Some of the World's Best Ethical Destinations
By : Ethical Traveler
"I am neither especially clever nor especially gifted. I am only very, very curious." - Albert Einstein

The year 2015 marked the 100th anniversary of Einstein's General Theory of Relativity, considered by many physicists to be the most beautiful scientific theory ever discovered. In a single virtuoso gesture, Einstein demonstrated that space, time and gravity are interrelated-and that each exerts an indelible influence on the other.

Though few travelers have mastered theoretical physics, we do share a deep appreciation for how interconnected-and interdependent-all things are. A lucky train connection might unlock a conversation with a stranger, leading to a lifelong friendship. A missed flight may open up the door to an unscheduled, life-changing exploration. The decision to visit a country where peoples' values differ from our own, and our openness to engage about those differences, could have a subtle but cumulative impact on international relations.

One of the main differences between physics and travel, of course, is that every journey is a series of unpredictable surprises. We may meet people who enhance our knowledge and inspire our dreams, and confront the human condition in ways we might never have imagined. The impact created by our encounters ripple outward, enriching not only our own lives, but the lives of the people whose worlds we enter. And all of this is driven by the single trait that every traveler-from a climber summiting Mt. Kenya to a Bolivian backpacker-shares with Dr. Einstein: curiosity.

During the past decade we have watched travel grow into the world's largest industry, with a trillion-dollar annual footprint. This means that travelers possess more than curiosity; we have enormous power. Where we choose to put our footprints has economic and political reverberations that reach far beyond our personal experience. Ethical Traveler believes that mindful travel offers many rewards, both personal and global. By "voting with our wings"-choosing our destinations well, and cultivating our roles as citizen diplomats-we promote international goodwill and help change the world for the better.

Every year, Ethical Traveler reviews the policies and practices of hundreds of nations in the developing world. We then select the ten that are doing the most impressive job of promoting human rights, preserving the environment and supporting social welfare-all while creating a lively, community-based tourism industry. By visiting these countries, we can use our economic leverage to reward good works and support best practices.

We urge you to explore these destinations, and to enjoy the wonderful sights, scenic and cultural, that they have to offer.

Though we are diligent in creating this list, we must continually remind ourselves of something Einstein knew well: Everything is relative. In other words, no country is perfect. All have genuine and often serious shortcomings. Each of our winners, however, is making a genuine effort to "do the right thing" in the areas we take into consideration. If they appear on the list more than one year in a row, it means they are actively improving their already excellent record. We sincerely hope that inclusion on this list will motivate the people and leaders of these nations to keep up their admirable work.

Ethical Traveler is an all-volunteer non-profit organization and a project of the Earth Island Institute. No money or donations of any kind are solicited or accepted from any nations, governments, travel bureaus or individuals in the creation of our annual list.

The Winners (in alphabetical order)

● Cabo Verde
● Dominica
● Grenada
● Micronesia (Federated States)
● Mongolia
● Panama
● Samoa
● Tonga
● Tuvalu
● Uruguay

How the List is Created

In the late summer of each year, Ethical Traveler surveys the world's developing nations-from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe. We begin our research by focusing on three general categories: environmental protection, social welfare and human rights. In 2013, responding to requests from our members, we added animal welfare to our investigations.

For each category, we look at information past and present so that we understand not only the current state of a country, but how it has changed over time. This helps us select nations that are actively improving the state of their people, government and environment. Our goal is to encourage the behaviors we see as creating a safer and more sustainable world.
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