Maltese people the next time you hear some incessant yipping from your neighbor's little dog! (They also have a pretty famous falcon, if you recall...)

Malta harbor
Maltese harbor at sunset. Pixabay / kirkandmimi

4. Brunei

The locals are pretty friendly in Brunei, and perhaps that's because no one pays any taxes! It only has a population of around 500,000 people, but it's one of the richest states in the entire world. That explains why citizens also get free education, healthcare, and much of their living expenses covered.

Mostly Muslim (and strictly so, by the law) the nation has lots of interesting mosques to visit. There's also a religious festival called Qurban every year for which the Sultan (yes, the Sultan) orders goats, cattle, and buffalo.

The Royal Regalia Museum and Gadong Night Market are two highly-reviewed spots in Brunei that you might want to explore if you're planning a visit, and check out Pondok Sari Wangi for some delicious curried stir-fries.

Be forewarned: Brunei has become more authoritarian in recent years. It's not the best destination for LGBT travelers, solo female travelers, or anyone who might be inclined to drink or make derogatory remarks about the Sultan.

Brunei

5. Kiribati

Kiribati, a nation in the middle of the Pacific, is made up of 33 tiny islands. But put together, they're quite significant in size, rivalling New York City. It's difficult to see them all on one trip because some of them take six hours to fly between, so choose wisely.

Kiritimati, Tarawa, Tabuaeran, and Banaba Island are some of the top choices to visit, and you'll find lots of activities like surfing, fishing, and sailing to engage in.

The islands are small so there's not a wealth of touring to be done on any one island, but there are some old churches and nice white sandy beaches that can occupy you for hours on end. Coral reefs are present off most of the islands, so snorkeling is definitely recommended.

Kiribati
Kiribati.

6. Kyrgyzstan

Surrounded by the glorious mountains of Central Asia, Kyrgyzstan is the perfect travel destination for anyone who fancies themselves a horseback riding fan. (And anyone who wants to go somewhere most people have never heard of or thought about.)

With horseback riding being so prominent, there are some fun, yet unusual festivities that center around it like the kyz kuumai where a man riding a horse tries to steal a kiss from another woman on horseback. The punishment if he loses? Oh, she just gets to beat him with a whip...

The Ala-Archa Gorge is a beautiful mountainous region worth exploring for a day, and the Altyn Arashan hot springs are the perfect place to relax. If you're a lover of the great outdoors, Kyrgyzstan is a haven of activity and has loads of great picture opportunities.

That being said: Kyrgyzstan is a former Soviet Republic, and corruption is rife. It's not the destination for you if you're looking for stability and luxury. It's definitely an adventure.

If you're looking for a vacation that's off the beaten path, consider one of these destinations. Then, when you get home, you can teach your friends that they exist!

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