In Progress: First Black Woman to Travel to All of the Countries in the World

Jessica Nabongo
Apr 8, 2018 · 4 min read

There are two groups of people in the travel space, those who count countries and those who do not. I am in the former group. And I am currently on a journey to visit all of the countries in the world, so I have to keep count! Upon completion, I will be the first black woman to travel to all of the countries in the world.

I started counting countries a few years back because of my lifelong desire to travel to every country in the world, meaning I needed to keep track of where I have been. I have been traveling internationally since I was a child; I boarded my first transatlantic flight with my family in 1991. We first visited England which was my third country (the US and Canada being the first two), to visit family, on our way to Uganda to visit more family. By the time I graduated high school I had visited eight countries and territories.

My travel intensified between 2009 and 2011. I zigzagged across Europe and traveled to far flung outposts such as Fiji. By the time my 30th birthday rolled around I had visited 46 countries and territories. Fast forward almost four years and now I am at 115 countries and territories with a mission to travel to every country on earth!

If you are able, I would be grateful if you donate to my campaign. :-)

How many countries are there?

This is the most common question when I mention my goal to people and it is not always easy to answer. The United Nations has 193 member countries which are those that are recognized by the vast majority of sovereign nations in the world. There are also two non-member observing states — Vatican City and Palestine. Kosovo and Taiwan remain disputed territories that are only considered sovereign nations by some UN member countries. So the easy answer is 195. My goal of traveling to all of the countries in the world is based on 195 of which I have visited 105. I am more than halfway there!

What are territories?

Territories are places on the world that do not have sovereignty and still “belong” to the country that colonized them, e.g. Martinique = France, Canary Islands = Spain, the Caymen Islands = United Kingdom and Curaçao = The Netherlands. I have been to 115 countries and territories.

Why visit all the countries in the world?!

This journey that I am on is about breaking stereotypes and experiencing different cultures. When I travel to countries that are “off-the-beaten path” I rarely see any black people, not American, nor African. Because of this, people are often shocked to see me. Part of this goal for me is about normalizing blackness and letting people all over the world know that black people travel as well. Beyond that I am just curious about the world. I always have been. I love learning how we as human beings are more alike than we are different. Even with language barriers you can still laugh with a stranger. You can still learn from a stranger and it is a beautiful feeling.

I have 89 countries left on 6 continents. Below is the list. I would love to have recommendations for any if the countries below whether you have visited in the past or live their now please leave it in the comments!!


1. Algeria
2. Angola
3. Burkina Faso
4. Burundi
5. Cameroon
6. Cape Verde
7. Central African Republic
8. Chad
9. Comoros
10. Democratic Republic of the Congo
11. Equatorial Guinea
12. Eritrea
13. Gabon
14. Guinea
15. Guinea-Bissau
16. Ivory Coast
17. Liberia
18. Libya
19. Madagascar
20. Malawi
21. Mali
22. Mauritania
23. Mauritius
24. Niger
25. Nigeria
26. Republic of the Congo
27. Sao Tome and Principe
28. Seychelles
29. Sierra Leone
30. Somalia
31. South Sudan


1. Afghanistan
2. Armenia
3. Azerbaijan
4. Bhutan
5. Myanmar
6. China
7. Saudi Arabia
8. South Korea
9. Syria
10. Tajikistan
11. Turkmenistan
12. Uzbekistan
13. Yemen
14. Georgia
15. Iran
16. Iraq
17. Israel
18. Jordan
19. Kazakhstan
20. Kuwait
21. Kyrgyzstan
22. Lebanon
23. Mongolia
24. North Korea
25. Pakistan
26. Palestinian Territories
27. Taiwan*


1. Andorra
2. Belarus
3. Cyprus
4. Estonia
5. Latvia
6. Lithuania
7. Monaco
8. Poland
9. Russia

North America

1. Barbados
2. Dominica
3. Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
4. Trinidad and Tobago

South America

1. Bolivia
2. Chile
3. Ecuador
4. Guyana
5. Paraguay
6. Suriname
7. Venezuela


1. Kiribati
2. Marshall Islands
3. Micronesia
4. Nauru
5. New Zealand
6. Palau
7. Papua New Guinea
8. Samoa
9. Solomon Islands
10. Tonga
11. Tuvalu
12. Vanuatu

Jessica Nabongo

Written by

106 of 195 UN countries and counting. | journeying to be the first black woman to travel to all of the countries in the world. |

Welcome to a place where words matter. On Medium, smart voices and original ideas take center stage - with no ads in sight. Watch
Follow all the topics you care about, and we’ll deliver the best stories for you to your homepage and inbox. Explore
Get unlimited access to the best stories on Medium — and support writers while you’re at it. Just $5/month. Upgrade