These are the 10 most visited countries in the world and some entertaining matters of fact about each one.

1. Thailand

Thailand grew its tourism industry by almost 20% in 2013, jumping ahead of last year’s number ten country, Mexico. Thailand’s name in Thai means land of the free, which is true, as it’s the only country in Southeast Asia never to have been colonized by a European power.

The capital, Bangkok, is the most-visited city on the planet. It used to be called the Venice of the east as many buildings were built on stilts to rise above water-filled canals, although most are filled today.

One-tenth of all animal species on earth live in Thailand, including the world’s smallest mammal, the bumblebee bat, weighing just 2 grams.

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2. Russia

Russia is home to 25 UNESCO world heritage sites. It makes sense there would be a lot given that it's the land area is bigger than Pluto.

Russia’s so massive; it spans nine time zones, down from 11 a few years ago. The country’s most famous natural attraction is Lake Baikal, the oldest and deepest lake in the world, holding 20% of the world’s total unfrozen freshwater.

Partially because it's so miserably cold, one of the favorite pastimes is drinking. The Russian government estimated that alcohol abuse prematurely kills 500,000 people a year.

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3. The United Kingdom

The United Kingdom is the ninth-largest and third most populated island in the world behind Indonesia’s Java and Japan’s Honshu. Almost 75% of the land in the UK is taken for farming. The British invented the world’s earliest railways.

London’s river Thames has over 200 bridges and tunnels along its course. Big Ben refers to the bell and not the clock, and in 1945 a flock of birds landed on its minute hand, putting the time back 5 minutes. Speaking of birds, there are more chickens living in the UK than people.

4. Germany

Germany is Europe’s economic powerhouse, exporting $1.5 trillion dollars worth of goods in 2013, second only to China. But it's second to none in its number of Zoos, with over 400. The amazing Neuschwanstein Castle seems computer generated and was the inspiration for Disneyland’s Sleeping Beauty Castle. More than 61 million people have visited it.

Germany’s Autobahn is the world’s oldest motorway network in the world. And then there’s the beer. Munich’s two-week Oktoberfest draws a staggering 6 million visitors each year. Germans recently dropped to third in the world behind the Austrians and Czechs for most beer consumed per capita.

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5. Turkey

Turkey’s largest city, Istanbul, is the largest city in Europe and the only city in the world with a population of more than one million to span two continents. It has been the capital city of three of the world’s great empires, the Roman, Byzantine, and Ottoman.

Istanbul will soon be home to the world’s largest airport. The model for Santa Claus, Saint Nicholas, was born in Turkey. Turkey is the most heavily Muslim country with a secular democracy in the world.

The bird does get its name from the country because the birds were imported to Central Europe through Turkey. We in the west also have the Turks to thank for introducing us to coffee.

6. Italy

Italy’s home to the greatest number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the world, including the Coliseum, Venice, the Vatican, Florence, the leaning tower of Pisa, the vineyards of Piedmont, Pompeii, Naples, Sicily, the Italian Alps, the Amalfi Coast, the Italian Riviera, and Lake Cuomo...I could go on all day.

All that’s pretty amazing when you consider the country is just slightly larger than the US state of Arizona. With the introduction of the tomato from the Americas, Pizza, the world’s most popular food, was invented in the 1700s by the peasants of Naples.

7. China

China is the world’s oldest continuous civilization and actually trails Italy by just three, 50-47, in terms of total World Heritage Sites. The Great Wall was built to try and keep out Genghis Khan and his Mongol army, but it didn’t work. China’s megacity, Shanghai, has the fastest train in the world, hitting 311 mph.

Beijing’s immense Forbidden City is the world’s largest palace, covering more than 170 acres. More than 30 million Northern Chinese live in Yaodongs, which are house caves that brilliantly use the earth to stay warm during the cold winter and cool during the hot summer.

Natural attractions include the epic Huangshan mountain range which inspired scenes in Avatar, and the larger-than-life Three Gorges area of the Yangtze River, home to the Three Gorges Dam that produces more electricity than any other power station in the world.

8. Spain

Spain is a top holiday destination for Europeans, mainly because it has over 3,000 miles of gorgeous coastline, but Barcelona’s beaches didn’t exist until the 1992 Olympics allowed Spain to transform the city’s industrial coastline into miles of sandy beaches that are now considered some of the best in the world.

The Spanish speak the second-most spoken language in the world behind Mandarin Chinese--English is third. Spain didn’t fight in the first or the second World Wars.

Madrid is one of those rare big cities that doesn’t sit on a major body of water, although its name means the “place of many streams.” The intricately detailed Alhambra fortress-palace is the crown jewel of a country that prides itself on architectural beauty. It was constructed during Muslim rule over the Iberian Peninsula in the 9th century.

9. United States of America (USA)

Visitors to the USA spent nearly $140 billion dollars in 2013 - more than twice as much as second-place Spain hauled in - because America has so many great places to check out.

New York is basically the capital of the world with over 800 different languages spoken within the city. Out west, LA’s Hollywood sign was built in 1923 as a massive advertisement for what was then a brand new real estate development. It used to say Hollywood land. The US Navy wanted to paint San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge black with yellow stripes for visibility.

America’s aviation safety agency was created in 1958 as a result of two planes that collided trying to get a better view of the epic Grand Canyon. And the first atom was split between Chicago in 1942, leading to the nuclear age.

10. France

The most visited country - out and away - is France though there’s plenty less of it to go to than once the French empire lined eight. 8.6% of the world’s acreage. France is one among the few countries within the world wherever the quantity of tourists exceeds its population of sixty-six million folks.

Paris' Eiffel Tower has been visited quite two hundred million times creating it the most-visited paid tourer attraction within the world. It was the world’s tallest structure until New York’s Chrysler Building was completed in 1930.

The world’s most-visited museum, the Louvre, started out as a fortress; it was at one point abandoned and was even renamed the Musée Napoleon after the egomaniacal French conqueror. Normandy’s spectacular Mont Saint-Michel is accessible in low tide but surrounded by water in high tide.

I hope you enjoyed this little tour around the world. 
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