With 58.3 million tourists a year (2017), Italy is the fifth most visited country in international tourism arrivals. People mainly visit Italy for its rich culture, cuisine, history, fashion and art, its beautiful coastline and beaches, its mountains, and priceless ancient monuments. Italy also contains more World Heritage Sites than any other country in the world.
Tourism is one of Italy's fastest growing and most profitable industrial sectors, with an estimated revenue of €189.1 billion.
Tourism in Spain is the third major contributor to national economic life after the industrial and the business/banking sectors, contributing about 10-11% of Spain's GDP. Ever since the 1960s and 1970s, the country has been a popular destination for summer holidays, especially with large numbers of tourists from Ireland, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy, the Benelux, and the United States, among others. Accordingly, Spain's foreign tourist industry has grown into the second-biggest in the world. As of february 2019, Spain holds 1st place in the World at international tourism ranking The TourismRank.
San Lorenzo de El Escorial, construction started in 1559 – located 45 km northwest of Madrid.
Sagrada Família in Barcelona.
In 2018, Spain was the second most visited country in the world, recording 82.8 million tourists which marked the sixth consecutive year of record-beating numbers.
Spain ranks first among 136 countries in the biannual Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Index published by the World Economic Forum in 2017, matching the top position already achieved in 2015.
The World Tourism Organization has its headquarters in Madrid.
According to The Economist 2005 year list, Spain has the world's 10th highest quality of life.
Tourism in France directly contributed 77.7 billion euros to gross domestic product, 30% of which comes from international visitors and 70% from domestic tourism spending. The total contribution of travel and tourism represents 9.7% of GDP and supports 2.9 million jobs (10.9% of employment) in the country. Tourism contributes significantly to the balance of payments.
France was visited by 85.7 million foreign tourists in 2013, making it the most popular tourist destination in the world. France ranks fifth in tourist spending behind the United Kingdom, United States, China and Spain.
France has 37 sites inscribed in the UNESCO's World Heritage List and features cities or sites of high cultural interest (Paris being the foremost, but also Loire Valley, Toulouse, Strasbourg, Bordeaux, Lyon, and others), beaches and seaside resorts, ski resorts, and rural regions that many enjoy for their beauty and tranquillity (green tourism). Small and picturesque French villages of quality heritage (such as Collonges-la-Rouge, Locronan, or Montsoreau) are promoted through the association Les Plus Beaux Villages de France (literally "The Most Beautiful Villages of France"). The "Remarkable Gardens" label is a list of the over two hundred gardens classified by the French Ministry of Culture. This label is intended to protect and promote remarkable gardens and parks.
Official Name: Kingdom of Thailand
Formerly known as: Siam
Thailand, a country at the centre of the Southeast Asian Indochinese peninsula is composed of 76 provinces. It has 513,120 sq km area and population is over 68 million. Thailand is the world's 50th-largest country by area and is the 21st most populous country. The capital and largest city is Bangkok. It is a special administrative area. It is bordered to the north by Myanmar and Laos, to the east by Laos and Cambodia, to the south by the Gulf of Thailand and Malaysia, and to the west by the Andaman Sea and the southern extremity of Myanmar. Its maritime boundaries include Vietnam in the Gulf of Thailand to the southeast, and Indonesia and India on the Andaman Sea to the southwest. It is a unitary state. Although nominally the country is a constitutional monarchy and parliamentary democracy, the most recent coup, in 2014, established a de facto military dictatorship under a junta.
Thai peoples migrated from southwestern China to mainland Southeast Asia from the 11th century; the oldest known mention of their presence in the region by the exonym Siamese dates to the 12th century. Various Indianised kingdoms such as the Mon, the Khmer Empire and Malay states ruled the region, competing with Thai states such as Ngoenyang, the Sukhothai Kingdom, Lan Na and the Ayutthaya Kingdom, which rivaled each other. Documented European contact began in 1511 with a Portuguese diplomatic mission to Ayutthaya, one of the great powers in the region. Ayutthaya reached its peak during cosmopolitan Narai's reign (1656–88), gradually declining thereafter until being ultimately destroyed in 1767 in a war with Burma. Taksin (r. 1767–82) quickly reunified the fragmented territory and established the short-lived Thonburi Kingdom. He was succeeded in 1782 by Buddha Yodfa Chulaloke (r. 1782–1809), the first monarch of the Chakri dynasty and founder of the Rattanakosin Kingdom, which lasted into the early 20th century.
Through the 18th and 19th centuries, Siam faced pressure from France and the United Kingdom, including forced concessions of territory; nevertheless, it remained the only Southeast Asian country to avoid direct Western rule. Following a bloodless revolution in 1932, Siam became a constitutional monarchy and changed its official name to "Thailand". While it joined the Allies in World War I, Thailand was an Axis satellite in World War II. In the late 1950s, a military coup under Field Marshal Sarit Thanarat revived the monarchy's historically influential role in politics. Thailand became a major ally of the United States, and played a key anti-communist role in the region as a member of the Southeast Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO). Apart from a brief period of parliamentary democracy in the mid-1970s, Thailand has periodically alternated between democracy and military rule. In the 21st century, Thailand endured a political crisis that culminated in two coups and the establishment of its current and 20th constitution by the military junta.
Thailand is a founding member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and remains a major ally of the US. Despite its comparatively sporadic changes in leadership, it is considered a regional power in Southeast Asia and a middle power in global affairs. With a high level of human development, the second-largest economy in Southeast Asia, and the 20th-largest by PPP, Thailand is classified as a newly industrialized economy; manufacturing, agriculture, and tourism are leading sectors of the economy.
Germany is a country in Central and Western Europe, lying between the Baltic and North Seas to the north and the Alps, Lake Constance and the High Rhine to the south. It borders Denmark to the north, Poland and the Czech Republic to the east, Austria and Switzerland to the south, France to the southwest, and Luxembourg, Belgium and the Netherlands to the west.
Germany includes 16 constituent states, covers an area of 357,578 square kilometres , and has a largely temperate seasonal climate. With 83 million inhabitants, it is the second most populous state of Europe after Russia, the most populous state lying entirely in Europe, as well as the most populous member state of the European Union. Germany is a very decentralised country. Its capital and largest metropolis is Berlin, while Frankfurt serves as its financial capital and has the country's busiest airport. Germany's largest urban area is the Ruhr, with its main centres of Dortmund and Essen. The country's other major cities are Hamburg, Munich, Cologne, Stuttgart, Düsseldorf, Leipzig, Bremen, Dresden, Hanover, and Nuremberg.
Various Germanic tribes have inhabited the northern parts of modern Germany since classical antiquity. A region named Germania was documented before AD 100. During the Migration Period, the Germanic tribes expanded southward. Beginning in the 10th century, German territories formed a central part of the Holy Roman Empire. During the 16th century, northern German regions became the centre of the Protestant Reformation. After the collapse of the Holy Roman Empire, the German Confederation was formed in 1815. The German revolutions of 1848–49 resulted in the Frankfurt Parliament establishing major democratic rights.
In 1871, Germany became a nation state when most of the German states unified (except Switzerland and Austria) into the Prussian-dominated German Empire. After World War I and the revolution of 1918–19, the Empire was replaced by the parliamentary Weimar Republic. The Nazi seizure of power in 1933 led to the establishment of a dictatorship, the annexation of Austria, World War II, and the Holocaust. After the end of World War II in Europe and a period of Allied occupation, Austria was re-established as an independent country and two new German states were founded: West Germany, formed from the American, British, and French occupation zones, and East Germany, formed from the Soviet occupation zone. About a quarter of Germany's pre-war territory was annexed by Poland and the Soviet Union leading to the expulsion of Germans. Following the Revolutions of 1989 that ended communist rule in Central and Eastern Europe, the country was reunified on 3 October 1990.
Today, the sovereign state of Germany is a federal parliamentary republic led by a chancellor. It is a great power with a strong economy; it has the world's fourth-largest economy by nominal GDP, and the fifth-largest by PPP. As a global leader in several industrial and technological sectors, it is both the world's third-largest exporter and importer of goods. As a highly developed country with a very high standard of living, it upholds a social security and universal health care system, environmental protection, and a tuition-free university education.
The Federal Republic of Germany was a founding member of the European Economic Community in 1957 and the European Union in 1993. It is part of the Schengen Area and became a co-founder of the Eurozone in 1999. Germany is a member of the United Nations, NATO, the G7, the G20, and the OECD. Known for its rich cultural history, Germany has been continuously the home of influential and successful artists, philosophers, writers, musicians, film people, sportspeople, entrepreneurs, scientists, engineers, and inventors. Germany has a large number of World Heritage sites and is among the top tourism destinations in the world.
Turkey is a transcontinental country located mainly on the Anatolian peninsula in Western Asia, with a smaller portion on the Balkan peninsula in Southeast Europe. East Thrace, the part of Turkey in Europe, is separated from Anatolia by the Sea of Marmara, the Bosphorous strait and the Dardanelles (collectively called the Turkish Straits). Turkey is bordered by Greece and Bulgaria to its northwest; Georgia to its northeast; Armenia, the Azerbaijani exclave of Nakhchivan and Iran to the east; and Iraq and Syria to the south. Istanbul is the largest city while Ankara is the capital. Approximately 70 to 80 per cent of the country's citizens identify as Turkish. Kurds are the largest minority; the size of the Kurdish population is a subject of dispute with estimates placing the figure at anywhere from 12 to 25 per cent of the population.
At various points in its history, the region has been inhabited by diverse civilizations including the Assyrians, Greeks, Thracians, Phrygians, Urartians, and Armenians. Hellenization started during the era of Alexander the Great and continued into the Byzantine era. The Seljuk Turks began migrating into the area in the 11th century, and their victory over the Byzantines at the Battle of Manzikert in 1071 symbolizes the start and foundation of Turkey. The Seljuk Sultanate of Rum ruled Anatolia until the Mongol invasion in 1243, when it disintegrated into small Turkish principalities.Beginning in the late 13th-century, the Ottomans started uniting these Turkish principalities. After Mehmed II conquered Constantinople in 1453, Ottoman expansion continued under Selim I. During the reign of Suleiman the Magnificent the Ottoman Empire encompassed much of Southeast Europe, West Asia and North Africa and became a world power. In the following centuries the state entered a period of decline with a gradual loss of territories and wars. In an effort to consolidate the weakening social and political foundations of the empire, Mahmut II started a period of modernisation in the early 19th century, bringing reforms in all areas of the state including the military and bureaucracy along with the emancipation of all citizens.
In 1913, a coup d'etat effectively put the country under the control of the Three Pashas. During World War I, the Ottoman government committed genocides against its Armenian, Assyrian and Pontic Greek subjects. Following the war, the conglomeration of territories and peoples that formerly comprised the Ottoman Empire was partitioned into several new states. The Turkish War of Independence, initiated by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk and his colleagues against occupying Allied Powers, resulted in the abolition of monarchy in 1922 and the establishment of the Republic of Turkey in 1923, with Ataturk as its first president. Ataturk enacted numerous reforms, many of which incorporated various aspects of Western thought, philosophy, and customs into the new form of Turkish government. The Kurdish–Turkish conflict, an armed conflict between the Republic of Turkey and Kurdish insurgents, has been active since 1984 primarily in the southeast of the country. Various Kurdish groups demand separation from Turkey to create an independent Kurdistan or to have autonomy and greater political and cultural rights for Kurds in Turkey.
Turkey is a charter member of the UN, an early member of NATO, the IMF and the World Bank, and a founding member of the OECD, OSCE, BSEC, OIC and G-20. After becoming one of the first members of the Council of Europe in 1949, Turkey became an associate member of the EEC in 1963, joined the EU Customs Union in 1995 and started accession negotiations with the European Union in 2005 which have been effectively stopped by the EU in 2017 due to "Turkey's path toward autocratic rule". Turkey's economy and diplomatic initiatives led to its recognition as a regional power while its location has given it geopolitical and strategic importance throughout history. Turkey is a secular, unitary, formerly parliamentary republic which adopted a presidential system with a referendum in 2017; the new system came into effect with the presidential election in 2018. Turkey's current administration headed by president Recep Tayyip Erdogan of the AKP has enacted measures to increase the influence of Islam, and undermine Kemalist policies and freedom of the press.
Mexico is a country in the southern portion of North America. It is bordered to the north by the United States; to the south and west by the Pacific Ocean; to the southeast by Guatemala, Belize, and the Caribbean Sea; and to the east by the Gulf of Mexico. Covering almost 2,000,000 square kilometers, the nation is the fourth largest country in the Americas by total area and the 13th largest independent state in the world. With an estimated population of over 129 million people, Mexico is the tenth most populous country and the most populous Spanish-speaking country in the world, while being the second most populous nation in Latin America after Brazil. Mexico is a federation comprising 31 states plus Mexico City, which is the capital city and its most populous city. Other metropolises in the country include Guadalajara, Monterrey, Puebla, Toluca, Tijuana, and Leon.
Pre-Columbian Mexico dates to about 8000 BC and is identified as one of six cradles of civilization and was home to many advanced Mesoamerican civilizations such as the Olmec, Toltec, Teotihuacan, Zapotec, Maya, and Aztec before first contact with Europeans. In 1521, the Spanish Empire conquered and colonized the territory from its politically powerful base in Mexico-Tenochtitlan (part of Mexico City), which was administered as the viceroyalty of New Spain. The Roman Catholic Church played a powerful role in governing the country as millions were converted to the faith, although King Charles III expelled the Jesuits in the 1770s. The territory became a nation state following its recognition in 1821 after the Mexican War of Independence. The post-independence period was tumultuous, characterized by economic inequality and many contrasting political changes. The Mexican–American War (1846–1848) led to a territorial cession of the extant northern territories to the United States. The Pastry War, the Franco-Mexican War, a civil war, two empires, and the Porfiriato occurred in the 19th century. The Porfiriato ended with the Mexican Revolution in 1910, which culminated in the promulgation of the 1917 Constitution and the emergence of an authoritarian one-party state. Once described as the "perfect dictatorship", that ruled for much of the 20th century until the opposition victories led Mexico to democratic transition in the 1990s.
Mexico has the 15th largest nominal GDP and the 11th largest by purchasing power parity. The Mexican economy is strongly linked to those of its 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) partners, especially the United States. In 1994, Mexico became the first Latin American member of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). It is classified as an upper-middle income country by the World Bank and a newly industrialized country by several analysts. The country is considered both a regional power and a middle power, and is often identified as an emerging global power. Due to its rich culture and history, Mexico ranks first in the Americas and seventh in the world for number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Mexico is an ecologically mega diverse country, ranking fifth in the world for its biodiversity. Mexico receives a huge number of tourists every year: in 2018, it was the sixth most-visited country in the world, with 39 million international arrivals. Mexico is a member of the United Nations (UN), the World Trade Organization (WTO), the G8+5, the G20, the Uniting for Consensus group of the UN, and the Pacific Alliance trade bloc.
Italy is a Southern European country consisting of a peninsula delimited by the Alps and surrounded by several islands. Located in the middle of the Mediterranean sea and traversed along its length by the Apennines, Italy has a largely temperate seasonal and Mediterranean climate. The country covers a total area of 301,340 sq km, and land area of 294,140 sq km, and shares open land borders with France, Slovenia, Austria, Switzerland and the enclaved microstates of Vatican City and San Marino. Italy has a territorial exclave in Switzerland (Campione) and a maritime exclave in the Tunisian Sea (Lampedusa). With around 60 million inhabitants, Italy is the fourth-most populous member state of the European Union.
Due to its central geographic location in Southern Europe and the Mediterranean, Italy has historically been home to myriad peoples and cultures. In addition to the various ancient peoples dispersed throughout modern-day Italy, the most predominant being the Indo-European Italic peoples who gave the peninsula its name, beginning from the classical era, Phoenicians and Carthaginians founded colonies mostly in insular Italy, Greeks established settlements in the so-called Magna Graecia of southern Italy, while Etruscans and Celts inhabited central and northern Italy respectively. An Italic tribe known as the Latins formed the Roman Kingdom in the 8th century BC, which eventually became a republic with a government of the Senate and the People. The Roman Republic initially conquered and assimilated its neighbours on the peninsula, eventually expanding and conquering parts of Europe, North Africa and Asia. By the first century BC, the Roman Empire emerged as the dominant power in the Mediterranean Basin and became the leading cultural, political and religious centre of Western civilisation, inaugurating the Pax Romana, a period of more than 200 years during which Italy's law, technology, economy, art, and literature developed. Italy remained the homeland of the Romans and the metropole of the empire, whose legacy can also be observed in the global distribution of culture, governments, Christianity and the Latin script.
During the Early Middle Ages, Italy endured sociopolitical collapse and barbarian invasions, but by the 11th century, numerous rival city-states and maritime republics, mainly in the northern and central regions of Italy, rose to great prosperity through trade, commerce and banking, laying the groundwork for modern capitalism. These mostly independent statelets served as Europe's main trading hubs with Asia and the Near East, often enjoying a greater degree of democracy than the larger feudal monarchies that were consolidating throughout Europe; however, part of central Italy was under the control of the theocratic Papal States, while Southern Italy remained largely feudal until the 19th century, partially as a result of a succession of Byzantine, Arab, Norman, Angevin, Aragonese and other foreign conquests of the region. The Renaissance began in Italy and spread to the rest of Europe, bringing a renewed interest in humanism, science, exploration and art. Italian culture flourished, producing famous scholars, artists and polymaths. During the Middle Ages, Italian explorers discovered new routes to the Far East and the New World, helping to usher in the European Age of Discovery. Nevertheless, Italy's commercial and political power significantly waned with the opening of trade routes that bypassed the Mediterranean. Furthermore, centuries of infighting between the Italian city-states, such as the Italian Wars of the 15th and 16th centuries, left the region fragmented, and it was subsequently conquered, exploited, and further divided by European powers such as France, Spain and Austria.
By the mid-19th century, rising Italian nationalism and calls for independence from foreign control led to a period of revolutionary political upheaval. After centuries of foreign domination and political division, Italy was almost entirely unified in 1861, establishing the Kingdom of Italy as a great power. From the late 19th century to the early 20th century, Italy rapidly industrialised, namely in the north, and acquired a colonial empire, while the south remained largely impoverished and excluded from industrialisation, fuelling a large and influential diaspora. Despite being one of the main victors in World War I, Italy entered a period of economic crisis and social turmoil, leading to the rise of a fascist dictatorship in 1922. Participation in World War II on the Axis side ended in military defeat, economic destruction and the Italian Civil War. Following the liberation of Italy and the rise of the resistance, the country abolished the monarchy, established a democratic Republic, and enjoyed a prolonged economic boom, becoming a highly developed country.
Today, Italy is considered to be one of the world's most culturally and economically advanced countries, with its economy ranking eighth-largest in the world and third in the Eurozone by nominal GDP. Italy has the sixth-largest worldwide national wealth, the third-largest central bank gold reserve, and a very high life expectancy. The country plays a prominent role in regional and global economic, military, cultural and diplomatic affairs; it is both a regional power and a great power, and is ranked the world's eighth most-powerful military. Italy is a founding and leading member of the European Union and a member of numerous international institutions, including the UN, NATO, the OECD, the OSCE, the WTO, the G7, the G20, the Union for the Mediterranean, the Council of Europe, Uniting for Consensus, the Schengen Area and many more. The country have greatly influenced and contributed to diverse fields, notably the arts, music, literature, philosophy, science and technology, fashion, cinema, cuisine, sports, as well as jurisprudence, banking and business. As a reflection of its cultural wealth, Italy is home to the world's largest number of World Heritage Sites (54), and is the fifth-most visited country.
Top tourist countries