One of only two doubly landlocked countries in the world (a country where the surrounding countries are also landlocked), Uzbekistan is located in Central Asia and is a former Soviet republic. Known for its dramatic desert landscapes, breathtaking architecture and ancient cities, one of the most fascinating things about the country is its connection to the Silk Road.
The world’s largest landlocked country, and the ninth largest country in the world, Kazakhstan has a low population density spread across its vast and varied landscape. There is a huge mix of different ethnicities in the country, with around 63% being Kazakhs, and some of the larger minorities include Russians, Ukrainians, Uzbeks and Germans. The official language is Kazakh, but Russian is also widely spoken. Tourism has grown rapidly in the last decade.
A mountainous country, the rugged hills of Kyrgyzstan is home to the gray wolf and lynx, and is also one of the few places in the world where you can find snow leopards. These elusive creatures could number as many as 500 in the mountains as Kyrgyzstan - or as few as 150; they’re so difficult to spot that it’s impossible to know, and even professionals can wait for months between sightings. Surrounded by Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and China, the country is also known for its impressive lakes which are popular places for hiking and relaxation.
The Tajik people have a long history in this landlocked nation, over 90% of which is covered in amazing mountains. Tajikistan has been an independent sovereign nation since 1991, but with the civil war that lasted until 1997, it’s only in the last two decades that the country has seen political stability and a growing economy.
More than 80% of this fascinating country is covered by the Karakum Desert - one of the driest places on earth. Formerly known as Turkmenia, the country is bordered by Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Iran, as well as the Caspian Sea. The country possesses the world’s sixth largest reserves of natural gasses which, until recently, meant that citizens received amenities such as electricity, water and natural gas for free.
In the Caucasus region of Eurasia, Georgia is a small country that is bordered by Turkey, Armenia, Azerbaijani, Russia and the Black Sea. Several different independent kingdoms formed together to create the country, including Iberia and Lazica (which was previously known as Colchis).
A democratic nation-state with a rich cultural heritage, Armenia is in the Eurasia region of western Asia. It was the first state in the world to adopt Christianity as its official religion, in the year 301. Over the years, there have been numerous different empires that have ruled over the land, including Byzantine, Cilician, Ottoman, Iranian and Russian empires.
In the past decade, annual visitors to Azerbaijan have almost doubled, and the majority of visitors come from Russia, Georgia and Iran. The first democratic Muslim state, the country claimed its independence in 1918. It became part of the Soviet Union in 1920, and then proclaimed its independence again in 1991. With high rates of literacy and low rates of unemployment, Azerbaijan is considered to have had better economic development than some of its neighbouring countries, which makes it a pleasant place to visit.
The second-largest landlocked country in the world, Mongolia is sandwiched between two geographic giants - Russia and China. While it is only 23 miles away from Kazakhstan, the two countries don’t share a border. Almost half of the population of Mongolia lives in its bustling capital, and these days only about one third of the population stick to their nomadic roots. Famously, the Mongol Empire was founded by Genghis Khan in 1207, and then in 1279 his grandson, Kublai Khan, conquered China.
The most populous country in the world, China has seen some amazing changes in recent years, and is one of the fastest developing countries in the world. That said, while the east coast of China is littered with skyscrapers and bullet trains, the further west you go, the further back in time you seem to travel. You could spend years travelling through this vast culture and barely scrape the surface of what is to be discovered, from the various cuisines across the country to the countless temples, mountains, parks, buildings and museums there are to visit.
For a country that makes you think of futuristic technology, on your visit to Japan you’ll find yourself struck far more poignantly by its culture and history. This is a country that shunned the outside world until fairly recently, retaining many of its traditions and values even in a rapidly changing world. Travelers to the land of the rising sun will marvel at their customs and etiquette, as well as being inspired by their exquisite handicrafts. Japan is far more than robot hotels and maid cafés – outside of the cities, the wide-open spaces and places of natural beauty will take your breath away.
One of the fastest growing tourist destinations in recent years, Vietnam is a popular vacation spot because of the variety of attractions on offer. From ancient history and stunning vistas to delicious cuisine and adventurous explorations. The dark history of Vietnam is still an important part of their culture today, but there is also much to enjoy and experience in this exciting country. Soak up the atmosphere of this beautiful country as you wander the vibrant streets and experience the smells and sounds of Vietnamese day to day life.
Turkey is one of the top ten countries in the world to visit on holiday, with German and Russian tourists being particularly fond of this incredible country. With 17 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, 2 of the Seven Wonders of the World (as well as the unofficial ‘eighth wonder’), and the oldest religious site in the world, this is a country steeped in history with so much to explore.
Following the Arab Spring uprising in 2010, Jordan faced a massive decline in tourism, even though the country was mostly unscathed in the violent clashes. Almost a decade later, trends are changing and holidaymakers are flocking to this major tourist destination. The famous waters of the Dead Sea have led to this country being popular for health and medical tourism, but is also a key destination for travelers of all sorts. Adventurous types will enjoy pursuits such as canyoning, or sleeping under the stars at the Bedouin camp. The impressive visas and glorious sunsets are Instagram worthy, but you might be too awe inspired to even snap a selfie.