6 newly formed countries in the world you should visit

It may be a while before the Australian government’s SmartTraveller website gives the thumbs up to your plans to visit South Sudan, but plenty of the world’s other newest countries are worth a look. Each has taken its own road to nationhood and has its own challenges moving forward, and each offers unique experiences for the adventurous traveller. Watching a country find itself brings out the best in many people and some of the new countries below offer an incomparable chance to see a country striving to be its best self, and put on the best show possible for travellers.

1. Timor-Leste

At the time of writing, the Australian government recommend a high degree of caution when visiting our nearest neighbour, and it’s not without reason. Timor-Leste’s road to independence has been a troubled one, but its burgeoning tourism industry is going from strength to strength and can’t be ignored. Timor boasts the most diverse marine environment in the world and seeing it now, before the resorts arrive, is what travelling is all about. Diving opportunities in Timor are not only comparably cheap, but the waters are officially among the cleanest in the world. Plenty of eco-friendly travel operators are beginning to introduce the wonders of Timor to tourists, and while the electricity can be intermittent and transport is often late, there are few better, cheaper, and more rewarding places to visit.

2. Serbia

Long part of Yugoslavia, Serbia’s birth date of June 3 2006 makes it a relatively new country, but its most picturesque attractions are very old indeed. Locals are known for their warm welcomes, and once you leave its capital city of Belgrade, there are hundreds of gorgeous villages, ancient castles and churches, verdant forests and rich farmland. Travel guides focus on the élan of the arts community in Belgrade and the reputation of the capital is growing quickly as a destination for serious party-goers. While it was shaped by the brutality of the Balkan war in the 1990s, Serbia is a new country that perhaps more than any other on this list, is forging ahead with an energy that’s infectious and well worth experiencing first-hand.

3. Palau

The tiny Pacific nation of Palau was a territory of Germany, Japan and finally the United States, and it sprung into existence in 1994. While it’s best known as a diving destination, visitors also come for its litany of Second World War artefacts. Crashed planes, sunken warships, rusted bulwarks and overgrown bunkers dot many of Palau’s 500 islands. Others come for its diving opportunities at legendary dive sites such as Blue Corner, German Channel and Ulong Channel. As well as being one of the world’s newest countries, Palau is truly one of its last unspoiled ones and, though it can be expensive for travellers, it is a remarkably beautiful country that boasts a mix of Philippine, American, Japanese and Palauan culture.

4. Kazakhstan

When the USSR devolved in 1991, a brace of countries now colloquially known as “the Stans” was born. Kazakhstan was among the most mysterious and obscure of these, and while it covers a vast swathe of the Caucuses, and is possibly still best known as the butt of jokes in the film Borat, since then one thing has made this country a fixture in travel blogs and magazines. Architecture. Through a strange mix of abundant oil and minerals and totalitarian-ish leadership, Kazakhstan is a relatively wealthy country now luring travellers via some very bold futuristic buildings constructed on a vast scale in the city of Almaty. It’s a city totally unlike any other.

5. Kosovo

This little landlocked territory is only partially recognised as a state by the world’s governments. It inched into existence when it declared independence from Serbia in 2008, and is one of Europe’s least visited and most unusual countries. Situated in the heart of the Balkans, the little nation is full of mountain towns, ancient architectural marvels and wonderful opportunities that reward the adventurous traveller. Hiking trails thread through sylvan valleys and almost completely untouched wilderness and the lack of tourists means locals are curious and welcoming. Whatever the official status of Kosovo, it is a country shaped by unique forces with a distinctive culture and a place that won’t be leaving the beaten path any time soon.

6. Czech Republic

If you’re looking for a country that is beautiful, friendly, cheap, exciting and ancient, the Czech Republic is a perfect choice. Formed during the 1990s in the wake of the fall of the Berlin Wall, its capital Prague is one of Europe’s most striking cities. Though not one of the newest countries, the Czech Republic still feels very much like it’s still forming. Now home to one of the world’s leading orchestras, film studios and a burgeoning rave culture, it’s still the old world charms that lure most visitors. Castles, forested mountains, 15th-century beer halls and some of the most scenic villages imaginable make the Czech Republic a perfect place to visit any time of year, though special mention must be made of its winter charms, where village squares are full of rugged up locals and tourists sharing mulled wine in Christmas markets. It’s a scene that reminds you how Christmas should be done.

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