Countries that didnt Exist 25 years Ago

Countries that didnt Exist 25 years Ago

1 . Czech Republic

Following Czechoslovakia s Velvet Revolution in 1989, the Czech Republic and Slovakia finally sealed their Velvet Divorce in 1993. Now, Prague neighborhoods like elegant Vinohrady and energetic ?i?kov are buzzing, and a country full of emerging microbreweries proves there s more to Czech beer than Pilsner Urquell or Budvar. Add virtue to these delicious liquid vices by cycling and hiking through the idiosyncratic landscapes of Bohemian Switzerland or the ?esk? r j region. Away from bustling Prague, discover quieter provincial gems like Olomouc, Tel? and Loket, all still retaining the essence of Bohemian and Moravian culture.

2 . East Timor

East Timor finally achieved independence in 2002, 27 strife torn and tragic years after initially declaring independence from Indonesia in 1975. Visitors will be rewarded with an intensely warm welcome from the locals. The easygoing capital Dili is a hub for thirsty UN and NGO staff looking for new drinking buddies, and across on sleepy Atauro Island, a fledgling ecotourism scene supports hiking and diving. Explore East Timor s Portuguese heritage amid the faded colonial architecture of Baucau, and check travel advisories on the country s security situation before leaving home.

3 . Eritrea

An addictive combination of sleepy African vibes, suberb coffee and an Italian colonial past also showcases cubist, expressionist and futurist architecture in the Eritrean capital of Asmara. In nearby Massawa, centuries old Islamic buildings linger in narrow, labyrinthine streets, and the port is the departure point to diving amid Red Sea corals in the Dahlak Archipelago. Tensions are still rife between Eritrea and Ethiopia, so be sure to check current travel advisories carefully.

4 . Slovakia

Following Slovakia s independence in 1993, Bratislava seems in no hurry to become a bustling Central European metropolis, and the cool cafes and bars of the Slovakian capital s beautifully preserved old town are still largely tourist free

5 . Palau

Swim with 10 million jellyfish in Palau s renowned Jellyfish Lake

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. Other essential musical thrills include the annual Exit Festival recent acts have included the Chemical Brothers, Patti Smith and Kraftwerk

7 . Bosnia & Hercegovina

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 centre for the arts. The annual summer festival Nights of Bascarsija showcases music, art and dance in Sarajevo s compact Ottoman quarter, and the Sarajevo Film Festival is one of Europe s most important. Poignant memories of the Balkan Wars include Mostar s reconstructed bridge. Bosnia & Hercegovina is an emerging adventure tourism destination, with excellent whitewater rafting on the Una and Neretva rivers.

8 . Kazahkstan

Fuelled by revenues from copious oil and gas reserves, Almaty and Astana have emerged as modern day boomtowns from the Central Asian steppe. But the nomadic roots of Kazakhstan, which gained independence from Moscow in 1991, are still celebrated with one of the world s more er interesting cuisines. How does beshbarmak (an offal stew) and horsemeat sausage washed down with a shot of vodka sound? Celebrate the coming of spring with dancing, Kazakh food and equestrian events at the festival of Nauryz in late March.

9 . Montenegro

Despite Montenegro (which split from Serbia in 2006) being the smallest piece of the Balkans jigsaw, the rugged country packs in a geography textbook of natural features and spectacles. The country s eponymous

10 . Kosovo

Kosovo declared unilateral independence from Serbia in 2008, and though almost 70 other nations including the US, Germany and the UK accept Kosovo as an independent state, UN membership remains elusive due to the veto trumping machinations of the Security Council. Accommodation prices can be relatively high, so this is definitely one for the true country collectors out there. In the Kosovar capital of Pristina, visit Bill Clinton Blvd, complete with a giant billboard of the former US president.