How to save the world, showbiz-style

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Dennis Rodman is the latest to put his fame towards a worthy cause. Holly Williams tracks down other globetrotting stars

Those celebrities – they turn up in the funniest places! This week the world looked on as former basketball star Dennis Rodman showed up in North Korea. He's not the first to use fame to guide us towards world peace/a saved planet/improved relations by visiting far-flung corners. Here's a geographic guide to other celebs engaged on unlikely foreign affairs (we couldn't include Bono, Bob Geldof or Angelina Jolie – or the map would just be one big Irishman with really great legs).

Dennis Rodman: North Korea

Pyongyang has made no secret of its dislike of America, but this may be all about to change. Dennis Rodman has been snapped hugging Kim Jong-un (a big fan of basketball), and hopes to "break the ice" between NK and the US.

Sting: Amazon rainforest

The Police singer set up the Rainforest Foundation in 1989, after visiting Brazil and having lots of pictures taken with tribespeople. Now, he says we need to save the rainforest to stop climate change, and he's flying all over the world for the cause.

Lord Byron: Greece

It may have been traditional for upper-class gents to swan off on a Grand Tour of Europe – but they weren't supposed to take up arms for the countries they visited. In 1823, Byron did just that, fighting for Greek liberation.

George Clooney: Sudan

The silver fox decided to throw the full weight of his fame behind the Nuba mountain people of Sudan, raising awareness of a humanitarian crisis in Darfur, and on the border between Sudan and South Sudan.

Paul Robeson: USSR

In 1932, the singer and actor visited the Soviet Union, which he would continue to praise as less racist than America. In 1952, he was awarded the unfortunately named "Stalin Peace Prize" – although he couldn't collect it, his US passport having been revoked.

SEAN PENN: VENEZUELA

The actor may be Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez's biggest fan. He even turned up there last summer to help Chavez campaign for his re-election; surely it was the Penn wot won it.

JOANNA LUMLEY: NEPAL

The national treasure campaigned for Nepalese Gurkhas who had served the British Army, saying that they had earnt the right to live in the UK. She's one of the few celeb activists to receive a very warm reception, when she visited Nepal in 2009.

JANE FONDA: NORTH VIETNAM

Before she discovered exercise videos and helping women to tone-up, Fonda was more concerned with helping the Vietnamese. "Hanoi Jane" was controversially snapped in 1972 sitting on a gun, and made radio broadcasts calling US politicians "war criminals".

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