A now-44-year-old Danish traveler named Torbjørn Pedersen believes he is the first person to have ever visited every country on Earth, as well as a few disputed territories and breakaway provinces, without ever setting foot aboard a passenger aircraft, and without returning home between trips.
He departed his native Scandinavia in October of 2013 on a project he called Once Upon A Saga, which only finished last Tuesday, after a 3,512-day adventure.
“Thor” as his friends call him, says he has relied heavily on cargo ships to get to and from continents as well as island nations.
Concurring with most hardcore travelers, Pedersen said the experience confirmed that the world is a supportive and helpful place not to be feared.
“In a way, this has just been a huge sociological experiment and a success at that,” Mr. Pedersen told the Australian BC. “Because I cannot remember a country I’ve gotten to where I did not receive some sort of kindness or support from people”.
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Officially, the UN recognizes 193 member states, plus two non-member observers, making for a total of 195 countries. But the differences between a people and a nation, and between the people in a disputed territory being sovereign without recognition or rebels, are some of the most blurred lines in international policy.
Just to make sure his voyage had no asterixis in its legacy, Pedersen visited an additional 8 territories that could become countries in the future.