The World's Most Amazing Countries That Aren't (Yet) Countries

These places might not technically be countries, but you should still visit them

National borders, particularly in the era of the E.U., ASEAN and other unified steps toward global integration, are quickly becoming irrelevant. Soon, we might not have to heed John Lennon's request to "imagine there's no countries," although for the purposes of travel, it's much simpler to break down journeys into those based on country.

And yet, officially speaking, some of the most captivating destinations on Earth have not yet reached country status, although globalism notwithstanding, they meet the cultural, linguistic and historical thresholds to do so. Here are some of my favorite not-yet-countries.

  • 01 of 05

    Palestine

    Palestine-Sunset.jpg
    Robert Schrader

    The story on Palestine is different, depending on who you ask. For many Arabs, Palestine is and always has been the land between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea. For certain Jews (and, especially, Israelis) Palestine doesn't exist at all. Officially speaking, Palestine has never had independence in modern times, although that may soon change.

    Regardless, Palestine is an incredible place to visit, whether you see historical places like Jericho and Bethelem, natural wonders like the Dead Sea and the Judean Desert or simply let the hospitality of the Palestinians wash over you. Here's how to visit Palestine.

  • 02 of 05

    Kashmir

    Kashmir
    Mutaza Mahmoud via Creative Commons

    Speaking of places memorialized in songs of the classic rock era, the Indian (er, Pakistani?) region of Kashmir (that's Led Zeppelin, for you young'ns) is definitely worth your time. A mountainous place replete with hiking, winter sports and, reputedly, some of the kindest people on the planet, it's no wonder two superpowers were willing to go to nuclear war over Kashmir.

    Actually, wait – there's no excuse for that.

  • 03 of 05

    Nagorno-Karabakh

    Nagorno-Karabakh_Occupation_Map.png
    Marshall Bagramayan

    Echoing the dispute between Israel and Palestine, both historically and geographically, is the dispute between Armenia and Azerbaijan about the extremely tiny region of Nagorno-Karabakh. Although Azerbaijan officially claims control of the territory, if you want to travel into it, you must do so from within Armenia.

  • 04 of 05

    Kurdistan

    Canyon in Kurdistan
    Jim Gordon, via Wikimedia Commons

    The term "The Kurds" is thrown around a lot in the media, usually as a pawn for some politicians. The first George Bush, for example, used Saddam Hussein's genocide against the Kurds as part of his rationale for the first Iraq War. As ISIS – a non-country I definitely don't recommend you visit – expands voraciously throughout former Iraq and Syria, calls have begun for the Kurds to have their own state in the region. 

    Whether this will happen or not is anyone's guess, but at some point (preferably after this latest round of conflict is over), you should add Kurdistan to your bucket list.

    Continue to 5 of 5 below.
  • 05 of 05

    Taiwan

    Taipei.jpg
    Chris via Flickr

    A few years ago, when I was teaching English in China, I made what could've been a deportation level mistake with my students one day.

    "The Republic of China," I explained, as I attempted to show what the word "disambiguate" meant, "versus the People's Republic of China. Taiwan versus China. Taipei versus Beijing. They're different countries, see?"

    They didn't see – as far as China and the Chinese are concerned, Taiwan is territory that belongs to them.

    Indeed, although Americans and Europeans tend to think of Taiwan as a sovereign state, and several dozen countries have diplomatic and military relations with the so-called Republic of China, Taiwan is not officially an independent nation yet.

    Of all these not-quite-countries, however, Taiwan is by far the most modern and easy to visit. It has two "national" airlines (EVA Air and China Airlines), an award-winning international airport and a location that's smack dab in the middle of basically everywhere else you would want to visit in Asia.

    What's not to love? I mean, if you're not a person from mainland China.