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My Journey to All of the Countries in the World

There are two groups of people in the travel space, those who count countries and those who do not. I am in the former group. And I am currently on a journey to visit all of the countries in the world, so I have to keep count! Upon completion, I will be the first black woman to travel to all of the countries in the world.

I started counting countries a few years back because of my lifelong desire to travel to every country in the world, meaning I needed to keep track of where I have been. I have been traveling internationally since I was a child; I boarded my first transatlantic flight with my family in 1991. We first visited England which was my third country (the US and Canada being the first two), to visit family, on our way to Uganda to visit more family. By the time I graduated high school I had visited eight countries and territories.

My travel intensified between 2009 and 2011. I zigzagged across Europe and traveled to far flung outposts such as Fiji. By the time my 30th birthday rolled around I had visited 46 countries and territories. Fast forward almost four years and now I am at 115 countries and territories with a mission to travel to every country on earth!

If you are able, I would be grateful if you donate to my campaign. 🙂

How many countries are there?

This is the most common question when I mention my goal to people and it is not always easy to answer. The United Nations has 193 member countries which are those that are recognized by the vast majority of sovereign nations in the world. There are also two non-member observing states – Vatican City and Palestine. Kosovo and Taiwan remain disputed territories that are only considered sovereign nations by some UN member countries. So the easy answer is 195. My goal of traveling to all of the countries in the world is based on 195 of which I have visited 106. I am more than halfway there!

What are territories?

Territories are places on the world that do not have sovereignty and still “belong” to the country that colonized them, e.g. Martinique = France, Canary Islands = Spain, the Caymen Islands = United Kingdom and Curaçao = The Netherlands. I have been to 115 countries and territories.

Why visit all the countries in the world?!

This journey that I am on is about breaking stereotypes and experiencing different cultures. When I travel to countries that are “off-the-beaten path” I rarely see any black people, not American, nor African. Because of this, people are often shocked to see me. Part of this goal for me is about normalizing blackness and letting people all over the world know that black people travel as well. Beyond that I am just curious about the world. I always have been. I love learning how we as human beings are more alike than we are different. Even with language barriers you can still laugh with a stranger. You can still learn from a stranger and it is a beautiful feeling.

I have 89 countries left on 6 continents. Below is the list. I would love to have recommendations for any if the countries below whether you have visited in the past or live their now please leave it in the comments!!

Africa

1. Algeria
2. Angola
3. Burkina Faso
4. Burundi
5. Cameroon
6. Cape Verde
7. Central African Republic
8. Chad
9. Comoros
10. Democratic Republic of the Congo
11. Equatorial Guinea
12. Eritrea
13. Gabon
14. Guinea
15. Guinea-Bissau
16. Ivory Coast
17. Liberia
18. Libya
19. Madagascar
20. Malawi
21. Mali
22. Mauritania
23. Mauritius
24. Niger
25. Nigeria
26. Republic of the Congo
27. Sao Tome and Principe
28. Seychelles
29. Sierra Leone
30. Somalia
31. South Sudan

Asia

1. Afghanistan
2. Armenia
3. Azerbaijan
4. Bhutan
5. Myanmar
6. China
7. Saudi Arabia
8. South Korea
9. Syria
10. Tajikistan
11. Turkmenistan
12. Uzbekistan
13. Yemen
14. Georgia
15. Iran
16. Iraq
17. Israel
18. Jordan
19. Kazakhstan
20. Kuwait
21. Kyrgyzstan
22. Lebanon
23. Mongolia
24. North Korea
25. Pakistan
26. Palestinian Territories
27. Taiwan*

Europe

1. Andorra
2. Belarus
3. Cyprus
4. Estonia
5. Latvia
6. Lithuania
7. Monaco
8. Poland
9. Russia

North America

1. Barbados
2. Dominica
3. Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
4. Trinidad and Tobago

South America

1. Bolivia
2. Chile
3. Ecuador
4. Guyana
5. Paraguay
6. Suriname
7. Venezuela

Oceania

1. Kiribati
2. Marshall Islands
3. Micronesia
4. Nauru
5. New Zealand
6. Palau
7. Papua New Guinea
8. Samoa
9. Solomon Islands
10. Tonga
11. Tuvalu
12. Vanuatu

This Post Has 32 Comments
  1. That is a great mission ! As a black woman Who Also love travelling i can relate that we are not that visible in thé travel industry. I have lived in Ivory Coast Which has so Many beauties to offer ( Abidjan , assinie , San Pedro , jacqueville , parc de la comoe, basilique of yamoussokro , korhogo). in your list i have Also visited Nigeria, Likoma Island ( which belongs to Malawi), Israël and Cracow in Poland. You can find all that trips on my ( french) blog dedicated to my travels around thé world : http://www.journaldunpigeonvoyageur.com . Hope it helps ! Ivy

  2. #teamcatchmeifyoucan member right here! Have you done Antarctica or the Arctic (Svalbard)? These are more territories than they are countries but should definitely be experienced. I was lucky enough to go through my job as a chef on a expedition ship! That way you will truly have touched all corners of the globe!! Rooting for you all the way!!!

    1. Hi Lisa,

      I have not done either of those yet and because they are not countries I am not prioritizing them during the next 14 months, but I certainly do intend to visit them once I am finished with this goal. Thanks so much for your support!!

  3. Hello ! I’m French and currently living in the DRC!
    If you come to visit please don’t hesitate to contact me !
    DRC is not an easy country for tourism, but there is so much to see ! I think this is the most beautiful country in the world ! All Africa in one country !

  4. Hello! My family is from the Ivory Coast. I was born and live in the USA currently. I can provide a list of places to visit in the Ivory Coast and even help you with accommodations as my aunt owns a hotel in Bassam a popular beach town! Please contact me for further details. I would love to be of assistance for this part of your journey. 🙂

    1. That is awesome! Thank you so much. I will definitely reach out!! Ivory Coast is definitely one of the countries that I am really looking forward to.

  5. Jessica,

    I have been following you and you are quite inspiring. I am currently in India and I must say I added Jaipur to my trip because I saw you come there.

    Keep on keeping on and hopefully will bump into you soon.

  6. Hey Jessica,

    This is a beautiful mission, it is in fact my lifetime mission 🙂

    l currently live in Burkina Faso, do not hesitate to reach out to me when you are here.
    My tips for Burkina would be to go to the Grand Bani mosque in the Sahel region, visit Tiebele Royal Court it is very photogenic, a bit overrated and a bit rundown, but they need our support, so you should definitely go. The ladies will tell you all about how they decorate their homes by painting designs on the exterior walls of their houses, using colored mud and chalk. They’ll also tell you what each design means. Ah and don’t wear anything red on the day of your visit t the Royal Court.
    You should go to Bobo Dioulasso too, and check the Grand Mosque, the train station, and generally the traditional Sudano-Sahelian architecture. After Bobo, you could go to Banfora, and the Karfiguéla Waterfalls, where you can take a dip in the natural pools. Do not miss Fadebougou domes and my all time favorite Sindou Peaks, there is something mystical about these places.

    l am part malian, Mali is a beautiful country, but due to the current security situation it’s becoming less and less easy to travel in-country. lf it’s still possible, l’d suggest to sail the Niger river in Mali. Go to Segou and meet the amazing artisans who continue to produce the most beautiful bogolanfani mudcloth. There was a deadly attack in Bandiagara this week and Timbuktu is not 100% safe but these places are so unique, you can’t miss them. l think you could still go. Mopti, Djenné…The people, the languages, the music…Oh how l miss Mali 🙂

    l was born an grew up in lvory Coast, soooo l can help with that too. When in Abidjan, you must definitely go to the Bushman Cafe this place is very unique, they also do B&B now, the restaurant service can be a bit slow…You can visit a couple of nice art places, Fondation Donwahi, La Rotonde des Arts, Galerie Cécile Fakhoury…Outside of Abidjan, there are beach places but l don’t find them unforgettable, specially if you’ve been to places like Colombia, Brazil….And the weather is always unpredictable and grey. Ah you coud go to the Basilique in Yamoussoukro, it’s huge, it’s an imitation of the Vatican holy shrine built by the first president of the country Houphouet Boigny. lf l’m not mistaken it is the world’s largest basilica. He even included himself in one of the stained glasses with Jesus and the apostles this says it all about the first president of Cote-d’lvoire!
    Don’t miss the western region, maybe on your way to Guinea, near Man you can go hiking, Mount Toura, Mount Tonkoui and Le Dent de Man.

    For Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Malawi, Sao Tome this is my all time favorite, Gabon, Somalia, South Sudan, Lebanon, Myanmar… There is still so much to say, l’ll send you an email!

    l’m so happy you are doing this! l’d love to feature you on FlELDS MAG, sending you an email!

    1. Hi Saran,

      Thanks so much for reaching out. This is a ton of information and I will definitely reference it once I am planning these countries thanks for sharing all of the tips. I will await your email. And I will certainly reach out when I make my way to Burkina.

  7. Greetings Jessica! Congrats to you on this amazing travel journey! I too love traveling and began my love for it as a kid being raised in the military.
    From your list, I lived in Venezuela for my Master’s research in African diaspora studies as my focus was on African descendants there and the rise at the time (2008) of Black consciousness and Black empowerment in the country. I’d be happy to share a good time to go, the majority Black areas of the country, fun things to do and Black festivals to attend. Please feel free to contact me. Sending well wishes & good luck!

    1. Hi Sade,

      Thanks for your message. I would absolutely love to connect with you on Venezuela and any people you can connect me with on the ground to learn more.

  8. Anytime you want to visit Cape Verde let me know. I am from there but live in boston. I just started my travel journey also. Would love to connect with you.

  9. Love following your journey! If you go to Sierra Leone you have to spend time at River Number Two Beach arguably the best beach in the country and enjoy fresh lobster on the beach! And also theres a beautiful beach resort at Tokeh beach called The Place, ive heard great things about although i havent been…Sierra Leone is tough but its slowly building up..theyre trying!

  10. Let me know when you are planning to go to Venezuela so i can put you in touch with family and some friends. I have been to 46 countries so far and a fellow LSE Destiner so would love to give you a hand when you are in my home country. I am currently in Istanbul if you pass by here again! I also have a goal to visit every country but I am giving myself until retirement to tick off all of them 🙂 Melissa

  11. Gabon – back in NYC but i lived in gabon for over 10 years …. would highly recommend the Loango Lodge Resort … and Pointe Denis as well as La Lope … and not too much time in LBV …

  12. When you visit the Marshall Islands, try to go further than just the capital atoll Majuro–the outer islands can be harder to travel to because they are not set up for tourism, but they are so worth it, especially if you want to really experience the culture. Arno Atoll is the easiest to get to and has a small hotel!

    1. Hi Carol,

      Thanks for the tip! I have heard a lot about the Marshall Islands and I definitely will try to visit the outer islands if I am able to schedule it properly. Fingers crossed!

  13. I really cannot wait for you to finish this goal so we can all throw a huge party. It’s amazing! I’ve lived in China for 4 years (I’m Ugandan) and for tips for what to do, I’d say whatever suits your fancy there are so many amazing places to see in China. I’d say though that knowing how visa fees pile up some tips from my budgeting self would be, to visit South Korea, there’s an amazing island that is visa-free for most nationals it’s Jeju amazing destination for Korean beauty enthusiasts, and amazing air, Seoul does have the Korean vibe though and is also visa-free ish for American passport holders. Hong Kong and Macau aren’t mentioned as territories for you so if getting into China is hard for you, you could do those as your China trip, as they’re visa-free for most passports. I will say though that recently many American passport holders do get 10 years multiple entry tourist visas when they apply to visit china so it’s worth it applying to get into mainland china. Also it’d be advisable to do Russia and Mongolia when you do China because it’s not too difficult to connect there and is much cheaper from China. Another tip is that for the World Cup this year, Russia is offering a visa-free entry for fans to visit. But it’s also likely that you already have your summer planned out.

    1. Thank you so much Angela for all of the tips! I am definitely going to go to mainland China. I have already been to Hong Kong and loved it, but for me I would never count that as visiting “China” as they are culturally distinctly different. Looking forward to getting through the rest of these countries!

  14. Well done, Jessica. What an inspiration! As for the remaining spots on your list, I spent a summer in Jordan years ago – be sure to visit Jerash and of course Petra. I randomly also visited Syria and the beautiful city of Damascus. I fell in love, especially the ancient market. However, I’m not sure about the security at the moment. For Ecuador, I’m sure you will want to hit the Galapagos Islands, however I really appreciated the cloud forest outside of Quito, and Cotopaxi (an active volcano you can hike around). I’m based in France, although looks like you have ticked it off your list. Let us know when you are in Andorra, it’s nearby! And love you are from tha D. Whaddap doe!?

    1. Hi Aman,

      Thanks so much for your recommendations. I am really looking forward to getting to those countries. Andorra is coming up this summer which is when I will finish the remaining European countries. Haha. I love that there are so many people from Detroit out in the world!

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