Vice Versa Visa or Passport Problemo – WIF Travel

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The World’s

Most Difficult

Countries to Visit

13,000 miles long and roughly 30 feet tall, the Great Wall of China symbolizes both the country’s military strength and its isolationism. Currently, no country has a Great Wall, but many countries are dedicated to staying isolated, often to avoid exposing their citizens to socio-cultural ideas and practices disliked by their respective governments. For various reasons, the following 10 countries may be difficult for tourists to visit.

10. Canada

Surprised? Frankly, so are we. Canada’s requirements for air travel and border crossing have been more stringent since its southern neighbor, the United States, suffered a terrorist attack in 2001. Since 2007, anyone traveling into Canada by air must have a passport. People who frequently drive across the Canadian border may obtain an enhanced driver’s license that serves in lieu of a passport. Even with stricter security measures required, Canadian customs officials have a reputation for friendliness. The stereotype of the conversational Canadian customs officer is so pervasive that Canadian comedian Rob Bebenek has a stand up routine wherein he contrasts crossing the U.S. border with crossing the Canadian border.

However, one group of people may find Canada difficult to enter. Driving Under the Influence (DUI) and Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) are considered particularly serious offenses in Canada. Someone who has been convicted of more than one DUI or DWI might not be permitted to cross the border. If a conviction is at least 10 years old and carried a maximum sentence of less than 10 years, someone who has the necessary paperwork may petition for Criminal Rehabilitation. If that petition is granted, the person will be allowed to cross. Those who aren’t eligible to apply for Criminal Rehabilitation may apply for Individual Criminal Rehabilitation, a status that is determined by the Canadian government on a case by case basis. Other options for those who are ineligible for Criminal Rehabilitation include getting a pardon or discharge of your conviction from the country where one was convicted, which must be accepted by the Canadian government, or obtaining a temporary resident permit.

9. Iran

Many cultural innovations that are now prized worldwide began in Iran. Refrigeration, postal delivery, guitars, and chess originated in the area. Tourists would be welcome to learn about the country’s culture and its history, if they didn’t have such difficulty visiting. In 2018, the United States both imposed sanctions on Iran and discontinued its nuclear deal with the nation. Those political decisions had a significant commercial impact, harming the country’s tourist industry.

Deterred by the sanctions, Americans and citizens from countries allied to the United States no longer visit Iran. However, the sanctions have especially affected domestic tourism. Seventy percent of Iran’s tourism revenue comes from Iranians traveling within the country. Fewer Iranians have sufficient money for traveling, since the sanctions are weakening the Iranian economy.

8. Turkmenistan

Turkmenistan is a former Soviet bloc country that’s bordered by Kazakhstan, Uzebekistan, and Afghanistan. The Soviet bloc countries were satellite countries of the Soviet Union. Many of them were financially destabilized when the Soviet Union fell in 1991.

The revenue tourists bring is welcome in Turmenistan, but it’s a difficult country to visit. Most travelers who wish to visit must be invited by the government or fund a touring company, though tourists staying on the mainland may be granted five day visas. Social media is banned in Turkmenistan. All tourists are officially required to be accompanied by guides, who report the tourists’ movements to the government.

7. Yemen

We’ve talked about the warfare in Yemen before, and we’re mentioning it again because, sadly, Yemen is still at war. A brief history of warfare in Yemen: In 2004, the Houthis, a Shiite political and religious group, plotted to overthrow the Yemeni government. On September 21, 2014, the Houthis seized the capital city, Sana’a. Because many political and religious groups opposed the Houthis, the country began a civil war in 2015.

The civil war hasn’t ended, but it isn’t solely a war among Yemenis. Yemen’s civil war is a proxy war, a war instigated by major powers that don’t become directly involved. Iran provided weapons to the Houthis, while Saudi Arabia and the United States provided weapons to the Yemeni military. In 2019, the U.S. Congress voted to stop selling arms to the Yemeni government. Imagine: A Yemeni who was born in 2014 has never experienced peace, or a stable economy.

When the country is at peace, it is an enviable tourist attraction. Sana’a, the capital city, has been continuously inhabited for 2,500 years. For tourists who enjoy nature, Yemen would be an ideal vacation destination .Ninety percent of the reptiles in Yemen cannot be found anywhere else in the world. Unfortunately, tourism companies officially advise that the country is unsafe to visit due to terrorism, civil war, health risks, kidnapping, and armed conflict.

6. Angola

Angola, a large country in southwestern Africa, includes deserts and rain forests. Angola was formerly a Portuguese colony, but Portugal now depends on Angola for financial support —Angola possesses rich oil reserves. Angola has survived colonization and civil war. Now the country’s greatest threat is economic instability, caused by inflation.

In 2011, the capital city, Luanda, was the most expensive city in the world to visit. The average price of a melon at a street market was one hundred U.S. dollars. Someone who could afford to visit Luanda would still need to pay to be invited. Tourists must receive an official invitation from the government in order to visit. Anyone who requests a letter has to pay for it. If the letter arrives without a visa despite the visa having been paid for, or the visa is later denied, none of the expenses incurred can be refunded.

5. Saudi Arabia

Like Yemen, we’ve talked about the dangers of visiting Saudi Arabia. Also like Yemen, the Saudi Arabian government’s oppressive practices have since worsened. The Saudi government admitted to orchestrating the November 2018 murder of a journalist for The Washington Post, Jamal Khoshoggi. Khoshoggi, who authored articles criticizing Saudi prince Mohammed bin Salman, was ambushed and strangled when he entered the Turkish consulate to obtain a marriage license. His attackers chopped up his body with a bone saw.

On 2019, 36 countries signed an open letter criticizing Saudi Arabia for its human rights abuses.Negative news coverage of Saudi Arabia has negatively affected its tourism industry. The Saudi royal family is the richest family in the world, worth over one billion dollars. The economic instability exacerbated by the decrease in tourism will affect not the royal family, but the Saudi citizens. Twenty percent of the population of Saudi Arabia lives in poverty.

4. Russia

Even before U.S. special counsel investigator Robert S. Mueller confirmed that Russia interfered with the United States of America’s 2016 presidential election, sociopolitical tensions created during the Cold War were still present between the two countries. And as long as the nation remains under the thumb of its president, Vladimir Putin, that tension is likely to remain.

Russia doesn’t recognize U.S. diplomats’ authority to intervene in visa-related difficulties involving American travelers. All travelers are advised to avoid unsanitary water, unsafe medical treatments, pick-pocketing, and government surveillance.

3. Kiribati

The Pacific island of Kiribati isn’t particularly dangerous to visit. It’s just incredibly difficult to reach. Any airport travel requires a long, costly flight between islands. There are few amenities to which travelers from the United States, Canada, and Western Europe are accustomed.

However, local families are willing to accommodate guests. A tourist who requires a passport — anyone living outside of the European Union — should schedule an additional trip to Wales. The only Kiribati embassy in Europe is in Llandewi Rhydderch. But hey, we hear Wales is nice this time of year, if you’re feeling particularly ready to — eventually — make your way to Kiribati.

2. Bhutan

The Buddhist kingdom of Bhutan was closed to visitors until 1974. As of 2019, obtaining a visa costs $40. A tourist must pay $250 to the government for each day of his or her stay. The daily fee includes the provision of accommodation, transportation, food, and a guide.

Travelers from India, Bangladesh, and the Maldives do not need to obtain a visa to visit Bhutan. Invited guests of the government aren’t required to pay a daily fee. The fee is intended to deter visitors, in order to protect the country’s forestry. Bhutan’s dense forests make it the only carbon negative country in the world, and federal law requires that sixty percent of the land always remain covered by trees.

1. Eritrea

Eritrea is the most difficult country in the world to visit. Formerly a colony of Italy, the northeastern African country gained independence in 1991, after a 30 year war with Ethiopia. As of 2019, Eritrea is a dictatorship. All tourists require a visa, and a visa costs $70.

Visitors aren’t permitted to use local transportation while they are in Eritrea. The only way to travel within the country is by prearranging modes of transportation with a tourist company. Anyone traveling outside of the capital city, Asmara, must receive the government’s permission to travel to each destination he or she wants to visit.


Vice Versa Visa or Passport Problemo –

WIF Travel

American Oddities – WIF Fun Facts

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Facts About

America

That Make

No Sense

to Foreigners

America. It’s one of the biggest countries on Earth, both in terms of population and sheer size. It’s the planet dominating superpower; the heaviest hitter where culture is concerned; a place known by nearly every single human on the planet… and, to all but the 4-5% of humanity who live there, it makes absolutely no gosh darn sense.

 See, despite its cultural clout, America still seems deeply weird to foreigners. And we don’t just mean people who come from repressive kingdoms and tin-pot dictatorships. Europeans, people from Southeast Asia, Australians and Brits all find yuge chunks of life in the good ol’ US-of-A beyond comprehension. If you were born stateside, the following might not seem super crazy to you. But trust us, every single foreigner is reading this with their jaw dangling open and their eyeballs popping out.

10. US Toddlers Shoot One Person a Week

Americans sure love guns. The US has the highest rate of gun-ownership on planet Earth, and the least-restrictive gun laws (only Switzerland comes close). That’s all thanks to the 2nd Amendment, which has been the subject of near-constant debate since being written.

But it’s not the sheer number of guns in America that really astounds foreigners. It’s the crazy things that leads to. Things like US toddlers shooting one person a week.

There’s literally no other country on Earth you could write that sentence about. Even countries that are swimming in guns, like Serbia, Norway, and Switzerland, don’t have toddlers blowing one another away. To be fair, they have tiny populations, but, to be even fairer, c’mon buddy. US toddlers have shot on average one person a week (including themselves) for the past two years. Even war zones don’t have numbers like that.

More bizarre still, America keeps on arming its toddlers. In 2016, Iowa made it legal for babies to handle loaded guns. That’s right. The guys in the Hawkeye State elected to arm the very babies that are trying to shoot them. How’s that for hubris?

9. Bestiality is Still Legal in 9 US States (but premarital sex is outlawed)

Despite this being 2017, plenty of US States still have sex laws on the books that are… unenlightened, to say the least. And by that, we mean they were seemingly written by two guys named Festus and Bubba while necking with their pet hog Clancy.

Incredible as it may seem, there are nearly ten US States where it is still legal to have sexual intercourse with animals. We say ‘nearly’ ten, because one’s the District of Columbia (not a state, kids!). The other nine are Hawaii, Kentucky, Nevada, New Mexico, Ohio, Texas, Vermont, West Virginia and Wyoming. In addition, plenty of states still only consider bestiality a misdemeanor.

This would be odd enough if the US was a spectacularly licentious place, but it’s not. In addition to allowing you to marry your best-est sow, four states still outlaw either premarital or extramarital sex, or co-habiting with your partner prior to marriage. While the laws are effectively never enforced, the fact they’re still on the statute books attests to America’s unique mix of religious piety and deep-seated desire to mimic the guys from Deliverance.

8. The Highest Paid Public Employee in 39 States is a Sports Coach

Go to any other country in the Western world – Canada, Germany, the Czech Republic, New Zealand, wherever – and the highest-paid public employee will be someone working in a selfless capacity. They’ll be the guys and gals running universities, or public hospitals, or the local council. America, though, laughs in the face of such devotion to the public good. Instead of rewarding headmasters or doctors or teachers, the highest public pay package in 39 states goes to sports coaches. Specifically, guys coaching football or men’s basketball.

We’re not talking comparatively small sums, either. The salaries involved would be enviable in the private sector. University of Alabama football coach Nick Saban, for example, rakes in over $7 million, plus bonuses, likely making him one of the highest-paid public employees not living in a corrupt dictatorship. For those from outside the states, this seems less extravagant, and more like an absolute inability to get priorities right.

Only Alaska, Delaware, Hawaii, Maine, Montana, New York, Nevada, New Hampshire, Vermont and both Dakotas refuse to award their highest public pay packet to a football or men’s basketball coach. Interestingly, both Hawaii and Vermont, as you’ll remember from a second ago, still technically allow bestiality. We’re really not sure what to make of that.

7. Over Half of All Americans Don’t Hold a Valid Passport

In 2014, polling company YouGov revealed only 8% of Britons had never left their country of birth to travel abroad. While this is maybe not all that super-impressive (Britain is tiny and France is close), it puts the US to shame. The same poll found only 50% of Americans would admit to ever having left the country. That’s nearly 160 million people who have never been to Canada or Mexico, let alone Europe or Asia.

For people who were born in Europe, that’s almost like saying you’ve never seen a glass of water. The idea of not going abroad from time to time is alien. In places like Germany, over 90% of the population hold a valid passport, and you better believe they use it.

But that’s Europe, we hear you cry, it’s a small continent with, like, a bazillion countries. Well, first, we’re pretty sure you’re exaggerating there, bud. Secondly, look at Australia, a country nearly as big as the US, and more cut-off from the rest of the world. According to official data, one third of the population goes abroad every single year. That compares to 50% of Americans over their entire lifetimes. Clearly, the US is a travel-averse country.

6. 30% of Americans Prefer Saving Money to Vital Medical Treatment

Compared to other developed nations, healthcare in the US is expensive. You can blame that on too much Obamacare, or not enough of it, but the fact remains that public systems, private systems, and public-private systems elsewhere in the world all deliver better service at lower cost. This alone can seem staggering to foreigners. Then there’s the American attitude to health. Faced with a serious illness or injury, around 30 percent of Americans would rather walk it off than pay for treatment.

 This… simply doesn’t happen elsewhere. Norway has the second most-expensive healthcare in the world, and pretty much no-one there avoids necessary treatment. Japan has an insurance-based, private system with payments often covered by employers, just like the US, and people don’t skip out on medical care. To find other people choosing money over hospitalization, you have to leave the developed world behind and start poking around in poorer countries where wages are low and healthcare unaffordable.

We’re not trying to rag on American healthcare here. America has some of the best doctors and hospitals going. But the idea that you’d choose money over health (or that you’d have to choose)? To non-Americans, that’s insane.

5. 7 States Have Custody Rights for Rapists

OK, let’s turn to some really, really dark stuff now. There exists a certain subsection of guys who like to rape women. Occasionally, this results in their victims getting pregnant. Depending on where they live and their religious convictions, the women may then decide to carry the baby to term. Now, here’s where it gets creepy. In around 7 states, it’s perfectly legal for the rapist-father to sue for custody of his newborn child.

Imagine that for a second. You’ve been violently assaulted, gone through the hell of guilt and self-recrimination, been courageous enough to bring the resulting baby into the world… and now you’re forced to watch as the D-bag who hurt you decides he wants to be a father to your son/daughter. Well, if you live in Alabama, Mississippi, Maryland, New Mexico, North Dakota, Wyoming or Minnesota, that can totally happen.

In addition, there are 20 more states where it might be legal. In Indiana, for example, you can only block the rapist from seeking custody if you remember to do so within 3 months of your baby being born. This is some seriously dark stuff, and we guarantee that if you mention it to anyone from elsewhere in the developed world, their jaws will drop so low they hit the ground. Sure, some Middle East states may have even-worse laws, but that’s not really a benchmark to aspire to.

4. America Has More Self-Identified Patriots than Anywhere Else on Earth

In July 2016, Gallup released the results of their yearly patriotism poll. They found 52% of Americans call themselves “extremely patriotic”, the lowest level in polling history. The news triggered a slew of introspective articles by American writers, wondering what had gone wrong. For those reading elsewhere in the world, it felt like stepping through the looking glass. 52% is such a good score it leaves other countries eating the USA’s dust.

Such levels of patriotism simply don’t exist in the rest of the developed world. In a similar survey by YouGov, only 13% of Brits thought their country was “the best in the world.” That was the highest score in the EU. Germany and France got only 5% each. The second and third highest-ranking countries globally, India and Australia, scored 34% and 36%. But the US? The US busted through the 40% mark, with an additional 32% claiming America was at the very least “better than most other countries.”

For the majority of foreigners, the idea of showing US-levels of patriotism is simply alien. You will never see a flag in every yard in any other country on Earth. But that’s the US public for you: optimistic to a tee. Even if they’re unhappy with their current government, folks still believe that the idea of America itself is worth believing in.

3. Americans are More Likely to Get Bitten by Other Americans than Rats

The stereotype is that Americans likes three things: football, fast food, and violence (often all at once). It’s true that America’s murder rate is crazy-high. It’s also true that the national sport is getting drunk and starting bar-fights. But surely it’s not as bad as all that?

Well, we hate to break it to you, but this arresting statistic says otherwise. If you live in America, you are more likely to be bitten by another American than you are by a rat.

To be clear, this isn’t because US rats are particularly docile or rare on the ground. Cities like New York are completely infested, and people get bitten all the freakin’ time. There are over 40,000 rat bites recorded in America each year. The only trouble is, there are at least 45,000 human bites recorded right alongside them.

Again, this is a freaky fact for Americans, too. But, also again, it’s just something that doesn’t happen in most other countries. Sure, drunks in Britain like to hit each other, and Italian soccer hooligans are violent as heck, but biting enough people to outstrip rats? It’s something we can’t imagine happening anywhere else.

2. Americans Take ‘Fast Food’ Extremely Literally

The US is the birthplace of fast food. It’s the nation that brought the world the drive-thru, perfected the snack, and coined the phrase “lunch is for wimps.” Foreigners know all this intellectually. But confront them with a statistic like the following, and it’ll still blow their minds. Americans, you see, are the 3rd fastest eaters on Earth. On an average day, Americans spend only 74 minutes eating, nearly the lowest in the world.

That’s only slightly over 20 minutes each for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and far less if you include time put aside for eating snacks. If you live in the USA, this probably doesn’t seem so weird to you (the working lunch is an American specialty), but if you live elsewhere… man, you’re probably wondering how the heck they do it. In France, the average eating time is 135 minutes a day. In Turkey, it’s 162 minutes. Even in Japan, where people work far longer hours than in the US, they still manage to put aside 117 minutes a day for chow. The only other countries to spend as little time eating are Canada (72 minutes) and Mexico (under 70 minutes).

This is probably to do with both the American hard work ethic and fast food culture, which prioritizes productivity over relaxation. The same can be seen in a related statistic on cooking times. Nowhere else on Earth do people spend as little time cooking each day as in America.

1. Government Departments Have Official Advice for Reporting Elvis Sightings

One of the things foreigners know about the US is that it’s full of wackos seeing wacko things. There’s a reason The X-Files was so popular 20 years ago. But it’s one thing to hear about guys filming shaky footage of Bigfoot on their cell phone. It’s another entirely to hear that actual US government departments have official advice for reporting Elvis sightings.

Here, for example, is a link to the Federal government’s official website for copyright. Hover your mouse over the link. See that it ends .gov? It’s impossible for anyone not representing a government entity to register a .gov address. This site is legit. It’s part of the Federal government, and paid for by taxpayers’ money. And it includes official advice on how to copyright your sighting of Elvis.

 This isn’t a joke section put up by some lighthearted bureaucrat indulging a whim. It’s completely, mind-bogglingly serious. Which means the government was getting deluged with enough requests about Elvis sightings that they went to the trouble to post official advice about it. OK, say it with me now, altogether: only in America.

American Oddities

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– WIF Fun Facts