Whether it’s in the shadow of a very active volcano, in some north Siberian ice box, or an impossibly inaccessible island these are 25 places where people really shouldn’t live but they do.
Atacama Desert, Chile/Peru
Considered the driest place in the world, the Atacama desert averages 4 years of rain every thousand years. Its temperatures can be pretty extreme too ranging from well below freezing at night to extremely hot during the day. Over 1 million people call it home though and most of them work in the local copper mines.
The oldest city above the Arctic Circle, about 1500 people live in this freezing metropolis that was once used as a place of exile by both the Tzars and the Soviets.
Mount Merapi, Indonesia
Nicknamed “fire mountain”, Mount Merapi is always smoldering and in the past 500 years it has erupted over 60 times. This doesn’t stop nearly a quarter million people from living on the fertile soil right under its shadow.
Lake Kivu, Democratic Republic of Congo/Rwanda
Deep below the surface of this lake are several trillion cubic feet of methane and carbon dioxide gas. If released, over 2 million lives would be in danger.
The Pitcairn Islands
Sometimes called the smallest democracy on Earth, this tiny nation of only 50 people is descended from 9 families related to the famous Bounty mutineers. It has no harbor and no airstrip so you better have a canoe if you want to get here. They do have high speed internet though, so pack your smart phone.
Home to only 4 people, this used to be a railway station where trains would refuel on what is the longest stretch of straight track on Earth. As times have changed, only 4 people live here anymore and unfortunately they have to ship all of their food and water in because nothing grows, or lives, in the region.
Minqin County, China
With a rapidly increasing population that has sucked up the only river in the region, two deserts that are gradually closing in and only 60 square miles of fertile land left this place does not have a hopeful future.
La Rinconada, Peru
Located over 5km above sea level in the Peruvian Andes, it is known as the highest permanent settlement on Earth. The 30,000 people that live here work in the gold mine and many suffer from mercury poisoning. Strangely enough they don’t get paid for their work. They mine for 30 days and then on the 31st day they are allowed to take as much ore out of the mine as they can carry. Remember that ore doesn’t necessarily contain gold.
Ever since the nuclear reactor blew in 1986 this place has for the most part been evacuated. These days, however, workers are once again housed within the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone although they are limited in the number of days per week that they can be there. Hopefully their jobs comes with a good bit of hazard pay.
Found in the middle of China’s coal belt, cities don’t come much more polluted than this.
After being famously destroyed by a nearby volcano in A.D 79 people continued to inhabit the slopes of Pompeii primarily due to its fertile soil. Although the place continues to be completely covered in lava every now and then people still consider the risk to be worthwhile.
Socotra Island, Yemen
Known as “the most alien looking place on Earth” this Yemeni island is extremely isolated. In fact, a vast majority of its flora and fauna is found nowhere else on Earth. In spite of that 40,000 people live here and they have a grand total of 2 roads.
Barrow, Alaska, US
Famous for long polar nights and extremely cold temperatures Barrow sits right on the shoreline of the Arctic Ocean.
Tristan da Cunha
Possibly the most remote inhabited place on Earth, Tristan is nearly 2,000 miles from South Africa. If you’re thinking of moving, keep in mind that the residents aren’t too friendly to outsiders. Immigration is actually prohibited.
Bajau Laut, Philippines
Not really a place as much as it is a people, this indigenous ethnic group comes primarily from the Philippines and many live their entire life on floating houses in the ocean.
Kifuka, Democratic Republic of the Congo
If you are afraid of lightning you definitely don’t want to live here. This village experiences constant thunderstorms and every square mile has on average 60 lightning strikes per year.
This region in India is famous for its heavy rains and constant monsoons. The rain is so prevalent in fact that it has influenced the development of unique plant life, cultural traditions, and even the clothing of locals.
This tiny village on the Faroe Islands has some of the most unpredictable weather imaginable. There is almost no vegetation or natural resources, and it goes without saying but its four residents are extremely isolated.
One of the hardest places to reach on Earth, the 10,000 residents of this valley have no road access to the outside world. The only way to get in is by taking a perilous hike through the mountains that can take up to a week.
This city brings together high levels of pollution from manufacturing with extreme levels of Siberian cold. Not a good combination.
Home to the lowest land volcano, some scorchingly hot temperatures that tend to stay above 40 degrees Celsius all year (104 degrees Fahrenheit), and very little connectivity to the outside world apart from camels, there are no statistics on how many people actually live here but for the most part this mining town has been abandoned.
La Oroya, Peru
Nearly all of the children living in this polluted city have some degree of lead poisoning due to the large amount of smelting taking place. It has repeatedly been ranked as one of the world’s most polluted places.
With an average winter temperature that can easily reach -60 degrees Celsius (about -80 degrees Fahrenheit) this place is known as the North Pole of cold for a reason. The 500 residents have some unique problems including pen ink freezing in winter.
Death Valley, US
In the western hemisphere you won’t get any hotter than death valley. It holds the record at 57 degrees Celsius (134 degrees Fahrenheit) and although American Indians inhabited the valley for over a thousand years, these days the only sign of life is a small community at Furnace Creek.
Vostok Station, Antarctica
Located at the Southern Pole of Cold in the middle of the East Antarctic Ice Sheet there are numerous reasons why this place should not be inhabited. Not only does it hold the record for the lowest measured temperature on Earth at -89.2 degrees Celsius (about -128 degrees Fahrenheit) but there is also almost no moisture in the air, the average wind-speed is about 18 km/h (11 mph), there is very little oxygen because of its high elevation at 3,488 meters (11,444 ft), and a polar night can last half of the year. Most researchers take months to acclimatize and undergo numerous headaches, twitches, nose bleeds, vomiting, and other pains.