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The Least Visited Country In The World Is A Hidden Gem

Time to book your flight.

08/23/2017 12:26 EDT | Updated 08/23/2017 15:39 EDT

An ideal vacation for many is one that includes gorgeous beaches, warm weather, delicious cuisine and rich, cultural sites. But surprisingly, one South Pacific island that has all these factors was actually deemed the least-visited destination in the world.

The island of Tuvalu only attracted 2,000 tourists last year, despite its closest neighbour, the island of Kiribati, attracting more than double that at 5,000, according to a report by the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO). In comparison, France was the top destination in 2016, welcoming 82.6 million tourists in 12 months.

Tuvalu is located in the south Pacific Ocean, roughly halfway between Hawaii and Australia, and just two hours north of Fiji. While its small landmass and remoteness are likely why the destination has fallen off the world's radar, it's actually a damn shame that not more people know about this hidden gem.

Dubbed a "Polynesian paradise" by the Telegraph U.K., Tuvalu is a picture-perfect island whose white-sand beaches are lined with palm trees and surrounded by marbled-blue waters.

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While the island has few architectural marvels, the Telegraph notes, its beauty lies in its stunning landscapes and magnificent coral reefs, as well as its rich Polynesian culture.

Local traditions are kept alive by the island's population of 11,000 people. Tourists can experience traditional dance and song, called fatele, as well as woodcarving, basket weaving, and games of kilikiti, the island's variation of cricket.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are likely the most famous people to have visited Tuvalu in the past few years. In 2012, the royal couple travelled to the island as part of their Asian and Pacific tour.

While there, the couple wore flower crowns and handcrafted skirts as they immersed themselves in the island's culture and partook in traditional song and dance.

Samir Hussein via Getty Images
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge dance with local ladies at a Vaiku Falekaupule Ceremony during the Royal couple's tour of the Far East in 2012 in Funafuti, Tuvalu. (Photo by Samir Hussein/WireImage)

If that's not enough to convince you to add Tuvalu to your bucket list, then just note that the island may not be around forever. The vacation spot was listed by the UN as one of the islands most likely to disappear in the 21st century due to global warming. Since sea levels have been on the rise, that means Tuvalu could become fully submerged in the future.

Unfortunately, flights to Tuvalu can be pretty costly and inconvenient, since Air Fiji is the only airline that operates at Tuvalu's Funafuti International Airport. That means most visitors would have to fly to Suva, Fiji first before catching another flight to Funafuti, the island's capital, and flights from Vancouver, for example, cost upwards of $1,000.

But hey, it's still something to put on the bucket list.

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