Nature can be pretty extreme! In this list, we focus on a variety of different meanings of extreme, namely the five wettest, driest, deepest, coldest, and hottest places on Earth. It’s tough to fathom heat at 160°Fahrenheit (71°C) or rainfall totaling up to seven Big Macs tall in just one day – but it happens! Check out these extreme places in our list of the 25 most extreme climates and places on Earth!
Ureca, Bioko Island, Equatorial Guinea - The wettest place in Africa
Starting off our list are the five wettest places on Earth. The wettest place in Africa is on the southern end of Equatorial Guinea’s Bioko Island. The town of Ureca experiences near-daily downpours, bringing 411 inches (10,450 mm) of rain each year. July alone brings 87 inches (2205 mm) – that’s almost a quarter of annual rainfall in just one month!
Cropp River - Wettest Place in New Zealand
The Cropp River area of New Zealand’s South Island receives 453 inches (11,516 mm) of rain annually, making for a gushing river. Its one-day rainfall record was set on December 28, 1989 when 30 inches (758 mm) fell in 24 hours – that’s almost seven Big Macs piled on top of each other.
Tutunendo - Wettest Place in Colombia
Receiving an average of 463 inches (11,770 mm) of rain annually, Tutunendo is near Colombia’s Pacific Ocean coast. Even during the dry season, clouds are so present the town only receives 3-4 hours of sunshine each day.
Cherrapunji - Wettest Place In northeastern India
Just 9 miles (15 km) away from #1, Cherrapunji is in Meghalaya, a state in northeastern India. Receiving up to 464 inches (11,777 mm) of rain annually, the villagers have devised a clever way to get around – over decades, they have wound the roots of trees into bridges which cross rivers and gorges.
Mawsynram, India - Wettest place in the world
The wettest place in the world is the Indian village of Mawsynram where rain comes down so often and so hard villagers line their homes with grass to dull the sound. Its position just above the plains of Bangladesh leads it to get pelted by an average of 467 inches (11,871 mm) of rain annually. That’s almost 40 feet!
Death Valley, California, USA - North America's driest spot
The first of our top five driest places on Earth, North America’s driest spot and the fifth driest place on Earth, Death Valley in California sees less than 2 inches (51 mm) of rain per year. Though areas to its west get plenty of rain coming from the Pacific, it mostly drops on the other side of the mountain ranges, leaving Death Valley bone-dry.
Pelican Point, Namibia
Pelican Point in western Namibia is a place where you can hear both jackals calling from the desert and seals playing in the ocean. A small peninsula, Pelican Point receives .32 inches (8 mm) of rain annually. Despite being so parched, it’s a wonderful spot for surfing in the Atlantic.
Southern Egypt’s Aswan city is so dry that some locals don’t bother having roofs on their homes, sleeping under the star-lit sky instead. Most of Aswan’s .04 inches (1 mm) of annual rain comes in May – but not every May. That drop must be something to really look forward to!
Atacama Desert, Chile
The highest desert on the planet, Chile’s Atacama Desert looks more like it belongs on Mars than Earth. The area is so similar scientists often test Mars landing vessels in the desert before going to the red planet. Though some areas receive less than .04 inches (1 mm) of rain per year, some haven’t seen a drop in centuries.
McMurdo Dry Valleys - Driest place on Earth
Likely coming as a surprise, the driest place on Earth is actually in Antarctica. The continent’s McMurdo Dry Valleys are located between various mountain ranges which keep the area bone dry – so dry that not a single drop of rain has fallen in 14 million years.
Litke Deep, Eurasian Basin, - Deepest point in the Arctic Ocean
We think more of Earth’s highest mountain than its deepest trench (way deeper than Everest). The next five in our list are the deepest points in our oceans (and thus our world) from shallowest to deepest. Starting off the list is the deepest point in the Arctic Ocean. The Litke Deep, at 17,881 feet (5,450 m), is located just (350 km) north of Svalbard, Norway. Though it’s the deepest in the Arctic Ocean, it’s only the 20th deepest oceanic trench in the world.
South Sandwich Trench - Deepest point in the Southern Ocean
The South Sandwich Trench (named after the South Sandwich Islands [named after John Montagu, the fourth Earl of Sandwich]) is the deepest point in the Southern Ocean, the waters encircling Antarctica. At 23,737 feet (7,235 m) deep, the South Sandwich Trench is formed at the intersection of the South American Plate and the South Sandwich Plate.
Sunda Trench - Deepest point in the Indian Ocean
The Sunda Trench, formerly known as the Java Trench, is the deepest point in the Indian Ocean. Stretching down 23,812 feet (7,258 m) and part of the Pacific Ring of Fire, the Sunda Trench has scientists on high alert – it’s believed all the recent earthquakes in the area could lead to the Sunda Plate shifting, causing massive tsunamis.
Milwaukee Deep, Puerto Rico Trench - Deepest point in the Atlantic Ocean
The deepest point in the Atlantic Ocean isn’t in the centre of the ocean but a mere 76 miles (122 km) north of Puerto Rico. The Milwaukee Deep – at its deepest 27,493 feet (8,380 m) – was found in 1939 by its namesake: the USS Milwaukee cruiser.
Challenger Deep, Mariana Trench, Pacific Ocean - Deepest point in all of the Earth
The prize for the deepest point in all Earth’s oceans goes to the Challenger Deep at the southern end of the Mariana Trench. This Pacific Ocean indent goes down to 35,994 feet (10,971 m). If that’s hard to conceptualize – you could fit 238 copies of the Statue of Liberty end to end and barely break the water’s surface.
Klinck Research Station, Greenland - One of Earth's coldest places
Beginning our top five coldest places and barely edging out North Ice, Greenland, the Klinck Research Station in Greenland has charted temperatures as low as -92°F (-69.4°C). This station within the Arctic Circle is located on a nunatak (or glacial island): a rocky ridge or mountain not covered in ice but on the edge of a glacier.
Northwest of #3 but a bit warmer, Verkhoyansk in Russia maintains a winter month average of -50°F (-45.4°C). For comparison, Moscow’s winter month average is 16°F (-8.8°C). Believe it or not, Verkhoyansk boasts a port and an airport despite the frigid weather.
Oymyakon, Russia - The coldest inhabited place on Earth
The coldest inhabited place on Earth, Oymyakon, Russia, is in the brutal heart of Siberia. This hasn’t stopped its 472 residents from going about their daily lives, including taking the bus and raising cattle, in the record cold of -96°F (-71.2°C). The ground is permanently frozen so some residents must go to an outhouse away from their home to use the toilet.
Mount McKinley, Alaska - Second coldest place on Earth
Alaska’s Mount McKinley, also called Denali, is the highest mountain in North America and the coldest mountain on Earth. Winter temperatures generally fall to -40°F (-40°C) and have gone as low as -101°F (-73.8°C) in this second coldest place on Earth.
Ridge between Dome Fuji & Dome Argus, Antarctica - The coldest temperature on record
Antarctica could easily take the first four places on the list of the coldest places in the world with Vostok Research Station, Dome A, and the Amundsen-Scott South Pole station taking spots 2-4, respectively -but a list would be boring if it was just those! Though all these locations bear shockingly low temperatures, the coldest temperature on record was measured on a ridge between Dome Fuji and Dome Argus by an American satellite in 2010 as a dastardly cold -136°F (-93.2°C).
Death Valley, California, USA - Hottest place in North America
The driest spot in North America is also its hottest though only fifth in our top five hottest places in the world. California’s Death Valley is the lowest place in North America and set its record of 135°F (57°C) in 1913. Local high pressure air currents keeps the air circulating but there’s not much of a cooling breeze as hot air just begets hot air.
El Azizia, Libya - Former hottest place on Earth
Formerly holding the record as the hottest place on earth, Libya’s El Azizia is just south of the capital, Tripoli. Despite its proximity to the Mediterranean Sea, El Azizia has an average temperature of 117°F (47°C) and reached 136°F (57.78°C) in 1922 (though this is disputed as there may have been a thermometer malfunction).
Turpan, China - Third hottest place on Earth
Beyond being the third hottest place on Earth, Turpan, China is also the third-lowest exposed spot on its surface. Dark red sandstone absorbs the sun’s rays and brought the area up to a record 152°F (66.8°C) in 2008.
Queensland, Australia - Hottest place in Australia
Though most people think of Australia as hot all over, some places are way hotter than others. Queensland is massive, dry, and hot, recording a blistering 157°F (69.3°C) by a NASA satellite in 2003.
Dasht-E Lut, Iran - Hottest place in the world
Iran’s Lut Desert takes the top of the pile for the hottest place in the world. In 2005, temperatures reached a staggering 160 degrees Fahrenheit (71°C). Scientists haven’t even found bacteria able to survive in this desert.