Sunday, April 10, 2016

How Many People Have Visited Every Country?

Kangerlussuaq in Greenland is a tiny village, but has an international airport.

I am often asked about how many other people that have visited every country. Nobody knows the exact answer, but website has a pretty good overview.

Of course, the definition of having visited varies from traveller to traveller. has two definitions: a "minimal visit" and a "good visit". A minimal visit means that you must stand with both feet on the ground in the country in questions, in an area outside an airport, train station or similar. A good visit means "experiencing at least one recognised highlight" of an area in the country. Their good visit definition is similar to my definition of having visited a country - I must have properly been in the country (outside an airport/train/train station), done something there and have a story to tell. has gathered a list of 96 people that claims to have visited every UN country, a total of 193 countries. (Whereas I count those 193 plus an additional 5, totalling at 198.) 23 of us are "verified" which means that we have proven that we have actually been to 20 randomly chosen countries. That means that the real number is probably somewhere between 23 and 96.

But there is more to consider. South Sudan vecame independent in 2011 and is the newest UN country. 63 people of the 96 people have not listed their last country and the year of visit, or their year to visit the last country is before 2011. They may of course have visited South Sudan since, but this is not indicated and may lead to questions. Some are also rather old and may not have wanting to visit South Sudan, a country that has seen a lot of conflict since its independence.

I have been contacted by two travellers who both aim to soon end up on list themselves. They claim that several people currently on the list are in fact missing several countries even when counting "minimal visits". The reason is allegedly that they count airport transits, walking across the border from South Korea to North Korea inside a cabin in the DMZ or even plane refuelling stops (not actually leaving the aircraft) as country visits. Given the uncertainties mentioned above, the actual number may be closer to 23 than 96. Another country countring website,, lists 42 individuals that are alleged to have visited the 193 UN countries. Only one of them does not appear on, they say it is because many of his "visits" have been in airports only.

So still, judging by these two lists, there can be as many as 96 people that may have been to every UN country, although there is a lot of data missing on most of them. But who am I to judge? Out of those 96, the USA leads the way with 32 travellers. Germany is second with 11 travellers before - surprise, surprise - little Finland with 7. Sweden, another Nordic country is fourth with 6 globetrotters. I am the only Norwegian on it.

King Street in Nuuk, Greenland. Who is the king of travel? can help you find out. isn't only about the 193 UN countries, though. There is, according to TheBestTravelled, 1281 places that you can visit in the world. Number one on that list is Heinz Stücke from Germany. The 73 year old claims to have been to 1115 of them. Not bad!

The founder of is Harry Mitsidis from Greece. He has been to all 193 UN countries and 1020 of the territories acknowledged by his own website. That makes him the 4th best travelled on his own list. The avid traveller started the website in 2011, after not finding any sites that could provide an answer to the question of how many people have visited every country. He hoped to inspire people to travel more and to give travellers a tool in order to easily compare their own travel experience to their peers.

I have previously launched the country challenge - are you in? is a great site for you to help keep track of your travels.