Summer is peak travel season for many of the world’s most popular destinations. Not only can this translate to higher airfare and accommodation costs, but increased crowds and longer queues for museums, monuments and other attractions. The seven destinations in this week’s Bucket List column are among the world’s least-populated countries and territories, all with local populations well below 100,000 as of their last census or most recent estimates. While we can’t guarantee solitude, whether you visit in summer or at another time throughout the year, you will be slightly off the well-beaten tourist path visiting any of these destinations.
Paste Travel’s Bucket List columnist Lauren Kilberg is a Chicago-based freelance writer. Her travels have found her camping near the Pakistani border of India and conquering volcanoes in the Philippines.
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Despite consisting of 500 islands, Palau is home to just over 20,000 people. The Pacific archipelago boasts four seasons of tropical weather, with ample sun and limited rainfall. Most visitors set up base on the island of Koror, where you'll find the nation's largest city and a variety of hotels, restaurants and shops. No visit to Palau would be complete without scuba diving. The waters surrounding the islands are home to renowned dive sites, including the Blue Holes and Blue Corner. If you're craving even more adventure, head to the Rock Islands where you'll find Palau's famous Jellyfish Lake and its millions of namesake marine animals that you can swim with. Don't worry, their stingers aren't strong enough to cause you any harm.
Photo by LuxTonnerre, CC BY 2.0
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While Greenland has the largest population in this gallery, its 56,000 or so people are spread across an impressive 836,300 square miles. Located predominately within the Arctic, this self-governing Danish territory boasts some impressive natural attractions. Outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers will find plenty to appreciate about Greenland, from its wildlife to its glaciers and icebergs. Don't miss a boat tour of the UNESCO World Heritage Ilulissat Icefjord or Greenland National Park, the world's largest national park. If you happen to visit in autumn, you might also be lucky enough to witness the northern lights, which regularly paint the night sky in vibrant shades of green and blue.
Photo by ser_is_snarkish, CC BY-NC 2.0
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The Pitcairn Islands have two claims to fame. Not only are they the farthest inhabited island from a continent, the territory also has the smallest population in the world--just 56 people. A visit to this remote British territory is by no means easy, but successfully doing so will earn any visitor serious travel bragging rights. Among the territory's four volcanic islands, Pitcairn is the only one that's inhabited. A trip to the UNESCO World Heritage Henderson Island is a must, as it's home to one of the most pristine atolls in the world.
Photo by denisbin, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
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With a population of around 3,000, a trip to the Falkland Islands will leave visitors feeling out numbered not by the local inhabitants, but by the countless species of wildlife that call the British territory home. Located just west of the southern tip of Argentina in the South Atlantic, the archipelago is famous for its wildlife and natural beauty. It's a safe bet any visit will put you in close proximity to the Falkand's five species of penguin, and offers ample opportunity for spotting seals, albatross, dolphins and porpoises, among many others. Visiting in summer, between October and March, will provide the best weather for enjoying the assortment of outdoor activities afforded by a trip here.
Photo by Liam Quinn, CC BY-SA 2.0
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If you're looking to get away from it all, both people and modern infrastructure, Tuvalu is worth the journey. Located in the South Pacific and consisting of nine islands, the archipelago has a population of around 10,000 with a thriving culture. A visit to the Funafuti Conservation Area is a must. It offers an assortment of sights, from a scenic lagoon to reefs teaming with wildlife and begging to be explored on a snorkeling or scuba excursion.
Photo by Tomoaki INABA, CC BY-SA 2.0
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Dubbed the Emerald Isle of the Caribbean, Montserrat offers an oddly Irish experience in the Lesser Antilles. The British territory is home to a natural coastline similar to Ireland's and among its less than 5,000 inhabitants, many share an Irish ancestry. While tourism has waned in recent decades due to several natural disasters that left the island in shambles, it is recovering and its natural beauty remains. From hiking in forests to lounging on remote beaches, there are plenty of opportunities to enjoy Montserrat. If conditions are safe, a visit to the Montserrat Volcano Observatory to witness the ominous and active Soufrière Hills volcano is also a worthy addition to your itinerary.
Photo by Chuck Stanley, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
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As far as Caribbean islands go, Anguilla is all-around small. The main island is just 16 miles long, 3 miles wide and the entire British territory boasts a population of about 15,000 people. Located in the Lesser Antilles, Anguilla has plenty to offer those looking for luxury travel and local charm. The island is home to postcard-perfect beaches, warm ocean waters and impressive coral reefs. From sunbathing to snorkeling and horseback riding, there are plenty of activities to fill an itinerary. Several top-notch resorts are also available to call your temporary home in paradise, like the Viceroy Anguilla.
Photo by tiarescott, CC BY 2.0