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My Journey to Every Country in the World

Black female traveler at Tiger's Nest Bhutan

Tiger’s Nest Bhutan – August 2019

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 recently completed a journey to visit every country in the world, so I have to keep count! Upon completion, I became the first documented black woman to travel to every country 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. 

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. 

What are territories?

Territories are places in the world that do not have sovereignty and still “belong” to the country that colonized them, e.g. Martinique = France, Canary Islands = Spain, the Cayman Islands = United Kingdom and Curaçao = The Netherlands. I have been to 9 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.

Countries Visited By Year of First Visit with Links to Proof of Visit 

1. United States 

1988

2. Canada 

1991

3. United Kingdom 

4. Uganda

1996

5. Jamaica 

1998

6. The Bahamas

1999

7. Mexico

2007

8. France

9. Spain

2008

10. Japan

2009

11. Honduras 

12. Australia

13. Fiji

14. Costa Rica

15. Netherlands

16. Turkey

17. Egypt

2010

18. Belgium

19. Malta

20. Switzerland 

21. Czech Republic

22. Croatia

23. Montenegro 

24. Sweden

25. Italy

26. Vatican City

27. Benin

28. Togo 

29. Ghana

2011

30. Greece

31. Germany

32. Hungary 

2012

33. Oman

2013

34. Argentina

35. Uruguay 

36. Brazil

37. Ethiopia

38. Kenya

39. Iceland

2014

40. Portugal 

41. Senegal 

42. Panama 

43. Saint Lucia 

44. Colombia

45. Denmark

2015

46. Haiti

47. United Arab Emirates 

48. Thailand

49. Laos

50. Cambodia

51. Vietnam 

52. Singapore 

53. Finland 

54. Rwanda

2016

55. Peru

56. Cuba

57. Luxembourg

58. Ireland

59. Norway

2017

60. Indonesia

61. Malaysia

62. Morocco

63. Grenada

64. Djibouti

65. Tanzania

66. Bahrain

67. Qatar 

68. Liechtenstein

69. Austria 

70. Slovakia

71. Ukraine

72. Moldova 

73. Romania

74. Serbia

75. Slovenia

76. Tunisia 

77. San Marino

78. Bulgaria

79. Macedonia

80. Albania

81. Bosnia and Herzegovina 

82. Belize

83. Guatemala

84. El Salvador

85. Nicaragua

86. Sri Lanka

87. Maldives

88. India

89. Nepal

90. Bangladesh

91. South Africa

92. Mozambique

93. Zimbabwe

94. Zambia

95. Namibia

96. Sudan

2018

97. Botswana

98. Lesotho

99. Swaziland

100. Antigua and Barbuda

101. Saint Kitts and Nevis

102. Dominican Republic

103. Philippines

104. Brunei

105. Timor-Leste

106. Gambia

107. Côte d’Ivoire

108. Nigeria

109. Guyana

110. Suriname

111. Barbados

112. Dominica

113. Saint Vincent and the Grenadines

114. Andorra

115. Monaco

116. Poland

117. Lithuania

118. Estonia

119. Latvia

120. Kyrgyzstan

121. Kazakhstan

122. Uzbekistan

123. Afghanistan

124. Tajikistan

125. Armenia

126. Ecuador

127. Bolivia

128. Paraguay

129. Chile

130. Papua New Guinea 

131. Solomon Islands 

132. Nauru

133. Marshall Islands 

134. Kiribati 

135. Lebanon

136. Cyprus

137. Israel

138. Palestine

139. Jordan 

140. Kuwait

141. China

142. North Korea 

143. Mauritius 

144. Madagascar

145. Comoros

146. Saudi Arabia

147. Somaliland

148. Eritrea

149. Burundi

2019

150. South Sudan 

151. Malawi

152. Libya 

153. Mauritania 

154. Mali 

155. Niger 

156. Burkina Faso 

157. Trinidad and Tobago

158. Myanmar

159. Iran

160. Iraq

161. Yemen

162. Central African Republic 

163. Turkmenistan 

164. Azerbaijan

165. Georgia 

166. Belarus 

167. Russia 

168. Guinea-Bissau

169. Guinea 

170. Cabo Verde

171. Chad

172. Cameroon 

173. Equatorial Guinea

174. Gabon 

175. Republic of Congo 

176. Democratic Republic of Congo 

177. Angola

178. São Tomé and Principe 

179. Sierra Leone 

180. Liberia

181. Samoa 

182. Tonga 

183. New Zealand 

184. Vanuatu 

185. Tuvalu 

186. Micronesia 

187. Palau

188. South Korea 

189. Mongolia 

190. Bhutan 

191. Pakistan

192. Venezuela

193. Algeria

194. Syria

195. Seychelles

Territories Visited 

  1. Cayman Islands
  2. England
  3. Hong Kong
  4. Kosovo
  5. Puerto Rico
  6. Saint Martin 
  7. Sint Maarten

Entered With Ugandan Passport 

  1. Antigua and Barbuda 
  2. Barbados
  3. Belize
  4. Bolivia
  5. Burundi 
  6. Comoros
  7. Côte d’Ivoire
  8. Djibouti
  9. Dominica
  10. Ecuador
  11. Eritrea
  12. Ethiopia
  13. Fiji 
  14. Gambia
  15. Ghana 
  16. Haiti 
  17. India
  18. Indonesia 
  19. Iran 
  20. Kenya
  21. Madagascar
  22. Malawi 
  23. Maldives
  24. Mali
  25. Mauritania 
  26. Mauritius 
  27. Micronesia 
  28. Mozambique
  29. Nepal
  30. Nigeria
  31. North Korea
  32. Philippines 
  33. Saint Kitts and Nevis 
  34. Saint Vincent and the Grenadines 
  35. Senegal
  36. Seychelles
  37. Sierra Leone
  38. South Sudan
  39. Sri Lanka
  40. Sudan 
  41. Tanzania 
  42. Timor-Leste
  43. Tuvalu
  44. Venezuela
  45. Zambia
  46. Zimbabwe 

Traveled to Solo 

  1. Algeria
  2. Andorra 
  3. Angola
  4. Argentina
  5. Azerbaijan
  6. Belize
  7. Bhutan 
  8. Bolivia
  9. Brazil
  10. Brunei 
  11. Burkina Faso 
  12. Burundi
  13. Cambodia
  14. Cameroon
  15. Central African Republic 
  16. Chad
  17. Chile 
  18. China
  19. Colombia
  20. Congo, Republic of 
  21. Congo, DR
  22. Costa Rica
  23. Côte d’Ivoire
  24. Dominica 
  25. Ecuador
  26. El Salvador
  27. Equatorial Guinea 
  28. Eritrea
  29. Estonia
  30. Ethiopia 
  31. Ghana 
  32. Grenada
  33. Guinea-Bissau 
  34. Guatemala
  35. Guyana
  36. India 
  37. Indonesia
  38. Iran 
  39. Iraq
  40. Jordan
  41. Kenya
  42. Laos
  43. Latvia
  44. Lebanon
  45. Liberia
  46. Libya 
  47. Lithuania 
  48. Luxembourg
  49. Malawi 
  50. Mali
  51. Mauritania 
  52. Micronesia 
  53. Moldova
  54. Monaco
  55. Mongolia 
  56. New Zealand 
  57. Nicaragua
  58. Niger
  59. Oman
  60. Pakistan
  61. Palau 
  62. Paraguay
  63. Phillippines
  64. Poland 
  65. Portugal
  66. Romania
  67. Russia
  68. Saint Kitts and Nevis
  69. Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
  70. Samoa 
  71. São Tomé and Principe
  72. Serbia  
  73. Sierra Leone
  74. Slovenia
  75. Spain 
  76. Somalia 
  77. South Korea
  78. South Sudan 
  79. Thailand
  80. Timor-Leste 
  81. Tonga
  82. Turkmenistan 
  83. Tuvalu 
  84. United Arab Emirates 
  85. Vanuatu 
  86. Venezuela
  87. Vietnam
  88. Yemen 
 
Territories 
  1. Martinique

 

 

 

This Post Has 55 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!

  15. You should definitely visit Trinidad & Tobago for Carnival! Such a fun time, it’ll be well worth it. This is usually is February or March

  16. Congratulations on your travels and I look forward to seeing more from you.

    Just a point of clarification, the following aren’t considered part of north america, that covers US and Canada (especially since historically they belonged to the British). The below islands are part of the West Indies and/or Caribbean
    1. Barbados
    2. Dominica
    3. Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
    4. Trinidad and Tobago

    1. Hi Abe,

      Thank you so much for your comments! The Caribbean is actually consider part of North America, as is Central America. There are 23 sovereign countries in North America, not just the United States and Canada.

  17. Hi Jessica I am loving following your journey! For Malawi there are loads of great things to do. Lake Malawi is beautiful- the Cape Maclear area to the south of the lake is a great place to stay. There are huge tea plantations in the south of the country- Satemwa produces great tea and coffee. This is near to Zimbabwe, a busy city in the south and also near to Mount Mulanje. Liwonde National Park is an amazing safari location and is even good for just one nights stay. There is a small area called Dedza about halfway between the lake and the capital where beautiful pottery is made and a great small business where a local guy collects all waste paper from schools and businesses in the capital and recycles it all by hand to make amazing patterned and textured paper that is made into cards and notebooks. I have family that live in the capital Lilongwe and I can’t wait to return to visit them again and to visit more of the country- Malawi is affectionately known as the warm heart of Africa and you truly feel this when you are there x

    1. Hi Isabella, Thanks so much for the Malawi tips. I am super excited to get there in the next few months. And it is bonus that I actually have friends in Malawi as well!

  18. On the Africa list .You forgot to add South Africa , you were here last year . You are indeed halfway there and what amazing achievements so far . Shoutout to the photographer(s) your images are always ,always amazing .

    1. Hello Didimalo! Thank you for your comments. I did not forget South Africa. This is the list of countries that I have remaining to visit! Thanks so much for following my journey.

  19. I told u before when you go to Ecuador in South America goes to esmeraldas at north these place majority population is black ecuadorian they will feel very good to see u, because there are discrimination and you can help to feel proud

  20. I am such a fan!! I enjoy following you on IG. My husband and I have two kids and we totally relate to your stories of being a black traveler. We are often the only ones in sight. We are currently exploring New Zealand as part of our summer travels. Shout out to Elton for the awesome pictures!!

  21. Hi! I’m a British Nigerian living and working in Kuwait. Feel free to contact me if you need any recommendations or even someone to show you around 🙂

  22. Hi Jessica
    I am Ugandan as well, and I love the fact that your doing this and breaking down all these barriers and you know that the hardest boarder to cross is the US boarder but thank you for showing the world that we are all the same the lines in our head Also thank you for helping Uganda share the glory with the US it’s not everyday that happens

  23. When you go to China, it is a magnificent and diverse country. Of course, there are the regular tourist sites such as Beijing, the Great Wall, Shanghai, Macau, and Hong Kong, but there is so much more to discover being the largest country in the world. In Beijing there is a large and beautiful plaza with shops and numerous museums and historical buildings, such as the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square. In Xian there are the terracotta warriors. There is the Wudang mountains, with majestic temples and the spiritual home of kung fu and tai chi. The Zhangjiajie National Forest Park have unique natural formations that are like no other. In Chengdu there are panda sanctuaries where you can visit pandas. There is also the Grand Canal, a man made canal that is the longest and oldest of its kind. There are the Four Sacred Mountains of China with beautiful Buddhist temples. Wudanlianchi has a mountain with a lake at its peak. Da Hinggan Ling has beautiful and majestic valleys. Hainan has beautiful beaches. Yinxing is the first capital of China and is also worth visiting. Danxia has very colorful mountains that you will se nowhere else. The Helan Mountains have prehistoric carvings. The Tien Shan Mountains and the Himalaya Mountains are among the tallest in the world. The Huangshan Mountains have a unique hiking trail that are attached to the side of the mountain itself. The Gobi Desert is also worth visiting as it contains the western end of the Great Wall of China. The eastern end of the Great Wall known as the Shanhai Pass is where the Great Wall meats the ocean.

    Be sure to visit Xinjiang and Tibet, majestic parts of China that are often unseen.
    Xinjiang is the Turkic region of China, and has a separate culture of its own, inhabited by the Uyghur peoples. The cities of Kashgar and Urumqi have a feel that is of the Near East, with numerous historical buildings and markets resembling Central Asia and Turkey. Nearby are the Jiaohe Ruins and the Thousand Buddha Caves, also worth visiting. In between Kashgar and Urumqi there are more historic places. North of Urumqi there is Altay, situated by the large crescent shaped Kanas Lake.

    In Tibet there is Lhasa, where the Poatala Palace, the former home of the Dalai Lama is located. There is also the Chinese side of Mt. Everest where there are beautiful monasteries.

    If you go to China during the winter, be sure to go to Jilin as you will see unique tree formations.

    There is simply too much to describe all of China, so I suggest you go to China and experience the wonders yourself!

  24. Hi Jessica, I’ve been following your journey on IG and loving all the posts and stories that go along with them. Are you planning to visit territories at some point? If so, check out Bermuda, it’s the oldest British Overseas Territory. It’s where I live, and anytime between end of May – beginning of Sept are the best times to visit. Happy traveling!

    1. Hi Schinel! I do not have any immediate plans to visit every country in the world but should I decide to I will definitely make my way to Bermuda!

  25. I just discovered you and i am simply shocked how hardworking you are! You already are a historymaker and i wish all the best for the journey! I am from Georgia (country) and i hope you come here soon! I’d be glad to meet you too. Trust me this country has just started to mark its name. Fascinating nature and culture, post soviet lifestyle, mouthwatering national food…. i guess i’ll never finish. You will love this country the moment you enter here…because that’s the country that loves you back. We Georgians are looking forward to your visit asap.

    1. Thank you so much Tako! I do not know when I will be in Georgia but I am very excited to visit as I have heard amazing things!

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