Ranked: most peaceful countries in the world 2021

map of the most peaceful countries in the world 2021Vision of Humanity

The most peaceful countries in the world have been updated for 2021. Read our insights from the study and browse the rankings below

Iceland is once again the most peaceful country in the world followed by New Zealand, Denmark, Portugal, and Slovenia.

However, the world is a less peaceful place as civil unrest and political instability has increased due to the global pandemic according to the latest Global Peace Index (GPI) report.

Ranked: happiest countries in the world 2021

happiest countries in the world 2021 mapCreated with Datawrapper

Finland tops the rankings of the happiest countries in the world for the fourth year running

Happiness is a nebulous thing; hard to grasp and harder to hold onto. Scientists, economists and philosophers have defined it through the ages as a combination of different things, among them health, wealth, companionship and security.

The travel that changed me: Nadine Matheson

Jorge Argazkiak/Shutterstock

Crime author Nadine Matheson tells us why a last-minute trip to Portugal changed her life forever

Nadine Matheson is the author of The Jigsaw Man, a deliciously dark cat-and-mouse thriller that pits the best new detective in fiction against a truly menacing killer. Described as a ‘macabre love letter to South London’, the novel has a noirish, nightmarish quality redolent of hardboiled fiction recast for a contemporary audience. 

World’s most powerful passports 2021

japan has the most powerful passport

As Japan tops the list for the third year running, we take a look at the latest ranking of the world’s most powerful passports

It feels a little masochistic to look at the world’s most powerful passports after a year of recurring lockdowns. However, as we’ve said before, we remain hopeful about the future of travel. We believe that exploration is a human instinct and that as soon as it is safe, people will return to the road.

Concrete jungles: the world’s most urban countries

world's most urban countries lead

We take a look at the world’s most urban countries and why they go hand in hand with the most stressed

City life is stressful. It presses on our weary bones, wafts through windows on pungent fumes and boxes up our personal space.

17 megadiverse countries of the world

A tiger lazes in Ranthambore in IndiaOndrej Prosicky/Shutterstock

We profile the world’s megadiverse countries, from obvious contenders like Ecuador and Brazil to one or two surprise entries

It should be comforting to know that a mere 17 countries hold more than 70% of the world’s species. It should be easy to rally this small group of ‘megadiverse countries’ to protect the planet’s extraordinary biodiversity. Alas, some of these countries are also the world’s biggest consumers and polluters. 

International borders: 10 remarkable frontiers

International borders Mexico-USA on Pacific CoastROSARITO TV/SHUTTERSTOCK

From mountains to libraries, we take a look at some of the most extraordinary international borders to be found across the globe

Over the last few years, we’ve seen an impressive collection of new websites, blogs and social media accounts dedicated to ‘travel porn’. They’re filled with big, sweeping images of fairytale lands and precarious precipices.

10 books to transport you to the world’s most visited countries

Sample the world’s most popular destinations without leaving your home

On a normal spring day, you can expect the Champ de Mars in Paris to be teeming with tourists. This vibrant swatch of green offers iconic views of the Eiffel Tower and hosts droves of visitors every year – possibly as many as 80 million. France is after all the most visited country in the world. 

Non-technical mountain climbs: 12 trekking peaks

mountaineering calendar whitney usaDreamstime

There are no ‘death zones’ on these non-technical mountain climbs but they offer plenty of challenges for mere mortals like me

As a climber, I have completed several indoor climbing and winter mountaineering courses but my technical climbing skills sill leave a lot to be desired. I have mastered basic rope, ice axe and crampon skills but don’t practise them as often as I’d like.

17 interesting facts about The Bahamas 

Interesting facts about the bahamasAtlas & Boots

From record-breaking free diving to mysterious swimming pigs, we share the most interesting facts about The Bahamas gathered on our short but sweet visit

We didn’t spend nearly enough time in The Bahamas, but with 700 islands to explore, it’s probably fair to say that no one does. 

We spent our short time on Eleuthera island swimming, snorkelling and sunbathing – with a Bahama Mama or two thrown in for good measure. 

Eye-opening moments from our Caribbean cruise

After a busy year of trekking and writing, we decided to treat ourselves to a touch of indulgence

I’m not going to lie: I was in two minds about our Caribbean cruise. We had initially planned a cruise in Alaska but it clashed with commitments around my book. We pushed back our dates to December and were left with one obvious destination: the Caribbean. 

Poorest countries in the world – ranked

interesting facts about Ethiopia poor countryAtlas & Boots

African nations dominate the ranking of the poorest countries in the world based on the latest data from the World Bank

We all have preconceptions about places. Take Ethiopia for example. As children of the eighties, Kia and I were only too aware of the struggles Ethiopia has faced historically: political unrest, civil war and, of course, famine.

It was easy then to imagine a vast desolate dust bowl ahead of our visit in 2017. 

UNESCO’s newest World Heritage Sites

Fanjingshan in Chinasanyanwuji/Shutterstock

From Inuit hunting grounds to sacred mountain monasteries, UNESCO’s newest World Heritage Sites have been formally recognised for their outstanding value

The aim of UNESCO’s list is to identify, protect and preserve sites of cultural and natural heritage considered to be of exceptional value to humanity. These sites include a range of locations such as the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, east Africa’s Serengeti, the Pyramids of Egypt and Machu Picchu in Peru.

To be included on UNESCO’s World Heritage List, nominated sites must be of “outstanding universal value” and meet at least one of 10 selection criteria.

18 interesting facts about Costa Rica

interesting facts about costa rica featimg

We share the most interesting facts about Costa Rica collected during our visit to this diverse destination

The tiny republic of Costa Rica is a Central American success story. Democratic, prosperous and stable, the country is an oasis in the midst of an often-turbulent region of the world.

We visited Costa Rica for nine days on our first ever National Geographic Expedition. Highlights included clambering the slopes of a misty volcanic peak, hiking through fairytale cloud forest in Santa Elena, searching for sloths in Manuel Antonio National Park and planting trees at the Monteverde Institute.

Horse riding in Monteverde, Costa Rica

Horse riding in Monteverde prompts Kia to rethink a few things at home in the UK

I was dubious about horse riding in Monteverde. I had been told that we wouldn’t be given helmets and that the local guides couldn’t speak English. The latter I could deal with, but the former was a problem.

I’ve caused myself a fair amount of damage by not wearing a helmet in the past. After falling off a horse in 2017, I promised myself to never ride without one. Still, I was keen to go riding in Costa Rica, so went to the stables to see for myself.

Canyoning in La Fortuna, Costa Rica

Canyoning in La Fortuna with its waterfall rappels and cavernous ‘falls’ proved to be Costa Rica’s biggest thrill of all

Beneath the hulking slopes of Arenal Volcano in northwestern Costa Rica is the small town of La Fortuna. With a wealth of natural attractions nearby including lush rainforest, extensive hiking trails, myriad hot springs and two gargantuan volcanoes (Cerro Chato is also within easy reach), it’s not the town itself that draws visitors to this green district of Costa Rica.

Searching for sloths in Manuel Antonio National Park, Costa Rica

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With their sluggish limbs and camouflaged fur, sloths aren’t often easy to spot. We pinned our hopes on Manuel Antonio

There were two animals we were keen to see on our National Geographic Expedition to Costa Rica: the red-eyed tree frog and the three-toed sloth.

The first was surprisingly obliging and we took a decent snap on mere day two of the tour. The sloth, however, remained elusive. The one we did spot by a roadside was barely discernible from the surrounding branches and left us eager for more.

Santa Elena Cloud Forest: a fairytale hike in Costa Rica

Cloud forest covers only 1% of global woodlandAtlas & Boots

Santa Elena Cloud Forest was the highlight of our trip to Costa Rica. Here, we try to explain why

If you Google ‘best things to do in Costa Rica’, it’s unlikely you’ll find Santa Elena Cloud Forest among the top results, which is strange given that it was the best part of our nine-day visit.

Had we been travelling independently, we may have skipped it entirely. As luck would have it, our National Geographic Expedition to Costa Rica included a visit to Santa Elena Cloud Forest as a core activity.