Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Guess Which 6 Countries Have No Airports

This is from one of the five countries without an airport. Creative Commons photo by Marcok.  

Yes, such countries do actually exist. There are six of them, five of them are tiny and in Europe. Four of them are inside or very close to Italy. The other 192 countries of the world have at least one commercial airport each. The world's most international airline flies to 106 of them.

The six countries in question do however all have at least one heliport, so you can technically still fly to all of them given that you have easy access to a chopper. You want to guess which six countries? They follow beneath the photograph.

France is not among the six countries without any operational airports. Can you guess which ones?

Andorra, 85,082 inhabitants on 467.63 square kilometers
The landlocked country between Spain and France has long been a heaven for shoppers looking to avoid paying taxes on their bargains. The country is by far big enough for an airport, but the mountains it is located in would make landing conditions rather challenging if one were to be built. There are three heliports in the little country in the Pyrenees. Andorra is the only one of these five European countries which is not within striking distance from Italy.

Liechtenstein, 36,281 inhabitants on 160 square kilometers
Liechtenstein is the only double landlocked country in the world without an airport. Then again, only one other double landlocked country exists; Uzbekistan. The nearest major airport is Zurich Airport, although a heliport in the town of Balzers makes a flying entry possible. Liechtenstein is located between Austria and Switzerlandm, yet only about 70 kilometers from Italy. 

Monaco, 36,371 inhabitants on 2.02 square kilometers
This is one of the two airport free country that is not landlocked. The rich, famous, pretty, powerful and wannabe-all-of-the-above usually fly in to Nice in France and go by car, limo, bus, train or helicopter (budget and weather dependant) to what is the most densely populated country in the world. There is theoretically space for an airport in Monaco, but the 17,676 inhabitants per square kilometer would be rather reluctant to squeeze even tighter together to fit one in. One heliport will have to do. If worst comes to worst, an aircraft carrier or two can always make up a runway off the coast. 

Palestine 4,260,636 inhabitants on 6,220 square kilometers
This is the only country of any size on the list. It is also the only non-European country without a functioning airport and the only country with a sizeable population. Yasser Arafat International Airport in the Gaza strip was operational until 2001, but closed down after being damaged by Israeli forces and then further damaged by locals using the gravel underneath the runway for building materials. All official traffic in and out of Palestine is being carefully monitored by Israel, and the likelyhood of any Palestinian airport opening anytime soon is limited. Palestine's West Bank is landlocked, but not the Gaza strip. There is a heliport in Ramallah. Tel Aviv Ben Gurion in Israel is the nearest airport for most Palestinians, but they may not be allowed to fly from it.

San Marino 32,404 inhabitants on 61.2 square kilometers
One of the two countries fully surrounded by Italy is located only a few kilometers from Federico Fellini International Airport in Rimini, and doesn't need its own. A little grass runway and a heliport can cater for tiny aircrafts and helicopters, but no commercial services. 

The Vatican, 836 inhabitants on 0.44 square kilometers 
The smallest country in the world with regards to both area and population has no airport. There isn't room for one even if the Pope should command that St Peter's Basilica and Sistine Chapel were to be demolished to fit one in. The 0.44 square kilometers just won't do. Mates of the Pope may still use the papal heliport in the Gardens of Vatican City to the very west of the country. You don't know the Pope? Well, then you're just going to have to fly into one of Rome's airports. 

How many did you guess? Palestine is the one most people seem to forget.