Blog WH Travellers

Completing Countries

The reviews this week featured the beginning of a series of updates on the Ethiopian WHS by Wojciech Fedoruk. After finishing a comprehensive trip covering 8 WHS in 15 days, in addition to an earlier trip where he visited 3, he is now the first on this website to have ‘completed’ Ethiopia. The photo below shows what he found at the Lower Valley of the Awash.

Completing Countries can be a satisfying subgoal in the WHS quest, and it doesn’t necessarily belong only to those with high total scores. In this post, I will present a closer look at this based on the ‘ticks’ logged by our community members.

Looking at the countries with at least 10 WHS, I was able to draw the following conclusions:

The easiest countries to complete

The easiest ones are the relatively small European countries where all WHS lie within their European territory:

  • Austria: 65 persons
  • Belgium: 61
  • Croatia: 58
  • Switzerland: 56
  • Bulgaria: 56
  • Israel: 47
  • Czechia: 37
  • Sweden: 35
  • Poland: 31
  • Germany: 30

Netherlands by contrast has only 14 people who have completed it, due to the presence of Willemstad on Curacao on their List.

Of the countries with the highest number of WHS, Italy has been completed by 11 members, China by 4 and Spain by 5.

First and only ones to complete

Some countries have only been completed by one person:

Countries that have not been completed yet

Countries with large territories AND/OR multiple overseas sites prove to be the hardest to complete. So the following countries have not been completed by anyone:

  • France (see map above, has 5 overseas territories on its list, spread across the Caribbean, Indian Ocean, Pacific and the sub-Antarctic)
  • India (it takes a lot of stamina; the Himalayan sites prove to be the most difficult)
  • UK (Thomas and Luis Filipe are on 32/33, both miss Henderson Island)
  • Russia (Ivan and Martina are best on 28/31, missing out on the expensive Wrangel Island, the remote Uvs Nuur and the recently added Kazan Observatories)
  • Australia (highest scorers are on 18/20, missing out on the sub-Antarctic sites of Macquarie and Heard & McDonald)

The very difficult other ones

Among the countries with 5 or more WHS (and less than 10), the following stand out for their complexity. No one has completed them:

And probably the most difficult of them all to finish: the Democratic Republic of Congo. The highest-scoring community members have only visited 2 out of the country’s 5 WHS.

Countries that are nowadays impossible to fully cover such as Syria and Mali have been completed by multiple people during the pre-war periods.

Do you aim to Complete Countries on your WHS travels?

Els - 4 February 2024

Leave a comment


Els Slots 15 February 2024

Well done, Kurt! You have deserved your spot in the Hall of Fame

Kurt Lauer 12 February 2024

Just finished a trip to India, and was able to complete all the sites (actually visited a few on two previous visits). I even revised the trip while there to make sure I visited the two new sites that were put on the list while I was there.

I also visited a few TWHS in India, as well as most of the newly TWHS in Bangladesh. Some of these have no reviews, so I'll write something up when I return home next week. Currently in Saudi Arabia - short stop over, but enough time to go to the WHS near Riyadh tomorrow.

Jay T 5 February 2024

I missed all the commentary yesterday, but I do have goals to complete some countries, particularly the USA and Canada. Someday I hope to finally get to Papahānaumokuākea.

In the meantime, I have a side goal like Svein to complete years, though I don't have any years as close to completion as he does. 1978 remains the one I'm most focused on finishing first, although I missed my opportunity to get out to Nahanni last summer thanks to wildfires and a move.

Michael Ayers 5 February 2024

In 2006/8 I had completed South Africa and Argentina. But since my history of tracking and visiting T-list sites is very deficient compared to most of you, that's no longer the case, as both countries have added three sites, unvisited by me, since then. For that reason, I haven't really put much thought into completing countries recently. My only significant completed country at the moment is Sri Lanka, which is fairly easy to do...

Can Sarica 4 February 2024

Completing the USA, Canada, and Mexico is a remarkable accomplishment by Zoe, deserving a standing ovation. Living in Toronto for four years, I consistently grapple with the decision: "Is it worth spending $1000 on flights, car rental, and a ten-hour drive for just one WHS visit?" Despite my best efforts, I've explored 26 out of 85 WHS in these countries in four years, anticipating that the remaining 59 may take another five years or more to complete.

Clyde 4 February 2024

If possible I aim to complete a whole country, or at least thoroughly cover a whole region if possible to the focus on a different region on a revisit. New inscriptions make such completions temporary, ex. in my case South Korea and Turkey.

Meltwaterfalls 4 February 2024

Dating back to my earliest travels I have attempted to try to complete a country but have quickly discovered it is a bit of a Sisyphean task (though a rather enjoyable one).

I set out with plans to cover all of Tunisia and South Korea when I visited them but realised that having an extra day in some city or other was probably of more interest to me than seeing some bird habitats out of season, especially as I don't have a particular interest in birds anyway. So I left them off with the idea that I have a suitable reason to come back in the future, in both cases extra sites were added after I visited so even if I had dragged myself to some wetlands I still wouldn't have them completed today, a useful reminder that my aim here is primarliy to travel to enjoy myself and have new experiences.

I think I have "completed" Belgium, Czech Republic and "mainland" Netherlands, Britain, at least 3 times each before another site has been added to draw me back to increasingly obscure and dare I say underwhelming world heritage site.

I'm never going to be in the upper reaches of site visits in comparison to others here and to be honest that has never really been my objective.

So having a little reason to go back and explore a new corner of a country I enjoy being in isn't the worst way to spend my leisure time, even if the destination may not be particularly interesting.

Els Slots 4 February 2024

Good perspective, Svein! The late, great Iain Jackson still is the only person to have 1978 (the first year!) complete.

Svein Elias 4 February 2024

Completing countries will always be temporary so I tend to look at completing years. Thats more final, but I haven't finished one yet.
My best year is 1984 with 22 sites and I have managed 16 which is 73% and my worst is 2016 with 5 of 21, only 24%.
I guess there are lots of people doing better!

Liam 4 February 2024

Surely lots of people have completed Holy See, Luxembourg, Cyprus & Malta? These are left as the only countries I have completed - though once I could have added Syria, Jordan, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania to that list (damn you Struve!)

Nan 4 February 2024

When going to a country I normally aim for completion if possible.

Key bit working against completion are new inscriptions. With tentative sites it's very hard to tell if they make the cut and are worth the effort. Or what precisely will be inscribed. Worse yet are not yet nominated ones.

Being complete for Germany requires nearly annual travel as we keep adding at best mediocre and mostly unheard of sites.

Re France, even if you were to dish out the money for the remote islands, they keep adding more, so it's pointless imho.

Els Slots 4 February 2024

It would be nice to have this as a feature on the country pages and countries overview list. But the query is a bit difficult, let me try to make it work.

Els Slots 4 February 2024

Iran 4
Japan 1
Peru 3
Turkey 11
Greece 10

Els Slots 4 February 2024

Another reason Germany has so many (in addition to many members living there or close) is that it has no hard-to-reach WHS. And there are no overseas territories.

Els Slots 4 February 2024

It's 16 for South Korea, Kyle.
And let me have a look how many have both Korea's ....> it's 4!

Wojciech Fedoruk 4 February 2024

Interesting data. High count of Germany indicates that there are many completionists here. What about other countries with multiple WHS, such as Japan, Iran or Peru?

Kyle Magnuson 4 February 2024

Just out of curiosity how much people have completed Korea?