Travel

9 Weird Facts About the World's Most Obscure Countries

Published On 03/24/2015 Published On 03/24/2015

Did you know that there’s a country with Star Wars characters on its official currency? Or another that didn't celebrate the millennium until... 2007? The world is indeed a crazy place, but even we didn’t realize just how strange things could get until we came across this Quora thread; it details some of the most outlandish facts about some of the planet's lesser known countries.

courtesy of NZ mint

Niue uses Pokemon money, for real

The tiny Polynesian island of Niue, a sovereign state connected to New Zealand, has currency embossed with Disney, Pokemon, and Star Wars characters, among other weird pop culture references. While the New Zealand Dollar is also legal tender on the island, you can pay for anything with their awesome coins.

shutterstock

Niue also has free Wi-Fi, everywhere

And while we're here, Niue is also the world’s first and only "Wi-Fi nation." What does this mean? The entire island has Wi-Fi. And it’s free for everyone.

Wikimedia/Eric Guinther

Yap uses giant stones as currency

While not the only source of money on this small Micronesian island in the Pacific Ocean, the 8,000lb limestone discs known as Raj are still used as currency, although mostly for rituals. Yea, nobody's trading in one of these puppies for a new Kia, if that's what you're thinking. The stone's values were originally determined a number of factors, including their size, the intricacy of their carvings, and how many lives were lost bringing them to the island from Palau. In a canoe. 280mi away!

flickr/per-salomonsson/

Ladonia is nothing more than a stack of sticks

Founded by artist Lars Vilks in 1980 as an art installation made of driftwood, Ladonia is a micronation located in a nature reserve in the southwest of Sweden. When authorities threatened to destroy the project, Vilks "seceded," proclaiming Ladonia's independence from Sweden in 1996. The "country" claims 17,000 residents, but they're actually nomadic -- so none of them live anywhere near that pile of sticks.

flickr/kartografia

Penises are popular in Bhutan

The Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan is the only country to measure Gross National Happiness. Unrelated, probably: most of its houses are decorated with images of erect and often ejaculating penises. Their phallic-focused religion -- inspired by a Buddhist teacher back in the day who cleverly dispensed enlightenment "through his penis" -- believes that dong drawings ward off evil spirits and bad luck.

flickr/christopher Robbins

Nauru is a country without a capital

Nauru, an island nation in the Pacific Ocean and the world’s smallest republic, gained its independence in 1968 but doesn’t have a capital city. In fact, it doesn’t really have a city at all, just a random clusters of buildings.

Wikimedia

Tuvalu #won the Internet

The tiny country of Tuvalu, located in the middle of nowhere between Hawaii and Australia, hit the Internet jackpot when it received $50 million (half its GDP at the time) in exchange for the rights to its top-level ".tv" internet domain.

flickr/tristam sparks

Ethiopia celebrated the millennium in 2007

While not really an obscure country, Ethiopia does have an obscure quirk. Technically, it uses two calendars: one Western, one Amharic. And the Amharic version is seven years behind the rest of the world. Now, if only you could fly to Ethiopia to pull all of your money out of the stock market before the recession starts.

flickr/warren jackson

Kiribati sits in four hemispheres

The Republic of Kiribati, an island nation in the Pacific Ocean that received its independence from the United Kingdom in 1979, is the only country in the world to fall in all four hemispheres. Which is way cooler than visiting this spot in four states.


Sophie-Claire Hoeller is Thrillist's ĂĽber-efficient German associate travel editor, and has had frequent flyer status since she was born in a Lufthansa terminal. Follow her @Sohostyle

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