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10 countries to visit in 2017!

Kur keliauti 2017 m.
Photo taken by Koliažas.  Kur keliauti 2017 m.

At the end of each year, we begin to look ahead to the coming one. Lonely Planet has given us its recommendations on where to travel and what to experience in 2017. The list of countries is again balanced, however it is somewhat dominated by northern countries, namely Canada and Finland.

1. Canada

Toronto harbor skyline with skyscrapers sailboat and swans
Photo taken by 123rf.com.  Toronto harbor skyline with skyscrapers sailboat and swans

After the US presidential elections, neighbouring Canada seemed like an idyllic asylum of liberal people and beautiful nature. And there really is something to see here – it is, after all, the world's second-largest country in area! The Taiga and mountains, freshwater lakes and rivers, Atlantic and Pacific coastline, ecological cities with high living standards, a democratic and liberal government – all this makes Canada not just an amazing place to visit, but also to live.

2. Colombia

Video
Video by Playing For Change.  La Tierra Del Olvido | Playing For Change | Song Around The World - Kolumbijos muzika ir vaizdai

The decades-long Colombian civil war and record for violent crime has smeared Colombia's image all over the world. Despite this, the peace agreement with the insurgents signed by Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos received the Nobel Peace Prize. Now the drug wars are a thing of the past, Colombia can welcome visitors to enjoy one of the most beautiful states in South America. The beautiful and tradition-rich Bogota and Cartagena, tropical rainforests, national parks, Pacific Ocean and Caribbean Sea coast, Andes mountains, volcanoes and valleys... Colombia is one of the most naturally diverse counties on the planet, and also gave us the late Gabriel García Márquez and the magical Colombian life we can experience in his books.

3. Finland

Reindeers are in harness during sundown
Photo taken by 123rf.com.  Reindeers are in harness during sundown

To its neighbours, Finland doesn't need much of an introduction – some of them go fishing, others on hikes and bike rides. Finland is a country of a thousand lakes and vast forests. It's also a well-known winter tourist destination, where a little seasonality doesn't hurt. The snow-covered house of Santa Claus stands in the region of Lapland, beautiful winter and ice hotels, reindeer and husky excursions through the Lappish scenery, the world skiing and rallying championships... And the Finns know just how to present themselves to the world – it really is a country full of northern humour and warm saunas. Finland is Europe's Canada.

4. Dominica

Roseau and the Rainforest, Dominica
Photo taken by Shayan USA / flickr.com/creativecommons.  Roseau and the Rainforest, Dominica

If you try to think of with the biggest contrast to Finland for 4th place in this list, you'll surely come up with Dominica. The Caribbean island still retains its authenticity while at the same time being very popular among tourists. People joke that if Christopher Columbus were to rise from his grave, the only Caribbean island he would now recognise would be Dominica. There are still no tall hotels here, and the only skyscrapers are the the palm trees, shooting up from the white sand on the beaches. Other Caribbean states such as Cuba now stand on the verge of change, so you had best visit Dominica soon, while it's still far from the beaten tourist track. Visit it in 2017!

5. Nepal

The Colors of Kathmandu
Photo taken by Flickr | THE BULL PEN.  The Colors of Kathmandu

Not even the strongest earthquake can or damage Nepal's s charm break its Himalayan spirit. In 2015 the capital Kathmandu was devastated by a strong earthquake, however a year on, Nepal is again standing on its feet and ready to welcome visitors. The first visitors of the year are the mountaineers, who come in the spring, however Nepal needs many more visitors, so that the hiking trails, towns and villages can be repaired a rebuilt anew. When travelling to Nepal, you'll not only feel the hugeness of the mountains, but you'll also have the opportunity to contribute to both small and big changes in the country.

6. Bermuda

View from the top of Gibb's Hill Lighthouse, Bermuda
Photo taken by Mike Oropenza photo / wikimedia.org.  View from the top of Gibb's Hill Lighthouse, Bermuda

Bermuda is often thought of as Caribbean islands, however they are quite far north of the Caribbean Sea, in the North Atlantic Ocean. The islands are also know for being a hotspot from disappearing planes and ships in the area surrounding the territory. Nevertheless, Bermuda, a British territory lying close to the USA, is one of the most beautiful corners of the world. Perched on the top of a submarine volcano, Bermuda charms visitors with its fresh ocean breeze and authentic island spirit. The archipelago is en route from Europe to the USA, offering a perfect trans-Atlantic stopover.

7. Mongolia

Mongolia
Photo taken by Uploaded by PDTillman Wikimedia.org.  Mongolia

For anyone who wants to see a rapidly-changing state, Mongolia is well worth a visit. A new airport will be opened in 2017 in the capital Ulaanbaatar, as well as new glass buildings, cinemas, cafés, and hotels. Beyond the city limits sprawl astounding stretches of Mongolian steppes, sparsely inhabited by nomads who are largely disconnected from civilization.

8. Oman

Muscat
Photo taken by Edward Stojakovic | flickr.  Muscat

Oman is a peaceful, elegant and handsome Arabian pearl, that has been for a long time in the shadows and visited only by lone travellers. Now, however, Oman is taking a leaf from the United Arab Emirates' book and creating for itself an attractive image for tourism, and advertisements are now on TV all over the world. There are more flights here than ever before, and dozens of new hotels and entertainment centres are popping up. After all, Oman is one of the best places to see the Arabian desert, oases and traditional Arabic life up close.

9. Myanmar

Bagan temples, Myanmar
Photo taken by FX studio / flickr.com/creativecommons.  Bagan temples, Myanmar

Myanmar is one of the most mysterious of the Southeast Asian states. For a long time it was closed to mass tourism and visited only by the more diehard traveller. Now Myanmar is ruled by its first democratic government, so everyone's eyes here are focused firmly on the future. Although similar changes in the former Burma were not to be too readily believed, the mood today in the fairy tale-like country of jungle and temples is much more optimistic. Visit Myanmar and you'll experience, with the sound of monastery bells in the distance, how another world democracy is being made.

10. Ethiopia

Ethiopian tribal women
 Ethiopian tribal women

Ethiopia has its own calendar (with 13 months in a year), and its hours in the day are also counted differently. They make delicious coffee and cook excellent meat; beautiful but very different-looking Christian churches stand, and old Jazz traditions live on. Freedom flavours the air, as well as the Rastafari spirit. What's more, it's one of the best places to observe the Rift valley-formed mountains, hollows, lakes and savannas. Ethiopia is home to many of Africa's mammals, and the attire of the different tribes is astounding. This is a country which must be on anyone's list of exotic destinations.

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