Senior Travel to Ten New Nations

Apr 21st, 2011 | By James E Becker | Category: Senior Travel

Seniors, in for a little adventure?  Since the late 1980s there have been least 10 new countries appear on the global map from the Horn of Africa to the Pacific. Lonely Planet put together information about 10 new nations that are worth a visit, either for their tormented history, stunning scenery or rich culture. Countries like the Czech Republic and Slovakia, which came about because of Czechoslovakia’s Velvet Revolution. Or Serbia’s emergence after the demise of Yugoslavia in 1990. 

(1) Czech Republic: Following Czechoslovakia’s Velvet Revolution in 1989, the Czech Republic and Slovakia finally sealed their Velvet Divorce in 1993. Less than 20 years on, Prague neighborhoods like elegant Vinohrady and energetic Žižkov are buzzing, and a country full of emerging microbreweries proves there’s more to Czech beer than Pilsner Urquell or Budvar.  Worth the trip just for the Czech beer. 

(2) East Timor: The 21st-century’s newest nation finally achieved independence in 2002, 27 strife-torn and tragic years after initially declaring independence from Indonesia in 1975. Look forward to basic roads and infrastructure, but be rewarded with an intensely warm welcome from the locals. A country of the western Pacific Ocean made up of the eastern part of the island of Timor, a small coastal enclave in the western part, and one offshore island. It was an overseas province of Portugal from 1914 until 1975 and was annexed by Indonesia in 1976. East Timor voted for independence in 1999 and achieved full independence in 2002. Dili is the capital. Population: 1,080,000. 

(3) Eritrea: How far would you go for a really, really good coffee? What if it was a superb macchiato served in an art deco cafe in an exotic country in the Horn of Africa? An addictive combination of sleepy African vibes and an Italian colonial past also showcases cubist, expressionist and futurist architecture in the Eritrean capital of Asmara. A country of northeast Africa bordering on the Red Sea. Once part of the Ethiopian kingdom of Aksum, it became an Italian colony in 1890 and was named after the Roman term for the Red Sea, Mare erythraeum. Captured by the British during World War II, Eritrea later became a federated part (1952) and then a province (1962) of Ethiopia, from which it gained its independence in 1993. Asmara is the capital and largest city. Population: 4,910,000. 

(4) Slovakia: In a region crammed with dramatic castles, Slovakia‘s Spiš Castle trumps most with an audacious hilltop location and craggy towers and gloomy dungeons straight from a Hammer horror flick. Visit in summer for a full program of events including concerts and mock battles. 

(5) Palau: How many jellyfish are just enough? How about 10 million, especially when you’re swimming with them in Palau‘s renowned Jellyfish Lake? (Don’t worry, the local species have evolved with an absence of stingers). With a population of just 20,000, one of the world’s newest countries is also one of the smallest. The tiny island nation of Palau showcases some of the Pacific’s best diving opportunities with more than 60 vertical drop-offs. A nation consisting of about 200 islands and islets in the Caroline Islands of the western Pacific Ocean. The capital is Melekeok. Population: 20,800. 

(6) Serbia: Following the dissolution of Yugoslavia from 1990, Serbia has been less open to travelers than neighboring Croatia or nearby Slovenia. Now Belgrade’s gritty cityscape and Europe’s most energetic nightlife scene are attracting a vanguard of curious expat residents and intrepid visitors. It’s probably your best chance to experience what Prague was like following the fall of communism in 1989. A republic of southeast Europe on the northern Balkan peninsula. Serbs settled the region in the 6th century and formed an independent kingdom in the 13th century. Dominated by the Ottoman Empire after 1389, Serbia did not regain its independence until 1878. The new kingdom of Serbia expanded its territory during the Balkan wars (1912-1913). After the disintegration of Yugoslavia in the 1990s, Serbia remained united to Montenegro until 2006, when the two became separate republics. Population: 8,300,000. 

(7) Bosnia & Hercigovina: For centuries Sarajevo was on the fault line of religion, culture and history, and in today’s capital of Bosnia & Hercegovina, mosques, churches and synagogues all huddle beside each other and the Neretva River. The city has emerged from the dark days of the siege of Sarajevo from 1992 to 1996 as an inclusive and collaborative center for the arts. 

(8) Kazakhstan: Was the inaccurate depiction of Kazakhstan by Borat a few years ago a blessing or a curse? The film certainly lifted brand awareness for the Central Asian republic made independent from Moscow in December 1991, but the planet’s ninth-largest country remains a mystery to most. A country of west-central Asia south of Russia and northeast of the Caspian Sea. The original Turkic inhabitants were overrun by the Mongols in the 13th century and ruled by various khanates until the Russian conquest of 1730 to 1853. The region became an autonomous republic of the USSR in 1920 and was a constituent republic from 1936 to 1991, when it gained its independence. Astana is the capital and Almaty the largest city. Population: 15,300,000. Not long ago Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made a special trip to Kazakhstan just to let its people know of its importance to the USA. 

(9) Montenegro: The denouement of the inevitable dissolution of Yugoslavia came in June 2006 when the citizens of tiny Montenegro voted to separate from the federation of Serbia and Montenegro. Despite Montenegro being the smallest piece of the Balkans jigsaw, the rugged country packs in a geography textbook of natural features and spectacles. Montenegro’s tourism suffered greatly from Yugoslavia’s tragic civil war in the 1990s. In recent years, along with the stabilized situation in the region, tourism in Montenegro has begun to recover, and Montenegro is being re-discovered by tourists from around the globe. In 2007, the country received peak level of tourism which almost reached pre-war volumes. As a result, many roads have been renovated (reducing driving time) and many hotels have been constructed or renovated. 

(10) Kosovo: Consider the evidence. Kosovo declared unilateral independence from Serbia in 2008, but Kosovo’s closest neighbor refuses to accept the declaration. China and Russia agree with Serbia, but almost 70 other nations including the US, Germany and the UK accept Kosovo as an independent state. Membership of the World Bank and the IMF are a given, but UN membership remains elusive due to the veto-trumping machinations of the Security Council. The presence of the UN and NGOs keeps accommodation prices relatively high, so this is definitely one for the true country collectors out there. 

More details are available in this Huffington Post article.   jeb   

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