Home to the South Pacific’s largest marine reserve, the 33 atolls of Kiribati stretch 4000km across the ocean. Communities are on the whole very traditional, the economy highly dependent on coconuts and fish, and the pace of life horizontal. Snorkelling, diving and fishing are first-rate; travel connections less so.
A cluster of nine islands north of Fiji, Tuvalu is the country perhaps most threatened by global warming (its highest point is a little over 4 metres above sea level). Getting there is half the fun – there is one flight service, often delayed by days – but your patience will be rewarded with postcard-worthy beaches and perfect coral atolls.
Political instability, decades of infighting between rival militias, the threat of kidnapping and widespread famine make Somalia a no-go area for tourists at present. There is some hope though: In August 2012 Somalia’s first formal parliament in two decades was sworn in, and open warfare in Mogadishu has for now ceased.
If you can somehow get a visa, aren’t too riled by constant hassle from the police and military, and are willing to overlook its appalling human rights record, Equatorial Guinea offers a spectacular wildlife reserve in Monte Alen National Park, and a chance to see turtles hatching on Boiko island. Most famous resident? Eric the Eel.
The world’s smallest republic at 8 square miles, this minuscule Pacific island is the only country without a capital city. Given that much of the island is devoted to phosphate mining, only one airline flies there and you’ll need a visa, it’s easy to see why it takes the crown. Nice beaches though.