Some countries are more accessible than others. Your passport situation plays a role. But so do the options for actually getting to the country in question. Americans can catch flights to many European spots, for instance. But one of the biggest challenges for travelers? Trying to visit countries that don’t have airports, like all of these gorgeous destinations. One mountainous country hidden in Europe is worth the difficult journey (page 9).
- Location: Europe
- Language: French
Monaco is the second-smallest country in the world, according to Reader’s Digest. So it’s unsurprising that the wealthy city-state on France’s Mediterranean coastline lacks an airport. Lonely Planet calls Monaco “a magnet for high-rollers and hedonists since the early 20th century.” You may also know it as a tax haven or the home of the Formula One Grand Prix. To visit the tiny country, you need to fly into France’s Nice Côte d’Azur International Airport, which is a 25-minute car ride away fromto Monaco.
Next: This state declared its independence, but doesn’t have a functioning airport.
2. Republic of Artsakh
- Location: In the South Caucasus between Eastern Europe and Western Asia
- Language: Armenian
The Republic of Artsakh, formerly known as the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, a state with limited recognition in the South Caucasus. (It declared independence, but it’s internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan, which remains in dispute with Armenia and Artsakh’s Armenian ethnic majority over the territory.) Artsakh technically does have an airport in Stepanakert. But nobody has flown in or out of it since 1992.
Next: This gorgeous remote territory is only accessible by boat.
3. Pitcairn Islands
- Location: In the southern Pacific Ocean
- Language: English and Pitcairnese
The Pitcairn Islands consist of four volcanic islands that comprise the last British Overseas Territory in the South Pacific. The Telegraph notes that it’s famous for being settled by mutineers from HMS Bounty. But the territory’s population has dwindled over the decades, and as of 2015, authorities counted fewer than 50 people living on Pitcairn, the only inhabited island in the territory. Pitcairn doesn’t have an airport or even an airstrip; it’s accessible only by sea.
Next: This state had four airports until its borders got muddled.
4. State of Palestine
- Location: Middle East
- Language: Arabic
Palestine is technically a de jure state that claims the West Bank and Gaza Strip, with East Jerusalem as its capital. But Israel has occupied most of the areas claimed by Palestine since the 1960s. Reader’s Digest notes there are no airports located within Palestine. In fact, four airports once existed within the Palestinian territories, but all are defunct. Fortunately, Ben Gurion International Airport in Israel is only 26 miles from Bethlehem.
Next: This territory lies more than a day’s journey from its closest neighbor.
- Location: South Pacific
- Language: Tokelauan and English
A dependent territory of New Zealand, this island country consists of three far-flung coral atolls, Atafu, Nukunonu, and Fakaofo. Located between New Zealand and Hawaii, Tokelau “has few physical links with the wider world,” the BBC explains. “There is no airport and it takes more than a day at sea to reach its southern neighbor, Samoa.” More than 1,500 islanders depend on subsistence farming to survive, and Tokelau’s main industry is fishing.
Next: This territory has an identity crisis — and no airports.
- Location: Between Moldova and Ukraine
- Language: Russian, Moldovan, and Ukrainian
Transnistria goes by many names, including the preferred Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic. Wired characterizes it as a “thin strip of land wedged between Moldova and Ukraine” with “all the trappings of an independent nation — but [it] isn’t.” The airport-less territory declared independence from Moldova in 1990, hoping to establish a socialist republic and remain with the Soviet Union. Since then, neither Moldova nor Russia have acknowledged Transnistria’s independence (nor has the United Nations).
Next: This beautiful little nation in Europe is within close range of an Italian airport.
7. San Marino
- Location: Within north-central Italy
- Language: Italian
Surrounded by Italian land, San Marino is among the world’s oldest republics, dating to 301 A.D. It’s also the fifth-smallest nation in the world and the sole survivor of Italy’s ancient city-state network. San Marino doesn’t have an airport. But Reader’s Digest reports that it’s located a convenient nine miles away from Federico Fellini International Airport in Rimini.
Next: Morocco wanted nothing to do with this partially recognized state.
8. Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic
- Location: Western Sahara
- Language: Arabic and Spanish
The Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, a partially recognized state, controls territory in the Western Sahara. It joins the list of countries (and territories) that don’t have airports. The BBC reports this state was a former Spanish colony, and Morocco annexed it in 1975. Since then, it remains the subject of a dispute between Morocco and the indigenous Sahrawi people.
Next: This mountainous country is hard to get to, but worth the travel.
- Location: Europe
- Official language: Catalan
Andorra, located in the mountains between France and Spain, has a great excuse for lacking an airport. “Sitting in a Pyrenees mountain range valley means building an airport runway would be difficult, so visitors can arrive through Spain or France,” Reader’s Digest notes. The closest airport to Andorra’s capital is Girona-Costa Brava Airport in Spain, but you could also travel through Toulouse, France or Barcelona, Spain. Culture Trip notes Andorra isn’t part of Europe or the Eurozone, even though it uses the Euro.
Next: This “fairy tale come to life” lacks an airport of its own.
- Location: Europe
- Official language: German
The BBC characterizes the Principality of Liechtenstein as a “tiny, doubly-landlocked country tucked away between Switzerland and Austria and with mountain slopes rising above the Rhine valley.” Lonely Planet refers to the tiny — and wealthy — nation as “a fairy tale come to life.” It has castles, mountains, and an “iron-willed monarch.” The only thing it doesn’t have? An airport. Reader’s Digest reports that to get to Liechtenstein, you’ll need to travel through Switzerland’s St. Gallen-Altenrhein Airport, 24 miles away.
Next: This disputed territory has no airports. Plus the border with one of its neighbors is closed.
11. South Ossetia
- Location: South Caucasus
- Language: Ossetian, Russian, and Georgian
Next on the list of countries (and territories) without airports of their own? South Ossetia, a disputed territory in the South Caucasus. The BBC reports that South Ossetia is officially part of Georgia and is separated from Russia’s North Ossetia region by a border high in the Caucasus Mountains. The territory has remained a source of tension since the breakup of the Soviet Union and even hosted a war between Russia and Georgia in 2008. South Ossetia depends on aid from Russia’s military. There is no airport, and the border with Georgia has closed, so you have to travel through Russia to get there.
Next: This tiny country in Europe has no airports of its own. It doesn’t even have space for them.
12. Vatican City
- Location: Within the city of Rome
- Language: Italian
Fortunately, even though Vatican City is a city-state — technically like its own country — it’s not really that difficult to get there. As Reader’s Digest notes, the 109-acre state is located within the city of Rome. As the smallest state in the world both by area and by population, it doesn’t have its own airport. But as many Americans who have traveled to Italy can tell you, you won’t have a hard time booking a trip to Rome or finding your way to Vatican City.
Next: Having no airports is rare. But what about having just one?
How many countries have just one airport?
Just 12 countries and territories around the world lack airports. As that demonstrates, most places in the world are pretty well-connected. And having zero airports within your borders is pretty rare. But you can’t say the same thing of having just one airport, especially in a small nation.
It might be hard to imagine if you’ve lived most of your life in the United States, but there are plenty of countries around the world that have only one airport. Don’t believe us? Check out these lists yourself:
- In Africa, countries with just one airport include Equatorial Guinea, São Tomé and Príncipe, Burundi, Comoros, Mauritius, Réunion, Rwanda, Seychelles, South Sudan, Uganda, Djibouti, Eritrea, Chad, Lesotho, Mayotte, Swaziland, Benin, Central African Republic, Côte d’Ivoire, Gambia, Guinea, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Sierra Leone, and Togo
Next: Even countries and territories in the Americas get by with just one airport.
There are countries in the Americas with just one airport
You don’t even have to leave the Americas to find nations and territories that have only a single airport to serve their entire population, as well as any tourists who want to travel by air to discover what their country has to offer. In the Americas, nations with just one airport include:
- Antigua and Barbuda
- Saint Barthélemy
- Saint Kitts and Nevis
- Saint Lucia
- Turks and Caicos Islands
- El Salvador
- The Falkland Islands
- French Guiana
Next: A few countries in Asia and the Middle East each have one airport, as well.
A surprising number of Asian and Middle Eastern countries has just one airport, too
It’s easy to think of Asia as a part of the world that’s pretty well connected to everything else. But in reality, you can find a number of Asian nations, as well as those in the Middle East, that have just a single airport to serve all their citizens as well as any travelers who visit. In Asia, countries with just one airport include:
- North Korea
- Hong Kong
- East Timor
In southwest Asia and the Middle East, nations with just one airport include:
Next: More than a few places in Europe have just one airport, too.
Several European countries and territories have single airports, too
Interestingly enough, a number of European countries and territories also fall on the list of places with just a single airport to serve their residents and any tourists who decide to plan a location within their borders. In Europe, countries and territories with just a single airport include:
- The Isle of Man
- The Faroe Islands
Next: In Oceania, many places get by with just one airport.
Oceania has numerous countries and territories with just one airport
Finally, Oceania is also home to a variety of countries and territories that each have just a single airport. For many, it just wouldn’t make sense to have multiple airports given their small land mass — and the remote nature of the islands that comprise them. In Oceania, nations and territories with just one airport include:
- Christmas Island
- Cook Islands
- Easter Island
- French Polynesia
- New Caledonia
- Norfolk Island
- Papua New Guinea
- The Solomon Islands
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