25 Harshest Environments Actually Inhabited By People

Posted by , Updated on June 23, 2024

Curious to know which locations people call home despite extreme and harsh conditions? The most unique feature about the planet Earth is that it’s able to support life. The world contains many comfortable locations in which people, plants, and animals can thrive. However, there are other areas in which climate, terrain, and political unrest make for tough and extreme living conditions, but somehow, people still manage to live out their lives there. Below are the 25 Harshest Environments Actually Inhabited By People.



This country’s rocky coastline is covered in an ice sheet that can be up to three kilometers thick (1.8 miles). This ice sheet is what keeps the country’s population close to the rocky coastline. 


Changtang Region, Tibet

tibetan plateauhttp://www.behzadlarry.com/changpa----nomads-of-the-tibetan-plateau/

In spite of the short summers, arctic winds, and hail in this part of the Tibetan Plateau, half a million people known as the Changpa call this place home. Many follow the harsh migration routes of their ancestors in order to find grass for their livestock, which often means camping in tents and stone-walled shelters during these harsh weather patterns. 




siberian road blockshttps://www.climatestotravel.com/climate/siberia

Parts of this region have boomed thanks to the discovery of oil, gas, and minerals. However, the weather is still as harsh as ever. In some places, temperatures can go has high as 38 degrees Celsius (100 degrees Fahrenheit) during summer and plunge into double-digit negatives during winter.


The Outback


The fierce sun, infertile soil, and arid weather keep the human population low in this desert, which covers most of Australia.


The Sahara Desert

sahara sunrise

Few humans call this place home, and only nomads like the Tuareg have managed to survive on the edges by trading, hunting, and raising their livestock on meager vegetation.




The human population here swells to more than 4,000 during the summer season as researchers and their crew launch missions from the research stations here. During the winter, around 1,000 researchers stay to face shivering temperatures that can reach negative 70 degrees Celsius (-94 degrees Fahrenheit).


Bangui, Central African Republic


Neighborhoods located in low-lying places in Bangui are under the threat of constant, severe flooding. Citizens also endure regular civil strife and coup attempts from their local military. 


Conakry, Guinea


Power as well as water outages happen regularly here because of drought and a deteriorating water system. The traffic lights are turned off during night time, further endangering the city’s already fragile infrastructure.


Baghdad, Iraq


This city has sustained severe damage to its infrastructure because of war and sectarian violence, lasting up to the present day. It’s one of the world’s least hospitable places and also has one of the worst qualities of living.


Port-au-Prince, Haiti


There are a lot of slums located in the hillsides overlooking the city, and its infrastructure took an enormous blow when in 2010, a powerful earthquake struck the country.


Motuo, China


This isolated village has fresh fruit when the season is good, and it even has wild animals nearby. However, there’s no access to preserved food when the crops don’t prosper, and there’s also no access to any medical treatment, making it a difficult place to live.


Muli, Faroe Islands

donkey mountainshttps://en.climate-data.org/location/972118/

This little town is located on the Faroe Islands outside of Denmark. Muli, and the Faroe Islands in general, are known for unpredictable weather, torrential rain, windstorms, fog, and snow that can happen all year long. The landscape that surrounds this little town is bleak, having little vegetation or natural materials for humans to live on.


Minqin, China


This town now only has 60 miles of fertile land left. To make matters worse, there is a huge water shortage because of the Shiyang River drying up and the Bidain Jaran and Tengger deserts creeping in at about 33 feet per year.


Cherrapunji, India

rain in cherrapunjihttps://www.britannica.com/place/Cherrapunji

This town is the wettest place on Earth. During the wet months, an increase in moisture in the air causes abundant rainfall, which can measure up to a thousand inches each year.




This country just becomes poorer and poorer as its communist regime becomes more and more oppressive. Starvation has been a great obstacle for them over the past few years with poor rice crops leading to between 14%-25% of the population suffering from the food shortage each year. Many rely on outside aid to survive.




Myanmar (Burma)


After a coup and a rename from Burma to Myanmar, it has one of the strictest junta governments in the world. Human rights are also apparently absent here, especially for Muslims who have been targeted by the military as victims of murder, sexual abuse, and arson.





This country continues to be known for massive cases of both AIDS and malaria. Moreover, Mozambique suffers from a lack of safe drinking water despite receiving tons of aid from the UN.



napali childrenhttps://www.hrw.org/report/2016/09/08/our-time-sing-and-play/child-marriage-nepal

This is an especially harsh place to live in if you’re a woman. Here, women get married off and have kids as early as 14. This adds to an alarming statistic of women who die giving birth because of lack of proper medical care. Sex trafficking is also rampant in Nepal, and girls who aren’t married by the time they’re 18 enter the trade.


Sierra Leone

blood diamonds

War and poverty practically define this small country in Africa, not to mention, its blood diamond crisis. The country is still on a downward spiral, and living here isn’t preferred by anybody.



girl walking in Chadhttps://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-43500314

At present, this country contains central Africa’s primary water source in Lake Chad. However, this source has since started to dry up, leaving this African nation to suffer from drought and famine. Add to this the overwhelming number of Darfurian refugees getting into the country, and you can start to see the exponential problem at hand.


Democratic Republic of Congo


Decades of war and genocides have torn this African country apart, and the humanitarian crisis happening there is nothing short of disastrous. Despite the country being one of the continents’ biggest and richest regarding minerals, the people rarely see any profit made from its resources.




Sudan is plagued with many dangerous conditions. Among their violent crimes, kidnapping, robberies, and home invasions are prevalent, as well as terrorism. The Nile River experiences frequent flooding, and their infrastructure, including deteriorated roads, railways, power, and water systems, is in desperate need of repair. Relying on their leadership to fix these problems seems unlikely since the country’s president, Omar al-Bashir, has even been declared a criminal by the International Criminal Court.



kadoma streetshttps://money.cnn.com/2017/11/21/news/economy/zimbabwe-economy-history-robert-mugabe-resigns/index.html

Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwe’s president up until 2017, ran its economy to the ground, to say the least. What used to be a wealthy nation is now one of the poorest in the world, plagued by the collapse of their farming and diamond industries leading to unemployment and food shortages.


Pripyat, Ukraine


This Ukrainian city is best known for what happened during the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant disaster in 1986, forcing the evacuation of the entire city due to its high radiation levels. Now, the only residents there are wildlife.


North Korea

korean chilrenhttps://globalnews.ca/news/3763158/north-korea-starvation-executions-population/

Nearly a million people die of starvation here yearly, and it’s only getting worse since the state decided to put all of its funding into building up its nuclear arsenal.

Photo: 1. Feed My Starving Children, FMSC Distribution Partner - North Korea, CC BY 2.0, 2. Stephen J. Mason, AMUSEMENT PARK AT PRIPYAT NEAR THE CHERNOBYL PLANT NOW ABANDONED UKRAINE SEP 2013, CC BY 2.0, 3. Greg + Jannelle, Kadoma Streets, CC BY 2.0, 4. Free For Commercial Use, Sudan, CC BY-SA 2.0, 5. US Army Africa, MEDFLAG 2010, Medical Assistance to the People, Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo, September 2010, CC BY 2.0, 6. Valerian Guillot, Girl walking within the Ennedi sandstone, Chad, CC BY 2.0, 7. Brian Harrington Spier, Blood Diamonds, CC BY 2.0, 8. Jeanne Menjoulet, Népal - Anapurnas - Nepali children, CC BY 2.0, 9. ILRI, Mozambique landscape at Mocaba, CC BY-SA 2.0, 10. dany13, DSC567/Burma/Bagan/Pagode That Byin Nyu, CC BY 2.0, 11. poida.smith, Rice Paddies, Northern Laos, CC BY 2.0, 12. Sudipto Sarkar, Rain in Cherrapunji, CC BY-SA 2.0, 13. The Real Bear, Summer Vacation 2007, #263 - Watchtower In The Morning Light, Dunhuang, Gansu Province, CC BY 2.0, 14. Pixabay (Public Domain), 15. Croquant, Location of Mêdog within Xizang (China), CC BY 3.0 , 16. USAID U.S. Agency for International Development Follow, Damage to the National Palace, Port-au-Prince, Haiti, CC BY-SA 2.0, 17. U.S. Marine Corps, USMarineTankinBaghdad (Public Domain), 18. CDC Global, Conakry, Guinea, CC BY 2.0, 19. hdptcar, Setting off with 2 trucks, jeeps and material in Bangui, CC BY-SA 2.0, 20. Roderick Eime, Antarctica with Silversea, CC BY 2.0, 21. Giannis Pitarokilis, Sunrise #Sahara Desert, CC BY-SA 2.0, 22. Sydney Oats, Seismic Exploration In the Outback South Australia abt 1974, CC BY 2.0, 23. Copper Kettle, road blocks in Siberia, CC BY-SA 2.0, 24. NASA, The Himalayas as seen from space looking south from over the Tibetan Plateau (Public Domain), 25. Greenland Travel, Ilulissat - winter, CC BY 2.0

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