Did you know that there’s a country with Star Wars characters on its official currency? Or another that didn’t celebrate the millennium until… 2007? The world is indeed a crazy place, but even we didn’t realize just how strange things could get until we came across this Quora thread; it details some of the most outlandish facts about some of the planet’s lesser known countries.
Niue uses Pokemon money, for real
The tiny Polynesian island of Niue, a sovereign state connected to New Zealand, has currency embossed with Disney, Pokemon, and Star Wars characters, among other weird pop culture references. While the New Zealand Dollar is also legal tender on the island, you can pay for anything with their awesome coins.
Niue also has free Wi-Fi, everywhere
And while we’re here, Niue is also the world’s first and only “Wi-Fi nation.” What does this mean? The entire island has Wi-Fi. And it’s free for everyone.
Yap uses giant stones as currency
While not the only source of money on this small Micronesian island in the Pacific Ocean, the 8,000lb limestone discs known as Raj are still used as currency, although mostly for rituals. Yea, nobody’s trading in one of these puppies for a new Kia, if that’s what you’re thinking. The stone’s values were originally determined a number of factors, including their size, the intricacy of their carvings, and how many lives were lost bringing them to the island from Palau. In a canoe. 280mi away!
Ladonia is nothing more than a stack of sticks
Founded by artist Lars Vilks in 1980 as an art installation made of driftwood, Ladonia is a micronation located in a nature reserve in the southwest of Sweden. When authorities threatened to destroy the project, Vilks “seceded,” proclaiming Ladonia’s independence from Sweden in 1996. The “country” claims 17,000 residents, but they’re actually nomadic — so none of them live anywhere near that pile of sticks.
Penises are popular in Bhutan
The Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan is the only country to measure Gross National Happiness. Unrelated, probably: most of its houses are decorated with images of erect and often ejaculating penises. Their phallic-focused religion — inspired by a Buddhist teacher back in the day who cleverly dispensed enlightenment “through his penis” — believes that dong drawings ward off evil spirits and bad luck.
Nauru is a country without a capital
Nauru, an island nation in the Pacific Ocean and the world’s smallest republic, gained its independence in 1968 but doesn’t have a capital city. In fact, it doesn’t really have a city at all, just a random clusters of buildings.
Tuvalu #won the Internet
The tiny country of Tuvalu, located in the middle of nowhere between Hawaii and Australia, hit the Internet jackpot when it received $50 million (half its GDP at the time) in exchange for the rights to its top-level “.tv” internet domain.
Ethiopia celebrated the millennium in 2007
While not really an obscure country, Ethiopia does have an obscure quirk. Technically, it uses two calendars: one Western, one Amharic. And the Amharic version is seven years behind the rest of the world. Now, if only you could fly to Ethiopia to pull all of your money out of the stock market before the recession starts.