You are currently viewing The 17 megadiverse countries: where there’s the greatest biodiversity

Only 17 countries in the world are considered megadiverse, meaning they host a majority of the planet’s species, including many that are endemic. If you enjoy nature, these highly biodiverse travel destinations should be high on your list.

If we generalize, there are really only 2 types of attractions for travelers: cultural and natural. They’re very different. 

The 17 megadiverse countries are obviously the best destinations for travelers who like the natural aspect. These countries are, by the way, all located at least partially in the Tropics, as this geographical area encourages a greater diversity of species.

Here’s a list of these megadiverse countries, as defined by Conservation International (it’s only one definition, and it’s obviously subjective, but it’s the most widely used). The biodiversity index is that of The Swiftest, to put each of the 17 countries in an order that isn’t random.


Map of the 17 megadiverse countries

Here are the 17 countries on a map.

See the full-size infographic


Let’s look at 2 beautiful photos and a brief overview of each one.


1. Brazil 🇧🇷

Biodiversity Index: 512.34

Within a green luscious forest, the wide, cascading on 2 levels, Iguaçu Falls in Brazil 
Iguaçu Falls, Brazil (photo credit: Unsplash+)


With a territory almost as big as Canada, Brazil occupies half of South America and therefore boasts a huge variety and different types of natural environment.

It is, in fact, recognized as the country with by far the greatest biodiversity, and this is notably due to the enormous Amazon rainforest. 

You can read many posts about Brazil by Indira, our Flytrippers team member who has lived there all her life.

Aerial view of a luscious green Amazon Rainforest in Brazil with a green pond featuring nenuphars in the middle. 
Amazon Rainforest, Brazil (photo credit: Bruno Melo)


2. Indonesia 🇮🇩

Biodiversity Index: 418.78

Moss-covered rock formations in a dark blue ocean and a small streak of sand beach at the junction.
Nusa Penida, Indonesia (photo credit: Unsplash+)


As an archipelago of thousands of isolated islands between Southeast Asia and Australia, Indonesia ranks 2nd as a world leader in biodiversity.

Its variety of climates and ecosystems offers a multitude of habitats for many plant and animal species.

You can read an overview of 14 destinations in Indonesia.

Green mountains with round turquoise lakes in between them by a clear sky day
Padar Island, Indonesia (photo credit: Kevin Charit)


3. Colombia 🇨🇴

Biodiversity Index: 369.76

A mountain split between a luscious green top and a yellow bottom with high palm trees in Cocora Valley, Colombia.
Cocora Valley, Colombia (photo credit: Fernanda Fierro)


Colombia lies where South and Central America meet, making it a kind of bridge for species between these 2 regions.

The country is renowned for its exceptional biodiversity, with a high concentration of species per square kilometer. Colombia offers a wide variety of landscapes and invests heavily in their preservation.

You can read an overview of 7 destinations in Colombia.

Rows of luscious green mountains by a cloudy sunny day in La Serrana, Colombia
La Serrana, Colombia (photo credit: Dan Gold)


4. China 🇨🇳

Biodiversity Index: 365.84

Rock mountain formations on a foggy day with some small trees in the foreground. 
Huangshan, China (photo credit: Unsplash+)


China is the 4th largest country in the world, so you can find a great diversity of habitats, with 7 climate zones.

It even has 1/8 of the Earth’s species! Despite major challenges such as deforestation and pollution, a lot of China’s natural heritage is being preserved.

Many skinny rock mountain formations on a foggy day with some small trees in the foreground. 
Zhangjiajie, China (photo credit: Robs)


5. Mexico 🇲🇽

Biodiversity Index: 342.47

A red-toned rocky mountain with a field of cactus in front of it on a dark cloudy day. 
Zapotitlan Salinas Botanical Garden, Mexico (photo credit: Andrés Sanz)


Mexico is home to between 10 and 12% of the world’s biodiversity, with around 200,000 different species.

Travelers from all over the world come here to discover its unique fauna, flora, and landscapes, such as whale sharks, flamingos, and the famous cenotes.

You can read the itinerary in the Quintana Roo state from Indira’s girls’ trip this fall.

Huge moss-covered rocky mountain formations and the cars that look tiny at the bottom of it.
Santa Catarina, Mexico (photo credit: David Liceaga)


6. Australia 🇦🇺

Biodiversity Index: 337.18

A long green grass field with a red rock mountain in the background at sunset.
Uluru & Kata Tjura National Park, Australia (photo credit: Ondrej Machart)


This geographically isolated country-continent is home to an impressive number of animal species, including iconic creatures such as the kangaroo and koala, as well as small beasts that are far more frightening and deadly to humans.

You can read the itinerary in Australia’s Northern Territory from Flytrippers co-founder Kevin’s trip last year.

Dark rocky formations on a dark cloudy day with a sand beach and the ocean at the bottom of them.
12 Apostles, Australia (photo credit: Connor Home)


7. Peru 🇵🇪

Biodiversity Index: 330.12

A white and brown llama on a green field in front of a part of the Macchu Picchu in Peru.
Machu Picchu, Peru (photo credit: Unsplash+)


Around 58% of Peru’s territory is covered by forest, 95% of which is in the Amazon region.

Experts count over 30,000 plant species and thousands of animal species, including iconic animals such as the jaguar, black caiman, and tapir.

Different shades of red and yellow striped rock mountain formations
Rainbow Mountains, Peru (photo credit: Raychan)


8. India 🇮🇳

Biodiversity Index: 301.63

a wide mountain and some fluffy clouds reflected on a lake.
Triund, India (photo credit: Mohit Khatri)


India is home to around 7% to 8% of all the world’s listed species. The country encompasses 4 of the world’s 36 biodiversity hotspots.

Now the world’s most populous country, human activities threaten several areas such as the Himalayas, the border with Myanmar, the Western Ghats, and the Sundarbans.

A colorful peacock in its habitat.
Indroda Nature Park, India (photo credit: Vivek Doshi)


9. Ecuador 🇪🇨

Biodiversity Index: 291.58

Green mountains with a snowy white top with long clouds in the blue sky. 
Papallacta, Ecuador (photo credit: David Torres)


It’s the smallest country on the list of megadiverse nations.

It is home to 30 volcanoes, several lakes, and a small part of the Amazon rainforest, not to mention the famous Galapagos Islands.

A dark turquoise lake in a green moss and rocky valley on a cloudy blue sky day. 
Quilotoa, Ecuador (photo credit: Robinson Recalde)


10. United States 🇺🇸

Biodiversity Index: 280.13

A multitude of high red rock formations
Grand Canyon, United States (photo credit: Unsplash+)


The American giant is the 3rd largest country in the world, behind Russia and Canada.

Its natural beauty is undeniable, all the more so because the country has taken numerous conservation initiatives, making the protection of national parks and natural areas a priority.

Deers eating grass in a long grassed field in front of a conifer forest, at the base of a rocky mountain. 
Yosemite Valley, United States (photo credit: Johannes Andersson)


11. Venezuela 🇻🇪

Biodiversity Index: 273.39

Green moss covered rocky mountain chain on a cloudy yet sunny day
Colonia Tovar, Venezuela (photo credit: Jorge Salvador)


Venezuela benefits from a perfect climate for 21,000 types of plants, nearly 38% of which are found only on this territory.

The same goes for living creatures, with some 8,000 animal species unique to this pretty South American country that is among the least visited due to its political situation.

Aerial View of Morrocoy National Park covered with lush trees and surrounded by bodies of water.
Morrocoy National Park, Venezuela (photo credit: lalo Hernandez)


12. Papua New Guinea 🇵🇬

Biodiversity Index: 226.57

Green mountain tops kissed by clouds in a blue sky
Eastern Highlands Province, Papua New Guinea (photo credit: Vika Chartier)


Due to its location on the Pacific Ring of Fire, Papua New Guinea is home to numerous active volcanoes, coral reefs, rainforests, and numerous marine and terrestrial ecosystems.

It’s much less developed than neighboring Indonesia so there’s a lot of untouched nature.

A big dark lake with a small island with only one tree on it in the middle and a very luscious mountain chain all around it.
Westpapua, Papua New Guinea (photo credit: Asso Myron)


13. Malaysia 🇲🇾

Biodiversity Index: 214.71

Underwater view of corals and fish in the dark turquoise water with the sun peaking throughout the surface. 
Reef, Malaysia (photo credit: Unsplash+)


Malaysia, thanks to its very humid equatorial climate, is famous for its exceptional flora, mountains, tropical forests, and coral reefs.

However, deforestation, especially in the Sarawak and Sabah regions (on the island of Borneo), represents a serious threat to its ecosystems and certain species, notably the Bornean orangutan.

You can read an overview of 11 destinations in Malaysia.

Neverending fields of bright green grass stripes turning into mountains on a sunny yet cloudy day
Cameron Highlands, Malaysia (photo credit: Paul-Vincent Roll)


14. Democratic Republic of the Congo 🇨🇩

Biodiversity Index: 214.43

A mother and baby gorilla cuddling in leafy green trees. 
Mount Kahuzi, Democratic Republic of the Congo (photo credit: Johnny Africa)


The Congo has the 2nd-largest jungle in the world, after the Amazon. It’s the most biodiverse country on the huge continent of Africa.

The Congo Basin forest is super-important for the diversity of plants and animals all over the planet. It also helps regulate the world’s climate.

A close-up on bursting red lava within the gray lava
Mount Nyiragongo, Democratic Republic of the Congo (photo credit: Pierre-Yves Burgi)


15. South Africa 🇿🇦

Biodiversity Index: 207.94

2 zebras in a yellow grass field. 
Mountain Zebra National Park, South Africa (photo credit: George Brits)


In South Africa, the Cape Floral Region is home to a wide variety of special plants. The country is famous for its “Big Five”: elephant, lion, leopard, buffalo and rhinoceros.

It also has many other well-known animals, such as giraffes, cheetahs, and hippos. In fact, it’s the perfect place for safaris!

Kevin has written about his 6-day safari for $687 total, with many tips on how to save money on your safari in this wonderful country and I wrote about the 7 best places to visit in Cape Town, where I lived for 7 years.

A bunch of penguins on a beach with the ocean behind them. 
Betty’s Bay, South Africa (photo credit: Harry Cunningham)


16. Philippines 🇵🇭

Biodiversity Index: 186.82

Lots of dark green mountains with turquoise lakes at the base of them
Coron, Philippines (photo credit: Jake Irish)


The Philippines is the world’s 2nd-largest archipelago after Indonesia. There are over 7,100 islands, of which around 2,000 are inhabited by humans.

However, the large population and economic development are putting a lot of pressure on the jungles and marine animals of this territory. 

Clear turquoise blue waters at the bottom of green-covered rocky mountain formations featuring a beach with some small
El Nido, Philippines (photo credit: Cris Tagupa)


17. Madagascar 🇲🇬

Biodiversity Index: 162.29

A few humongous baobab trees in a green field with a dirt road in between them. 
Baobab Forest, Madagascar (photo credit: Graphic Node)


Endemism refers to the situation where a plant or animal species is exclusive to a specific geographic region and found nowhere else in the world. In Madagascar, this phenomenon is particularly remarkable, with a species endemism rate that is around 90% for plants and animals. 

This means that the vast majority of the species present on the island are found nowhere else on the planet. You’ve probably already heard of the famous lemur or the enormous baobab? For example, 6 out of 8 baobab species are found only on this island.

Clear turquoise waters with a tree-filled island in the middle and a mountain range in the background
Nosy Iranja, Madagascar (photo credit: Alessandro Zanini)


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There are several megadiverse countries in the world. These unique places boast a particularly rich and flourishing biodiversity. This list, based on the Conservation International classification, shows you the 17 countries that are home to the majority of species on Earth. It might give you some ideas for your future trips if you love nature.


What would you like to know about traveling to megadiverse countries? Tell us in the comments below.


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Featured image: Padar Island, Indonesia (photo credit: Denissa Devy)

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